Visit Svartisen Glacier from Holandsfjord to an arm called Engabreen, which appears to reach down and tickle the fjord with its icy fingers. The second largest in Europe covering 370 square kilometers. Researchers study the growth and retreat from their unique laboratory 200m below. Walk around the green lake, which is the prettiest route with a swinging bridge and rivers to ford or use the rock route, crossing moraine and rust coloured striated rock formations. Painted arrows direct you. The magical blue ice draws you nearer but the screeching and groaning reminds you of the hidden dangers. Ice caves and deep fissures abound so book a guide if you wish to explore further. They'll equip you with rope, ice picks and crampons for your unforgettable hike. Wear lots of layers even in the middle of summer and don't forget your sunnies. The walk lasts about five hours and should be booked a few days in advance.
Take the train from Oslo, fly in from Trondheim or Bodø or take a boat up to the head of Holandsfjord and walk from there.
North of the Arctic Circle 66°42.4’N 13° 42.5’E
Google map: bit.ly/uF3Blw
The bright blue skies and startling snow and icy landscape during the day and a night sky lit by the incredible dancing Northern Lights takes your breath away. Four days of coming 'home' to the Retreat after a days husky driving, snowmobiling, cross country skiing or sledging was perfect - warm, cosy and intimate; lovely home cooked (mainly vegetarian) food; plenty of hot water and roaring log fires. Welcoming hosts, Mikael and Maya will arrange all the above and for those wanting something less adventurous there is, among other things, yoga, massage, cooking and felt making; and around Christmas time trips to visit Santa! With temperatures averaging -30 it is a real bonus that all the necessary Outerwear and boots are provided. We watched the Northern Lights 100yds from the guesthouse standing on the frozen Torne River with the snow laden forest stretching from the far bank towards Finland in the distance. A gem of a guesthouse in a remarkable setting.
This very trendy bar is located on the seventh floor overlooking Leicester Square. Apart from it being a great bar, is has some of the best views across the square and across London for that matter.
Moonlight restaurant was found purely by chance: out of the centre of town, you could walk right by and not realise it was there. Entered at the side of the building, up steps, you climb to a tiny rooftop terrace with simply amazing views over Kalkan, probably the best. There is only space for 10 tables and all were full the night we ate. You will not get a table here without booking well in advance. The food can be chosen from a set menu or a la carte but, if the latter you must notify your choices at the time of booking. I recommend that you stick to the set menu: I defy you not to be able to find something you like and at under 35 TL it is staggeringly good value for money. The wine list is limited but contains good choices. The food is very much local in orientation and utterly delicious. This was definitely the best food we had tasted anywhere in Kalkan. So, what's the down-side? Not discovered until we came to pay, they do not accept credit cards! Fortunately, they are happy to take any currency; we paid in sterling - £40 for two, including wine and tip. Unbelievable.
Yali boyu mah. Hasan altan cad. No:17
Kalkan, Antalya, Turkey, 07960
+90 242 844 39 79
Having arrived in this dry, dusty and underrated Rajasthani desert town in the heat of the day, nothing could be more welcome than a fresh pineapple lassi in the shady restaurant of the Hotel Harasar Haveli. As a traveller on a shoestring, hotels catering for a range of budgets are a wonderful thing; however much you are spending per night, you can enjoy the same respectful hospitality, facilities and magnificent views. In a peaceful location north-east of the town centre, I was grateful for the distance from the frenetic activity of central Bikaner. There are frequent passing auto-rickshaws, meaning the Harasar guest has easy access to local sights.
My 'budget' bathroom was astonishingly state-of-the-art, as well as spacious; dazzingly clean with highly modern fixtures, and (unusally in budget Indian accommodation), a powerful shower with plenty of hot water. The bedroom was appealingly simple, with subtle and pretty Rajasthani touches like the little stained-glass topped table.
For me, the very best thing about this fabulous hotel was the views. During the day, I lingered in my cane easy-chair in the shade of the tented restaurant with coffee ... resident sparrows were brazen enough to land on my table and attempt to peck from the sugar bowl. The panoramic view consists of a plethora of rooftops and narrow winding streets leading to Bikaner's most striking building on the skyline: the red-sandstone Junagarh Fort. I was able to witness simultaneously the majesty and the minutiae of Rajasthani life, as a woman at a nearby residence hung out to dry a beautifully colourful array of saris.
