Film-lovers cannot miss ‘The Third Man’ Guided Walk in Vienna. This unique tour will trace the steps of Orson Welles (as Harry Lime) and Joseph Cotten (as Holly Martins) and will take you to most of the film locations in central Vienna, put the movie in a historical context and tell you curiosities about the filming, Orson Welles and the locations themselves. It will even take you to a special location where the film’s famous soundtrack is played by a scitar player, creating a truly special atmosphere. ‘The Third Man’ was shot on location all over the Austrian capital and this walk will give you a great insight of the locations of this classic film and what it was like to live in post-war Vienna. This guided walk was created by Dr. Brigitte Timmermann, the founder of Vienna Walks & Talks and it runs Mondays and Fridays at 4:00.
Mondays and Fridays at 4:00pm.
The tour starts at: U4 Station Stadtpark, Exit Johannesgasse.
Time: 2 to 2.5 hours
Magistrat der Stadt Wien, Wien Kanal
+43 1 4000 3033
Google map: bit.ly/GT8Jg8
Great guides that offer a different perspective of Berlin. Take a guided tour of underground bunkers where civilians and military sheltered during WWII. Fantastic atmosphere, enthusiastic and knowledgeable multilingual tour guides. The tours are run by The Berlin Undergrounds Association who are a group of enthusiastic volunteers.
Also perfect activity for wet days, snowy weather and when it is bitingly cold outside. Pre-booking is recommended and there is a great website with lots of extra information. It is not really a suitable trip for little children and people with special accessibility requirements might want to check in advance if the tour is suitable.
Tours cost around 10Euros and last a couple of hours.
+49 (30) 499 105-17
“Hi there. You knew it would come to this didn’t you? An American showing you London. If you can’t hear, speak up, because you ain’t heard nothing yet.”
David, our London Walks guide, manoeuvred us away from the traffic and chain shops of Kensington High Street into a Russian doll’s London within a London of the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
First stop, the early 20th century and the art deco Barker’s Department Store, then onto Kensington Square, with its Regency houses lived in by the likes of William Thackeray and John Stuart Mills.
David took us into St Mary’s Church, pointing out the “Healing” window, funded by the Royal College of Surgeons. Out of the church and through a scattering of graves and daffodils and onto another narrow row of houses where T S Eliot and Ezra Pound had both lived and written.
Now down a narrow, cobbled lane, straight out of a Jane Austen novel, lined with tiny shops converted from stables.
We strolled along ‘Millionaire’s Row’ arriving at Kensington Palace, the sunken gardens and David’s last tip, to “Forget the Ritz, take tea at the Orangery.”
Full of enthusiastic information delivered in an entertaining, professional and friendly manner, this was one of the best value for money, interesting experiences I’ve had in London.
This was the Old Kensington walk but London Walks do lots of walks to suit all ages, interests, tastes. No need to book and timetable on website. Cost £8.00
+44 (020) 7624 3978
York is a beautiful city, brimming full of history. A different and fun way of experiencing the impact of all the history and blood shed, from the Vikings, through the Romans to Dick Turpin and the the more domestic murders in the pubs and riversides, is to go on one of the many guided ghost walks. You get to hear facts, and more imaginative telling of all the gory history, with all the thrills and jumps from the aspiring actors and story tellers. Great for all ages, but not the over imaginative or feint hearted.
Through out the city you can see meeting points and tour start times.
A local guide made all the difference on a fully packed guided walking tour of the Turkish Aegean. In seven days we visited 12 sites of antiquity, from the abandoned Alinda, part of Anatolia, once visited by Alexander the Great, to the bustling Ephesus. Ephesus has been restored to such an extent that as you walk towards the Library of Celsus, it is easy to imagine the crowds turning up to see Antony and Cleopatra. Other visits took us to ancient deity worship in temples of Apollo and Aphrodite, Ionian sites of Priene, Didyma, Miletus and the ‘frozen waterfall’ and Roman Spa of Pamukkale.
