Harewood is a fantastic place, with over 300 acres of immaculately and beautifully kept gardens and grounds for visitors to stroll through with their dogs, or romp wildly through the winding paths with their children or just sit and admire the Capability Brown fashioned landscape. This is all before you explore the architectural and artistic wonders of the house. The Lascelles family (the Earls of Harewood) have been avid collectors of fine art for over 250 years and most of it is on display for the public.
To keep the children amused there is a fantastic adventure playground, apparently spread over three acres - the kids love it, along with the bird garden, containing of all things penguins and flamingos.
Harewood's enduring appeal is its beauty, the wide range of experiences for young and old, all backed up with a magnificent events calendar.
Locals should take advantage of its membership - the Harewood card - which allows free entry throughout the year making it amazingly good value, the literature claims families can save upto £700 per annum on days out with the card!
Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG
tel: 0113 218 10 10
Harewood House is 7 miles from Leeds and Harrogate, catch the number 36 bus, which drops outside the gate. Harewood lets you in half price with a valid bus ticket or if you are on a bicycle.
Romance lies not in overpriced long-stemmed red roses or intrusive gypsy violins. Better to let it find you at an endearingly quirky location like Heythrop Park Hotel near Chipping Norton, which doesn’t tout itself as a romantic destination but has all the ingredients of intimacy, a dash of intrigue and lashings of comfort. We were there for three days and forgot the car, tv and internet. It’s so remote we thought we were lost after several minutes on the endless drive. Yes, we had sparkling wine in a bucket of ice in our enormous room, chocolates, flowers, and yes, the obligatory white fluffy bathrobes and claw-footed bath. Heythrop is a mini Blenheim Palace, built in 1716 from honey coloured limestone by the handsome Duke of Shrewsbury, appropriately known as “The King of Hearts.” Set in 440 acres of sweeping parkland, it has Italian gardens, a secret garden, fern strewn grotto - which used to house the skeleton of a whale - and, tucked away by the golf course, a tranquil Jesuit cemetery from a later period. We had the entire grounds to ourselves, and discovered hidden statues amongst the undergrowth, tempting doors in garden walls and deer running through giant conifers. Inside, there are huge carved wooden ceilings and chimney pieces, a billiard room, ballroom, and huge galleried landings with stained glass windows. After making the most of the health club in the grounds, we were almost too relaxed to leave our room, Eldon (a hotel room must have a name to be romantic) to sweep down the huge staircase for dinner - though I did sweep several times in fact, for the camera. It’s not every day one plays Lady of the Manor in such a setting. There are some foibles in the hotel - a mediocre breakfast loses Romance points, we wanted a tray in our room to sustain the illusion of being country weekend house guests - but we overlooked everything for the sake of such an unusual, and yes, impossibly romantic, experience.
If you don't want to queue for hours book your Colosseum ticket before you go, on line.
We arrived at the Colosseum and found a long snake of a queue. For ticket holders you can head for a different ticket office with no queue.
This is highly recommended especially if you have children.
One of Australia's best rural restaurants is Athelstane House in the historic maritime village of Queenscliff. The dining experience we had was superb, with amazing food backed up by a very good list of local and regional wines (as well as imports from France etc) and very very good service. Dining can be done in the restaurant or on the balcony or in front of the fire. Athelstane House also provides high class accommodation as well as a very good food store. Athelstane House is the winner of many dining and good food awards. We were impressed.
One of the city's oldest restaurants enthusiastically recommended by the owner of the guesthouse we stayed at. What a treat! A beautiful Georgian townhouse with a wonderful ambience. The food is modern British and delicious. All the food is freshly prepared and locally sourced and the waiting staff are gracious and knowledgeable. They told us all the best places to visit and where we could buy some of the cheeses from their magnificent cheese board.
We loved this special place.
Santorini is a beautiful and impressive island known all over the world for its active volcano. Its last eruption took place in 1950 but more than 100 eruptions have taken place during the last 40 centuries. The most disastrous one occurred 3.5 thousand years ago and lead to the burial of a flourished civilization under tonnes of lava. The eruptions followed by lava spreading have lead to the creation of two small islands in the centre of the caldera area of Santorini, named as Palea Kameni (Old Burnt island) and Nea Kameni (New Burnt island). The first one is 2,000 years old consisting of a thin fertile soil level where locals cultivated animal feed, in the past. Nowadays, one can see wild animals like rabbits or goats that try to survive there. The second island, Nea Kameni, is much bigger that Palea Kameni and is composed of lava rocks with a few plants and rabbits as well as a lot of lizards living there.
The two small volcanic islands are surrounded by the Santorini complex which consists of Thira (the half moon shaped island), Thirasia (on the north west side of Thira) and Aspronisi (south Thirasia) which are the earth parts that stayed above sea level after the volcano eruption, 3,500 ago, that created the caldera of Santorini.
The eruptions were always preceded by warnings such as water warming, water subsiding, earthquakes.
The Santorini volcano has been sleeping for the last 60 years while hot springs on the coasts of Palea and Nea Kameni and gas emissions remind people of its being alive. However, scientists have installed an equipment network in order to get notified of any pre-eruption phenomenon so as to keep save both locals’ and visitors’ lives.
