Just as you wouldn't visit Paris without taking a peek at the Eiffel Tower, you can't visit Barcelona without a trip to La Sagrada Familia. Nevertheless, Evelyn Waugh managed it - refusing to get out of the car to even look at it when he was in town, considering it to be a crime against Catholicism. Of course some might take that as a compliment. Whatever else it is, the still-unfinished church is an arresting sight; by turns elegant, grotesque, inspired and twee. If you've got a head for heights, ascend one of the towers (best by foot, though there is a lift), and enjoy the views across the city. It is Antoni Gaudi's most famous legacy to Barcelona, and he lies buried beneath the nave - having dedicated nearly 40 years of his life to its construction, he died before it was completed.
C/Mallorca, 401; Tel: 93 207 30 31; Nearest metro: Sagrada Familia; www.sagradafamilia.com/
We cannot praise Riyad Al Moussika enough; the effortless attention to our every wish was discrete and subtle, nothing was too much trouble for the staff.
The lunch every day was excellent. Our last meal was the best Tajine we have ever tasted - it unfortunately has changed our appreciation forever and whenever we choose a Tajine it will be compared less favourable with today's creation.
You must visit the Berber souk at the base of the Atlas mountain. The staff at the Al Moussika will arrange it with a very knowledgeable taxi driver who will outline every interesting site,
including for old rockers like me, " Mick Jaggers" Marrakesh hideaway.
The Library is an oasis of tranquillity with an excellent cross section of reading material in many languages.
Multi channel television and wi-fi in every room.
We chose this Riyad because of the TripAdvisor reviews and once again members were spot on.
The Hotel Riyad Al Moussika, where I spent with friends a long weekend at the beginning of our journey to the south of Morocco in early January, is a place that has stopped time, where the magical atmosphere, relives Morocco of Pasha of 1800, but with all the comfort of our century. Everything is perfect, authentic, calm, serene.
I recommend strongly this hotel for its central location, even for the excellent and very professional service provided by the young boys of the staff, always smiling and present without being intrusive.
The chef and owner, Khalid, a nice and helpful big boy, who speaks I do not know how many languages, but among them an excellent Italian that has enabled me to know a world of things about authentic Marrakech, thing impossible otherwise, due to my language limitations, and, most important, who cooks in divine way.
I conclude that the value for money is very good considering that the copious breakfast and the courses haute cuisine lunch, (by far the best of all restaurants in Marrakech and Morocco, where we ate), are included in rate.
Only one regret: Have stayed there for four nights only!
Walking through the underground cistern in the half-light listening to the sounds of dripping water mingle with the strains of classical music is an eerie but magical experience.
Reputedly the orginal cistern was built by Constantine the Great with the curent one enlarged and rebuilt by Justinian in 532. It is an amazing feat of engineering seeing the columns (approx. 336) stretch away in front of you and above towards the arched roof.
Don't miss the Weeping Column and the Medussa Head column bases (thought to mark a shrine to water nymphs).
There is also a small coffee shop in the cistern.
13 Yerebatan Caddesi, Sultanahmet
Tram stop Sultanahmet
0212 522 12 59
It's a brilliant free outdoor museum 10 minutes west of the centre showing how Welsh people lived, worked and spent their spare time through the ages. Set in 100 acres of beautiful parkland in the grounds of St Fagans castle, a 16th-century manor house, over 30 buildings have been painstakingly moved from various parts of Wales and reassembled brick by brick. Native farm animals roam the fields and farmyards, and there’s a working flour mill and blacksmith. There are also some great old-fashioned shops including a baker’s and a sweet shop. The village of St Fagans itself is worth a look, with pretty thatched-roof cottages, a picturesque cricket ground and decent pub.
Not so much a house but a collection of old teak structures lovingly assembled by a rich American eccentric with a Boy's Own Adventures life story. Now a museum, it also contains a range of Asian artefacts in a setting far more appealing than a museum. If you leave here without wishing you too could live in it, travel in Asia is not for you.
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama I Road Tel: 216-7368, 215-0122 Walkable from the Stadium or Siam Square skytrain stations
Every evening around dusk thousands of starlings congregate and swarm in an amazing display over what was once the West Pier. Simply an incredible natural phenomenon. Best seen at sunset with a cold pint.
West Pier - the burnt out one on the beach;
The Market Square in Krakow is the heart of the city – both physically and figuratively - in so many ways. Situated almost at the centre of the Old Quarter, roads branch off into other areas of the city making it a good starting point for exploring.
In summer, tables spread out from the surrounding cafes turning the square into an outdoor bar. Towards the end of the year, a Christmas Market brings stalls selling gifts, decorations and hot wine to cut through the cold evenings.
It’s a thoroughfare, meeting place, promenade and, at 656-feet-square, the Rynek Glowney is the largest town square in Europe. Surrounded by the colourful facades of merchant’s houses and palaces - with fantastic names such as “Under the Lizards” and “Palace of the Rams” – the square also encloses the wonderful Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Church, and the Town Hall Tower, all that is left of the old Town Hall.