Eric Lynch is a black scouser. He developed this tour to "read" the buildings of Liverpool - the docks where the slave ships sailed from, and the wealth created from the trade, especially the banks. It is surprising to see how honest the banks were about the source of their wealth - with reliefs on the outside and paintings on the inside showing shackles and whips and cotton. Absolutely fascinating and be quick! Eric is getting on and hasn't got the energy he once had, but he still goes those few extra yards to show you the site of his birth and buildings associated with Liverpool's alliance with the southern states in the civil war in North America. His stories are pure gold. Do it while it's available!!
An alternative and uncrowded way to see Mount Sinai and St. Catherine’s Monastery. Sheikh Sina is Bedouin run, the guides have local knowledge and as a couple we had our own guide. Most tourists climb up Mount Sinai to see the sunrise and the summit can be busy. This walk up the basins of Ras Safsafa is an alternative path. There are a series of basins joined to Mount Sinai, each with a small chapel and garden. Setting off mid-morning we didn't see another soul until we were about half an hour from the summit in the late afternoon. There are amazing views down onto the monastery that most people never see. We took our time with a gentle walk up to the basins and had a simple lunch and rest at Elijah's Basin, just below the summit. We then climbed to the summit for the sunset where there were a handful of people. The view and the colours illuminating the rocks were beautiful. Afterwards we made our way back down to Elijah's Basin where we stayed overnight; our overnight bag which had travelled by camel was waiting for us. The night sky was incredible and the Bedouins cooked us supper which included delicious fresh, warm flatbread. In the morning we emerged from our warm camel hair blankets and tucked into breakfast while watching a very long stream of people climbing down from the summit after the sunrise. The walk down the Steps of Repentance to St Catherine's Monastery, where we rejoined the crowds, was knee-shattering but our guide was attentive and supportive, even carrying our overnight bag! The pace of the walk, the land and sky scapes and the Bedouin people made this an unforgettable experience!
El Milga, St. Katherine, South Sinai, Egypt
+20 69 347 0880
Edinburgh is UNESCO's first world city of literature. Everyone from Burns to Stevenson and Conan Doyle to Ian Rankin lived or wrote here, and a walk with a drink is the best way to find out about them. The Edinburgh Book Lovers' Tour takes you through the Old Town at night, weaving from pub to pub telling stories and reciting extracts. If you're a particular fan of just one grumpy detective, Rebus Tours will take you to the scenes of some of Britain's best-selling crime novels.
In 2011 we visited Amritsar, northern India, best known for the Sikh Golden Temple, as well as Jallianwala Bagh, scene of a terrible massacre of civilians by the British.
The Heritage Walk is organised by the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, and our guide was Ravi. The walk took us back through 450 years of the history of the Old City of Amritsar, and off the usual tourist beaten track to 17 sites of religious and historical importance. Ravi's passion for his city was infectious as he pointed out so many interesting landmarks and details that visitors would never really notice, such as an ancient banyam tree growing through neighbouring shops and houses, temples of every variety and era, and piles of wonderful spices. There was a rundown square, once so grand, then used to house the Gujurati community who were invited into the city to encourage commercial development. Looking upwards we were shown delicate trellis work and frescoes around old balconies which were once the pride of British houses. We came to the "crawling street - flogging booth" named after more cruelty by the imperial soldiers, but now dangerous to approach due to the number of wild dogs.
The walk starts at 8.00am before the crowds, horns and mayhem fill the streets; but we did come across the street sweepers and occasional cow. After an absorbing two hours we emerged just by the Golden Temple. Ravi made it a truly fascinating walk, an experience to be recommended.
My highlight of Australia was a walkabout tour of the Blue Mountains near Sydney.
The Blue Mountains walkabout would not be everybody’s cup of eucalyptus tea. It’s quite strenuous and you will get dirty. But if you want an escape from the frenetic pace of Sydney, see more of the Australian bush than you would in a whistle-stop bus tour and gain a real insight into Aboriginal culture, this is a MUST DO.
