What is happening to Parque Mayer? This atmospheric hodge-podge of theatres, music halls, restaurants and cinemas just off the Avenide da Liberdade has been slowly crumbling away for years, and plans were announced to tear down the lot and replace it with a Frank Gehry-designed complex. Those plans seem to have been abandoned and the beautiful art deco Teatro Capitólio, despite a local campaign and listing by World Monuments Watch, is still being left to rot. Go for a wander around while you can: it's like being on a David Lynch film set.
Parque Mayer, Travessa do Salitre;
This place, in the Estrela area of the city, should be on the itinerary of any tourist. I love it because it is wonderful just to go for a walk around and feel at peace in the midst of the city. It is utterly beautiful, very peaceful and extremely well-kept. If you are able to, go into the church, because it is gorgeous as well.
Henry Fielding the novelist and Philip Doddridge the writer of hymns, are among those buried in the cemetery. If you visit when there is a service on you will be made very welcome by the expat community. There are also some decent and relatively cheap eating places in the area.
Rua de Sao Jorge, Estrela;
Metro: Rato, or catch tram 28;
Walk straight through the gardens until you see a large wall opposite. Cross the zebra crossing, bear left and half way up the hill is the church gate. For more information, or to arrange a visit, see www.lisbonanglicans.org
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.
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;
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.
The world's longest (and highest!) suspension bridge, over a river at the foot of Grouse mountain. Get the SeaBus from the Waterfront Station, and then a bus towards Grouse Mountain (a two zone ticket will cover the whole journey). There are great filmset-like views from the bridge itself, plus a network of platforms linking huge pine trees once you reach the other side. Keep your ticket for a discount on entry to Grouse Mountain. Get the SeaBus back to downtown Vancouver in the evening for fantastic views of the skyline as the sun sets.
The Remu'h Cemetery was established in 1533. The adjacent synagogue, Krakow’s only active Orthodox Synagogue is named after Rabbi Moses Isserles (nicknamed Remu'h, the word his initials spell in Hebrew) whose grave is still in the cemetery and which is still a place of pilgrimage for Jewish worshippers.
The cemetery, though damaged, managed to survive the Nazi occupation when other cemeteries were almost entirely destroyed. Excavations in the past years have revealed many buried gravestones and tombs and although it was suspected that this may have been due to neglect or vandalism it appears that they were deliberately buried to save them from an earlier threat, possibly Swedish invasion in the 19th century.
Some of the gravestones are decorated with motifs and topped with metal coverings. Many have stones or candles placed on them holding pieces of paper on which prayers and blessings are written.
Walking around the cemetery it is easy to contemplate things such as the human race’s capacity for inhumanity, for resilience, for fortitude, for kindness, for forgiveness and for reconciliation. A profoundly moving yet peaceful place.
Szeroka 40, in the Kazimierz Quarter;
Open: 9.00am-4.00pm Mon-Fri;
Vistors are expected to show respect and cover ther heads
St Mary's church is the most important church in Krakow. It is also famous for it's unique Gothic interior, magnificent vaulted ceilings and the wooden altar, which is only opened during High Mass at noon.
The windows of one of the two towers of this dominating church hosts the hourly trumpet blow which is broadcast all over Poland. It marks the death of a Tartar soldier who was killed whilst warning Krakow's citizens of an invasion. It's free to listen to this even if you choose not to see the church itself.
St Mary's church is a 5 min walk from Krakow's main market square;
A two-hour trip outside of Barcelona to the small town of Figueres on the regional train was a pure delight. You can walk from the train station to the museum and the works of Dali opened up a whole new world in art for me.
The thing to miss in Barcelona is paying to go into the Sagrada Familia. It is an architectural wonder to behold but we felt the 20 euros spent to go in and up was a total waste of time and money. It is a construction site inside and totally disappointing.
One time home of the Medici family who bought it from the eponymous rival family after it bankrupted them. This is opulence Italian style, all the trappings of people for whom money was no object are here, including paintings by Titian and Raphael. The Boboli gardens at the rear are pleasant enough, but if you have limited time, the Palace is much more interesting.
Once you've done the classic tour of the Doge's palace, do the extra one of the "hidden" bits, to see the torture chamber and where Casanova was imprisoned (and escaped from). You come out with a very clear idea of how the Venetian state really functioned.
A beautiful street that was built under the famous king Franz Joseph the first. It is situated around the inner city of Vienna and separates the city center from the other districts.
Many tourists visit the "Ringstraße" every day, to see the most important and historical buildings. The townhall of Vienna, the "Burgtheater", the parliament and many other buildings make the imperial times come alive.
Tram number 1 around "Ringstraße"
Not far from Salzburg is the village of Hallstadt, nestled in the Austrian lake district. It is situated in picture perfect scenery, a simple but beautiful place with views over lake Hallstadt.
A must-do is a trip on the funicular up to the entrance of the salt mines followed by a tour of the mines. Getting dressed in miners gear is a laugh. Beware that cars are restricted in Hallstadt (car parking is outside).
Hallstadt, near Salzburg Austria
This awe-inspiring structure is dedicated to the French citizens who were deported to concentration camps by the Nazis. As you approach, it doesn't look like much, but as you descend the stairs into the memorial you begin to feel a tremendous sense of claustrophobia.
The way it's constructed makes you think about the fate of the victims of the holocaust in a much more emotional way than I've experienced at any other memorial site - it's unsettling, but I'd go back anytime I'm in Paris. We owe it to the victims of the Holocaust to remember them.
Behind Notre Dame on the tip of the Ile de la Cite
Over on the west bank, the Valley of the Kings, Queens and Deir El-Bahri (Hatshepsut) are all set in stunning locations. These are the ancient burial grounds of the Pharoahs and their wives, nestled in underground chambers in the hillsides. The cheapest way to reach the west bank is to take the local ferry (across the Corniche from Luxor Temple) which will cost £E1. Bicycles can be taken aboard.
Alternatively, there are plentiful taxis on the other side waiting to take you the remaining 3-4km to the sites. All tickets for the sites must be pre-purchased at ticket booths 1km inland. A general ticket for the Valley of Kings or Queens costs 55LE (approx. £5.50) and gives admission to three separate tombs, although Tutankhamen’s tomb will set you back a further 70LE.
As with many other attractions in Egypt, ISIC holders receive a 50% discount. A word of warning: don’t feel obliged to take an unofficial tour of a tomb by one of the wardens: they will expect and occasionally demand, a tip for the service.
This ancient military fortification is still in use by the army, but also functions as a monument and museum of army life at the fort. It's visually stunning and fascinating for military buffs, but just as fascinating for lovers of nature - dolphins and numerous types of wild sea bird can be seen. Bring your binoculars.
Ardersier, near Inverness (easily accessible by Tourist Bus from Inverness town centre)
The Hungarian Parliament offers free tours for EU citizens on presentation of their passport. Tours are available several times each day in English. The building is similar to the Palace of Westminster, but is far grander and much more ornate in places. The building also houses the 'Crown Jewels' of Hungary (although these are not in the same league to those in the Tower of London). Viewing these artefacts is part of the tour, however the building itself is much more impressive and well worth a visit.
Kossuth ter. On the east bank of the Danube. You can't miss it
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