Pretty self explanatory really, runs along the beach. Best walked on the weekends when all manner of strange and fabulous people emerge, reminiscent of Glastonbury at times, but, you know, with fewer annoying middle class students. Watch out for various street entertainers including a guy who walks literally 6 inches behind you, imitating everything you do, to the amusement of everyone sitting in the cafes. Rollerblading or rollerskating along the sidewalk is best if you can manage it, or rent a cycle. Parking can be found at one of several large lots right next to the beach for around $10/day, park at Marina del Rey and walk up to Venice past Muscle Beach and the basketball courts for a longer stroll, stop at the Sidewalk cafe for a margarita before heading back or further north to Santa Monica.
Great 24 hour cafe on Manhattan Beach Blvd just 2 blocks from the ocean. One of the few places around the area to be open 24 hours. Their sandwiches are great, burgers tasty, but the best thing on the menu is their french onion soup with a chunk of baguette dunked in it and a slice of mozzarella melted over the top. Get the blackberry lemonade too. Good people watching from the (heated) terrace.
1138 Highland Ave (Cross Street: Manhattan Beach Boulevard)
Manhattan Beach 310 545-8511
As a denizen and big fan of this crazy, mixed-up city, may I recommend:
Yuca Taco Stand www.ericgarcetti.org/blog/000039.php
and there's a lady from Oaxaca who has a cart (the one under the blue umbrella, usually) on Echo Park Boulevard just south of Sunset Blvd., between Sunset and Echo Park Lake, Wednesdays thru Saturdays from noon until 5:30--she's illegal (so no links here) and delicious!
Traditional blue corn quesadillas with huitlacoche (an earthy black fungus paste that grows on ears of corn), squash blossoms, and other wonderful things to put in, pickled cactus to put on top--$3! Sometimes she doesn't show because she's afraid of the policia, but she's worth taking your chances. Yum.
Both of these places are on the eastern side of town, the far more interesting half. While here, work up your appetite and get a taste of local life by taking a hike in either Griffith Park (www.ci.la.ca.us/RAP/dos/parks/griffithPK/griffith.htm) or Elysian Park (www.laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/elysianPk.htm). Views from both.
The best thing to do in Rotterdam is leave the railway station, get the no.5 tram down to the river where the SPIDO harbour cruises start from, well worth the hour and a half that it'll take. When you come back, go back east a bit along the riverfront and get one of the classic polished wooden watertaxis to the old Holland America Line HQ on the south bank, now the Hotel New York with a busy bar/restaurant. The 30s style boat costs nearly nothing and was the highlight of my trip.
A fish'n'chip joint par excellence! Situated on the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), you sit at tables overlooking the ocean eating superb freshly-cooked fish and seafood from an extensive menu. Line up at the cooking shack, choose your food, and it is cooked to order. Those in the know bring their own plates and cutlery, wine etc. Watch the sun set over the Pacific, it's magical - or go anytime for a cheap delicious meal.
PCH (Highway 1), Malibu.
The Galway City Museum can be found behind the Spanish Arch overlooking Galway Bay and the Claddagh. The view of the Claddagh, the oldest part of Galway, and the River Corrib flowing into the Bay is excellent.
The original folk museum that was opened in 1976 was replaced by a light airy glass, concrete and stone building that provides a place to relax and view artefacts, paintings and sculpture. And it's only five minutes stroll to Tigh Neachtain and The Quays, two excellent local bars.
Opening Hours: Summer (June to September), Monday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm
Winter (October to May), Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Telephone: (091) 532 460 or from outside Ireland + 353 91 532 460
The hill temple at Pimbura is not a particularly impressive structure, more a ramshackle collection of shrines and associated outbuildings spread out on the top of a ridge. In fact the nearer you get to the temple, the more you feel like you are in Nepal rather than Sri Lanka, but the setting, the atmosphere and the fact that you are almost certainly the only visitor makes up for any shortfall in the architecture. You need to explore this place and just when you think you have seen it all there is yet another path to something else.
The views from the top are magnificent, which means it is quite a climb (but I am fat and 40 and I made it ok) so you will need good shoes and plenty of water and do not go too late in the day, the track is steep, rocky and unlit. For the naturalists amongst you there are birds, bats and even monkeys. There is only one monk in residence, he will be surprised to see you and will no doubt welcome your generous donation.
