Slightly old-fashioned, possibly colonial style, hotel, which offers a touch of class at a price the non-business traveller, with or without his family, can afford.
Relaxing garden, outdoor pool - the very opposite of the modern American style hotel.
A hotel in Brighton Marina is not necessarily an enticing prospect - the marina is soulless and a mile and a half out of the town centre but for a place where town centre hotels are either mediocre or often booked, the Seattle is worth considering as an alternative. It is modern, has sea and marina views (though if like me you are in a car park view room this can be positively irritating). It has a boutiquey feel - large beds with white linen, huge shower heads and bento boxes for breakfast - and a really excellent young staff, good room service and a decent restaurant and bar.Interconnecting rooms and a positive effort to attract families make it a good place to bring kids - as long as you don't mind the £6 taxi fare into town.
Granna and Vadstena lie on the east coast of Lake Vattern - that's the long sausage-like one heading
north from Jonkoping. They are recommended for two different reasons:
If you have children, Granna is "polkagris heaven" - polkagris are the Swedish equivalent of the English sticks of rock, pink and white sticks of sugar! It also has a lovely bathing area on the banks of the lake, with a sandy beach and very child friendly. Plus there are boats out to the island of Visingso, always nice for a day trip or more.
Further north up the coast, a beautiful trip in itself if you take the old coast road and not the motorway, you will find Vadstena, which is a gobsmackingly beautiful town with the old centre by the lakeside preserved in almost pristine condition. Spend hours wandering round the narrow streets and travel back in time.
East coast of Lake Vattern
A little bit of sweet lyricism in the vastness, the Watts Towers are Italian immigrant Simon Rodia's outsider contribution to LA architecture.
Go. They might make you cry.
Read all about it at the urls below.
Walk up to the Cross in the centre of Chester at noon and you'll see a jolly bloke wearing old fashioned clothes and ringing a bell. He's the town crier; Chester's the only place in the UK to have had a continuous tradition of town crying, and he and his wife share the job. He'll give all the latest news on Black Death, local hangings and news of the the Boston Tea Party that's filtering from across the pond - and on occasion he'll even read out council notices. Great interaction with the crowd and super for kids.
The Cross, where Eastgate St meets with Westgate St and Bridge St.
This clever card ("Friends of the Uffizi") gets you into all the state galleries for free - Uffizi, Accademia, many more. Plus - and this is the best thing - you get to jump all of the massive queues! It lasts for a year and it's genius.
25 euro for the under-26s, 60 euro for those above, and a family deal for 100 euro.
If you're in La Rochelle and need a quick beach trip then Les Minimes is the best option. Take the cosy little harbour boat (bus du mer - 1.70 euros each way) from the Old Harbour (near the La Chaine tower) to the Les Minimes port and the beach is a hundred metres from the quay. It isn't massive but its proximity to La Rochelle makes it attractive. And it is cleaner than the beach on the La Rochelle side.
Les Minimes Port itself is the largest pleasure boat harbour in France with room for 3500 yachts.
10 minutes by harbour boat from the Old Harbour in La Rochelle.
We wanted a week in La Rochelle in our own flat and the Comfort Hotel St-Nicolas provided us with a perfect studio for our little family of three. Reasonably priced at 392 euros (245 in off season) and impeccably located in the fantastic and charming St-Nicolas quarter - a stone's throw from everything. The studios are just around the corner from the hotel proper and their facilities (breakfast, free internet, bar) are available to studio guests.
A hidden formal garden with little box hedges, herbs and stone benches. It’s just opened to the public. A lovely place to chill out and eat a sandwich on your way down from the castle to Holyrood.
On the left-hand side of Cannongate as you walk down towards Holyrood, about halfway down the Royal Mile;
Nearest station: Waverley
Tralee has built its reputation on the famous Rose of Tralee Festival, an annual event much more than a beauty contest. The girls come from all over the world, have to be of Irish descent, are from the professions and have to be able to promote both themselves and the Festival.
The festival which is in August is host to a quarter of a million people when the centre of the whole town is closed to traffic and the streets echo to a medley of song and dance. This is a festival for all ages as can be seen in the wondrous faces of children who delight in the magic of clowns and theatre.
At night too during the Festival, the streets come alive with a wealth of quality pubs where can be heard the story of a young Tralee lad who came undone on Broadway when he met a woman, “with eyes that shone like diamonds.”
