Packed with colonial buildings and pickled charm, Fort Cochin is a gentle way of easing yourself into the sometimes Medieval comforts of India. Strolling through the flower-bordered lanes and weatherboard houses, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Sussex. Vasco da Gama first arrived on India's Malabar coast in 1498, returning for the third time in 1524 to die on Christmas Eve. He was buried in St Francis Church. This refreshingly unfussy building—the first European church to be built in India—still stands amid the banyan trees and cricket fields (unlike Vasco da Gama whose remains were removed to Portugal). Rubbed to a smooth polish by centuries of fervent worship, the wide flagstone floor is cool under bare feet. A high timber-beamed ceiling and rope operated punkahs (fans) bring some welcome relief from the relentless tropical heat of steamy Kerala.
Google map: bit.ly/JiMWQ8
When those ancient traders sailed from the Arabian Sea into the hectic spice port of Fort Cochin, they were greeted by rows of shore-based Chinese fishing nets. Crowding along the estuary, these primitive machines—like gigantic alien sentries from a Ridley Scott sci-fi film—have been in use for hundreds of years, and are found throughout Kerala's famous backwaters. Legend has it they came from the court of Kublai Khan, but the precise date is not known. Still in use today, the cantilevered contraptions stand around ten meters high, and about twenty meters wide. The nets dip in and out of the water all day, staying down for only five minutes before being levered back up. Fort Cochin is the best place to see them up close. Choose a fish straight from the net then watch it being grilled in front of you for a tasty supper.
River Road, Nr Vypeen ferry terminal, Fort Cochin
Google map: bit.ly/Ldl7Hy
Like an ornate old world cathedral, this monumental representation of Gothic-revival architecture—complete with turrets, lancet windows, gables, high arches, elaborate porches, decorative corbels, and jutting gargoyles—stands aloof from its flock, cut off by six lanes of shrieking traffic. A superb example of British nineteenth-century design, the UNESCO-listed building rivals St. Pancras station and pays homage to Notre Dame. The Victoria Terminus (which took ten years to complete) was opened in 1887, Queen Victoria's golden jubilee year, when it was also given her name. It sheltered the delicate wives and daughters of the Raj as they passed through its porticoes, in buttoned-up layers of silk and guipure, on their way to the cool refuge of a mountain hill station. Today's elegant Mumbaiker women use the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus for their daily commute. Gliding by in exotic embroidered saris, acres of fine gold, glittering embellishment, and precious jewellery, they mirror the elaborate finish of the walls and columns that hold up this masterpiece.
Mumbai CST Area, DN Road, Mumbai, India
Google map: bit.ly/KDbfoi
I found this interesting website about the historic port city of Portsmouth, with many great photos. The site is quite informative for visitors (it lists accommodation, food and drink apart from the tourist sights) but what makes it special is the way it is presented and the beautiful pictures. Makes you want to go now.
Having lived in Central America for many years, we returned there to introduce our two young daughters to one of our own favourite places – Hotel Perkin Lenca, high in the northern mountains of Morazan, El Salvador. Swinging in hammocks on their cabin porch drinking fresh orange juice and clean air, watching long-tailed blue-crowned Motmots (Torogoces - the Salvadoran national birds), flitting about the branches in front of them, with stunning views over the mountains that fade into the horizon. They fell in love with it all, long to go back, and now judge much foreign travel by this memorable experience.
This eco-friendly (and kindly priced) hotel is committed to the sustainable development of the area founding the nearby Amún Shéa school, a centre for integrated development, where students, parents, teachers and administrators work together to create an alternative educational system pertinent to local needs. Morazan was one of the major theatres of the Salvadoran conflict in the 70s and 80s. The nearby small town of Perquin provides an ideal place to learn of the history of that conflict, particularly through its small museum, and Perkin Lenca, the hotel, and its charitable Perkin Educational Opportunities Foundation, is an ideal place to learn of innovative ways forward from poverty and conflict.
Perkin Lenca is, for us and our children, delicious, distinctive Salvadoran food, beautiful stone and log-built cabins, hot showers, stunning scenery, comfortable climate, genuinely friendly people and an inspiring commitment to the sustainable development of the area.
Km. 205 ½ Carretera a Perquin
El Salvador, Centro América
+(503) 2680 4046
Tel Aviv is a fascinatingly diverse city and one of the reasons is its incredible collection of Bauhaus architecture which is actually the largest collection in the world.
The architecture covers much of the 'old' part of the city (really it's only about 100 years old) but if you have a limited amount of time, don't be tempted to spend it in a museum if you haven't explored here.
Michael Herbert runs a regular programme of historical walks, which as the name suggests, focus on Manchester and Salford's radical history from Peterloo to the present day. The programme includes introductions to Manchester and Salford as a radical city, women's history, votes for women, trade unionism and literary Manchester. The walks last about two hours. Michael is a very knowledgeable guide with a background as an historian and a trade unionist in UNITE. He is the author of a number of books on Manchester's history.
It is not until the last coach full of day trippers departs that you really appreciate the quiet beauty of this 18th century monastery. Situated in a valley 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by the impressive mountains of the Sierra de Tramuntana, it is a spectacular location for quiet reflection. Listening to the resident choir school, who sing morning and evening, is a beautiful experience for both believers and non-believers alike. The monastery is an ideal base to explore the mountains, by foot or mountain bike. There are numerous trails direct from the monastery: you could hike up the Puig de Massellana (1364m) or follow the old paved Pilgrims trail to Caimari. Outside the monastery there is an information office for the Tramuntana range with helpful English speaking staff.
