Take the ferry from Cais do Sodre for the ten-minute crossing to Cacilhas (€1.25), avoid the street traders at the exit and turn sharp right to walk along the quay. There are wonderful old industrial buildings and eventually, the maritime museum and an elevador or a steep series of steps up to the small town of Almada and the Cristo Rei statue, from where there is a great view back across the Tejo as far as Sintra.
Magnificent 19th century botanical gardens on a dense and sloping site, a haven of peace away from the busy streets, full of character and an absolute bargain at the €1.50 fee. Interesting buildings, a pond, and information boards on the way round.
The entrance can be tricky to find as it isn't obvious - through wide entrance gates opposite Rua de Sao Marcal and 100m straight on.
Rua Escola Politecnica, www.jb.vi.pt
This is an old fortress/prison set on the island of If a few kilometres from the main port of Marseille.
While the fortress has been on the island since the 16th century, its main claim to fame is as the place of imprisonment of the fictional inmate Edmond Dantès, the hero of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Montecristo.
Only 20 minutes by boat from Quai des Belges in the old port of Marseille.
Café de Paris is situated in the historic centre of Sintra Vila with fine views of the National Palace. A beautiful 19th century building built in the classical Parisian café style, covered in blue tiles. You have the choice of dining on the balcony, the terrace or the beautiful French style interior decorated with painted murals.
The café offers excellent Portuguese cuisine with a French flavour. After a long walk to the palace and castle on the hill spend the afternoon relaxing here with a bottle of Borba red wine.
Restaurante Café de Paris: 21 923 23 75
Third-generation chocolate makers in Marseille. This family-run business produces chocolate made from unlikely ingredients such as onion and lavender, as well as pralines (well it is France!) and traditional barres Marseillaises (dark chocolate covered in fruit such as oranges).
A very small shop but apparently is world famous amongst chocolatiers. Well worth a visit. Black and white pictures of previous generations line the walls.
49 rue du Petit – Puits close to Rue du Panier.
We enjoyed dining at Manolo Caracol (casual, locally owned) and Astrid y Gaston (more formal, originated in Peru).
As for places to see, I recommend the Baha'i temple, walking in Soberania National Park, and visiting Miraflores Locks.
Gorgeous old town, pedestrian friendly and good to explore. Quality shops, markets and restaurants/cafes; good beer and delicious ice creams.
Efficient buses and trains follow the coast to Split and Dubrovnik, while ferries are fun. Airport easily reached.
A highly recommended holiday destination with good sunshine, crystal clear seas, friendly and hospitable people and nearly everyone speaks English.
Hidden under the Royal Mile is a series of narrow streets that used to be part of the city above in the 16th century or so and are now part of the foundations of the Royal Mile. These are real preserved buildings, not just a tourist show, and a fascinating look at Edinburgh in a past time.
A word of warning – the smells are pretty real too!
2 Warriston’s Court, Writers Close, EH1 1PG. 08702 430160
If you plan on spending a few days visiting most of the attractions around the city, the pass is definitely worth buying.
With free entry to 30 places and airport transfer included, it saves a packet.
Buy from www.edinburgh.org/pass/
It's a small town in the midlands that is normally not on any tourist route. But it is the place where the last executioner of Ireland existed - Lady Better. The old jail where she reputedly killed her criminal son still stands.
Borthwick is a 15th century castle, 15 miles from Edinburgh Centre. We stayed there with our three children recently. The kids were totally in awe of the castle and the historic atmosphere that oozes from its pores!
To add to the experience we also dined at the castle, as a treat. The castle offers an option of children's menus, either a standard three-course menu, with kids' favorites (fish fingers, sausages etc), or a half adult portion, they really did offer an option to suit all.
The children were so well behaved, totally engrossed in the castle's history, and the memorabilia which is displayed in each of the rooms. Followed by historic tales and ghost stories by the castle staff, it set the kids up with tales and stories to keep them amused all the way home!
The centre of the city is not large, so it makes this place easy to visit in a day.
You can choose to visit Florence by bike, following the cycle tracks that reach the most famous historic sites.
