All of a sudden there has been a craze in the market to travel to Croatia’s coastline. It is absolutely no wonder, considering Croatia boasts some of the most stunning coasts in Europe. I came across this beauty a couple of years ago and loved it so much I went again this year.
What I loved most about the islands (especially the first time) is the serenity and lack of built up resort style beachfronts that can be found everywhere else in the world. No matter how spectacular a place is, if its panorama is filled with man-made constructions and obstructions that I could also find on the Gold Coast, Ibiza, Cancun etc., then it has lost the unique splendour and appeal that I love about Hvar, Mljet or The Elaphite Islands.
With the Croatian islands still being relatively untouched like this, my travel tip is to see this place yourself. Don’t pay a tour guide or company to show you around! You don’t need to! With fresh fruit markets and ample accommodation in the townships (no matter how small) you save yourself a fortune, compared to paying for your stock standard tour group, which hardly compares to exploring these islands using your own aptitude. The islands are small enough to see on your own and the transport between islands is common, cheap and only a short distance!
You can get a ferry in the morning and be at the next place well before lunch. Hire a moped or bicycle and see more of the islands then any tour could show you. On many occasions I found myself on a beach that was not only magical but I was the only person there. Travel this seaside paradise with no time limits, stay on the islands you love and move on from the locations that you don’t. Explore these islands, use only a small amount of effort and less money than you would spend on the weekend in London - and you can find so much more than you bargained for!
Any bar on the piazzetta, the teeny town square, in central Capri is a memorable place to have a drink and enjoy the sometimes overwhelming spectacle that is Capri. Rich and poor, celebrities, fishermen and gigolos, whatever strikes your fancy, is on parade in La Piazzetta, the living room of the world. Al Piccola is a good one... well, all of them with outdoor seating are memorable. It is a very happy place and you do feel like you are a celebrity (undiscovered? in disguise?) to just sit there and watch the world go by. Try the bar at the top of the funicular. Delicious cheese sandwiches, good drinks and a view that will make you cry.
Surprisingly, and a very well-kept secret, Capri accommodations can be reasonable. Of course if you want to spend tons of money you easily can. Also the food can vie for the title of best in Italy. Fresh, and you have not lived until you've sampled the spaghetti al fruits de mer at da Gemma. Well, virtually any food is good and reasonable.
As a former Rio de Janeiro resident (from 1983 to 1992) I suggest one of the most beautiful and also peaceful and quiet places in Rio: JardimBotânico (the Botanical Garden). From the garden you have a magnificent view from the Tijuca’sNational Park Atlantic Forest and The Christ (CristoRedentor) with His open arms blessing such a wonderful city. It is a place where you spend hours admiring local and international plant species.
JardimBotanicoalso invites us to have some meditation: it’s great!
A wonderful place to be considered when visiting Rio: it's worth it!
On a clear day you can see the vast city and that is Utrecht from the top of the tower. The guided tour takes roughly one hour (and is done in English by request) and you are taken up some 465 steps en route to the route, but don't worry, you are given ample rest time on each floor and you are briefed of the history of all aspects of the tower. From who used to live there to long living superstition and myths. As it is the tallest church tower in The Netherlands I would urge any archaeological enthusiasts and general sightseers to give it try.
3512 JC Utrecht
Great rooftop drinks and fantastic views of historic HCMC centre from this 20th floor bar and terrace, and one of the pluses is that because you're in it, this modern edifice isn't spoiling your view as it towers over the Opera House, Post Office, Rex Hotel and Notre Dame Cathedral. Hang on to your money in the breeze for the sake of the waiters. A couple of notes we were leaving for a tip blew through the balustrade, and the waiter leapt over onto a narrow 20th floor ledge to rescue them before we could offer replacements. Good service or madness?
On Dong Khoi, the French and Americans famous Rue Catinat, at Lam Son Square
I first sampled Level 25 on a girls' weekend in Miami, and we all fell in love with it for its completely creative cocktails. It serves all your old faves, but given a unique twist and served with flair (by very attentive bar staff). It also has its own speciality cocktail menu - trust me, you'd need more than one visit to work through it! As well as all this, the setting is quite literally out of this world, 25 floors above the ground. The bar is all glass, with the city and the sea glittering away outside - quite enough to take your breath away (if the cocktails haven't knocked you out already!). The clientele is stylish and atmosphere electric. Without a doubt my favourite cocktail corner in the world.
Level 25, Conrad Miami
1395 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL, 33131, USA
Tel: 1-305-503 6500
In summer 2006, 10 of us took a villa in the tiny village of Vizinada in the central hills of Croatia's Istrian peninsula. This is a beautiful spot looking across to the medieval hill town of Motovun and within easy travelling distance of great coastal locations such as Venetian-styled Rovinj to the south.
We went there principally however to watch the World Cup amongst another passionate footballing people and the local Croatians did not disappoint. What made the holiday memorable however was the wonderful warmth and hospitality extended to us everywhere we went, not least when watching games in the tiny local bar on a beat-up TV in an alien language, and where £16 stood a round for most of the village on a packed Saturday night.
Were I not already committed to a holiday in Turkey next June I'd be looking to return to Vizinada or somewhere nearby to watch Euro 2008. I know I could expect great value and genuine friendliness along with the excitement of following a team with a real chance of victory. Since it was Croatia who sent England packing last month it might also soften the blow more than a little were Croatia to pull it off.
