The Chateau de Villandry and, especially, its gardens, are highly recommended if you are near Tours, or well worth going out of your way to visit if you are travelling through France.
The gardens in particular are delightful and anyone interested in growing vegetables as well as flowers will be thrilled by the extensive collections of plants set out in formal and ornamental beds surrounding this beautiful Loire chateau.
The buildings and gardens were rescued by Dr Joachim Carvallo in 1906 and have been in the care of his family ever since. Excellent shop and grounds with good access for people with mobility difficulties.
Chateau de Villandry, 37510 Villandry, near Tours, France. On route D7, some 14km west of Tours. www.chateauvillandry.com Ample free parking nearby.
If the weather is fine, the convent is a nice place to wander around for a reasonable entrance fee. It is an interesting insight into the past and the living conditions, plus some good photo opportunities.
The Convent is near the main square in the center of Araquipa. It is well advertised and signposted so you can't miss it.
Forget the mega cash cow that is the Yankees (Manyoo of baseball) as a Mets game helps you get under the skin of US culture and out into New York proper where the locals live and play.
Don't expect a footy crowd atmosphere but do soak up the family-orientated game that combines Mexican waves with drinking overpriced Bud and eating as much saturated fat as you can in three hours. Over 50k in Shea Stadium and even then it didn't seem full. What a great experience!
Get your cap and t-shirt, along with your tickets from the club shop on 42nd St near 6th Ave. Paid about 30 quid for two tickets but they start from only $9 (yes, $9!) depending on where you want to sit.
Brand new stadium being built next door opening in the next couple of years so you better be quick to get a sense of the history of Shea.
Take the 7 subway all the way from either Times Sq/42nd or Grand Central. The express misses out some of the local stops. The return is very simple as they run lots of trains so there's not much jostling to get a train.
Interesting alternative would be the ferry from South Street Seaport. Think it's only about $20 return.
Shea Stadium, Queens.
Take the '7' subway line from Manhattan
The Musee des Beaux Arts is highly recommended as it offers a fine collection of both painting and sculpture, and furniture, set in a building of considerable beauty and architectural interest.
Highlights include an outstanding group of Italian, French and Flemish paintings from the later Middle Ages donated by a local benefactor, a group that has been strengthened by the addition of two panels by Mantegna. Other very good pieces come from succeeding centuries and include work by Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Monet and Rodin. Altogether this is a first rate collection. The museum is set in a fine garden, and nearby is a huge 200-year-old Cedar of Lebanon.
Across from this tree and behind glass there is a stuffed elephant, once part of Barnum's Circus. This beast died while the circus visited Tours, just before World War I, and was promptly de-boned, stuffed and mounted. The result on show here is somewhat bizarre and looks like a very large, grey, hot-water bottle with four legs and a trunk. Worth a look, but the museum is the highlight.
Next to the cathedral in Tours city centre, 18 place Francois Sicard 37000 Tours. Note the museum is closed on Tuesdays. firstname.lastname@example.org
The chateau and the little town of Azay-le-Rideau are beautiful and justly popular. The chateau is a compact, wedding cake of pale stone, with its many turrets and pinnacles reflected in the moat that surrounds the entire building. It is set in parkland, and there are fine outbuildings, including stables.
There is a good museum shop with mementoes as well as scholarly material. Much of the town centre is pedestrianised and there is a large number of good hotels, restaurants and bars. Parking is plentiful.
The place is usually busy at peak holiday times but it can accommodate large numbers of visitors. Go out of the main season if you want it more or less to yourself.
Azay-le-Rideau is just off the D751, roughly halfway between Chinon and Tours, in the Touraine, France. Chateau Azay-le-Rideau 37190. www.monuments-nationaux.fr
The house and garden of the painter, Claude Monet (1840-1926), are now so popular that it is difficult to explore them without being accompanied, four abreast, by hundreds of people all keen to see and photograph every last feature of his kitchen, dining room, iris bed, wisteria arch and lily pool. But persist! The effort is worth it, especially if you can avoid the peak holiday periods.
