Converted Liverpool-built steam tug boat that plied its trade in Cape Town, now forms a stylish, excellent restaurant and bar, specialising in great local seafood, with views to match.
Positively cheap by European standards.
Seafront at Swakopmund, a delightful historic german port and popular seaside resort to get away from the desert heat
When I first visited Bergamo I found myself wondering why I'd never heard of it before.
Verona, Bologna, Naples are all of international renown yet Bergamo has something very special to offer, which for me eclipses the beauty of many other cities.
In simple terms, the lack of fame makes it quieter and less tourist-infested and, in addition, it's not a big city so less crowded but it's more than that of course.
So here are my 5 reasons to visit Bergamo.
1) The walled high town with its castle, university, cable car, cobbled streets, pedestrian area and varied restaurants offering beautiful views out over the plains of northern Italy
2) The excellent shopping area to be found in the low town.
3) The superb location, 10 mins from Milan Bergamo airport (Ryanair Hub) and 40 mins by train from Milan.
4) The hinterland that includes lakes, mountains and varied activities.
5) Its history and culture rival that of any other Italian town (perhaps with the exception of Milan, Florence and Rome).
I have written a destination guide at www.monticolo.it/bergamoguide.html
40 mins by train from Milan
10 mins from Milan Bergamo airport.
20 Mins from Lake iseo
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the top of Arthur's Seat - the large volcanic hill in the centre of town.
The views are amazing. Sturdy shoes are a must.
While there make sure you go on a pilgrimage to Hutton's section, the place where one of the great heroes of the enlightenment, geologist James Hutton, deduced in the 18th century that the world must in fact be millions of years old: "there is no vestige of a beginning nor prospect of an end".
Visit Edinburgh in the middle of winter - at Christmas or at New Year...?
Yes, and I recommend it!
The locals are full of bonhomie; every pub or eatery with a fireplace is welcoming; and the locals, who act as tourist guides at the castle and other touristy places, are happy to see you and have a chat.
Crowds? No ... have have the castle and the whisky tours all to yourself.
You can even venture out of town and maybe have a hit at St Andrews ('cos there is noone else there playing).
There is also the added bonus of Scottish New Year celebrations. Something everyone should do at least once in a lifetime: Hogmanay.
Downside? It's cold - very cold; sleeting and snowing, but hey, nothing a couple of jackets, coats, mufflers, gloves and hats can't fix.
Seriously: go and visit in winter;
it is a different place.
Nestling between legendary Slieve Foy and spectacular Carlingford Lough, the picturesque village of Carlingford is cherished for its medieval charm and cordon bleu cuisine.
A few miles east of Dundalk, on the coast.
If you have more time while in Italy and want to experience one of its most beautiful countrysides, take the Eurostar train from the Termini station in Rome and go to Florence.
The trip takes you about 1h and 50 min and it is all worth it. You dart through Tuscany at 200 km an hour on your way to Florence and you see for yourself the undulating hills, the cypress trees and on the top of the hill, villas and agriturismi Tuscany is known for.
And once you get to Florence go off the beaten tourist track – do visit the market of Florence and dive into the colourful atmosphere, the smell of leather and the art of bargaining. You can find there some great gift to carry home – especially the pashmina shawls and the silk ties.
I love going to Florence from Rome – even for a day and if you find the time to do it you will not regret it.
For more Italy travellers inspiration here is a cool blog: www.italytravelnotes.com
Really worth a visit! The Royal Pavilion is in the centre of Brighton set in beautiful gardens. Built for The Prince Regent, the architect Nash turned in into the Indian style building that exists today from 1815-23. The entrance price includes an audio guide to tell the story of the lavish interiors and the parties that took place! The banqueting room is extraordinary! Children can take part in the 'Dragon Quest' during this summer holiday too and 'tame the dragons' - lots of fun for the family.
Royal Pavilion, Brighton BN1 1EE,
A laid back, small town in the Roya valley hard up against the border with Italy.
Easily accessible by train from Nice and surrounded by beautiful hills perfect for exploring by foot or cycle.
Great entry point to the Mercantour National Park.
The town has its share of interesting buildings including an ancient bridge and the baroque Saint Michel cathedral set in an impressive town square.