Guided tours are organized to the volcano area so everybody can visit it, swim in the medicinal baths of the hot springs and see the rocks or the soil that have been created by the lava.
Red Tour electric vehicles equiped with a GPS talking guide are perfect to drive around Lisbon and discover some hidden gems. I tried the Alfama Segway Tour and it was so much fun.
Next time i will try Belem tours in one of their silent buggies.
Rua dos Fanqueiros nº18 next to Praça do Comércio.
When I was in Paris for an exhibition recently I took a couple of American customers to this restaurant because it combines a famous landmark with French cuisine. I thought it would be an unforgettable experience for them and I was not disappointed.
It is on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower so at night the views are spectacular especially if you can get a table by the window. It is quite avant garde in the way it is designed with a sort of circular swirling purple light above which sounds strange but it is all done in the best possible taste. The lighting is quite subdued so that people can see the city and there are candles on the tables so the atmosphere is wonderful.
I am not easily impressed in restaurants becuase I do a lot of entertaining all over the world but I thought the food and the service here was excellent. We had the cheaper of the menus (not that any of them are exactly "cheap") but it was just great and as far as I was concerned it was certainly worth it.
You'll skip the queues at the bottom and go straight up to the first floor in a lift. If you are looking to do something in Paris for your partner or customers, you can't beat this.
If you are interested in the Scottish Enlightenment, I recommend this excellent walking tour of historical David Hume sites in Edinburgh.
For more information on walking tours in Edinburgh, contact Saints & Sinners in Edinburgh: www.edinburghsaintsandsinners.co.uk/
You can check out the "rough guide" by cutting and pasting the URL: www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn9Amnnq10o
This convent stands at the top of the Volcà de Montascopa and even though you can't go inside it it does offer spectacular views of Olot and on a good day the Pyrenees. The convent itself is a simple and rather plain building.
On top of the Volcà de Montascopa
The cathedral of Sant Esteve is known for housing the unusual painting of Christ Bearing the Cross by El Greco. This imposing building houses a magnificent baroque altarpiece by El Roser and some sculptures by Ramón Amadeu. The church is a suitable starting point for the walk to the summit of the volcà de Montascopa high above Olot
Carrer de Sant Esteve.
The museu Dalí is not obligatory to visit in Figueres but even you're not an art-lover its worth a visit.
The best parts of the museum are:
Mae West room, the tomb of Dalí, a copy of Dalí's most famous work -
The Persistance of memory (you will recognise it when you see it).
Allow a good two to three hours to see everything. It is child-friendly.
Even if you're unwilling to pay the high entrance fee you can get some appreciation of Dalí's eccentricity by looking at the 'eggs' on the outside of the museum.
Entrance fee is 7-8 euros
Gala-Salvador Dalí Square, 5
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybxxoyd
Sant Pere rarely gets visited as most visitors bypass it on their way to the Museu Dalí which is next to the church. But this is a shame as Sant Pere is a handsome building with a representation of the dying Jesus in the arms of the Virgin Mary which moved me to tears.
Carrer Sant Pere
Google map: tinyurl.com/ydcyn5r
Sant Vicenç is a fine example of a Benedictine monastery which was partly demolished. Like Sant Pere you can't always get inside but the exterior is pretty enough with a rotund chapel containing the altar.
Praça de Sant Vicenç
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
Sant Pere church is a Romanesque jewel with outstanding architecture and peace. You can't always get inside but the exterior is pretty enough with carvings and windows.
Praça de Sant Pere
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
Below the fortified bridge are the remains of the Jewish synagogue and
mikvah (ritual bath). The mikvah is behind a locked gate and can be seen only at certain times with a guide - ask at tourist information for times). The ruins are clearly marked and helpful signs show you where each room would have been. From the ruins there are good views of the fortified bridge and river Fluvía.
There is an easy walk which leads from the ruins and goes alongside the river to just past the fortified bridge.
The synagogue/mikvah is well signposted from the praça de libretat.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
The fortified romanesque 11th century bridge spans the river Fluvía and makes for an impressive entrance to Besalú on top of its hill. It's unique because it retains its central tollhouse and portcullis for that medieval feel. It is also the only curving medieval bridge in Spain. Children will love it for the portcullis and watchtower.
Besalú is 40km west of Girona and the buses to Olot from Girona all stop at Besalú.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ye66gdq
Santa María is built in the neo-gothic style with a rose window and intricate façade with ornate carvings - the one of the Virgin Mary above the door is especially beautiful. The terrace outside the church has excellent views of the beach and the town below.
Santa María is just a 10 min walk from Portbou train station from where there are frequent connections to Barcelona (via Girona and Figueres) and to Toulouse (via Perpignan) in France.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybs7xt6
The arcaded plaça major is the heart of Banyoles with good cafés and restuarants around it. It is quite shady in the summer with trees standing in the middle of the square.
It's also a good starting point for walks exploring the old town walls, St Stephens monastery and the narrow twisty labyrinth which is old Banyoles.
The plaça major is a 25 min walk from the Estany but the regular buses from Girona drops you off nearer to the square at just a 10 min walk away - just ask for the Passeig Indústria stop outside the Teisa ticket office. The square is well signposted from there.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yen76bk
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