The place is very beautiful, highly evocative and thoroughly well maintained. Everywhere you look, the paintings Monet created between 1883 up to his death are marvellously brought to life.
The inevitable shop, which is housed in the painter's former studio, where the huge waterlily paintings were made, is worthwhile and comprehensive. There are extensive free car parks nearby.
Fondation Claude Monet, 84 rue Claude Monet - 27620 Giverny, Eure, France. Tel (0033)(0)2 32 51 28 21. Entry 5.50 euro per person. www.fondation-monet.com
Don't take an expensive organised trip as it is so easy and cheap to do it yourself. The public bus (1.20s/.) will drop you off at the end of the road. You walk for about 10 minutes and you are there. Entrance to the ruins themselves costs 11s/.
Just outside Truillo
Just behind Qutub Minar and off the beaten track. A bit filthy but an absolute treasure house with old tombstones, forts, water bodies.
If you are hungry, look for the 'Royal Dakshin Restaurant' at one of the edges of the park.
If you decide to brave it until night falls then the djinns come out.
One of the most charming small museums in Birmingham with a recently added visitor centre and tea room. A real Brummy gem. The house itself is very small, but taken together this is a real treat.
Open from 31st March to 28th October
Tuesday to Sunday 11.30am - 4pm
Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays
Tel: +44 121 464 2193
The Custard Factory is a large former industrial complex housing creative businesses and a number of nice cafes and bars, including the Medicine Bar and Rooty Fruity.
There a few galleries, shops and showrooms that are also worth a visit.
You don't feel like you're in Brum when you visit this place, which for most people is a good thing.
The University of Birmingham's own botanical gardens. Much more interesting than the nearby Botanical Gardens.
Several acres of charming gardens and glass houses in the grounds of an old Victorian house. Adjacent to a small lake and woodland in the heart of Edgbaston. Absolutely delightful.
Winterbourne Botanic Garden
University of Birmingham
58 Edgbaston Park Road
Birmingham B15 2RT
0121 414 3832
This historic Grade 2-listed building is Birmingham's finest example of Victorian pub architecture, resplendent in decorative tiles and stained glass.
The pub serves Oakham's award-winning real ales, guest ales from the region and across the country and imported bottled beers from around the world. Authentic freshly cooked Thai food is served from 12 noon-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm Tuesday to Sunday.
One of Birmingham's true gems.
144 High Street
0121 333 5988
We took a day trip from Istanbul to Ephesus, the most famous ancient city in Turkey, by flying down in the morning and returning the same day in the evening.
It was a very convenient way of doing it for us as we only had a few days in Istanbul but this is somewhere we really wanted to visit as well.
Ephesus itself is only about 1 hours' drive away from Izmir airport and the flights take about an hour each way. We arranged it through a local tour company and found it very convenient as everything was included from the tour to flights and transfers. It was all very well organized so that we didn't find it too rushed or tiring, just as a very interesting day out.
You can see the day trip we did with them and some others here: www.toursistanbul.com/day-trips.htm
Even though it was just for a day, we found it very worthwhile and the city beautifully preserved.
The 'Church in the Rock' is the most striking piece of religious architecture in Helsinki.
The chuch was hewn from a huge chunk of granite, the walls left as jagged bedrock, into which a concrete altar was poured. The copper roof seems to float above the church as the light come from a circular window on to which the roof sits. A proper 'wow' moment.
Lutherinkatu 3, Helsinki
The ancient cultural remains at Sanxingdui are world famous, being among the most spectacular in the world. Their historical, scientific, cultural and artistic value is immense and still being uncovered.
Two large sacrificial pits discovered from July to September 1986 at Sanxingdui constitute one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century.
You can get there by bus from Chendu's northern bus station. It's a couple of hours and a local bus or taxi from the nearest town.
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