Taverna Alonia is a really friendly restaurant, with great food. Every year I meet so many people there who have returned to the island again, and seem to spend every night of their holiday in Alonia.
Molyvos, North Lesbos;
tel: 22530 71355
Encompassed in an art deco building (built in the 1930s after a storm destroyed the original), the baths at Middle Brighton are home to get-fit enthusiasts and 'icebergers' alike. They feature a very large caged area for swimming with a sandy beach and have been used in many learn to swim arrangements. The baths also feature a modern fitness centre with gym and sauna.
251 The Esplanade (the beach road), Middle Brighton Beach;
tel: 9539 7000;
Well known by sports motorcycle riders for its location on the fabulous Reefton Spur run, the old timber pub has a good bar menu and an even nicer restaurant. The best spot however is sitting outside with a beer in ya hand.
McMahons Creek, on the C511 between Warburton and Cumberland Junction (n.b: Reefton is approximately 4kms downstream and Warburton is 15kms away);
tel: 5966 8555
Forget hands-on interactive high-tech experiences, this is a museum like they don't make them anymore. A charming and dusty old collection of fossils, rocks, prehistoric tools, etc, it feels like no-one but you has been here for years, which is possibly true. Watch out you don't trip over a dinosaur's tail.
This is a lovely, quiet corner of Lisbon to walk around, between São Bento and Bairro Alto. Ratton, a small gallery/shop selling hand-painted tiles by contemporary artists, including local hero Paula Rego, is at Rua Academia das Ciências 2.
Rua Academia das Ciências, 19; tel 21 346 39 15;
Tram 28 to Calçada do Combro then walk up Rua do Século, turn left into Rua Academia das Ciências;
No visit to Lisbon can possibly be complete without a trip to the Graça. The Graça has the feel of a small town that is separate from the city. It has lots of cheap restaurants and cafes and two patios that offer spectacular views over Lisbon.
Take the 28 tram from the city centre and travel through the narrow winding streets, past the Cathedral and the magnificent Church of São Vicente de Fora and the steep cobbles Rua Voz do Operário, then get off at the Largo da Graça and make your way to the outdoor cafe on the Miradouro da Graça.
If you're feeling a little more energetic, then take the 10-minute walk up to the Miradoura da Nossa Senhora da Monte - the view is reward in itself. Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll down to one of the many cafes and restaurants for an unbelievably cheap meal.
If you go on a Tuesday or a Saturday, then don't miss the Feira da Ladrã flea market that is held behind the Vicente de Fora church - you can even have a meal at the church's cafe, and eat on the roof with stunning views over the Alfama rooftops and the River Tagus.
Right next to the Oceanarium is the Knowledge Museum which is great for kids of all ages - 3 to adult. It's a great day out, especially if the weather's poor (which is unlikely), and it’s easy to get to. It contains loads of hands-on, fun scientific experiments for people to try out like moon-walking, barfly jumping, bubble-blowing and how sounds have shape. Then, in the basement, kids can don hard hats and luminous waistcoats while they build their own house with foam bricks, cranes and trucks.
Parque das Nações, Alameda dos Oceanos, Lote 2.10.01;
Take the metro from Cais de Sodre station to the EXPO site (Parque das Nacoes) at Oriente. It’s also easy to drive to;
tel: 21 891 7100;
This is my favourite Prenzlauer Berg Café. Sunny, green, ideal for people-watching, and child-friendly, and they sell great homemade Cornish pasties, Italian ice cream, homemade cakes, brownies etc. Plus, the English-speaking owners have a small B&B attached that is central, charming and cheap.
Cafe am Teutoburger Platz (Kunst+Eis), Zionskirchstr.75, Prenzlauer Berg;
tel: 030 44038577 or 0173 610 2523;
U-Bahn: Senefelder Platz, or turn left off Kastanienallee
The Krakowska Karta Turystyczna, valid for two (45 PLN) or three (PLN65) days, entitles the holder to free travel on city buses and trams (including the bus route no 192 from/to Krakow's Balice international airport) and to free entry to 32 Krakow museums. Cardholders also receive discounts in certain restaurants and shops as well as when buying tickets for local trips and excursions.
You can buy the card at the airport, tourist information centres, travel agencies and hotels.
1 Polish Zlotych = approximately 0.18 Great British Pounds (April 2006)
See www.krakowcard.com/ for more details.
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