Kulikovo Pole is a square and park just near the station. It is dominated by a 10 metre high statue of Lenin and still attracts communist demonstrations and many war veterans gather here on May 9 (Victory Day). The view down the tree-lined route towards the station is dramatic, taking in both Lenin and the silver domes of the Andryvska Podvore orthodox church. At the bottom end of the square, in Lenin Park, is a second hand book market where you will find Russian versions of classic novels mixed in with dusty copies of books with titles like: “Tungsten Bearing Manufacture in the Soviet Union - a Guide for Schools”.
Kulikovo Pole Square, near central station; www.essentialukraine.com
Within the concrete jungle of Central and away from the shopping malls, is a haven: beautiful gardens containing exotic shrubs, sculptures and fountains, a fantastic zoo housing shy orang-utans, noisy monkeys and pretty birds. And surprisingly, it is FREE.
Entrance is on Albany Road. Open daily.
The area itself is worth recommending. It has beautiful hilltop villages and very easy access to several diverse areas of Tuscany.
In 30 minutes / 1 hour, you can reach "postcard Tuscany" (ie, Val d'Orcia with Pienza, Montalcino, Montepulciano, San Quirico; the Chianti area with vineyards and beautiful castles; San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Volterra; Siena; the Crete senesi; Florence) and the "off-the-beaten-path Tuscany" (ie, Monte Amiata; the Maremma plains; the coast; the hilltop villages of Maremma such as Roccatederighi, Roccastrada, Civitella Marittima, Pari, Massa Marittima; thermal baths such as Petriolo and Saturnia; the Tufi and the Etruscan Empire with Pitigliano, Sovana Sorano; Nature Parks such as the Maremma Nature Park; and art parks such as the Tarot Garden).
We rented a house in a beautiful village with a great restaurant, Civitella Marittima, and we are going back next year.
Amazing, amazing place.
The house we rented: Casina di Rosa www.casinadirosa.it/ in Civitella Marittima is a Slow Travel Favourite and it has a huge photogallery on the area and much information.
The village, Civitella Marittima, can be reached via the highway SS223 connecting Siena and Grosseto.
Through the summer months the Royal Botanical Gardens organise moonlight cinema sessions. Each night they show one current or classic film on a big outdoor screen in the centre of the park. Check the website for listings.
My tip is to bring a blanket. Melbourne can get cold at night, even after a hot day. Some fly spray helps too. Bean bags can be hired at the venue.
St Margaret's Island is situated in between Buda and Pest. It is a haven for peace and tranquility due to its ban on transport. The leafy parks and extensive outdoor pools (some very shallow, making it perfect for young children), make it an oasis in a bustling city.
Cross the bridge near the Houses of Parliament
From outside the Dean Gallery looks like what it used to be: a hospital. Not the orphan hospital it actually was, but more a retreat for Victorian gents with gout, set as it is in opulent grounds. But it’s all about the beauty on the inside. Surrealist art (including works by Dali and Man Ray), a recreation of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi’s haphazard studio, a shop packed with fascinating books, and a buzzing café in which locals and visitors share their love of art over steaming cups, all combine to make it an unusually vibrant gallery experience.
Not quite so lively is the Dean Cemetery, located at the side of the gallery. But it’s still wonderful to stroll through the trees and read the names of forgotten scholars and captains of industry on mossy mausoleums and gravestones.
Old and new melted into one another. Dali might have liked it.
The Dean Gallery it located directly opposite the National Gallery of Modern Art, Belford Road, Lothian. Number 13 Bus from Georges Street; entry is free; www.natgalscot.ac.uk
Sarphati Park is in de Pijp, a part of Amsterdam happily neglected by tourists. The park is small but joyous and you can enjoy the environs with a stroopwafel, which you can purchase at the Albert Cuyp Markt. There’s plenty of snazzy bars and shops in which you can flaunt the splendid wares acquired at the market. Watch out for the bears though.
South of the Heineken brewery - turn left or right along the Ferdinand Bolstraat
This is a 50-acre park and botanical garden that dates back to the 19th-century. Apart from the experience of the flora, including a tropical greenhouse, it also hosts concerts, exhibitions and festivals.
Until you've been on a freshwater sea like Lake Michigan you just don't understand. The idea of this unbelievable mass of non-salt-water in the centre of a continent (20% of all the earth's fresh water sits in the Great Lakes system) requires this kind of visual confirmation. And unlike most major cities, Chicago celebrates its waterfront by lining it with parks and beautiful public beaches. Run, walk, play, swim. Free and for the whole family - though that water can be mighty cold most of the year.
It's to the east of the city, wherever you are
One of the world's great art museums, from Monet to Chagall, fantastic artifacts from Chicago's architecture history (the best in the US by far) including the trading room from Louis Sullivan's legendary (and much lamented) Chicago Stock Exchange. You could spend a week there, but plan a long afternoon. The admission is whatever you wish to pay. There's food inside and out. Grant Park and the Buckingham Fountain (and Lake Michigan) are just outside. www.artic.edu/aic/index.php
111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois - at Monroe. CTA "El" ("The Loop") to Adams Street, walk a block east to the museum; www.artic.edu/aic/index.php
If this was in Washington DC, 10 million tourists would see it, but because it's hidden away in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park, it's almost forgotten. 11,000 American Revolutionary War soldiers and sailors are buried in this hill overlooking the old Brooklyn Navy Yard (actually Wallabout Bay where "Breucklen" was founded in 1624).