In the evening, whatever your status as a guest, you can ascend to the very top of the hotel, to the exposed rooftop, where the restaurant is lit by candles and strings of fairy-lights, and the sparkling city lights spread out before you. The food is reasonably-priced, delicately-cooked and subtly-flavoured; the service formal, polite but not obsequious; and, every night, there is a (here I quote from the website) 'cultural bash: folkdance and music by gypsies with dinner'.
A beautiful and usually peaceful gorge with well-maintained walkways that take you through the heart of the gorge and undulate their way along the path of the deep turquoise water.
The moderate fee involved is definitely worth it and the gorge makes a nice short trip if you are based in Bled. You can even walk there, although it is quite a long journey with not too simple a route to follow.
Gorje Tourist Information Center
Podhom 80, 4247, Zgornje Gorje
+386 4 572 52 66
Google map: bit.ly/t3n24O
One of only three aragonite caves in the world open to the public. It is a beautiful and amazing experience to wander through this small but incredibly colourful and delicate cave. You can't help but be reminded of the crystals you could make as a child with a Christmas bought chemistry set.
Nearest main town is Roznava. There is poor public transport.
Ochtinská aragonitová jaskyňa, 049 35 Ochtiná-Rožňava, Slovakia
+421 58/488 10 51
Google map: bit.ly/vU5LW1
For national Czech history don't go to the National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square. The building is beautiful but the collection has just been shut for at least four years for extensive and long-overdue updating.
Instead, go to the National Museum site at the Vitkov Memorial in Zizkov. This site is home to one of the biggest equestrian statues in the world and a very interesting exhibition about 20th century Czech history.
A steep climb to the top is rewarded by a great view over the city, from the roof-top viewing platform or the very good café.
U Památníku 1900, 130 00 Praha 3
+420 222 781 676
November 2011 untill March 2012:
Thursday–Sunday: 10 AM–6 PM
Google map: bit.ly/vukUJR
* Helen is our Been there local for Prague. Her page is here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-helen-ford.jsp and she has her own blog here: czechingin.wordpress.com/
The North Yorks Moors are awash with standing stones, circles, burial mounds and markers from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. New ones come to light from time to time that have been covered by heather and bracken for hundreds of years, and a walk on these glorious moors reveals a surprise cross or stone at almost every turn.
Some served as markers on the pannier tracks that connected Yorkshire's monasteries, and some are boundary stones - such as the aptly named Fat Betty on the road between Castleton and Rosedale. Two miles inland from Robin Hood’s Bay are the three Bronze Age stones of the Ramsdale Circle. This is an unsurpassable site for a picnic, with a wonderful view of the coast across rolling moorland, which has probably changed little since the stones were erected.
Google map: bit.ly/qO90XR
The Skylounge is a cool bar-restaurant on the top floor of the Mint Hotel. The terrace gives an amazing view of Amsterdam whilst enjoying a cocktail. Free entrance, cocktails were about £12 each.
The highest ski resort in Europe offers fantastic experiences for both skiers and snowboarders. Beginners can get plenty of practice on easy slopes located in the centre of the resort where ski lifts are free for all users. Meanwhile, the more competent skiers can enjoy speed or more technically challenging runs at a higher altitude and snowboarders can try their luck in the snowpark where jumps of all sizes are available. To add to this, the views from "Cime Caron" are stunning: at a height of 3,200 metres, you literally feel on top of the world.
The ‘69’ or the ‘Plan Bois’ lift is one of the best chairlifts in Les Arcs. Why? You can spend a whole day riding the runs and through the trees from this lift. When it’s a powder day. Get up to the top of this lift first thing and head for the ‘Piste de Bosses’ black run. The run has some lovely steeper bits and natural pipes as you go back down to the chairlift. So much fun. Then there is the ‘Renard’ blue run, with natural steps ups, wall rides and literally infinite jibbing possibilities. The red run ‘Belette’ has a blue run ‘Rhodos’ that forks off it. Stay on the run and enjoy the three natural rollers. Perfect for jump practice. Pretty much anywhere from this lift you can get into the trees. Tree runs are what Peisey Vallandry does best.
The Gower peninsula has many brilliant walks. Loads of different scenery - woods, dunes, cliffs, beaches, crags, hills, moors - etc. Fantastic veiws from the cliffs. All within a few miles. Also they all seem to be brilliantly catered for with delicious cafes just when you need a hearty snack.
Google map: bit.ly/ozQMKx
On the south east corner of the island of Graciosa in the Azores, the Furna do Enxofre lies beneath the Caldeira. I walked and hitch-hiked from the village of Praia (also known as Sao Mateus).
