A French friend recommended this village when I needed somewhere to overnight before sailing from Dieppe. I arrived in time for the night market and bought delicious local foods and bread to die for. In the morning I wandered the miles of beach; there was a yoga class beneath the Dover-style white cliffs, and in the sea oyster beds and people shrimp fishing, apparently oblivious to being fully dressed as they pushed their nets through chest deep water. Colonised by Russian artists in the late nineteenth century, there's a fantastic range of galleries wherever you turn. Much of the ancient architecture has survived fires, storms and WWII bombardment. La Veule is France's shortest river, with cress beds and flowers galore. I wish I'd given myself longer in this little gem.
Right in the centre of the city, easily accessible by public transport (the Duchesse Anne stop on the tram/busway will put you right in front of the chateau), the newly refurbished Chateau is now a great space to visit, especially with kids. Lovely courtyard, lots of exhibitions and very accessible for disabled visitors - a must see! Take a wander into the fabulous Bouffay restaurant district - our family's favourite restaurant there is La Mangeoire with perfect prix fixee deals for all budgets and a good, classic French menu. Enjoy!
4, place Marc Elder, 44 000 Nantes
+33 (0)2 51 17 49 48
Google map: bit.ly/pxj8ss
16 Rue Petites Ecuries, 44000 Nantes, France
+44(0)2 40 48 70 83
Google map: bit.ly/q5Fr41
During summer afternoons, four circuits of churches and chapels in central Brittany in which contemporary artists have installed their work. Visit by car. Free. Triple pleasure of lovely countryside, quaint chapels and astonishing art. The red circuit is particularly charming. Look out for acephalic Breton saints such as the cleavered St Bieuzy and the spring located near each chapel. The signposting of the circuits is a bit minimal, so keep a sharp eye open.
West of Rouen to the coast, follow the meanders of the Seine, crossing on the free ferries, and see the varying scenery from orchards to craggy rocks. We visited the Manoir of Agnes Sorel, mistress of St. Joan's Dauphin, which is being restored.
In Bayeux, as we started our walking holiday we were taken quite by surprise by this memorial to journalists of all nations killed in combat zones since 1946. Along each side of a pathway through a wooded park are engraved memorials, one for each year since it was opened. To date there are an astonishing 2000 names recorded. Opposite the huge British Cemetery it was a quiet reminder to us of the true cost of knowing about conflicts and that there have been and are ongoing wars.
We did the Mulberry March with Belle France and stayed at the Hotel Lion d'Or.
It's a 45 acre historic cemetery close to the centre of Bristol, "where the history of the city is told in a leafy and tranquil setting." Don't be put off by the idea of visiting a cemetery - this place is beautiful and so peaceful. Among beautiful monuments, there is an abundance of plants and flowers. And bird song to lift the heart! The guide book says there are about two dozen species there. Also, exhibitions about the history of the place, and a lovely gift shop. A real, and unusual, treat.
A hunting lodge built by Sultan AbdulMecid in the middle of the 19th century on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus close to the second bridge (Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) and to the village of Anadolu Hisarı. It is Dolmabahce Palace in miniature. The guided tour is only in Turkish but there is often someone around who will translate for you. Open daily except Monday and Thursday, entrance is only 4TL. After your visit, turn left and walk the five mintues to see the ruined castle at Anadolu Hisari. There you can find several cafes on Kucuksu stream where you can have a meal and enjoy watching the fishermen and pleasure boaters pottering around.
Take a ferry to Uskudar and then hop on a number 15 (to BEYKOZ) bus from in front of the mosque opposite the ferry terminal for the 30 minute (or so!) journey up the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, passing the summer palace of Baylerbeyi on the way.