Evan Yanna Muru, our tour guide of Aboriginal descent, met us at Falconbridge station which is approximately an hour’s train journey from Sydney’s Central Station. As a former tour guide myself, I am hard to please but I can honestly say that Evan is one of the best. He is passionate about Darug (the Aboriginal tribe that lived in the Blue Mountains) culture and his knowledge of his heritage is vast and deep. The tour group was small and they were an eclectic and interesting crew – ranging from a business tycoon who followed the road less travelled to become a volunteer in Namibia to a technical architect with Sony Playstation who was about to climb Everest.
Most of the 8k walk is off-track and therefore the terrain is rough. You do not need to be super-fit but you do need to be surefooted. However, there are compensations - our group did not encounter one other person all day. Other than our voices and movements, no other noises interfered with the bush soundscape.
I felt slightly ashamed that the Irish who settled in Australia were among those who condemned this ancient culture as primitive. I winced at the irony that many of the Irish convicts, who were transported to Australia for petty crime (I would argue partly because they themselves were dispossessed), went on to drive the Australian natives off their land. The Darug aborigines occupied the Blue Mountains for 50,000 years. Within two years of white settlement (1788), smallpox had killed more than half of this tribe. By 1860 the last of the full-blood Darug people had died.
Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to swimming in a billabong so we had our lunch sitting round a campfire in a sandstone cave. We drank eucalyptus tea and toasted marshmallows.
I do not want to give the impression that the walkabout is too worthy – we chatted and joked and finished the day, weary but exhilarated, in the pub.
Go on a tour of Nottingham with Robin Hood! The guide, Ade Andrews, is great in character as the legend himself, bringing to life the stories and tales of the man in green tights. Great way to explore Nottingham and learn more about its most famous son.
A really interesting guided walking tour of Nottingham exploring some legends and villains. Robin Hood of course is included, but it also covers Torvill and Dean, DH Lawrence, Lord Byron - all sorts of stories that really bring the city to life. A great way to see lots of interesting historic spots in the city's laneways too.
We wandered round the streets alleyways and canals. Venice is a great city to get lost in. Taking in the history and architecture while listening to the sound of opera coming from the shops. Stopping now and then for chicheti (bar snacks) or to share a deliciously thick Italian hot chocolate.
We eventually got to our destination, Rialto, and then it started to snow. Venice is romantic at anytime but in the winter it’s never bettered.
Moorea may win your heart. Her snaggle-tooth volcanic fangs rear from thundering Pacific surf; Arthur Frommer - of the self-named guides - says she is the most beautiful island in the world; and Marlon Brando fell for his Polynesian female lead when making Mutiny on the Bounty here (for a tryst with a twist take the yacht-trip to Tetiaroa atoll, once the Brandos’ private South Seas love-nest).
But Moorea has a love rival: one short ferry ride and suddenly you’re being seduced by Tahiti. See the Gaugin museum then go on to the small village of Mataiea where, beside the lagoon, English war poet Rupert Brooke spent some of the final weeks of a brief life with Mamua, his Polynesian lover. Here he wrote his most acclaimed poem. Called Tiare Tahiti, it was for her.
What better than Verona, the city of ill-fated lovers Romeo and Juliet? Arrive in the early morning sunshine via the sleeper train from Paris then breakfast with the locals on strong black coffee and pastries.
You can spend the day exploring this beautiful old city hand in hand taking the Adige river, Piazza del Herbe, the renaissance garden Giardino Giusti and, if you can brave the tourist hordes, Juliet’s balcony.
In the evening you can experience the joy that is opera under stars in a magnificent roman amphitheatre - Arena di Verona. Then round off the perfect romantic day by following the locals in the know to Bottega Del Vino for a glass of red wine with intimate old fashioned charm.