With plenty of places to eat well Sospel is a peaceful haven away from the hectic coastal area.
Paul of Hidden Cambodia Adventure Tours looked after us from the minute we arrived to the minute we left.
He booked all accommodation, guides dinners & Angkor Tours. The big one for us was a 4 day 4WD adventure tour to Beng Mela and Koh Ker with an overnight in the village beside the temple. The second night was at Preah Vihear, a fantastic eleventh century temple on a mountain.
We stayed an additional night in Anlong Veng, a very interesting location which has strong Khmer rouge connections.
All in all, food, services and attention to detail provided, Hidden Cambodia was excellent and I would highly recommend them!!
Hire a car and drive the 45km coast road south from Alghero to Bosa.
Around every curve in the road there is a sandy cove or rocky inlet, blue-green water, cliffs and mountains.
It's hard to make any sort of progress along the road, as the water is just too inviting and the clifftop photo opportunities too many.
Bosa itself is an unspoilt town, overlooked by most tourists in favour of the nearby marina and beach. A ruined castle perches on top of a hill, from which cobbled streets and quiet squares tumble down to the river, lined with huge palms and elegant mansions.
Take the SP105 from Alghero.
If you stay in Mykonos, make a day trip to the island of Delos. According the Greek mythology the island was the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo.
Many historic temples, monuments and sites are here, such as the Lions Terrace with the famous statues of the lions, and the House of the Dolphins with amazing mosaics.
The Byzantine monastery of Virgin Mary Chozoviotissa is one of the top attractions of Amorgos island.
It was built in 1088 on a rock 100ft over the sea, and is a typical monument of Byzantine architecture.
Located near to Chora.
I hired Byzas tours to bring me to both Ephesus and Cappadocia from Istanbul because I only had eight days in Istanbul and did not want to waste any time organising it all.
I found them to be affordable and flexible. I got to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, but all I had to think about was being in my hotel lobby at a certain time. The guides were educated and interesting to talk to.
Some websites suggest doing things yourself, but there is so much history in Turkey that only a guide can put it in perspective (unless you plan on carrying a library with you).
Also, I compared Byzas' prices to the cost of doing it all myself separately, and it barely cost any more ... it might have been the same with all the things I didn't have to worry about such as highway tolls.
This hilltop town above Menton claims to be the highest coastal town in Europe at 780m above sea level, although even with a catapult you'd struggle to dive into the ocean from here.
The views over Menton, Monaco and the surrounding valleys are truly fabulous and there are at least a couple of restaurants to admire them from.
The town is only 20 minutes drive from Menton, or less from the corniche roads and motorway, but feels off the beaten track.
For the adventurous, try climing to the old XII fort and medieval garden at the top of the town which are in a shambolic state of disrepair.
The town contains numerous vaulted passageways and you can admire beautiful houses dating back to the XV century, with their magnificently restored doorways.
For those looking for more recent history, the town is the entry point for a tour into what remains of the Maginot Line fortress.
The restaurant with the best views in town is Le Righi, 1 place du fort, 06500 Sainte-Agnès. Reservations are recommended and can be made on: 04 92 10 90 88.
Sainte Agnes is 10km north of Menton. Menton is near the French-Italian border.
Leuven is Belgium's best-kept secret. You can find it 20km east of Brussels. The capital of Flemish Brabant, it has a lot to offer within walking distance.
The historic centre contains "Belgium's longest beer counter", and the "Oude Markt" (Old Market), where nearly 40 cafés await you.
Rather handily, the only other outlets on the square are two pharmacies.
Just round the corner is the Great Market, or "Grote Markt" - scene of one of Belgium's finest buildings, its 600-year-old town hall with hundreds of statues adorning its façade.
Turning right we come to Muntstraat, a cosier and much less commercial restaurant street than the Rue des Bouchers in Brussels and further up, Hogeschoolplein (College Square), where you can sit and eat salads which look like mini-gardens at De Werf restaurant and guest house.
In Naamsestraat, De Clijne Taefel restaurant offers the finest grilled food in 450-year-old decor.
400m further on, you come to the Great Beguinage (Groot Begijnhof), a Unesco World Heritage site, where an order of nuns lived in a self-contained village. It is now maintained by the University of Leuven, along with most of the other major buildings in the town.