What to see:
- Piazza della Signoria
- Piazzale Michelangelo
- Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)
- The Bargello Museum
- Ponte Vecchio: To one side of the bridge there is the majestic bust of the most famous Florentine goldsmith, Benvenuto Cellini.
- Bike along the romantic Viale dei Colli up to Piazzale Michelangelo to see the wonderful landscape of Florence
- Panoramic view of the Boboli Gardens
Bike rental estimated prices:
1 hour - about 3 Euro
1 day - from a minimum of 14 Euro to a maximum of 27 Euro
If you've done the Budapest basics, you should absolutely take an afternoon and visit Bela Bartok's house museum in the Buda Hills. This is a hymn of praise not only to the conductor, but his passion for Hungarian folk culture.
Among the highlights: his oversized, primitive recording device which he dragged all over historic Hungary, having local residents sing their songs into it, and his furniture, most of which is handmade from various parts of Transylvania. The ladies who staff the museum can give you a tour in English and are very nice and accommodating.
While you are there, make sure you walk through the Napraforgo ut. housing estate, built in 1931 to house refugees from areas cut off from Hungary by the Treaty of Trianon. Architecture fans will delight in the display of creativity there, from Bauhaus to Arts and Crafts. Unfortunately, rich Buda residents are now buying all of them out and restoring them according to their own tastes, so the results of that could harm the ensemble, but you should go there anyway.
This is a great doubleheader excursion well off the well-trodden tourist paths.
It's best to go to Ferenciek Tere (metro blue line), look for restaurant Karpatia and wait for bus #5 just outside there. You go to the end of the line, i.e. Pasareti Ter, and look for the signs. The way to both is actually marked.
I would definitely recommend a look when you visit Venice. It's inside the Church of St Mark (Basilica di San Marco) and as well as the fantastic ceiling mosaics, offers has a great view of the piazza.
Go up the (steep!) staircase on the right as you go from the narthex into the main body of the church. It's worth the effort, though.
The real horses of San Marco are up here too – the other ones are only modern replicas.
San Marco, Piazza San Marco
Testaccio is a lively and cool area situated in the neighbourhoods of the Piramide and the thousand-year Circo Massimo, just under the famous Aventino Hill and demarcated by the River Tevere. Testaccio district is characterised by several typical Trattorie and offers a slice of trendy Roman life with its multiple nightclubs.
Testaccio district is situated at a comfortable distance from the archaeological area; enjoy the charming Colosseo by night and admire the nearby church of San Pietro in Vincoli with the Statue of Moses sculpted by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Find out what Rome is capable of offering beyond history and culture.
Bull Street is one of the nicest old streets crossing Savannah, GA. It starts at the river front and crosses the nicest squares (small parks) and coffee shops and small restaurants and takes you to the large Forsythe Park. Go to the other end of Forsythe for more shops.
I recently stayed in a self-catering castle with friends in Scotland. With all the talk of the downturn in the economy, maybe we should consider holidaying within UK and Europe.
A company called Celtic Castles offer castle accommodation all around the UK, Ireland and France. Some have been converted into hotels while others (like Castle Law that I stayed in) are now self-catering properties.
The thing I was surprised about was how little it cost. It worked out at less than 100 pounds per person per night, there are some offers available at the moment so this will be even less now.
Definitely worth considering!
While more people tend to make the slog up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo for great views of Florence, the Forte di Belvedere is its match in every way.
On a summer evening, sitting high above the almost unbelievably beautiful city, quivering in the haze below, is a genuine Florence must-do.
Forte di Belvedere, Oltrarno
If you're travelling in the Loire Valley, plan to visit the chateaux at night as many have light spectacles. At Blois on Wednesdays, it's in English. On July 4/5 over 2,000 candles are lit in the grounds of Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau has a wonderful show most evenings.
They don't start till late (sunset 9.30pm) so, if you have kids, eat somewhere late then visit, most of the nearby villages have bistros. Chenonceau has musicians roaming and night lights. Other events can be found below.
For other events in the area see: www.myweekin.net
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