Among the most beautiful Italian cities, Florence is a favoured location when it comes to romance. This Tuscan city is fairly small and its well-known attractions, such as the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, are within walking distances. Although it is a very touristic destination, there are countless quieter spots for a romantic proposal. Couples can enjoy a stroll or a picnic in the Boboli Gardens, or use the service of a “Renaiolo” for a boat trip on the River Arno. Climbing the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo rewards visitors with stunning views of the city and a few more steps take you to another Florentine treasure: San Miniato al Monte. Of course a romantic weekend in Florence would not be complete without the delicious food, wine and ice cream on offer.
Several years ago my brother instigated the concept of the cultural snowboarding trip. The idea: don't hole up in one resort and only see hotel, slopes and bar - get out, travel and soak up the real culture while you're there. A trip to Granada and the magnificent Alhambra, combined with skiing in the Sierra Nevada in 28 degree heat, is one example, but checking out the museums and galleries of Oslo and the fantastic scenery that abounds across that nation and its neighbour, Sweden, while travelling by day and night-sleeper train is my personal favourite. Hafjell near Lillehammer, site of the slalom races for the '94 Winter Olympics, is just great in Springtime, or try nearby Kvitfjell if you're more daring. At Narvik you feel like you are skiing into the sea and can also visit a museum which celebrates the allied forces' earliest victory of WWII. In Riksgransen you can ski late into the night in the Spring. And then there is Are, which is a match for many of the best resorts in the Alps. Add a few days in Stockholm at the end of the trip and the whole experience is life-enhancing. Travel with a few mates and you could have the time of your life.
Travel by RyanAir from Stansted, Liverpool or Edinburgh to Oslo Torp and take the bus into the city. Then take a day train to Lillehammer for Hafjell. Sleeper trains take you north to Trondheim and then onto Fauske and a fantastic bus and ferry journey will take you to Narvik. Take the majestic Ofoten line to Riksgransen and finally the Norrlandståget sleeper train to Stockholm. Are can be reached easily from Stockholm or from Trondheim in Norway.
Google map: bit.ly/yOlOaP
Kolkata’s South Park Street Cemetery, with its 18th and 19th century monolithic tombs, is full of the tales and tribulations of Britain’s earliest pioneers.
India was filled with danger for early settlers, and tropical disease was a common cause of death for many of them. Soldiers died in relentless skirmishes and shipwrecks took the lives of many mariners. Nevertheless, enough settlers thrived (or were replaced) to oversee the original three villages gradually turn into The British Raj’s great nineteenth century metropolis, Calcutta.
Built in 1767 for the early East India Company pioneers and their attendants, this latter day necropolis is packed with giant mausoleums, all vying for top billing: pyramids, colonnaded temples, oversized urns, obelisks, sarcophagi and stone cupolas. The cemetery is a roll-call of the soldiers, sailors, civil servants, merchants, women and children who succumbed to the rigours of an unfamiliar and disease-ridden life in the tropics.
I felt nostalgia for a time I had never known. One hundred and fourteen years before I arrived there, Sir William Wilson Hunter’s eloquent words summed up the oppression which descended on me as I walked between the tombs.
“Most mournful of graveyards are those walled-up ghastly settlements, desolate spaces of brick ruins, and blotched plaster, reproachful of forgetfulness and neglect. It was difficult to restrain some retrospective pity for the inmates of those squalid tenements — for their hard, hot lives more than a hundred years ago, solaced by none of the alleviations which have become necessaries of our modern Indian existence; with few airy verandahs or lofty ceilings, without punkahs, without ice, without possibilities of change to the hills, or respite to their exile by visits home.
The mental stagnation of a small society given to arrack and heavy dinners in the heat of the tropical day, and dependent for their news of the outer world on three or four shipments a year, produced a tedium vitae even harder to bear… If the world dealt hardly with them in life, it has made no amends to their memory. As I thought of how much they achieved, and how little they have been honoured, I found myself involuntarily composing an apologia for the dead.” (Sir William Wilson Hunter, ‘The Thackerays in India and some Calcutta graves’.)
