Out-of-town must, if you have more than a couple of days in Prague. This fortified 18th century town was used by the Nazis as a "model Jewish town" - a transit camp for thousands. It's a strange, fascinating place, oddly empty though a good many people have lived there since the war. Good museum includes a film made to fool the Red Cross, showing happy smiling people. The few communist-style shops evoke that era too. Very well worth a visit.
About an hour's bus ride from Prague, you can get a bus from the Florenc bus terminal; www.pamatnik-terezin.cz
Built in the Victorian times, it's fairly obvious that the Corn Exchange was the centre of the corn trade in Leeds. Now it is home to lots of small independent shops and shouldn't be missed by any visitors to the city. The beautiful domed roof can be admired from the around the top level of shops or from a cafe table right at the bottom.
You don’t have to agree with killing a bull to take a tour of the ring, its baroque façade and its underbelly. Beneath the stands you will be shown the operating theatre for unlucky matadors and the museum of fighting treasures – suits and statues of the famous.
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza; Paseo de Colón, 2; www.realmaestranza.com/
The Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, appearing on the city’s coat of arms.
When the Zmajski Most was built in 1901, dragons were incorporated into the design and now stand on guard at both sides of the bridge.
It was the intention that the bridge should be built to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Franz Josef’s reign and the bridge was named after him. However, who can compete with dragons and over the years the bridge’s original name has been discarded and its informal name adopted.
Legend has it that the dragons wag their tails every time a virgin crosses the bridge! I wouldn't like to say!
The Temperate House is the largest of the glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; in fact it's the largest, extant Victorian glasshouse in the world. Despite this fact, many visitors never reach it because it's a fair way from the main gate and it's hidden from view until you're almost upon it.
This is a shame because the Temperate House contains some fabulous specimens, including the world's rarest plant - a cycad called Encephalartos woodii - and the world's largest indoor plant, the 52-foot high Chilean Wine Palm.
In 1786 real estate was scarce in Paris, and overcrowded cemetries were too valuable to leave to the dead. The government decided reclaim the land by moving the bones to the empty underground limestone quarries at the edge of the city. By 1860, 5 to 6 million skeletons had been moved and arranged into mounds and macabre designs.
An unassuming black door opposite Denfert-Rochereau Metro station takes you to the underground passages.
The most beautiful town in the Kathmandu valley, Bhaktapur has a huge collection of beautiful temples which are a must-see. The area is closed to traffic, so everything is kept in excellent condition.
The entrance fee is a bit steep for Westerners, in comparison to prices in the rest of Nepal (800 Rupees, approximately £7), but definitely worth it. Apparently, this is where some of the film Little Buddha was shot.
Ask any taxi in Kathmandu to take you to Bhaktapur
A fascinating look into Berlin's tumultuous recent history and its glorious past. The tour takes in all the major landmarks, but what makes it extra special are the superb guides - they are knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and full of interesting anecdotes. They take you off the beaten track, revealing much of what made Berlin such a vast metropolis. You visit hitler's bunker, the largest remaining stretch of the Wall that still stands, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the dizzying TV tower. You will never learn so much in 5 hours as you will by taking one of these tours. They are good value, perfectly paced and laden with enough facts to make up for the times you fell asleep during history lessons at school.
Their leaflets are dotted around all Hotel & Hostel lobbies in the City Centre. Just turn up at the meeting point at the correct time, pay around 10 euros and off you go.
Maid of the Forth makes up to three trips to Inchcolm a day in the summer season, depending on tides. The trip takes three hours altogether. You pass under the Forth Rail bridge, see the islands in the Firth, and land on Inchcolm, an atmospheric island with a ruined Augustinian abbey and lots of sea-birds.
The ruins include some important rooms which survive nearly intact: an octagonal chapter house; a refectory with reading alcove (great acoustics in both); and the dormitory and calefactory.
In February 2011, Camberwell reopened after years of renovation work.
