The Astor, built in the 30s, is one of the last original 'art deco' buildings left in Melbourne. And it’s in great condition with amazing interior and exterior decorations and great armchairs to sit in and watch the movies. A grand old arthouse cinema. Go watch a movie there in 70mm grandeur!
Cnr Chapel St and Dandenong Rd, St Kilda;
Nearest station is Winsdor, and the theatre is walking distance from there;
tel: 9510 1414;
The Castelo de Sao Jorge is one of the most peaceful spots in Lisbon and has fine views over the city. It's a great place from where to watch the sunset.
When we were there, the Emperor Hirohito's son and heir were filming the amazing sunset.
Follow up with an evening meal in the Alfama district below the castle at the Esquina de Alfama for good value Portuguese food (tasty sardines!)
This vast neoclassical monument has a huge dome and a façade with twin bell towers decorated with an array of statues of saints and allegorical figures. The spacious marble interior contains an elaborate tomb of Queen Maria I, and a life-size Christmas manger composed of more than 500 figures. Free entry.
Praça da Estrela (tram 28 stops right outside);
Open daily 7:30am-1pm, 3pm-8pm
The Groeningemuseum is a small, fascinating world-class art gallery/museum in Bruges.
The permanent collection includes paintings by early Flemish artists Jan Van Eyck and Hans Memling plus works by Gerard David, Hieronymus Bosch and, from more recent times, Paul Delvaux and Rene Magritte. Quite an impressive ‘cast-list’ for a museum of only 11 rooms.
The rooms take you through different periods and styles in art i.e Flemish Primitives, Renaissance and Expressionism. You can compare a number of paintings on the theme of the 'Last Judgement' – including the disturbing but compelling imagery of Bosch’s version. Jan Van Eyck’s 'The Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele' is wonderful in its detail; you can almost feel the texture of the robes and clothing depicted in the painting. Disturbing could also be used to describe Magritte’s 'The Assault' although, as with so many Surrealist painters and particularly Magritte’s dream-like images, what may seem unsettling to one person can be quite un-perturbing to another.
The museum hires out a very informative audio guide, which gives you historical and artistic details about a number of the paintings.
The small scale of the museum means that you can look round the whole of it quite happily in a couple of hours, each room having a kind of theme based on an artistic movement or period - this gives a good historical reference point allowing you to compare and contrast different styles, artists and their interpretations etc.
The quality of art on display is excellent - this really is a jewel of a museum and I would recommend that anyone visiting Bruges pay it a visit.
050 44 87 11
Cost: 8 euro per ticket plus 3 euro for the audio guide
Opening Hours: 9.30am-5.00pm (closed Mondays)
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall, the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.
It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals and visitors alike. There is also an intimate feel about the square, but without it seeming small, and an openness about it without it feeling bare and exposed.
As an introduction to Tallinn's Old Town you can't do worse, and as a place to visit in and for itself you can't do worse either.
The construction of the Cathedral took from the 16th to the 18th century. It was built over the former Central Mosque and shows a mix of gothic, renaissance and baroque motifs. It is also the centre point to begin a walk around the town to discover its secrets.
Plaza Pasiegas, just off the Gran Via de Colon.
Quelez Palace was the summer palace of Portugal's royal families and dates from the 18 century. It is a splendid example of rococo architecture and has a magnificent interior.
Lg. do Palácio Nacional, on the western outskirts of Lisbon in the Amadora district. It is a 5 minute walk from the Amadora Este metro station (the terminus of the blue line). Closed Tuesdays.
This is an impressive monument dedicated to the many explorers who set off from the Torre de Belem to expand Portugal's empire in the Americas.
Praca da Boa Esperanca, Av. de Brasilia;
tel: 21 301 6228;
Tram 15 stops in front on the Torre de Belem which is a 5 minute walk away from the monument itself.
This octagonal tower is both the national landmark of Lisbon and a World Heritage Site. Inside the tower there is a small expedition about its history as a setting off point for voyages of discovery to the Americas, and you can climb up the top for views of the Tejo river.
Avenida da India;
Tram 15 stops right in front of the tower but you have to cross the busy main road via a footbridge.
This medieval castle built by St George to defend the city from invading Moors has endless views of Lisbon. It gives a great perspective of the city's gridiron layout and location of the great sights. Beware of slippery stones when it's wet though.