There were not many visitors to the cemetery on the day my partner and I were there, but then you do have to make a particular effort to go, it is not a place that you pass on the way to anywhere else. We bumped into one other western tourist, a few Indian couples and a small group of Indian soldiers during the two hours we spent there. But we were never alone, the caw-cawing of a hundred flapping crows accompanied us over the whole eight acres.
Among the monoliths, the prosaic British names on the oversized tombs are a long way from home: Elizabeth Jane Barwell, James Addison Webster, Captain Dennis Bodkin, Harriet Chicheley Plowden, Major George Dowlie, Thomas Cotterell, Capt W Mackay.
Edward Wheler Esq, “In his political character which will be best learned from the Pages of History he was an upright, just, and honest Man. And as his disinterested conduct garnered the esteem of all Ranks of Men So in the Memory he is honored, beloved, lamented.”
Near the entrance, and smothered in the edible scent from a curry leaf tree, lies Hastings Impey Esq, “son of Sir Elijah Impey, Factor in the Service of the Eaft India Company who died in the 24th year of his Age February 4th 1805″. His father — the most prominent name on the stone, and former Chief Justice of Bengal — fared rather better than his son. He left India and became the parliamentary member for New Romney, before retiring to Brighton. In 1809 he died, and was buried in the family vault in Hammersmith.
Much of the cemetery was overgrown, and many of the tombs are decaying: inscriptions no longer legible, corners falling off and columns crumbling. Someone is keeping the jungle at bay, though, because the pathways were reasonably clear and at over 250 years old the tombs would have been swallowed up without some attention.
As you read each new story in the names, ages, dedications and tomb designs, you are reminded of the bravery and stoicism shown by these settlers. The journey alone would have been a hardship, and then to end up in such inhospitable and unknown terrain would have been an even greater trial, especially for women in their layers of clothes and corsetry. For all their jingoism and arrogance, you can't help but feel humbled by their intrepidness. We call ourselves travellers today, but catching a flight over to the other side of the world for a quick jaunt up to Machu Picchu, or a guided tour round a wildlife park, doesn’t compare to the terrifying adventure into the unknown these individuals must had endured for the sake of commerce.
Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata, India
I can't promise the same will happen for you but if you want an amusing romantic story to tell you could do worse than going to Maeshowe on Orkney Mainland. My girlfriend and I were there a few years ago, standing opposite each other among the rest of the group in this small Neolithic chambered burial cairn. Our Historic Scotland guide (trying to ensure we could all see a particularly fine piece of 12th century Viking graffiti) asked whether I'd like to move to stand beside my wife? My hesitation evidently made her doubt the status of our relationship for she then asked,"You are married aren't you?"... I had to admit we weren't, upon which she promptly offered to conduct the ceremony there and then, telling us she was “qualified”! A response absolutely typical of the generous and ever helpful Orcadians.
But what a magical place to get married! Visit Maeshowe on the shortest day of the year and if the sky is clear the rays of the setting sun will shine for several moments directly along the narrow entrance passageway, dramatically illuminating the wall of the 5000-year-old chamber within.
Regarding the wedding - unfortunately for us no cake had been prepared so we were forced to decline our guide's kind offer. We'll have to go again another year ...
It's not deserted, but with only 300 inhabitants it is pretty sparsely populated, and after a couple of days you will have seen everyone on the island.
Less than a mile from the coast of Turkey, Kastellorizo (officially named Megisti) is Greece's easternmost island, and nicely off the beaten track. For fresh home-cooked eastern Mediterranean food try the Olive Garden, in the island's tiny harbour.
A number of boats plough back and forth between Kastellorizo and Kaş, one of Turkey's prettiest fishing towns.
Six flights a week from Rhodes. Several ferries from Rhodes, including a weekly catamaran.
One hour boat ride from Kaş in Turkey.
Google map: bit.ly/xxbntP
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