Now painted bright white inside, Camberwell’s pool has balconies lining the high walls, recalling those ancient, darker, brick-walled Victorian pools where I did my bronze medal life-saving awards many moons ago. The re-tiled 25m pool has very warm (for my chilly Atlantic and Irish Sea childhood training!) water and the clean, but damp changing rooms are also a little overheated. One drawback is the incredibly complicated opening time system, to cope with all the different sessions on offer, from aqua aerobics to ‘splash and floats’ to swim school. There are also many opportunities for lane swims, women-only swimming and general watery mayhem. When the lane system is in operation, some go clockwise, some anti-clockwise; I'm not sure why this is ... an anti-wave idea perhaps?!
The Victorian public baths first opened in 1892, and the grade II listed façade is in the Flemish Renaissance style, which explains why I always had a vaguely Antwerpian feeling when walking past!
There is also a friendly café, a gym and a sports hall within the historic, buffed up walls.
Camberwell Leisure Centre
Artichoke Place, off Camberwell Church Street, London SE5 8TS
+44(0)20 7703 3024
Buses 12, 36, 436, 345, 171, 68, 468 to Camberwell Green
Google map: bit.ly/ptl0Fi
Charlie Chaplin learned to tap dance on the wooden board covering the shoot down to the cellar outside his uncle’s cavernous yet cosy Jolly Gardeners public house.
Chaplin’s dad used to tinkle the ivories at the 120-year-old inn and scenes from the film ‘Snatch’ were shot on location here
Situated in the historic Black Prince Road, London’s first German gastro-pub has 16 great German beers gushing from gorgeous ceramic draught taps and 32 bottled brews. There are lots of 'weiss' (white) wheat beers and I sampled a version called 'Hell'....which was heavenly.
The kitchen serves up lots of sausages, schnitzels and Bavarian specialities. Two big screens show the German Bundesliga and we watched a medley of Wimbledon matches and live performances direct from Glastonbury. I won’t even mention what a great atmosphere there was during the football World Cup…!
Zeitgeist @The Jolly Gardeners
49-51 Black Prince Road, London SE11
+44(0)207 840 0426
Google map: bit.ly/j19D2I
This delightful garden was originally laid out by social reformer Octavia Hill.
Hill (1838-1912) was an amazing woman and way ahead of her time. She was a pioneer of affordable housing and many consider her the founder of modern social work. She campaigned tirelessly for the environment and open spaces and co-founded the National Trust, which today protects over 300 historic properties and keeps 250,000 hectares of land open to everybody.
Hill believed in humane housing conditions and arranged for the construction of two rows of pretty cottages and a community hall, designed by Elijah Hoole. The garden predated the buildings and was laid out in 1887. It was created to provide ‘an open air sitting room for the tired inhabitants of Southwark’ and had an elaborate layout of curved lawns, flower beds and serpentine paths, an ornamental pond with fountain, bandstand and covered children's play area. There were once two mosaics in the garden. One showing ‘The Sower' was restored in 2005 and can still be seen.
Bankside Open Spaces Trust used Heritage Lottery funding to restore the garden to its former glory, complete with pond, bridge, fountain, flower beds and paths winding through this lovely Victorian garden.
50 Redcross Way, London SE1 1HA
Jubilee Line underground to Southwark
Google map: bit.ly/jsTIXR
You might have thought Boris Karloff was born in a creepy castle somewhere in Eastern Europe, but, in fact, if you go to East Dulwich you can see a blue plaque on the wall of the house where Frankenstein's monster was born William Henry Pratt on 23 November 1887.
Boris Karloff birthplace
36 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich, London, SE22 0RR
Google map: bit.ly/kot5og
Nunhead Cemetery is one of the best places for a stroll in southeast London.
It's one of the least known, but most attractive, of the great Victorian cemeteries of London. Consecrated in 1840, it is one of the seven Victorian cemeteries established in a ring around the outskirts of London.
Some parts of the cemetery have been renovated in recent years, and the paths are well-maintained and the ruined yet elegant Anglican chapel sensitively preserved. However, there are also wild parts, with overgrown secret trails, romantic areas, spooky tombstones, beautiful trees, abundant wildlife and crumbling Gothic architecture to discover. It's a lovely place for a Sunday stroll and photo opportunities abound.