You can take the train from Colombo to Aluthgama and then take the bus to Agalawatta via Matugama. From Agalawatta pick up the Horana bus or a three wheeler (approx Rs150). There is only one road worthy of the name running through Pimbura, the track to the temple leads off to the left (if you are travelling north) just past the district hospital, ask anyone. There is an alternative route up and down the hill so you can make a round trip. There is another temple in Pimbura (which is not on a hill).
Dias Rest (AKA the White Monkey Guest House) is maybe not the most accessible of places but it is an ideal base for the independent traveller and for anyone who really wants to get away from it all, this has become my favourite Rest House in Sri Lanka and if I had a book to write I would write it here.
Due to a derailment I arrived at the Guesthouse quite late but I had telephoned ahead and Dias was waiting with the warmest of welcomes and dinner was ready. Because I arrived in the dark I was totally unprepared for the sight that hit me when I emerged from my room on that first morning. I like my superlatives but I was honestly lost for words to describe the views from this place.
There is a cottage with two double beds and a lived-in feel to it, I preferred the simply furnished family rooms (also two double beds) all have bathrooms with shower and toilet. It is incredible value for money - I questioned the bill because I thought Dias had simply not charged me enough.
It's not the Ritz and the mountainside position makes access difficult for anyone with heavy luggage or mobility problems but I cannot speak highly enough about this place.
Tell them Mark sent you!
Clinging to a steep mountainside 3km outside the hill town of Haputale, if you are travelling light the walk from Haputale is worth the effort, otherwise a three wheeler from the town will cost around Rs 200.
People go to Agra for the Taj Mahal. But do not forget to go to Fatehpur Sikri. An ill-fated city built by Emporer Akbar, it was discarded as soon as it was built, because of lack of water. Amazing architecture. Good views.
Near Agra, Uttar Pradesh
The Port Hills sit above Christchurch and give you amazing views across the city, the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. Stunning sunsets. You can drive, hike or cycle up... and there is some great mountain biking tracks as well as rock climbing - all 20mins from the centre of the city.
South of the City Centre - you can't miss them.
The town of Clifden, famous for the first Trans-Atlantic flight having landed there, is a thriving cosmopolitan town with new apartments being built and the pubs and restaurants full.
The old railway station has been carefully incorporated into apartment blocks next to the station hotel. Remnants of the old platform have been kept as part of the walkway, and the old lines, sleepers and signal switches are embedded into the pedestrian area. The locomotive shed and stationmaster’s house are part of the development and even the new block of shops has been sensitively dealt with in the design process. The whole effect works well with vernacular references to the railway, which played a significant part in Clifden’s development.
The area has walks for all abilities in the Connemara National Park.
Going to Clifden is worth it, not only because of the town, but the actual journey is so spectacular with the barren rock landscape surrounded by drowned peat hags fringed with reeds.
The statue of the famous raising of the flag on Mt Suribachi, Iwo Jima, is walking distance from Arlington Cemetery and Rosslyn Metro. Go on Saturday and speak to Marine veteran Gordon F Ward, who fought and was injured on Iwo Jima, and now volunteers his time on Saturdays to speak to tourists and school groups about Marine history. There is also a great view back down the National Mall, with the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol Building all in a line.
Arlington VA, near the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
Cowes, main town on Phillip Island. Use it as a base for visiting the penguins or Seal Rock ... or maybe the Phillip Island motor racing circuit, home of the Australian motorcycle GP.
Or while at Cowes, buy the best fish'n'chips and go eat them on the beach!
Cowes, Phillip Island
1½hrs drive from Melbourne
This was an experience that everybody should have in their lifetime. A day trip to see the wild whales and orca in the Canada Straight, leaving from Granville Island is undoubtably the best whale watching experience from Vancouver. The tour encompasses natural whale watching with total respect for the natural habitat of the whales and their co-habitants, harbour seals, sea lions and bald eagles in their natural scenic environment cruising through the gulf islands.