They died on the Royal Navy's prison ships between 1775 and 1783 - an atrocity of astounding proportions considering the American population at the time. The hill is topped by the world's tallest doric column with a lantern atop that once had an eternal flame, and an incredible stone staircase leads up to it from Myrtle Avenue. All designed by legendary architect Stanford White.
For a great tour take the B,D,M,R, or Q to Dekalb Avenue in Brooklyn. Have lunch at Juniors on the corner of Flatbush Avenue. Check out (if open) the auditorium/arena of Long Island University (across Flatbush Ave from Juniors), once the Brooklyn Paramount of early Rock 'n Roll fame. Then go up the Dekalb Avenue hill to Fort Greene Park (many of the blocks to your right are historic landmarks for the 1840s brownstones).
Fort Greene Park, designed by Frederick Olmstead (Central Park, Prospect Park) will be on your left. It was the site of a Revolutionary War fort (part of The Battle of Long Island), walk up to the monument. The view of Manhattan from here is spectacular. You'll be confused about direction because here the East River will be directly north of you, and the city skyline will seem like its wrapping around you.
Tourists will want to avoid the housing project directly below, but when you're done, go back down Dekalb Avenue, have Cheesecake at Juniors, and maybe walk through downtown Brooklyn and over to Brooklyn Heights and watch the sunset from The Promenade.
Dekalb Avenue opposite South Oxford Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. D,M,N,Q,R,B to Dekalb Avenue Station at Flatbush Avenue
OK, so it's nearer Wakefield than Leeds, but it’s still only an hour away from the city, so it’s great for a day trip. Some of the most fantastic British sculpture that you will see, set in beautiful parklands - a top day out.
Chicago's finest 'pork project' in decades, it features surprising architecture and art that are all interactive in some way. In nice weather, you'll find dozens or hundreds of kids playing at Crown Fountain, with two towering digital screens showing the smiling faces of Chicagoans in slow-motion.
The city also offers free performances in the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavillion. There's a bike centre to rent or stow a bike, a large garden, skating rink, restaurant and spectacular views of both the lake, and the most elegant stretch of Michigan Avenue.
My favorite part? The world's only Gehry bridge, which meanders like a lazy stream, and leaps across Columbus Avenue, tranporting you into another large park.
On Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe.
One block from the Loop, served by every elevated train in the city, numerous buses, and several underground garages; www.millenniumpark.org/
A special type of haven from city life on the waterfront, inspired by Bach's music for cello and involving the great player Yo-Yo Ma in its design. It can be appreciated for its musical invention, or simply in terms of ingenious garden design, and it's free. Summer open-air concerts are a special treat.
At Queen's Quay West, not far from the main harbour front area;
This grand old public park, on the outskirts of Dublin's southern suburbs is a great way of escaping the mayhem, walking off that hangover and acts as a gateway to the beautiful Dublin and Wicklow hills. A wander through the Victorian grounds, forest, Saturday market and model railway for kids is extremely rewarding.
For one of the outstanding views of Dublin, follow the yellow marker posts for about an hour on a climb into the nearby woods. This view (on the Wicklow walkway) looks north taking in Dublin city, the bay and environs.
For even more stunning scenery follow the track for another hour up the hill and the city disappears to reveal open Irish hillsides and rolling forests. If you’re lucky, you will see some native deer and mountain goats.
Take the 48A bus from Dame Street (city centre near O'Connell Street) for 1/2 an hour, the last stop is Marley Park. To get to the viewing points follow the yellow markers in the main carpark. A map and information are also provided. For more details on the Wicklow way see www.wicklowway.com
The park is 707 hectares, making it more than twice the area of New York's Central Park.
The park is interesting not just for this expanse of land, but also because of the interesting history of its development. It began as a Royal Deer Park from around 1662, and was opened to the public in 1747. It holds a zoo, visitor centre, deer, the big Papal cross and the president's home (Aras an Uachtarain).
It's ideal to get the Luas up there, and chill out for a day, or just recover from the night before before hitting the town again.
At the west of the city, opposite Heuston train station
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Irish National War Memorial commemorates the estimated 49,000 Irishmen - all volunteers - who died, and the estimated 300,000 who fought in the British army during the first world war.
Unlike his other war memorials, Lutyens designed a tranquil garden on the banks of the Liffey. The garden consists of a Great War stone surrounded by circular fountains, which in turn are enclosed by pairs of 'book rooms' and pergolas. The 'book rooms' take the form of small limestone pavilions with sloping stone roofs and blank niches. Originally these rooms contained books designed by Harry Clarke containing all the names of the war dead.
The gardens was shamefully neglected for many years before undergoing restoration by the OPW in the 1980s. The park ranger now has a facility in one of the pavilions to view and print any page from the 12 book memorial record.
A stone’s throw from the wonderful Irish Museum of Modern Art, the historic Kilmainham Jail and close to the National Museum and Guinness brewery, it is a worthwhile and peaceful diversion from the throng of the city centre.
The riverside location is tranquil, and various rowing clubs are located on the opposite bank, beyond which you can see the magazine fort in the Phoenix Park. One of Dublin's best-kept secrets, the gardens bloom beautifully in mid-summer.
Located in Islandbridge, Dublin 8. Approximately 20 minutes walk from the Luas stop at Heuston Station. Buses:25,25A,26,51,68,69,78A & 79 from city centre all stop nearby.
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