The Brockley Footpath, leading between the walled border of the cemetery and the covered reservoirs, is a strenuous workout, leading steeply uphill, but I wouldn't undertake it at night.
Nunhead Cemetery North Gate
Linden Grove, SE15 3LP
Google map: bit.ly/gfDp1e
Nearest overground railway station: Nunhead
While it feels a little odd to be recommending a visit to a cemetery, it’d be a shame to pass through Stoke Newington without experiencing the historic and very lovely Abney Park.
I enjoy wandering through and getting a bit lost in there once in a while, perhaps stopping for a quiet sit-down and a ponder on one of its old benches. It’s very peaceful considering it’s in an inner-city borough. When I’m deep inside, the whoosh of the Hackney traffic is almost completely masked by the tweeting of cheerful birds.
It’s overgrown and higgledy piggledy, with curious little pathways leading in between the ancient graves, some of which house beautiful stone statues. The park is a local nature reserve, and the eerily empty gothic-style chapel slap bang in the middle is now a Grade II listed building.
There are two entrances – the main one on Stoke Newington High Street and smaller gates on Stoke Newington Church Street. It's a lovely location to spend a quiet half an hour in London, and priceless on a sunny day.
The Thermae Spa in Bath offers what most do not – flexibility. A visit is easily slotted in before a shopping trip, after lunch or when your feet need a rest after exploring this stunning Georgian city. There is no need to book.
Although there are full ranges of treatments available, it is not really necessary to book one to have the full spa experience. A two-hour spa session at £24 is a relatively cheap and wonderful way to relax. That gives you plenty of time to use the four scented steam rooms, swim in the enclosed thermal ‘Minerva’ pool and have a glass of something in the Springs café. Finish the visit by floating in the naturally warm spring water Rooftop Pool overlooking the picture perfect Bath Spa rooftops.
The modern spa does feel a little utilitarian in places, after all, the council part owns it, but that adds to a unisex vibe that means men won’t feel as though they landed in the middle of an episode of ‘Sex and the City’. But remember, Bath being a tourist magnet, it is worth avoiding during the busiest times of the week.
Handsworth, an inner city suburb of Handsworth Birmingham wouldn’t be most peoples’ first thought as a place to revel in the glory of a British autumn, but at the heart of Handsworth is a gem of a park designed by Vertigens over 100 years ago and recently restored with heritage lottery monies.
What makes it stand out from so many others is the topography; wheelchair users should bring a strong pusher. It sometimes feels like three or four parks in one, so constantly surprised are you by the next view. Full of mature trees, it’s a great place to have a Sunday wander and wonder at colours, shapes lit with glorious autumnal light enhanced by the reflective bounce of two lakes.
Kids of all ages can collect conkers and leaves and when you need a break the Boathouse cafe sells gorgeous homemade cakes and dishes up chicken rice ‘n peas dinners on a Sunday. Heaven.
Entrances on Hamstead, Hinstock and Holly Roads B21. Use public transport, 20 min bus ride on the no 16 from City centre or use the car park by Holly Road gates.
During this tour you are being guided around the city and told things by someone who has experienced it. Guides have not just read about whatever they are talking about in a textbook. This results in these tours being really good.
Learn about the history, society, architecture and what Hungarians are actually like.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain)
Daily at 10.30.AM
A fabulous little bookshop, cafe, bar, sun-trap terrace and place to check your emails for free.
A 'living room' style ambience where you can feel at home.
Lots of fair trade coffees and great beers.
Situated in a historic house. a few minutes' walk from the Presidential Palace.
Really worth checking out, for a sit down and a hot (or cool) drink, and a great selection of new and used paperbacks.
Next Apache Panenská 28
811 03 BRATISLAVA,
Mobile/cellphone: + 421 903 818169
Monday - Friday: 9:00 - 24:00
Saturday - Sunday: 10:00 - 24:00
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