The library is a hidden gem, being one of the most important and remarkable collections in the country on the history of the radical, trade union and labour movement. As well as books, it has banners, prints, photos, posters, badges and many other artifacts.
The collection begins with Thomas Paine in the 1790s and goes right up to the present day, taking in chartists, socialists, suffragettes and suffragists, the Spanish civil war, the miners strike of 84/85 etc.
It was started by Ruth and Edmund Frow in their own home in the 1950s and now fills 40 rooms in a former Edwardian nurses home. Visitors are welcome by prior arrangement (phone or email first).
Sadly, Ruth Frow died on January 11 2008, aged 84.
If you want a two-hour-long, food/beer-sozzled route to see a Manchester City game, as well as a chance to feed some geese, this is my dream route to my seat in the East Stand lower tier from Piccadilly Square: from Piccadilly, with your back to 1960s megalith, Piccadilly Plaza, you head up Tib Street to the YADGAR curry house. If you're veggie, you can get rice and three curries for £3.00 - same price as a pint in some of the Northern Quarter bars. £3.90 and you get lamb or chicken toppings too. Best tarka dhal in Manchester.
After that, you could go further up Tib Street and drink in Centro and then have another pint in the Copper Kettle, a pub whose restoration ran out of money - look at the ceiling on one side of the pub, and then the other. One side was restored, the other remains as it was when the building was almost derelict. However, if you choose to hit Great Ancoats Street at this stage, all there is from there is street and no canal. Instead, after Yadgar, I suggest you go back towards Piccadilly and locate the Mother Mac pub, on a side street off Oldham Street. This, I imagine, will remain like something out of Victorian times even long into another era in which Manchester aspires to make its eastern central section resemble a damper, rainier New York.
From Mother Mac's, you could stock up on samosas at Marhaba, one of the other remaining low-price curry houses in the city centre, or maybe buy some bread and head towards the canal - there's an entrance on to the towpath on Ducie Street, which is the road bearing left as you reach the ramp leading towards Piccadilly Station. Once on the canal, the geese are very 'people-friendly' - in other words, mind your fingers.
Continuing up the canal, you'll reach steps at Great Ancoats Street. Following crowds towards the ground, my final stop is the Bank Of England pub. It's not just a no-frills pub - it's a no-stitching-at-all pub. The toilets are signposted by a male and female pointing figure silhouette shapes, but the male silhouette says 'women' on it and the female one 'male' - everyone turns the wrong direction the first time, like one of those psychological tests where they write 'blue' on a red-coloured board. Once you've survived this delightful obstacle course, remember, you've still got a football match to watch, and the return leg into town afterwards to negotiate. As is often said of Manchester City, it's the 90 minutes in the middle that ruins the experience.
Between Manchester Piccadilly and Sportcity.
Man-made floating reed islands holding 5-6 huts each afloat the mighty Lake Titicaca - breathtaking. Amantani natural islands housing approx 1,000 residents - magnificent. Staying with an Amantani family, cooking with them, laughing with them, playing football with them, dancing with them - unmissable.
STA travel do some great tours around lake titicaca and islands.
The islands are around a two hour boat ride from Puna.
In the heart of the old city, a truly beautiful cathedral. Pay 3 euros for the audio tour, and see a Goya, the putrified arm of some long-dead martyr... and would you believe it: the Holy Grail. Yes it's here, located at the end of the tour, in a dark, simple stone chapel, in the corner of the cathedral. Sit at the back and let the sun - passing through a high round stained glass window, decorated with the grail - land on your face. Incredible.
Plaza del la Reina
It is the oldest part of town and the highest. Its walls nad bastions are mostly still intact. You can start by climbing the stairs of one of the two remaining marble-white watch towers, Torre di San Pancrazio (Saint Pancras' tower). From the top of the tower you have a full view of the old town, which looks like a boat on the sea. After that you can wander in the narrow streets of the town that has changed little since the middle ages. You will find many artesan workshops and scenic views. You can then end your walk in one of its cafes: I recommend Libarium Nostrum, close to the other watch tower, Torre dell'Elefante (Elephant Tower), where you can sip your drink with a stunning view of the sunset on the eastern lagoon from an old fortified bastion overlooking the lagoon, the sea, and the old Stampace neighborhood.
You will see it from every point of the town. Local buses from central Largo Carlo Felice.
Yes, it's in all the guide books but the Alcazar is easily missed. From the outside it doesn't look anything special but inside it's magical and a lot less frantic than the Alhambra. If you visit make sure you spend some time in the gardens. If you only have an afternoon in Seville and have to choose between the Cathedral and the Alcazar then give the Cathedral a miss.
Plaza del Triunfo; tel: 954 502 323
High up in the limestone cliffs along the edge of the Mekong is the Buddhist pilgrimage site of the Pak Ou Caves. Accessible only by boat, the two caves have been filled with thousands of Buddha figures of all shapes and sizes over the years, apparently by local people who wanted to get rid of them but didn’t want to destroy them. Very atmospheric with spectacular views of the river.
25km from Luang Prabang, a 2-hour boat trip along the Mekong;
Pedro the Cruel's Palace (1364 with ealier bits). On a much more manageable scale than the Alhambra in Granada but even more beautiful. Interesting gardens at every turn. The gardens close at 5.00pm, so go ealier for the full experience. Opens 1.30pm Sundays, closed Mondays.
