If it is a sunny evening, have a drink at Medjool's "sky terrace", the only rooftop bar in the city. Beautiful panoramas, beautiful people. The drinks and food are slightly less beautiful, but you come here for the 360 degree drop dead gorgeous views.
2522 Mission St (nearest intersection is 21st Street);
tel: (415) 550 9055;
If you and your kids like walking and don't mind a bit of a climb the Saturn Steps will take you up from the Castro to the Randall Museum and Corona Heights Park with rocky outcrops and breathtaking views. Surprisingly underused. Walk back via the Vulcan Steps into the Haight Ashbury
The Randall Museum: 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114;
tel: (415) 554 9600;
Get the bus out along Geary Blvd to The Cliff House - which is reputably fantastic if you are not on a budget ;-) we ate at the diner just up the hill for a tenth of the price. But the views from the Cliff House over Ocean Beach on the Pacific are pretty special. Then head down to the old Sutro Baths to check out where the San Franners used to come for their r n' r.
A classic Greek portal opened to a massive glass enclosure containing seven swimming pools of various temperatures. There were slides, trapezes, springboards and a high dive. Together the pools held 1.7 million gallons of water and could be filled in one hour by high tides. There were 20,000 bathing suits and 40,000 towels for rent.
Balmy temperatures and abundant plants enhanced "California’s Tropical Winter Garden." The Baths could accommodate 10,000 people at one time. Now all that remains are the ruins.
From here you can head through the little tunnel down by the baths and up the hill to the trail which leads along the coast all the way around to Chinia Beach via an increasingly impressive panorama of the GG.
Surfers take on the Pacific swells just below you at the base of the cliffs. You re-enter civilisation at China Beach and could probably walk up to the Palace of the Legion of Honor about half way around if you had time.
Walk through China Beach past the millionaires row of ab fab homes and if you still feel spritely, you can continue along the coast path to the GG or if not, grab a bus on Lincoln Blvd into the city - a lovely untouristy gem of a walk that is pretty easy to reach via public transport and not too strenuous (I did it with a 1yr old on my back!)
Get a 360º view of San Francisco hills and neighbourhoods, Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It beats going to the top floor of a skyscraper.
Look at Coit Tower's vibrant frescos of life in California during the 1930s Great Depression that was commissioned by Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal to employ local artists. Then walk down the Filbert Steps. Telegraph Hill is so steep that Filbert St. is a stairway, part of it is still wooden. It has a quasi-park feel with homes clinging to the side of Telegraph Hill. You might want to watch the documentary film, "The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill."
Halfway down at 1360 Montgomery St. is an Art Deco apartment building that was used as Lauren Bacall's home in the 1947 Humphrey Bogart movie, "Dark Passage."
When you reach the bottom of the Filbert Steps, you can walk up the Greenwich Steps back to Coit Tower or continue walking through Levi’s Plaza (Levi Strauss HQ) to the Embarcadero and walk, or ride a Muni F/Market-Embarcadero streetcar, to the Ferry Building or Fisherman's Wharf.
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
1 (415) 362-0808
Walk to the top of Telegraph Hill or ride Muni #39 Coit bus.
Cafe located in the SF Art Insitute...but open to the public. Fresh-made decent food, relaxed environment, self-serve...but it is the view that is the thing. College is on the same hill as the Crooked Street (Lombard) and has a fantastic view of Fisherman's Wharf, the Bay, North Beach. There's also a wonderful Diego Rivera mural, usually a student art show going on...street parking only..sort of an Old California (before the gringos came) feel to the original building..patio, fountain...
800 Chestnut Street between Jones & Leavenworth
www.sfai.edu--look under Facilities for hours.
Closest bus line is #15 which goes near the Wharf.
Lencois is, to all intents and purposes, the hub of the Chapada Diamantina highlands. It is a sleepy (for now, at least) town which is reached from Salvador da Bahia in around six hours bus ride. From there, you can arrange day excursions on walks and/or to places of astounding beauty, including grottoes and caves some of which allow visitors to snorkel in, as well as longer treks through the hills to the 'Fumaca' Falls (pronounced 'Foo-Massa' = 'Smoke').