Visitors to Krakow will probably find themselves returning again and again to the Market Square either to sit and watch the world go by in one of its restaurants and bars, to admire its buildings and architecture or stretch their legs with a walk around its perimeter. Or maybe the city simply draws people back to its vibrant, bustling and magnificent heart!
In the middle of the Old Quarter
An old school was converted by the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, into a torture and extermination camp. What remains are preserved holding cells, along with stories and pictures of the victims. Couple this with a visit to Choeung Ek, the burial place for the victims. Breakfast is probably best avoided.
Let a tuk-tuk or moto taxi driver take you to the two sites for around $5 per person. Toul Sleng is in the city centre, but Choeung Ek is miles out along hellish roads
The highpoint of any trip to Greece is a visit to the Acropolis – if only to discover as Freud did, that it exists “just as we learnt at school”. As monuments go it’s breathtaking, no matter how many times you see it up close. But climbing the limestone rock is neither kind nor easy in the torturous Athenian heat. The trip should be made early morning, or (gates permitting) at sunset when the capital is bathed in red, violet and blue.
Dionysiou Areopagitou; Tel: 210 321 0219; Nearest metro: Akropoli; Open: 8am-sunset daily Apr-Dec, 8.30am-2.30pm daily Jan-Mar; Admission: €12, €6 concessions, free to under-18s, free to all Sun Nov-Mar (no credit cards); www.culture.gr/
About 1 hour outside Dublin and older than the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, and the lost cities of South America, Newgrange is stunning. Artistic, awe inspiring, and a mathamatical/astronomical marvel - do not leave Ireland without visiting this ancient structure. The construction itself is magnificant and a wonder even in these modern days. Entering into the passageways which were also used as tombs the atmosphere is perfectly dry. There are other passage tombs nearby called Knowth and Dowth.
It's an amazing place and well worth the walk around.
The entry fee gets you in and you pay extra to go the Armoury and Treasury sections but well worth it. Free is the view of the Bosphorus from the rear battlements of the palace. Along with the mosques, the spice market and the grand bazaar, Topkapi is a must see in Istanbul . I was amazed!
close to Sirkeet railway station
and a short walk away from the Grand Bazaar, St Sophia, Sultanahmet mosque
and the Hippodrome
The final resting ground for generations of Argentina's elite. An eerily peaceful mini-city of the dead, featuring marble and stone mausoleums coronated with angels blowing stone trumpets and life-size likenesses of the illustrious departed. Ironically, this is where Evita Perón, who fought the country's oligarchy so fiercely, rests, in the Duarte family vault, under three layers of thick steel to guard her coffin from would-be desecrators.
Junín, 1760; Tel: 4803 1594
At its peak around AD300, more than 1,000 years before the Aztecs arrived in the vicinity, the city of Teotihuacan covered eight square miles and housed some 150,000 people. Three hundred years later the civilisation disappeared, although nobody really knows why. The highlight of the ruins are two great pyramids and an avenue lined with temples.
Teotihuacan is 30 miles north of the city - you can get a bus from the northern terminal every 15 minutes, or arrange a price with a taxi; Mon-Sun 8am-5pm; admission 35 pesos
Enormous monument in the middle of nowhere to the thousands of Soviet troops who died during the battle for Berlin in 1945. Centrepiece is a giant statue of a Russian soldier stamping on a Swastika. The Stalin-era friezes are marvellous, if chilling.
Alt-Treptow 1; nearest S-Bahn: Treptower Park
Built in 1976, Kilmainham Gaol is one of Europe’s largest unoccupied jails. Rebels from the 1916 rising were murdered here and it has an eerie, sad and humbling aura. Learn about Ireland’s struggle for independence on the tour (apparently the best in the city).
Inchicore Rd, Kilmainham Rd, Dublin 8; www.kilmainham-gaol.com
The harbour city of ancient Rome, which was abandoned when the shoreline moved. Beautiful mosaics on the floor of the old baths, a necropolis, virtually intact buildings, and relatively few visitors.
Metro to Piramide and then train to Ostia Antica; www.ostia-antica.org/
Situated on a hill in one of the nicest parts of London is the Royal Observatory. I like it because of the view across the Thames (fantastic and free); it’s not jammed in like lots of things in London (the Aussie in me wants big spaces) and for something different, you can stand in both halves of the world at the same time . How so? By straddling the line at 0 degrees longitude at the Observatory ( which means, you stand in two hemispheres at once).
The National Maritime Museum is close by (at the bottom of the hill, on the edge of the park) and is also worth a look, as is the Queen’s House. The Observatory is part of the Greenwich World Heritage site.
Greenwich Park, London;
Access from Greenwich station is best (carparking is limited);
Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum: www.rog.nmm.ac.uk
Greenwich Park: www.royalparks.gov.uk/parks/greenwich_park/
Has been called the greatest neo-classical building in the world. It is certainly impressive and is the heart of the newly formed 'cultural quarter' in Liverpool. Liverpool Walker Art Gallery and Musuem are only a five-minute walk away on the impressive William Brown Street
Opposite Liverpool Lime Street Station and the Empire Theatre
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