The tour was guided by a naturalist, very knowledgeable about marine life and the area, using underwater hydrophones to capture the noise of the whales in their pods communicating with each other. There were also related books and articles from the National Geographic on board. You get plenty of time to walk around and stand in the back part of the un-enclosed boat and watch the whales and the otherwise unreachable parts of Canada's coastline.
I recommend this tour wholeheartedly. There are many whale watching tours advertised in Vancouver, most of them picturing speedboats with tourists in wetsuit outfits! If your thing is more laid back, to walk about the boat and photograph what you see, appreciate the stunning environment and relax (in your own clothes!) then this is the tour for you.
We were lucky enough to see three pods of whales travelling close to each other, killer whales and sea lions (respecting the regulations of distance of boats by law) and part of the money you pay for the tour goes to the research and protection of these amazing creatures.
My top tips: hats, gloves, a bottle of water and a snack bar for your pocket (you travel a long way out and are gone a few hours), leave the digital camera at home in favour of your old APS film camera (I had much better pictures on that than my mum on her digital camera- the shutter speeds are too slow on digital to capture the best of shots). And on that note, as our guide poignantly pointed out - don't miss what you are seeing because you are watching it through the camera lens. You can download brilliant pictures from the website!
I did this trip with my mum. I am planning to return to Vancouver and would happily do this excursion alone as a single traveller so don't be put off...
The Seven Stories is an ongoing project that preserves original manuscripts and artwork from renowned childrens' authors such as Allan and Janet Alberg, JK Rowling, Tony Ross, Michael Bond. This is a fun, interactive environment for children and adults that subtley encourages reading and learning through play.
Also there are regular events where authors and illustrators will visit, give a reading of their work and sign books for visitors too. The ground floor is also host to an excellent bookstore dedicated to the very best in children's literature.
Workshops are regularly available throughout the summer and the cafe is well worth a visit for a quick refuelling and a nice view of the river! Or if a big lunch is required pop along to the Cluny, where they do a mean handmade beef burger, with handcut chips and salad.
See www.sevenstories.org.uk for information about events, and detailed directions.
Seven Stories 30 Lime Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2PQ.
Close to Byker Metro Station, but if you are feeling energetic take a good walk along the Quayside or get off at the very last stop on the Q2 bus (Runs Haymarket-Quayside) and ask your driver for further directions.
Tucked away next to The Barbican, this museum 'does what it says on the tin'; it's about the history of London, from prehistory to modern times. I've been coming here, on and off, since I was 13; my son is now that age, and loves it as much as I do!
All Londoners should visit here at least once, to help your understanding of what makes London the unique world city we live in. With lots of interactivity for the children, and well laid out exhibits for the rest of us!
Just one tip; the Museum Cafe is good for a cup of coffee and a sticky bun, but I wouldn't recommend it for lunch.
Nearest Tube, Barbican or St Pauls
An independant Arndale centre where the conventions of society are subverted and allowed to be sampled in any other form you may require. A number of retro clothes shops mean that a healthy boho atmosphere is achieved and perpetually reinvented by each year of subsequent students looking to find their own identity, although usually only achieved when working within strictly defined parameters. Find so much here, it is worth a full day out in itself.
Reach Piccadilly from Arndale and turn left.
Cafe del Mar is, like its namesake in Ibiza, a cocktail/lounge bar, spread across the top of the 17th century defensive wall surrounding Cartagena. A wonderful place to have a drink and watch the sun set into the Caribbean - and a good place to get out of the city heat and find a breeze.
Centro Historico, Baluarte Santo Domingo;
tel: (+57 5) 6646513;
It is the oldest part of town and the highest. Its walls nad bastions are mostly still intact. You can start by climbing the stairs of one of the two remaining marble-white watch towers, Torre di San Pancrazio (Saint Pancras' tower). From the top of the tower you have a full view of the old town, which looks like a boat on the sea. After that you can wander in the narrow streets of the town that has changed little since the middle ages. You will find many artesan workshops and scenic views. You can then end your walk in one of its cafes: I recommend Libarium Nostrum, close to the other watch tower, Torre dell'Elefante (Elephant Tower), where you can sip your drink with a stunning view of the sunset on the eastern lagoon from an old fortified bastion overlooking the lagoon, the sea, and the old Stampace neighborhood.
You will see it from every point of the town. Local buses from central Largo Carlo Felice.
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