The town itself is a wonderfully relaxed place to go to either after the tropical buzz of Salvador or, if you're coming in from Brasilia or another place in the interior, it's a great point to stop off before hitting Bahia's state capital. One of the walks to Fumaca allows walkers to stop at the 'Escorregadeira', an exhilarating natural rock waterslide which may or may not make your local osteopath a few quid in years to come, as well as some stunning pools that precede an under-reported classic experience of travel in Brazil: showering under a waterfall.
The land is known as Chapada Diamantina because it used to be a hunting ground for diamonds. The boom is over, with eco-tourism now a main source of wealth for the region; diamonds aren't forever, but my memories of walking up to Fumaca will be with me for a lot longer.
Bahia state, six hours inland.
This new attraction located within the D-Wing of the former prison, is a fantastic introduction to the history of Oxford - (the city not the University) - and the stories of some of the Prison's former inmates.
As you walk through the tiny cells and atmospheric prison corridors, you hear all about the real people and events from the site’s turbulent past: the first Oxford teachings, the owners, visionaries, activists and inmates.
People like Marshall William Smith, the King’s prison keeper, who in the 1600s made Oxford Prison as feared and as notorious as Colditz; Mary Blandy a convicted murderess, who became an 18th-century celebrity; Jack Ketch, the public executioner and the man on which the Punch & Judy hangman character was modelled; and Anne Green, who survived her own hanging and narrowly escaped being anatomised by an Oxford medical student in 1650!
After your tour of the Prison there is the chance to climb the 101 narrow steps of the Saxon St George's Tower and enjoy the spectacular 360 degree panoramic views of the Oxford skyline.
Oxford Castle, (off New Road), Oxford, OX1 1AY
T: 01865 260666
One of the best views in San Francisco is to be found in the financial district, at the top of the Bank of America building (of Towering Inferno fame). Its bar/restaurant (Carnelian Room) is open to the public after three in the afternoon and has some breathtaking views of the bay.
Bank of America Building
555 California St. (Kearny St.)
San Francisco, CA 94104
The Golden Gate Bridge is very impressive. Walk along it (it takes about an hour), then either walk back or go on to Sausalito (all pretty houses and greenery) and take the ferry back to San Francisco from there.
Golden Gate Park – you could literally spend days there. A good idea is walking from the Eastern to the Western end, stopping off on the way to check out a few highlights, like the flower conservatory, Japanese Tea Garden (as featured in Memoirs of a Geisha) and the De Young museum. Your reward at the end: the waves of the Pacific and the Beach Chalet, a restaurant/brewery where, if you time it right, you can have dinner with lovely sunset views over the ocean.
Cable cars are handy but also a lot of fun, so jump on even if you’re not going anywhere in particular. Although the queues at Powell St turnaround can be off-putting, they move quite quickly - if you try to get on at the next stop often the cars come already full.
The Ferry Building farmers market must be the best way to spend a Saturday morning in San Francisco. The produce looks and tastes amazing and there are plenty of try-before-you-buy opportunities – and you will buy! Sit at the outdoor tables to consume your purchases while you listen to live music and admire the Bay Bridge.
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111;
tel: (415) 693-0996;
A small fishing village just outside (or on the outskirts of) San Sebastian. It looks down-at-heel, and slightly intimidating, as you enter - with its crumbling docks and Basque graffiti - and locals will stare, but persevere.
At the end is a small pub that faces the passage of water, across the other side of which is San Juan, a beautiful, quiet village with a small square, a couple of restaurants, and a bar.
My suggestion is to hire a bike and cycle out there (about a 20 minute ride) or catch a local bus (tourist information should be able to tell you where from).
Stay on the San Pedro side and follow the path beyond the pub and up the rocks for spectacular views of the sea, then catch the tiny boat from outside the pub to San Juan when you're done and enjoy a beer and some snacks in the square.