Another very nice building to look at is the University Library in Ladeuzeplein. It was gutted during the war, but lovingly restored with help from other colleges and universities which pledged money for its reconstitution. All the names of those establishments which helped renovate it are grafted onto the pillars and walls of the building.
If you come on Saturday afternoon, the bell ringer performs a concert from St Pieters church in the Grote Markt, audible throughout the centre.
There are many festivals and events all year round, but here are a few:
Easter Folk Dance festival
High summer gastro-event:
City centre rock event:
Short Film Festival:
There is also a Christmas market in December and a yearly autumn market on the first Monday after the first Sunday in September. There are plenty of places to stay, and much to do in the surrounding region:
Tervuren, Brussels and Antwerp are very close by.
Take the E40 from Calais straight there. Follow signs to Brussels, take the ring road round the capital and drive for a further 20 minutes.
By train, 30 minutes from the Eurostar terminus.
A stunning group of coral islands 60 miles off Key West, only accessible by boat or seaplane.
The name comes from “tortugas”, referring to the then abundance of nesting sea turtles on the islands, with the word “Dry” added later to indicate to sailors that there was no water here.
The main island is home to the amazing brick construction of Fort Jefferson, built to protect young America’s shipping routes from the Spanish and then the English. It was later used as a prison for civil war deserters.
The islands have been called “the Galapagos of north America” because of the diversity of wildlife. While snorkeling – in perfectly clear water - you can see sharks, rays, hundreds of types of tropical fish and spectacular coral formations. Many rare birds, including masked boobies, sooty terns and frigate birds, only nest on or visit these islands.
Turtles lay their eggs here too, and you can occasionally see them popping their heads up above the surface.
There are two boat services and a seaplane to choose from.
We went on the Yankee Freedom ferry, which costs $139 per person, and includes breakfast, lunch, cold drinks and all snorkelling gear.
You can also camp on the island.
The D2566 from Sospel to Turini is better know to Monte Carlo Rally fans as the Col du Turini, and is awe inspiring in terms of scenery and challenging to drive or ride.
Half way along is the small church of N.D d'la Menour. You park and climb above and away from the road up to the small courtyard of the church.
It is blissfully peaceful with the smell of the lavender and buzzards circling below in the valley.
My brother and I spread my mother's ashes there, as a more beautiful spot I can't imagine.
D2566 from Sospel to Turini. Take the D2204 from Nice to Sospel.
Hong Kong Island has some fantastic beaches on the south side of the island.
Accessible by minibus, taxi and bus, these beaches can be a fantastic half-day out away from the city.
The beaches, from west to east, include Deep Water Bay, Repulse Bay, South Bay and over the point to Stanley.
Deep Water bay is a great place to enjoy the sun and sand and is connected to Repulse Bay around the point past Middle Island by a promenade (20min walk).
Repulse Bay is fundamentally a high-end residential area with a large beach and shops.
A short taxi ride from Repulse Bay is South Bay beach. This gem is usually less crowded and great for swimming and has a decent restaurant for snacks.
Over and around the point is Stanley (famous for its market) which has two beaches of note – the first is the main beach facing east (a short stroll from the main bus terminus); the second is St Stephen's beach. Facing into Stanley Bay, its a 15min walk along Wong Ma Kok Rd (taking you past one of HK’s many military cemeteries from WW2 – a sombre reminder of what went on here in recent history). Great for picnics and just enjoying the scenery, you can also take part in dinghy sailing and kayaking if you have the energy.
From Central Exchange Square terminus: to Stanley – 6, 6X, 260, 66 (6X, 260 via Deepwater Bay) all routes pass through Repulse Bay.
To South Bay: take a taxi from Repulse Bay (£2).
Crete is the most mountainous island in Europe. The link below gives access to reasonably-priced accommodation near Zaros, a quiet village on the southern slopes of Mt. Ida, far removed from the throbbing nightclubs (unfortunately) associated with Greek tourism.
Mountain biking, walking, bird watching, visits to nearby monasteries etc. Delicious food. Don't be put off by the website name - "agrotourism" is the Greek rough equivalent to rural eco-tourism, and has nothing to do with "aggro" lager louts!
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