During a trip to Australia in 1997, I was lucky enough to have been invited to have dinner at Doyle's on the beach in Sydney.
One of the enduring images and impressions I have of that very warm February evening, was to see the sun set over the harbour looking towards the city far away in the background.
The sun was sinking fast behind the skyscrapers - it was an amazing sight, and at that moment I had the urge to call home. I took the mobile out of my pocket, and rang to speak to my mum and brother. It was early in the morning in the UK (11 hours behind Sydney at that time of year) and I said to them, "Has the sun come up over there yet?". They replied: "Yes, just about. Why?"
My response was: "I just realised this is about the only time of the day we can see the sun at the same time from opposite sides of the world."
There's very little in this life for free and this has got to be one of the best of them. A breathtaking walk taking in some of the city's most amazing beaches.
Bring your walking shoes though, it's a good 90 minute walk along the coast so stilettos are not advisable!
Oh, and for accommodation for when you're in Sydney, look no further than www.hostelworld.com. I use it all the time and love it.
Cádiz is famous for its historical watchtowers, the tallest of which, at 45 metres above sea level, is the Torre Tavira, right in the centre of town near the market. Today it houses an attraction unique in Spain, a Camera Obscura. This projects a brilliant 360 degrees moving picture of the town and port onto a large circular table-screen around which visitors sit whilst a guide points out all the main buildings, squares, streets, beaches and docks. Moe fascinating, and fun, is to see the ordinary life of the town in extraordinary detail - people shopping, washing hanging out in gardens, bathers in the sea, even seagulls perched on chimneys. The 15 minute show is really quite remarkable.
Torre Tavira, calle Marques de Real Tesoro 10, Cadiz.
tel. 956 21 29 10
If you are a city person then Chicago is one of the best for a short holiday.
While the Sears Tower has long queues and you have to pay, the John Hancock tower is free and has a better view.
Also well worth it is a trip on a boat around Chicago itself to see all the buildings or out onto the Great Lake for one amazing view of the skyline.
For more info check out my personal web site with a few ideas:
This is a stunning area with a beautiful landscape of valleys, farmland and forests set against a backdrop of the snowcapped mountains of the Pyrenees. The area is perfect for cycling with a wonderful sunny climate, plenty of off-road tracks, excellent roads that take you through medieval villages, and drivers who respect cyclists.
Cycle the 7k route round beautiful Lake Banyoles, where Olympic triathletes train, and have a four-course lunch overlooking the lake, or ride across country over the Cap de Creus to see Dali's coastal home near Cadaquez (about 3 and a half hours from Banyoles) and enjoy tapas on the beach before returning.
Hardy cyclists can take the challenging route to Mare de Del Mont - a 19k ride with a 1,000metre climb. Contact Fiona and Gareth at their triathlon centre near Banyoles, in the heart of Catalonia, for cycle hire, coaching, accompanied rides, accommodation and to arrange collection from Girona airport.
One of best things about Valencia is the empty riverbed of the Turia, which has been turned into an 8km-long, twisting park through the middle of the city, with a lagoon, gardens and playing fields plus the amazing City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural wonderland.
You can cycle from the old town and through cycle paths in the park and on to the revamped port, seeing everything in half a day. Hire bikes (including tandems) at Cycletour, next to the fab Gulliver’s playground in the park, or in town at the excellent Orange bikes.
Orange Bikes Santa Teresa 8, Valencia (0034 96 391 7551, orangebikes.net).
You will never find it on a map or a guide book but 20th & Vermont Street makes Lombard Street look straight.
No Japanese tourists but your backseat passengers might get sick if you go too fast.
Vermont Street and 20th.
Look for the sign that looks like a snake and a street that disappears straight down
If you want to see some of the surrounding countryside and villages, then a leisurely boat trip on the Volga is a good way to do it.
These run mainly during the summer and one of the most popular trips is to Tolga, taking about an hour each way.
There are also somewhat faster hydrofoil services to Kostroma, an hour and a half each way.
Trips are from the river station on Pervomayskaya Ulitsa.
Fantastic views of cliffs along the Alabaster coast from this little seaside resort west of Dieppe. Less crowded than Étretat. Monet loved it here. And buy ultra-fresh seafood from the fishing boats on the promenade.
10 minutes west of Dieppe along D75.
Cosy holiday cottage in the beautiful fishing village of Gardenstown, Abderdeenshire. My partner and I enjoyed fabulous food (courtesy of the Harbour Cafe) and wonderful walks along rugged, and unspoilt coastline.
Feels like a million miles away, well I guess it is nearly!
Gardenstown, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Flying into Geneva, I spent the next ten days on a grand tour of the lake.
After one night in Geneva I hired a touring bike and set off with my tent round the Swiss side of the lake with stops at Nyon, Montreux and Lausanne.