Just near the French border;
www.etxekar.net/donibane.html (Spanish language site)
A tourist ticket is the best way to get around on the vaporetto. As an introduction to Venice, ride the No 1 from the station down the four kilometres of the Grand Canal until it opens out into St Mark’s Basin.
As warm breezes from the Adriatic ruffle your hair, watch Renaissance palazzos gently slide by, each gazing at its own reflection. Mooring posts for gondolas lean drunkenly, their stripes bright against the plaster walls.
It would be easy to sneer at the crowds of tourists in the Piazza San Marco, but this is a good place from which to start exploring the city. Napoleon’s phrase, “the drawing room of Europe,” is an apt one to describe this most supremely civilized place of elegant proportions with exquisite monuments that echoes to the sound of classical orchestras and is completely devoid of traffic.
The Campanile di San Marco gives the most breathtaking view over the city and with no climbing of steps-the lift will take you up to the top of the 100-metre-high bell tower. The medieval roofscape of terracotta tiles beneath will have changed little from four centuries ago when Galileo brought the Doge to the top of the tower to show off his newly invented telescope. Interestingly, none of the 117 canals can be seen from the top of the Campanile, either with or without a telescope.
While St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica are the jewels in the crown of this pearl of the Adriatic, a walk of a few minutes will take you to the silence of side canals where peeling shuttered windows dream of past glories of the Republic. Or a sleek black gondola rocks gently at its mooring post.
This quintessentially Venetian form of transport is always black, in deference to a law of 1562 that attempted to prohibit the extravagances of boat owners. This extraordinarily beautiful vessel is actually asymmetrical to compensate for the rowing by the gondolier at the stern. If travel by a gondola is wanted, then the best way is to use the ferry across the Grand Canal for a handful of small change.
Wonderful access for all who live in Cheshire, West Yorks, Derbyshire and Lancashire....is the Longdendale Trail. Longdendale is known as 'The Haunted Valley' - see www.longdendale.com/legends.html
This long walking/cycling/ bridleway is set over the most stunning views of the moors and the
reserviors below. Spend a day tootling along the flat trail or take a detour onto one of the many paths up the moors.
Glossop is the main little market town nearby. Lots to see and do - check
4all for Longdendale trail details and www.glossop.com/ for the
Glossop 'What to Do' info.
Miette Hot Springs is the ultimate hot springs location. The Hottest springs in the Canadian Rockies offers two hot pools for a relaxing soak and a cold pool overlooking the scenic Fiddle River Valley (if you're brave enough - it's chilly!).
Tucked away in the Fiddle Valley, the springs offer solitude and relaxation, and with many hiking trails starting from this point, it makes for a perfect location to hike and soak.
Camping and other accommodation are also available nearby. If you are looking to leave the crowds behind and soak up some nature, visit the Miette Hot Springs on your next vacation.
Canadian Rockies Hot Springs - Miette Hot Springs
Box 2579 Jasper, Alberta T0E 1E0
Tel: 1-800-767-1611, or
Fax: (780) 866-2112
E-mail: email@example.com www.explorejasper.com/sights/miettehotsprings.htm
Miette Hot Springs
61 km east of Jasper townsite
51 km west of Hinton
From Jasper, proceed east on highway 16 for 44 km to the Pocahontas Bungalows and the Miette Road junction. From Hinton, proceed west on highway 16 for 34 km to Pocahontas Bungalows and the Miette Road junction. From there, proceed south on the Miette Road. Miette Hot Springs are at the end of Miette Road, 17 km ahead.
Lake Agnes Teahouse is accessible by one of the most hiked trails in the Rockies. A four-hour, 7 km round trip from the parking lot at the spectacular Lake Louise, the hike is moderate and affords you amazing views and a feel of the Rockies. The trail is busy in tourist season around the lake but the crowds thin out the higher and farther you hike.
And the reward is a splendid cuppa at the Teahouse.
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