It's not posh, not pretentious, but it has enthusiastic, knowledgeable owners who really care about this wonderful area. It's both clean and comfortable and very affordable. The nearby beach is world renowned, yet not overcrowded. There are amazing archaeological sites to be explored and great excursions available too. Where else would you holiday in a place mentioned in the Bible? (Acts21:1)
Hotel Patara Viewpoint, Patara, Kas, Antalya
+90 242 8435184
My husband and I did two bicycle tours of St Petersburg with Viktor and couldn't have been happier. We went out to Pushkin and saw everything EXCEPT Catherine's palace - fantastic gardens, bushland, history and then a city tour of St P the next day. It was great riding and exciting to ride the roads and footpaths of St P. Viktor also knows his stuff and can answer all your questions, great English.
In the south west corner of the Ring of Kerry on the Iveragh peninsula, Derrynane sparkles. We visited with the superlatives in mind, but it's hard to match words to the beauty of this place. Follow the road down toward Derrynane House from the N70, unassuming tree-lined curves, to a (free!) car park. Discover the (free!) gardens, and watch the kids delight in the giant leaves, woodland paths and unusual blooms. Walk out of the gardens to pass through the grounds of the house, across meadowland that rises over a tussocked hill and savour the moment you catch sight of the beach. There is fine golden sand perfect for sandcastles, there are rockpools perfect for sampling saltwater wildlife, there are rocks to explore and hide among, there is an invitation to paddle in the clear turquoise water. When energy is depleted, amble back to the car past the reed-filled marsh that the birds love so much and sigh as you realise the perfect day has come to an end.
+353 66 9475113
Google map: bit.ly/pkggmr
Adrasan sits in a cove 10km off the main road and just 90Km south of Antalya. At the north end of the beach Hotel Paradise perches on a riverside flowing down to the beach. The water is not deep and tables and seating areas are scattered in the riverbed, connected by walkways. After a day enjoying the numerous family or adventure activities on offer along the promenade it makes for a very cool, calming ambience. Good food too, albeit infused with the strong local garlic.
For hardier hikers the clearly waymarked Lycian Way leads north over a rocky outcrop to the ancient site of Olympos. This ancient sprawling city must have been an archaeologist’s delight. Wonderfully decrepit, the ruins are open to clamber over, around and through. Keep to the south side of the riverbed in Olympos to avoid 99% of other tourists and find yourself alone amongst a 20-tier amphitheatre and Roman baths complex.
Walk through the village stopping at a tree house café for glasses of freshly squeezed orange and lemon then it is a gentle 4km along the beach and walk up to Chimera. This sacred and historic site has a number of eternal flames bursting through the rock with no vegetation to feed the flames.
Keep your eyes peeled too and you might see one of the protected caretta caretta loggerhead turtles.
Most travelers to Amsterdam will have heard about Vondelpark, the city’s answer to New York’s Central Park (on a much smaller scale, of course). We’ll revisit the pleasures of Vondelpark in a later post, but for now let’s fast forward to a lesser-known urban green space called Beatrix Park.
Located south of the city and nestled behind the RAI Conference Center, it’s an easy 15-minute ride from the city center along the Amstel River (or even quicker if you head down the center of the map along Ferdinand Bolstraat), Beatrixpark is an absolute gem. It is in direct contrast to the blanket-to-blanket crowd shoehorned into Vondelpark.
At Beatrixpark – named after the Dutch Queen Beatrix - you can park yourself on the grass along the canal, watching boaters on their sloops putter along, or head to the center of the park with more quiet corners, tree-lined trails and open space than you can imagine in this busy city. The park itself has quite a history, starting off in the 1930s and undergoing a brief identity change with the Nazi occupation before resuming its Beatrixness. It really feels like a neighbourhood playground, complete with the coolest swingset you or your kids have ever seen. It even has a group to ensure its heritage and beauty stay intact, the Friends of Beatrixpark: www.vriendenbeatrixpark.nl/html/nieuws/home.html.
Station-Zuid WTC, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Walk/Bike - from the RAI congress centre, facing the main entry to the right and turn left direction the Amstelhal of the RAI. Pass in front of this building and behind the canal you will see the park - it is located at the rear all exhibit halls.
Tram - line 5, exit on the Beethovenstraat - stop Stadionweg; walk left along Stadionweg, turn right into the Diepenbrockstraat. Cross the bridge. There will be two small passages into the park on your right – they are located at the number 15 and the number 9 of the street. It is about 5 minutes walking from the tram stop.