Largo do Chao da Feira, n the centre of the Alfama district. It's clearly signposted from the Praca de Comercio and the Baixa district (n.b: the metro doesn't cover the Alfama district);
tel: 21 887 7244
Get lost in the Alfama district. It is the real Lisbon, as it is the only district not to have been flattened by the great earthquake of 1850. The maze of confusing cobbled streets leading to the Castelo de São Jorge contain houses showing examples of azulejo tiling. Look out for the viewpoint with a beautiful mosiac of the city and a pond, looking out over the Tejo river and Ponte 25 de Abril.
A 5 minute walk to the east of the Praca de Comercio. The metro doesn't cover the Alfama area, but it's better to walk anyway.
This is one of the most lively squares of Lisbon, and one of the most beautiful in my opinion. In the middle stands the statue of Dom Pedro IV and on each side there is a beautiful fountain. The D. Maria II National Theatre is situated at the northern side of the square next to the glorious Triumphal Arch. If you want to rest and have a bica (coffee), then choose one of the many cafés or pasteleria's situated on each side of the square.
At the southern end of Avenida da Liberdade, on the southern bank of the Tajo river.
This cathedral was the first church to be built in Lisbon and has a great altar and stained glass windows. The exterior of the chuch is better than the interior though.
Largo da Sé, in the Alfama district, on the way to the Castelo de São Jorge;
tel: 21 886 67 52
A spectacular museum with fine examples of European and Japanese art by Bosch, Raphael and many more artists. It contains the beautiful 'Veneration of St Vincent' which is the most important painting in Portugal. A return visit is necessary to appreciate it properly.
Rua das Janelas Verdes 1249-017, in the Chiado district. Tram 28 stops right outside the museum;
tel: 21 391 2800;
www.mnarteantiga-ipmuseus.pt (in Portugese)
The Castelo dos Mouros offers astounding views of the hills around Sintra and of the Atlantic Ocean. But watch out for slippery stones on the castle walls (especially when wet) as it's a long way down if you fall! When I went there was mist over the hills which made it very eerie.
Pena Road. About 3.5 km from Old Quarter, on the road to Pena Palace (buses go from Sintra's train station);
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
Loch Ness is truly an amazing place and a must for every Highland visitor. The amazing blue colours are truly spectacular, and keep on changing with the day, and you might just end up watching Nessie the monster, who seems to be asleep every time I’ve been there. It’s truly a romantic place and you can even take a boat ride on the Loch through Jacobite Cruises.
For a spectacular view of Loch Ness, visit Urquhart Castle, situated on the banks of the Loch. Its visitor centre is new and really good, and the castle (now ruins) provides an excellent spot for pictures.
Try catching these places on a nice sunny morning, otherwise you might miss all the beauty of the mist. Private tours are available (specialised and affordable) but you can always join in on the regular day trips from Inverness city centre. If you are a bike freak, hire a bike from hotels or local shops. Loch Ness is one place you will never forget.
Loch Ness is approximately 1 Hr drive by car from Inverness and Urquhart Caslte is just on the way there. Buses depart from outside the tourist office in Inverness;
Sintra is a beautiful town set in spectacular mountain scenery. Must-see sights are the Palacio da Pena (like something out of Disneyland), Palacio Nacional and the Castelo dos Mouros.
All of the sights are a 10 minute walk from Sintra's train station and sturdy shoes are a must. A bus goes up the steep hill to the palaces and castle from the station.
Sintra lies 30km to the west of Lisbon. Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
The Wall still elicits fascination among visitors, and there are a handful of sites where it lives on. Some stretches have monument status, and the area around Bernauer Strasse, where the wall ran along one side of this street, has become well-known as a symbol of the Wall’s inhumanity. A stretch of it have been preserved here, and the nearby Documentation Centre helps shed some light on the Wall’s tragic history.
If you want an idea of what Berlin looked like before the war then head to Prenzlauer Berg, which is a sort of mirror image of Kreuzberg. Like its West Berlin counterpart, Prenzlauer Berg kept its traditional tenements and has a working class district tradition. The wall defined the western edge of ‘Prenzl’ Berg, which was also a centre of alternative culture during communism. Now the district has become increasingly trendy and is seen by some as the ‘New Kreuzberg’. It’s a favoured spot among West Berliners, given the new trendy bars and restaurants that are opening up, particularly around Sredzkistrasse/Husemanstrasse/Knaackstrasse. But despite this, Prenzlauer Berg keeps its distinctive character.
U-bahn line U2 to Senefelderplatz, Eberswalder Str or Schonhauser Allee. Trams also run to Prenzlauer Berg from Hackesche Markt
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