A pedestrian shopping street in a real market town without any chain stores or significant supermarkets. Halesworth is in the 'Cranbook Triangle' that has seen off predatory supermarkets but for how long?
The Thoroughfare is a pedestrian street of friendly and helpful independent retailers of clothing, hardware, stationery, health foods, gourmet foods, toys and most other essential services like banks, chemist, opticians and so on.
It also has several cafes and two art galleries at either end without the heaving crowds and parking hassles of Southwold (which is a great town too). If you're going to Latitude in the summer, drop in for supplies.
Halesworth is on the East Suffolk rail line and ten minutes off the A12 by road.
This is a new restaurant which is known as the best seafood restaurant in Sultanahmet. The food is outstanding, you should ask the staff for the special of the day.
The restaurant is on the shore of Marmara Sea with a view of Turkish islands. The "Boukoleon" name comes from the 5th century. There used to be a "Boukoleon Palace" standing right where you sit.
Now you can easily see the archeeological heritage of the old time palace. If you are interested in history, looking for a nice Istanbul view and also outstanding food, I would highly recommend you go to this restaurant.
Hagia Sofia, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Tofino is on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. The area is formed of temperate rainforest and white sandy beaches which stretch for miles. Beyond its unbelievable natural beauty, it offers a rare thing in North America: harmony. The indigenous First Nations people, aided by eco-warriors, made a stand against the loggers in the 1980s and since then it has been given UN status as a natural wilderness.
The high-priced resorts dotted along the beaches are best avoided, especially in summer. To see the real Tofino go there in May (shoulder season) and stay in the town. The Tofino Motel offers great views at around $85 (£40) a night per room. If you like seafood Shelter and Schooner restaurants are a must, but for something more funky try Raincoast.
There are three impressive beaches nearby. Tonquin is but a short walk from the town and is good for a post-prandial stroll. Chesterman beach is a short drive away and is full of spirits and driftwood and as the site of First Nations resistance has great historical resonance. Long Beach is, well, just long. The caveats to all this are that because this is the raincoast it rains a lot. However, much natural beauty comes from this rain.
The First Nations people run several businesses in town offering whale watching, bear watching (you park near a beach and watch the bears forage for food) as well as trips to hot springs. The botanical garden are like nothing else, blending sculpture and nature. Getting to Tofino is easy. You can fly from downtown Vancouver from around $250 (£120) return by sea-plane, but the best way to travel is to take the Harbour Lynx from downtown Vancouver and then the Tofino bus across the island. Even though this journey takes around six hours, don't fall asleep. Remember you're going to paradise.
It's an absolutely stunning walk for all. As you begin your walk, you walk down a lovely coastal path with views of the sea where the Falmouth dockyard is and where the ships come in from.
As you walk around you come to the point which is a rather large open space where, on a sunny day, you are able to get ice cream from the many vans, there are picnic tables and an old ruined castle called Little Dennis, which used to be a gun tower for Pendennis Castle which is on entry to the point.
There are stunning views of the whole of the seafront from the point and plenty of hidden little beaches below.
As you walk right around, there is an area which is a popular site for diving and yet more benches and picnic areas.
As you come to the end, you have a lovely long walk all the way down over the seafront which has stunning views over the sea, of Pendennis Castle and the golden sandy beaches.
I live here and I am never bored of the views.
You can get off a train at Falmouth Docks or you can simply follow signs to Pendennis Castle.
Under its dazzling coloured tiled roof and ironwork is a huge array of specialty foods and preserves, liqueurs, caviar, berry jams, and some tourist tat. Wander round the many stalls, and if nothing else, at least buy a colourful string or two of chillies to take home. Take a little care of your possessions, but get stuck in.
Vamhaz korut, right by the river across the green Szabadsag Bridge from Gellert
A tiny cosy traditional patisserie and coffee shop on Buda hill in the castle close to the exuberant neo-gothic Mathias church. After a walk round the Royal Palace or the cobbled streets and quirky aristocrats' houses, indulge in a cherry brandy chocolate and cream coffee, with raspberry torte, and drift back a century or two. Especially nice in winter, and more chance of getting a table.
Szentharomsag Uta, opposite St Mathius church.
A teeny tiny pub in a teeny tiny village. Try the sit-down-be-cider. Visit the geology museum. But what you really need to do is find the local expert - Mr Cooper, who has written a book on the history of the pub. Ply him with a pint of the aforementioned cider and he will tell you all you want to know about the pub, the Purbeck coast or the art and architecture of Rajasthan.
01929 439 229
Venice is my most favourite city in the entire world, but when you are fed up of being jostled and barged into, when you become invisible to the ocean liner troupe let loose in the city for a few hours, where can you go?
Take the vaporetto or ferry from the Fondamente Nouve stop on Venice’s northern shore and travel 10km north-west across the lagoon to the tiny, windswept island of Torcello.
Deep channels run between the mud-banks and are marked by bricole, wooden poles lashed together and emerging from the water. The channels are busy with all sorts of craft - rushing water taxis, vaporetto ploughing along full of city workers, huge dredgers keeping channels clear and fishermen looking for shrimp.