With simple, functional accommodation and a range of local rustic fayre from no less than three restaurants, a cafe and a bakery it has something to suit all budgets (the cafe is best value). But beware - it will not suit party animals - you are expected to be silent after 11:00 pm!
Plaça dels Peregrins, 1, 07315 Escorca, Mallorca, Illes Balears
+34 971 87 15 25
Google map: bit.ly/KyR2ET
Bus Connections to Lluc: There are buses to and from Inca and Palma. In summer (May-October) there are also public buses from Port d`Soller, Alcudia, Can Picafort and Pollensa. There are also Tourist day trips from most towns, or you could plan as stay as part of a hike or bike across the Tramuntana range (which is what we did).
We stayed here on our honeymoon and it was the most amazing place. In the middle of the jungle, it took hours to get there but when you have to stop the car to let elephants cross the road, you don't mind! Was in a perfect place for exploring Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and doing a safari. Although nature was everywhere - monkeys came and tried to steal our peanuts as we were having a drink in the bar one night! Want to go back at some point with our two sons.
It's a really picturesque market town - me, my husband and two boys love to go there on a day trip. There's loads of lovely independent shops, fab family friendly pubs and restaurants, a castle (my four-year-old loves it!), a walled garden and plenty of walks and fresh air! Well worth a visit. Always come away saying we wish we lived there!
Arta is a small, picturesque town in north east Mallorca. It is quaint, non-touristy and has charm in abundance. It is relatively easy to rent a lovely traditional house in the vicinity - we did, one with olive trees, vines, small pool and beautiful rustic character. The Sanctuary of Sant Salvador is worth seeing on top of the hill and the local caves are a must (Victor Hugo and Jules Verne have signed the visitors book!) It is a quiet unspoilt corner of the island, great for children, the locals love them. You can get to the coves and nearby beaches easily in a car and further afield are the sights of Pollenca, Soller and the wonderful Tramuntana mountains.
Puerto Pollenca is a small port town on the north east coast of Mallorca. The town itself is close to the family tourist centre of Alcudia so it is very well serviced and accessible. The beach is pretty, and the port is very scenic. Puerto Pollenca is only a few kilometers from the historic town of Pollenca and also a short bike/ bus ride away from the Roman ruins at Alcudia. These ruins are extensive and unspoiled; the atmosphere is miles away from strip hotels and bars. Perfect for picnics and walking. The flat land in the area makes it ideal for a morning or late afternoon bike ride. Definately recommend.
Google map: bit.ly/JvktD2
An apartment in the medieval monastery of Lluc, high up in the wild Tramuntana mountains of northern Mallorca. Surrounded by a sacred forest of holm oaks with magnificent walks, the only sounds you’ll hear are sheep bells or the Blauets from the monastery’s choir school singing the salve every day. Thick ancient walls make it pleasantly cool even in high summer, and the local produce is delicious.
Tempelhof is a recently disused airport that has become one of the largest green spaces in Europe. Best way to enjoy it is to rent a bike and cycle down the runaway at full speed. Go on, VRROOOOOM!
Tempelhof S-Bahn (you can take your bike on the train)
Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Berlin, Germany
Google map: bit.ly/JWW8FY
It's free and they have the real Checkpoint Charlie (the one the tourists go to is a replica of a earlier version.) Plus a cool 1940's jeep and lots of other military stuff.
Richmond is a Georgian market town with a fantastic Norman castle. Big cobbled market place. Lots of lovely walks. There's an abbey, museums, parks, shops, restaurants, pubs. It's just lovely to live in or visit Richmond.
Google map: bit.ly/JP0l16
Kiplin Hall is a Jacobean house built in the 1620s by George Calvert, founder of Maryland. The house is furnished as a Victorian country house with the possessions of former owners. Many fascinating objects and stories, portraits and paintings. The room stewards are always friendly and informative. The large gardens are fascinating and work is going on to restore them. To top it all, there's an excellent tea room.
There are more than the guide places to visit in Barcelona, as a lot of people know you can visit the Olympic areas, Gaudi buildings, the Ramblas and the shopping center. But there is another city. You can get lost in the streets in l'Eixample and visit the gardens inside the 'illes' where you can see flowers, pedestrian areas or pools. You can also visit the old narrow streets in the Gothic neighbourhood and look at the names of these streets that make reference to the work that was done there, in each street lives one 'gremi' and the street has taken the name, for example Carrer cotoners in English Cotton spinners street. You can also visit the remains of the Roman wall that was used to build a new buildings on top.
A small-size, genuinely Catalan family resort where you can lose track of time and enjoy the moment. Its long sandy, spotlessly clean beach will delight kids of all ages. When you've had enough lying on a towel, walk the coastal path between the medieval castle and the nearby town of Palamos, taking in ever-changing sea views, the beautiful palm-lined promenade where the locals take in the sea breeze and watch the world go by. Stop by a beach shack for a cool beer and pan con tomate (toasted bread rubbed with a fresh tomato), or try one of the many family-run restaurants along the promenade that offer freshly cooked Catalan dishes at affordable prices. When you've had enough, head for Girona and its medieval Jewish quarter, Cadaques where Dali resided or the amazing Greco-Roman site at Empuries, big enough to rival Pompei, complete with a Phocean breakwater in place since 600BC.
Go self-catering - most accommodation in these parts come complete with swimming pool and terrace.
We recommend to go to this place because it is a nice place where you can see a lot of little white crabs in a cave with beautiful views, which was created by a volcano that erupted 3000 years ago.
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