A winding stairway of 183 steps partly cut into a volcanic chimney leads down to a domed volcanic cave where there is a sulphurous lake. It's best to go between 11am and 2pm as sunlight beams through a shaft and casts light in a spectacular way.
It's even wiser to phone ahead as the CO2 levels are closely monitored and the cave closes when levels are dangerous. It's a bit disconcerting to say the least, when you're peering into the boiling mud pool and the alarm sounds!
There is an eeriness and stillness in the subterranean world enhanced by knowing you are 100m below the earth's surface inside a volcano.
A little rowing boat sits at the lake edge, though when I visited, the lake was out of bounds. Bring a torch to explore the darker areas and to admire the numerous stalactites. Finally, bring a packed lunch as the food offered is only a few chocolate bars and drinks from a vending machine. There are a few picnic benches outside to enjoy a well deserved snack and a rest.
If you have the energy, you can walk around the edge of the volcano where there are stunning views into the Caldeira and explore lava tunnels as you continue to hike.
All in all a great work for the thighs and bum!
Ilha Graciosa, Portugal
+351 295 712 124
Google map: bit.ly/rbUFyt
Christopher Wren’s The Monument has been impressively restored creating a new glittering landmark for the city sky line. Built between 1671 and 1676 it commemorates the great fire of London; the origins of the fire supposedly close to this spot. The viewing deck at the top provides excellent views over the surrounding areas and a great view over to the rapidly developing new London Bridge complex on the south side of the river. At the top visitors are protected by a wire mesh; the real fright is the very narrow and steep 311 stairs. This is a great experience for a mere £3 and children (and adults) will love the certificate you receive acknowledging your climbing achievement.
Fish Street Hill
+44 (0) 207 626 2717
Closest tube: Monument and London Bridge Closest station: London Bridge
Open: 9.30am – 5.30pm every day (except Christmas and New Year)
Google map: bit.ly/oolpuf
* Sophie is our Been there local for London. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/london-local-sophie-mitchell-intro.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/SophieMItchell
The Cango Caves are a huge system of beautifully formed limestone caves that are perfect for an adventure. There are two types of tours that run. A standard tour, lasting an hour, that takes you all over. The other is an adventure tour that lasts ninety minutes where you climb through the system and its natural slides, the 'chimney' and the drum room. It's the best day out I've ever had and great for all the family. Not only will you learn, but you'll have a really fun time.
Despite being claustrophobic and prone to vertigo, I was persuaded to visit Gouffre de Padirac and have been entranced ever since! Near Rocamadour, even before entering the site, the “hole” in the ground was scary enough.
First opened to the public 120 years ago, there are over 40 km of tunnels already explored with more being discovered, the underground river flows over 23 km before emerging ... where? With 2.5 km accessible, the clarity of the water is incredible and so inviting.
Descend 103 metres (by lift or stairs), low tunnels with dripping walls (didn’t like that) then suddenly a huge lake in a vast cavern – and gondolas with very adept gondoliers waiting to take you into the unknown – the 60 metre high Grande Pendeloque stalactite at Lac de la Pluie, the 1000 year old dams of the Lac des Gours, the Grande Dome and my favourite Lac Superieur which almost looked manmade but I was assured it wasn’t, rock formations looking like a hericium fungi.
With 40 km of tunnels already explored, what was amazing is the thought and effort gone into making these accessible to the public – steps cut into the side going almost to the roof of the caverns (I tried very hard to ignore my vertigo) – lighting placed in nooks and crannies and underwater. Absolutely great value for money at around £8 for over an hour’s tour. Sadly no photography allowed.
Though Virginia Woolf set her famous novel in the Hebrides it was inspired by childhood holidays at St Ives Bay in Cornwall
Pure white sand, hidden rock pools, a wooden cafe serving hot chocolate, and that view to the lighthouse - a timeless stream of consciousness
West of Redruth and the A£) take the road to Hayle, just before take the coast road to the village of Gwithians, signs to Godrevy and the National Trust a mile before the village.
Google map: bit.ly/o8kOqh
Large rectangular area within the Albaicin area from where you have a wonderful view of the Alhambra on the other side of the gorge. The view is even more stunning at night.
Just be careful as pickpockets are known to operate in the area.
Google map: bit.ly/qkiOqm
Worth going in to this late Gothic chapel to see the final resting place of the two famous Spanish Catholic monarchs Isabel and Fernando.
The two monarchs lie in the crypt in simple lead coffins along with a few other related royals.
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