The landscape opens out as you enter the lagoon. It’s often misty, often mysterious. The sky and water merge. Brine laden winds caress you. All at once the quiet of the lagoon becomes unearthly. A feeling of deep relaxation is within you, which can be strangely energising.
This silent island was the first in the lagoon to be settled by Veneti after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and Germanic invasion. It was virtually impregnable and became an attractive refuge for merchants and tradesmen. The population once exceeded 20,000 but by the 12th century the lagoon had silted up and Torcello became inaccessible and malarial. The inhabitants left, and literally took their fine residences with them, leaving a littering of architectural debris.
Just a handful of residents remain in this tranquil backwater. The two churches of Torcello stand in magnificent isolation around the overgrown piazza - the church of Santa Fosca alongside the oldest building in the lagoon, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in the 7th century. Its exterior is devoid of splendour, yet within are Byzantine treasures - the 13th century Madonna in the apse and the west wall decorated with a huge 12th century mosaic depicting the Last Judgement. The massive stone shutters of the windows turning on huge rings of stone cause the whole building to resemble a retreat from the enemy rather than a house of God.
The roughly crafted campanile is to be climbed in the early evening, up strangely sloping ramps. The throat catching beauty and loneliness of the lagoon becomes apparent. John Ruskin called it, “a waste of wild sea moor of a lurid ashen grey”. The mudflats and marshes are choked. The silted-up waterways are now homes to herons and egrets. Trees, reeds and broom grow over what was once a settlement. With imagination, this place is timeless. Just rest and sigh. Enjoy this place with an open mind and a willingness to get lost.
As you speed back to Venice for your evening meal, take a moment, turn, and catch that ‘Turneresque’ light. Watch the buildings of the island melt into the lagoon.
Torcello is the perfect antidote to glamorous Venice. There’s time for quiet contemplation, which too often nowadays can elude you in Serenissima.
Shops: There is a small selection of shops in St Andrews, it's a great place for tartan products such as kilts and also for golf products.
Attractions: Golf is the main one but the old cathedral and castle are well worth a visit, they are both located next to each other.
Nightlife: There are no clubs in St Andrews but there is a great selection of bars, The Gin House and Ma Bells are two popular places.
Eating: There is a large selection of fine dining options in St Andrews, but if you are on a budget then The Grill House offers well priced food.
Accommodation: For a small town there is a large selection of five-star hotels, The Old Course and Fairmont are the two best hotels. For those on a tight budget try The St Andrews tourist hostel or one of the many B&Bs.
Berlin in a nutshell. Peculiar mix of people - 70 year-old ladies in old-fashioned evening dresses and gentlemen in suits, urban bummers in Hugo Boss as well as crazy hipsters are to be seen in this old ballroom (existed since 1913) in the centre of Berlin.
Situated in a scraped building surrounded by numerous art galleries, the place was visited by Tom Cruise during his search for old-fashioned shooting locations for the film 'Valkyrie'. Good food and delicious home-made cakes. Music changes depending on the day (cha cha, swing, waltz and tango). In the summer, the garden is an additional attraction.
If you walk down the Auguststr (Berlin Mitte), you'll spot an enchanting garden and the scraped building behind it.
Clärchens Ballhaus, Auguststraße 24, Berlin Mitte.
Starting from Anakena beach, it is possible to walk around the base of Mount Terevaka to Hanga Roa. It is a five-six hour walk and takes in a large number of ahus and moai, all with well preserved village remains and caves nearby.
The walk is ignored by 90% of tourists and is thus devoid of people most of the time - leaving the sites empty and silent. Perfect for getting to know the soul of the island. Take at least two big bottles of water.
Walk west along the coast from Anakena parking lot. And keep walking.
This beautiful little chapel is well worth a visit as part of a coastal walk. You can approach it from Daymer Bay, or as we did take the ferry across from Padstow to Rock, walk along the beach and through the sand dunes and golf course, to reach it.
The chapel dates back to the 12th century but until 1864 it was virtually buried by the dunes that surrounded it, and to hold a service the vicar and parishioners had to descend into the sanctuary through a hole in the roof. In the 19th century it was finally unearthed and the church restored.
Today you can find everything you might hope for in an old Cornish church but in miniature; the cut-down medieval rood screen, the mellow wooden pews and the memorials to those who died at sea.
The former poet laureate John Betjeman lived locally and is buried here - he wrote a poem about the church 'Sunday Afternoon Service in St. Enodoc Church'
You can read my account of the walk to the church on my blog"
St Enodoc's church, south of the village of Trebetherick, Cornwall.
England grid reference SW931772
York is a must-see. There's something for everyone.
All the family will love a trip on your very own time-capsule at the Jorvik Centre - a thousand years of sights, smells and sounds of English history. Don't forget to have your camera at the ready for that must-have souvenir pic.