Car: exit the A10 ring on the RAI exit. Drive into the city in front of the RAI congress centre, turn left direction the Diepenbrockstraat; continue for 200m and you will see the park on your left. Metered parking in the street.
Google map: bit.ly/pmKgVv
If you're up in the tourist-packed Castle District (Varnegyed) on a steamy summer's day and long for a quiet sit-down and an authentic Hungarian lunch, stroll along Fortuna utca (street) to Pest Buda.
This traditional 'vendeglo' or local, family-run eaterie, dates back to 1948 and has been renovated to keep all the original features such as the wine bar in the cellar where you can see the cave walls (Buda Hill is almost hollow and riddled with caves and passages).
Diners enjoy Hungarian home cooking on red checked tablecloths and, while munching, admire the Pest Buda carpets; vignettes of old Budapest life which have been scanned in and made into wallpaper.
One of the favourites on the menu is 'kenyer langos' (a kind of 'bread flamed doughnut') advertised as Hungarian pizza and a substantial lunch of oven baked dough with Magyar toppings of sausage and lecso (ratatouille), duck breast and spinach or tomato and tangy sheep's cheese.
Pest Buda Vendeglo Bistro
Fortuna utca 3, Castle District, I. Budapest
Open daily 11.00-24.00
Metro to Moszkva ter (now called Szell Kalman ter) then Varbusz (Castle minibus) up the hill.
Google map: bit.ly/r3QEyc
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
If you're enjoying a family holiday in Fethiye, Hisaronu or Olu Deniz, you really have got fun, sun and sea on your door step. What's not so obvious, is that you also have one of the most beautiful and moving historic sites in the world a few minutes away.
Kayaköy was, until 1923, a hillside village populated by Greek speaking Christians. After the Greco-Turkish war, the Greek and Turkish governments agreed to a population exchange. The village has been uninhabited ever since, and is now preserved as a historical momument. There are hundreds of houses and other buildings all more or less untouched in nearly a hundred years.
When you're there you will need to pay a nominal entrance fee. Walk up through the village to the top, enjoying the beautiful Greek Orthodox churches and the view from the top. The sense of peace and tranquility is wonderful.
Dolmus buses go through Hisaronu every half hour in the summer season, and cost just a couple of lira. The journey to Kayaköy takes about ten minutes.
It gets very hot so, if you can, go early or late. And when you get back down, enjoy a refreshing tea from one of the small, local cafes in the beautiful village before returning to the real world.
Google map: bit.ly/lKtpOz
Our tour operator stopped in Liverpool and took us to this gem of supping-hole. A historic venue located on the docks of the city, it is perfect venue on a hot summer's day when you can sit outside and enjoy a drink.
The Colonnades, Liverpool, Merseyside L3 4AD
+44(0)151 709 2367
Google map: bit.ly/kagCON
This is an old-school museum, built between 1897 and 1900 and stuffed with the golden treasures of pharoahs and the hordes of archaeological finds tracing Egyptian civilization over more than 5,000 years. The crowds tend to beeline for the golden, lapis-encrusted face of Tutankhamun and his other sumptuous funerary objects that made such a splash when they were discovered and later toured the world. It would literally take months to see everything on display, but don't miss the Palette of Narmer, a symbol of the original unification of Egypt more than five millennia ago. The best time to visit is in the afternoon, after the crowds thin.
Open daily 9am to 4.45pm (closed Friday 11.30am to 1.30pm) but the guards clear the Tutankhamun galleries at 4.30pm
Midan El Tahrir Cairo 11557, Egypt
Google map: bit.ly/jqImuN
Heritage Toronto Walks offers free neighbourhood walking tours, from April to October, covering all areas of the city. A walk may focus on architectural, historical, archaeological or natural heritage, depending on the area and the theme of the walk. Most walks are scheduled on weekends, although there are some on summer weekday evenings. Reservations are not required.
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