Patio de Banderos, close to the Cathedral;
tel: 954 502 323;
To be transported back in time, visit the Villa Oplontis, once home to Nero’s second wife before he kicked her to death in A.D. 65. Take the train to the next stop past Pompeii – Torre Annunziata, a seedy suburb of the Neapolitan conurbation once famous for its black velvet sand beaches, now infamous for its contribution to the crime columns of the local papers. A hand – written scrawl in the ticket office of the station advises directions to villa, including, “…and if you survive the crossing of the main road, continue along …”
It is a strange site to visit, all sound is blanked out in spite of its proximity to the road. Only birdsong is heard in the gardens of this well – preserved ruin. Here are decorations on the walls far superior to Pompeii, with clever illusionist motifs of rows of columns in perspective and tiny detailed paintings of birds feeding. Little imagination is needed to re – create life in this villa, the buildings of which alone cover an area of over a hectare.
Because it is such an undervisited site, it is a delight to ramble through this extensive villa and listen to the whispers of breezes through the leaves of the lemon trees where the ancient atmosphere of relaxation and contemplation linger on in spite of its violent owner.
At the Torre Annunziata rail stop outside Naples.
Formerly a 1920s French hill station, Bokor was abandoned in the 1970s. It's now a conservation area and at about 1000m, the views across to the coast are fantastic and the ruined hill station buildings, now turned rust-coloured by a covering of lichen, make it feel like a ghost town. You can explore the ruined church, villas and fantastic Bokor Palace Hotel with its old ballroom. Very atmospheric, especially as they are often surrounded by mist.
South east of Sihanoukville and around 40km from Kampot – a 2 hour drive by 4WD up very rough roads to the top. $5 entry to the National Park.
Recently refurbished, this is one of London's best museums. It has huge displays on such topics as the history of cruising and interactive exhibits like the ferry piloting simulator. The cafe round the back is rather nice too. A walk across the road will take you into the old naval college, whose chapel has a superb painted ceiling.
Park Row, Greenwich; tel: 020 8858 4422;
This Palace dates back to the 1400s AD and has real Roman mosaic floors. All of the furniture is left untouched, giving it an authentic grandeur.
8 Calle Cuna, on the northern edge of the Santa Cruz district;
tel: 954 227 802;
Entry is free - but beware there is a fee to pay if you want a tour of the top floor (used during the winter).
This is a restaurant in the Ribeira district of Porto. There are many similar looking restaurants on this waterfront however we believe that this one stands head & shoulders over the others. The menu range, quality of the food, friendliness of staff & the superb value all contribute to make this our top restaurant recommendation for Porto.
We had some bread/cheese, two very large mains, a bottle of wine & coffee & it set us back only €34.
We loved it so much we went back twice more. The view from the top window was amazing - looking over the Douro at the port lodges. For that alone the €34 would have been paid!
Cais da Ribeira, 37, halfway down the Ribeira waterfront in Porto.
The Cathedral is mainly visited for the incredible views from the top of its tower, the Giralda (the old mosque's minaret), but it is worth looking inside the main building as well. The church is filled with the jewels and gold brought by the New World wealth, and its scale is truly imposing: the beautifully carved organs are raised so high up into the dark ceiling that it is impossible to see them. All in all it helps you to understand some of the feelings behind the Reformation.
Avenida de la Constitución, in the centre, next to the Alcazar;
tel: 954 214 971
This wonderful Moorish palace next to the cathedral is very human in scale and the Islamic art is stunningly beautiful. Even on the very hottest summer days, the flowery gardens are an oasis of calm.
By contrast, the cathedral next door is a gloomy, depressing place. The Giralda is part of the Grand Mosque that the Christians incorporated into their church post reconquest.
Plaza del Triunfo, Santa Cruz, Seville;
tel: 954 502 323
The view from the top of the Giralda at the cathedral is worth the view, and the climb is sloping which is much easier than steps.
The Alcazar is beautiful and very cool and peaceful inside. Lovely gardens too.
La Giralda: Plaza Virgin de los Reyes;
tel: 954 214 971;
Alcazar: Plaza del Triunfo;
tel: 954 502 323
For the best view of Seville you just can't beat the one from the La Giralda - the highest tower in the city. It's a steep climb up the ramp but it's worth it.
Plaza Virgen de los Reyes; tel: 954 214 971;
Open: Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 2pm-6pm
Carmona is a beautifully located town founded by the Carthaginians and later made into a vital political and economic centre of the Roman and Moorish empires, giving it a glorious Roman necropolis with tombs, two gateways (Puerta de Sevilla and Puerta de Córdoba), a 15 century church (San Pedro) and an awe-inspiring Gothic Mudéjar-style church (San Felipe). There are numerous other Gothic churches, noble mansions and houses tucked away in the streets and squares of the old town, so just get lost in it all. To appreciate Carmona fully go up to the castle (now a parador) which looms over the town.
Carmona is 20 miles east of Seville, just off the motorway to Córdoba. Buses leave from Seville's Prado de Sebastian bus station (just across from Murillo Gardens) and the journey takes 1 hour.
The Roman city of Italica is one of the most important and largest Roman ruins in the whole of Spain. It is a great example of Roman architecture, with intact mosaic work, broad paved streets, and one of the largest ampitheatres (20,000 seater) in the Roman Empire. You can still walk around where the gladiators once walked. Hadrian (he of wall fame) was born here. The site is so large that it may never be completely excavated. It's 9kms north-west of Seville, in the village of Santiponce and is easily reached by local bus. Entrance is free if you take your EU passport, otherwise it's 1.50 euros. Closed on Mondays.
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