Had some amazing lunches by the ports and decided to get a boat back to Geneva. Then found a company doing tours on the French side of the lake, even up into the Alps, which is still amazing even without the snow.
If it's a clear day, take the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind the Old Town (the one with the very classy 'Brasov' sign).
The view over the town and the mountains beyond is spectacular, especially when the sun comes out and turns the houses below varying shades of gold.
You can also climb up a zigzag path to the top, apparently this takes about 45mins if you're fit.
Closed on Mondays, open till around 5pm otherwise.
From Piata Sfatului, take Str. Hirscher to the end, then turn left for 200m and right onto Str. Julius Romer to reach the base station.
Parking in the beauty spot of Etretat can be impossible. About four miles down the coast, however, is the small town of Yport, which was also painted by the Impressionists. There is easy free parking on the front there, and the atmosphere is more local and much less touristy than that of its famous neighbour. Take the steps up from the front and the steep road on the right up to the cliffs for fabulous views, especially if you stand on the old German lookout post, which is also a good place for a picnic.
Seine Maritime, near Fécamp.
We stayed at the Villa San Raffaello for our first family holiday in Italy. The Villa has recently undergone extensive renovation and refurbishment and now has four spacious self-catering apartments. There is still plenty of exposed original stonework and wooden beams and ceilings to remind you of the heritage of the place.
We stayed in apartment Elisa - a first floor apartment comprising double bedroom, twin bedroom, bathroom, lounge and modern kitchen and dining room. Access is via the courtyard with jasmine plants growing up the walls. The great feature of this apartment is the balcony and breakfast area which is accessed from the lounge. We spent most mornings having our breakfast here together (and evenings when the children were asleep!). You look down upon the beautiful courtyard below, but best of all are the stunning views across to the medieval hill-top town of Sarnano a couple of miles away, with the backdrop of the spectacular Sibillini Mountains and National park. The view changed every hour!
The huge swimming pool was a massive hit with the children and came in very handy during the heat of the day to cool down.
We hired a car from Ancona Airport which was an absolute must, but make sure you check the cost of hiring child car seats in advance. We visited the stunning Lake Fiastra, 25 mins away up and over the top of the mountains (remember the roads in the Italian Job?).
Also visited the Roman town and ruins at Urbisaglia, the market at Macerata and fully explored the town of Sarnano. We found we could have a two-course meal with wine for around €15 a head.
We can recommend the 'Osteria scherzi a parte' a great little restaurant 15 mins up the mountain road from Sarnano to Sassotetto, the local ski resort (yes, you can do some skiing here too!).
We will definitely be returning to the Villa San Raffaello some time soon. Damien and Sharon, the owners, were extremely welcoming and invaluable for their local information, suggestions for walks and sightseeing, markets and help with the language, both being fluent in the local lingo!
One and a half hour drive from Ancona Airport (Ryanair fly there from Stansted).
This a lovely apartment, 4 separate apartments in all, all spacious and very comfortable, traditionally furnished.
Whether you want a nice relaxing holiday or fancy something energetic this is the place for you, Gosau is situated about 50mins from Salzburg, provides you with wonderful scenery, an abundance of mountain bike trails/hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Having been here in every season it never disappoints.
The view from the Muhlradl is stunning and you can be at Gosausee Lake in a short time, this is well worth a visit.
A number of other lovely towns are within easy reach.
The owners of the Muhlradl are wonderfully helpful and can arrange bike hire etc, and have plenty of local knowledge and will always give you a warm welcome.
Well worth a visit.
4824 Gosau 621,
Tel: 00 43 (0) 6136 8836
Filey is peaceful and unspoilt. It has a five-mile long beach of clean golden sand, stretching from Bempton and Speeton at the south, to the rocky outcrop of Filey Brigg at the north. There are fossils in the cliffs, and rock pools on the Brigg. A real refuge from the cut and thrust of everyday life.
Filey, North Yorkshire, has its own passenger train station and frequent bus services. It is also within easy reach of the North Yorks Moors, Scarborough, Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay.
There are two reasons these five stylish self-catering apartments are so popular. Firstly they are terrific value, and second they offer something none of Honfleur’s hotels can match —a view of the unique 17th-century harbour, one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Apartments from €155 per 3-night weekend (locationdecharme.com, + 6 80 42 28 25 (mobile).
This good hotel stands across the river from the wonderful castle of Josselin. It offers a range of excellent rooms which have retained their essentially French character. The restaurant takes the form of an enormous baronial hall, with swords and shields galore but the important thing is that the food is excellent. Many of the rooms have a view of the castle opposite, and in the early morning the mists from the river disperse to reveal a huge curtain wall, topped by steeps roofs, turrets and pinnacles galore.
60km west of Rennes, off the N24; 40 north of Vannes, off the D778.
Logis de France 2 cheminées - 1 rue du Général de Gaulle 56120 Josselin
Tel : 02 97 22 20 11
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