For those who like a bit more blood and guts, thrills and spills, the York Dungeons is an absolute must-see. The team there will educate and, above all, thrill you with an altogether more personal view to two thousand years of York's gory past with all its gruesome hands-on detail. This tour is first class, although only suitable for horror loving teens and parents brought up on Boris Carloff or Peter Cushing! The York Dungeon is pretty expensive so my tip is get the York Pass, which allows entry to a huge number of attractions in York at a modest cost.
The pass is also valid for the York Riverboat Cruise, where the adults can enjoy the captain's commentary while the youngsters can check out the river wildlife and take in the many interesting things to see along the river bank.
To make the most of York it's best to go mid-week, unless you enjoy milling your way through large crowds with plenty of hustle and bustle. A four day trip is probably ideal. Buy a two day York Pass, check out the Minster and few other attractions of your choice, and still have plenty of time to visit the character shops in all the old streets in the city walls.
There are plenty of things to buy for all depths of pocket and interest. For those who like a bargain
(and help others too), the city is well endowed with every conceivable charity shop under the sun. Eating out can be budget or haute cuisine. A good place to feed a hungry family at a modest price is Jumbo in Hudson St. This is a buffet-style Chinese, eat as much as you like of the very wide selection of good quality oriental dishes for every palate, at difficult to beat prices.
Why not try a stay at a B&B? I have no hesitation in recommending The Apple House (74-76 Holgate Rd) where Pamela will make sure you have a very comfortable room with all mod cons and supply you with a full English breakfast (or continental), all at a very reasonable price.
Finally, don't take the car. You'll see more and feel all the better by walking everywhere in the city. Great access and views can be had by walking the ancient city wall. Be warned, many areas along the wall are open at one side. Children and elderly, not to mention those who value life and limb will find it a bit daunting - take care and keep an eye on the children at all times.
If traveling in the UK, then the best way to get to York is by rail. York Station is convenient for the whole city. A first search on the internet will throw up some frightening prices but don't give up. Try National Express East Coast. Book a little in advance and you’ll think there is a mistake in the price you are offered. With a family you can book a seat with a table and have a little more comfort for reading and eating. These trains also serve hot food and drinks at reasonable cost and even have power points at the seats where the kids can hook up their DVD players or game consoles. Don't forget to take earphones or you'll have a lot of angry passengers for your trip.
Take a camera, get the York Pass and don’t over-crowd your time with too many museum and attraction visits. Leave time to enjoy the city, have a carefree coffee and find those serendipitous places that make your trip so special.
The brochs (drystone freestanding towers) up the valley in Glenelg are great to go and see. It's a nice walk and great for climbing on for children of all ages, and the settings in the glen is fantastic. There's also three of them.
Nearest village is Glenelg - take the road south and take the first left away from the coast just before the bridge. Follow for a couple of miles to find the first.
Dherinia lies on a hill, north of Ayia Napa in south-east Cyprus, on the edge of the no man’s land, which marks the border between the divided north and south.
One sunny, windy Easter-week day, we drove there and paid a tiny fee to climb steps from the haphazard garden of what is not much more than a shack, to a viewing platform where, through telescopes, you can scan a desolate and abandoned townscape of Famagusta, deserted during the conflict of 1974.
Our five-year-old son loved the telescopes and running round the platform, pointing out windmills and the sea, whilst our three-year-old daughter played happily (and safely) in the garden below, full of fig trees, plants and flowering bushes, feeding leaves to the giant tortoises that slowly ambled around a wire enclosure. We were mesmerised by the site of the empty buildings and houses, imagining the scenes on the day they were left amidst the violence and uproar.
Afterwards we sat in the garden at the wooden tables painted cobalt blue, having fresh, warm banana cake and tea, provided by the elderly, handsome owner, speaking grammatically perfect English - somehow a human embodiment of the region’s past. He has also lovingly curated a mini-museum to his country's sad history, with yellowing newspaper cuttings, photographs, signs and testimonies displayed. You are gently urged to write a comment in the visitors’ book before leaving.
The kids came away talking about their adventure and the fantastic cake. We adults found it an intensely moving, eerie and evocative experience.
Signed once you reach Dherinia, north of Paralimni in south east Cyprus.
Grand palace built for the emperor of China, fantastic site. To get the full experience I recommend the audio tour. Why? It guides you in English (or any other language) around the site explaining what went on. The best bit is the voice is none other than James Bond, Roger Moore.
Les Tuileries is the most central park in Paris. It stretches its 'à la Française' alleys and lawns along the Seine river from the Louvre museum to the Concorde square. There is a large round central fountain where an ancient Parisian hires out beautiful yachts made by himself - the boats sail across the fountain and the kids are armed with long canes to push them into another direction. We grabbed a coffee and sat around the fountain watching Paris go by and the kids were entertained by the boats for an hour - what more could you ask for 15 euros!
Use les tuileries metro station on line 1
Lydiard Park is a 260 acre parkland with a historic house and church, extensive park and grounds, lake, children's play area, and refreshments. Because it's only a few minutes' drive from J16 of the M4, I'm recommending it as an ideal stop for motorists.
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