A wonderful unspoiled village high above Orgiva in La Alpujarra, with fantastic views towards the Mediterranean. The village is on the GR7 route, so walking is terrific.
Stay in one of the local rental apartments mentioned below - they're excellent.
I'm absolutely crazy for Brazilian food and I've been around the country enough to be able to enjoy all types of different dishes, from carne de sol (sundried meat) to the Carioca famous feijoada. One of my all-time favourites though, is the moqueca de camarao, which is made from shrimp with milk-coconut stew. It's a typical dish that originates from Bahia, but you can find it in Rio, in an excellent restaurant called Azul Marinho.
It's right at the Arpoador in Ipanema, so you'll be privileged with a breathtaking view while eating this amazing food!
Avenida Francisco Bhering
It is the countryside outside of Toulouse stretching almost as far as Carcassonne. In this area you will find the Canal du Midi, beautiful villages and stunning scenery. Markets, antique and reproduction furniture. Foie Gras and excellent local wines from the Corbieres, Minervois and Fitou.
You can fly into Toulouse or Carcassonne, exit the Autoroute A61 at Villefranche Lauragais and head in the direction of Revel where you will find a beautiful market every Saturday morning. Worthwhile stops are St Felix Lauragais. There is a 16th century farm doing B&B in Belesta Lauragais, a good base for exploring the Lauragais.
The Villa itself is interesting, but oh, the gardens, the fountains and the views are superb! www.villadestetivoli.info/storiae.htm
Tivoli itself is a nice hill town. too.
Tivoli is a short train journey from Rome. You can catch a bus into the centre, or walk; the Villa is signposted.
Ruined tombs cut into the cliffs overlooking the Nile. Wonderfully romantic - you'll feel you're in 'The English Patient'. No tour-groups, just you, the pillared halls, the hieroglyphs, the desert, and the views. Easy to get to with a short sail by local felucca (ask for Nassir Ramadan on the corniche by the Ferial Gardens).
On the west bank of the Nile opposite Aswan.
Michael Palin's recent TV series might have whetted the appetite but as someone who has been to Gdansk four times already this year I can tell you Michael only touched the surface.
Gdansk is part of a three-city conurbation including Sopot and Gdynia. All three cities have their own identities and all have something to offer.
I flew with WizzAir from Liverpool to Gdansk airport.
Gdansk's Old Town is like a smaller version of Krakow's but with a maritime flavour. It's also the best place to buy amber in Poland.
Twenty minutes drive away is the seaside resort of Sopot. Very fashionable in the 1920s, the town still has a rather sophisticated image (nothing like Blackpool, no amusement arcades here!). Sopot is famous for it's enormous wooden pier which really is just used by holiday makers to enjoy a daily promenade on. Watch out for the seagulls though!
A few minutes drive away is the third coastal resort of Gdynia. Only created in the 20th century, this town has a more modern feel about it and is located sandwiched between the Baltic Ocean and a National Park. I visited Orlowo beach with its own famous pier (they seem to be big on piers over there).
The highlight of my trip was a drive to the Hel Peninsula, 45mins drive away. It's a 35km finger of land that curls into the Baltic Ocean. At its narrowest base it's just one road wide (although they still fit a railway track alongside it). Further down the peninsula widens out to reveal fishing villages and exclusive holiday resorts with the Northern side boasting long, white, sandy beaches - almost Floridian in style.
We booked our hotels through www.ilovepoland.co.uk
Named after a notorious Victorian brothel keeper, Madame Brussels has a deliciously kooky garden party theme, complete with grassed interior, trellising and parasols.
Bright young things in tennis whites will bring you iced Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Scrumptious in every way.
For the best free view in the world go on this 25 minute commuter ferry to Staten Island and back again. Best views of lower Manhattan, and the Statue of Liberty. Before going, walk around Battery Park which has nice cafes and walks.
Battery Park, South Street, at Whitehall Street. Nearest subways: South Ferry and Bowling Green
The Circle Line is wonderful for a tour around Manhattan Island. It should not be missed. But much more exciting was our cruise on the Schooner Adirondack. There are some four sailings a day and we chose the sunset one.
You board at Chelsea Piers (on the Hudson near West 23rd). The two-hour cruise goes to the Statue of Liberty and returns, with champagne served by the crew.
The sunset cruise is particularly beautiful because you see the sunset to the west over New Jersey and to the east looms the skyline of lower Manhattan which is lit up brilliantly by the time you turn around and head back.
Unfortunately the cruise only runs from the end of April through the end of October. Cost is around $50, champagne included. We will never forget it!
A running track (1.58 miles) follows the edge of the reservoir (now officially the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir) and lets you experience the same views as Dustin Hoffman in the opening sequences of Marathon Man - the skyline of buildings that surround the park.
No worries about muggers - forget those scenes from Death Wish - you'll always have the company of other runners, even in the snow.
The reservoir is located in Central Park between 86th and 96th
If you fancy a stay in a "log cabin in the woods for city slickers" then Evergreen Lodge is for you. It's in the forest area just outside the park and close to "Hetch Hetchy" gate on the west side of Yosemite and is a well laid-out complex of very comfortable accommodation with a central restaurant/bar/shop.
The prices are very reasonable and for Brits, with the exchange rate as it is, well, say no more. There is, of course, the whole of Yosemite to go at.
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