Moored at Williamstown, Melbourne Seaplanes offers various flights in and around Melbourne and the bay. I did the Coast/Dandenong Ranges flight and it was great. Smooth and with great visibility at 2500ft, the seaplane offers a different view of Melbourne. Highly recommended.
Williamstown foreshore, moored next to HMAS Castlemaine at the jetty.
Tel: 9397 5388 or 0418 688388 (mobile phone);
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall, the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.
It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals and visitors alike. There is also an intimate feel about the square, but without it seeming small, and an openness about it without it feeling bare and exposed.
As an introduction to Tallinn's Old Town you can't do worse, and as a place to visit in and for itself you can't do worse either.
There is a danger that in describing somewhere as a "garlic restaurant" it is made to sound rather gimmicky and that somehow the gimmick will surpass the cooking. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth with Balthasar, Tallinn's garlic restaurant.
Firstly the setting is fantastic, the restaurant is situated on the first floor above Raeapteek with lovely views over the square and towards the town hall. It is rather like being in a country manor dining room, wooden beams and floor, ornate chairs, fresh white linen, subdued and subtle lighting. There were very few people in the restaurant when we visited, reflective of it being a freezing Sunday night in winter rather than the standard of the restaurant, so the atmosphere was quiet and intimate. Service too was very good, attentive and helpful but without being overbearing.
As to the food, which reflects an international cuisine, it was excellent. On the menu each dish is given a bulb rating - 3 or above and you better not have any vampire blood in you! There is a good selection of starters, soup, meat and fish dishes plus a vegetarian option. You can also order garlic side dishes including the wonderful "garlic assortment", a pile of cloves in 4 different marinades, pesto, chilli, vinegar and spice. Also, don't leave before trying the garlic ice cream, which comes in a crisp almond basket and chocolate sauce. Like the creamiest ice cream you've ever had but with a hint of sweet garlic - sounds strange, tastes delicious.
Raekoja plats 11;
tel: 372 50 29 077;
This octagonal tower is both the national landmark of Lisbon and a World Heritage Site. Inside the tower there is a small expedition about its history as a setting off point for voyages of discovery to the Americas, and you can climb up the top for views of the Tejo river.
Avenida da India;
Tram 15 stops right in front of the tower but you have to cross the busy main road via a footbridge.
This medieval castle built by St George to defend the city from invading Moors has endless views of Lisbon. It gives a great perspective of the city's gridiron layout and location of the great sights. Beware of slippery stones when it's wet though.
Largo do Chao da Feira, n the centre of the Alfama district. It's clearly signposted from the Praca de Comercio and the Baixa district (n.b: the metro doesn't cover the Alfama district);
tel: 21 887 7244
Get lost in the Alfama district. It is the real Lisbon, as it is the only district not to have been flattened by the great earthquake of 1850. The maze of confusing cobbled streets leading to the Castelo de São Jorge contain houses showing examples of azulejo tiling. Look out for the viewpoint with a beautiful mosiac of the city and a pond, looking out over the Tejo river and Ponte 25 de Abril.
A 5 minute walk to the east of the Praca de Comercio. The metro doesn't cover the Alfama area, but it's better to walk anyway.
These gardens are a haven of peace in the centre of the Estrela district with excellent views of the Tejo river and the Ponte 25 de Abril.
Tram 28 goes from the Praça do Comércio to the Basilica da Estrela. From there it is only a 5 minute walk.
The Castelo dos Mouros offers astounding views of the hills around Sintra and of the Atlantic Ocean. But watch out for slippery stones on the castle walls (especially when wet) as it's a long way down if you fall! When I went there was mist over the hills which made it very eerie.
Pena Road. About 3.5 km from Old Quarter, on the road to Pena Palace (buses go from Sintra's train station);
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
Loch Ness is truly an amazing place and a must for every Highland visitor. The amazing blue colours are truly spectacular, and keep on changing with the day, and you might just end up watching Nessie the monster, who seems to be asleep every time I’ve been there. It’s truly a romantic place and you can even take a boat ride on the Loch through Jacobite Cruises.
For a spectacular view of Loch Ness, visit Urquhart Castle, situated on the banks of the Loch. Its visitor centre is new and really good, and the castle (now ruins) provides an excellent spot for pictures.
Try catching these places on a nice sunny morning, otherwise you might miss all the beauty of the mist. Private tours are available (specialised and affordable) but you can always join in on the regular day trips from Inverness city centre. If you are a bike freak, hire a bike from hotels or local shops. Loch Ness is one place you will never forget.
Loch Ness is approximately 1 Hr drive by car from Inverness and Urquhart Caslte is just on the way there. Buses depart from outside the tourist office in Inverness;
View the Alhambra from the plaza beside Granada's Mosque. This is the only place to truly give a feel of what the Alhambra and Granada were like before the massive and extremely ugly building boom got underway some years ago.
The right time of day is at sunset when the Alhambra is tastefully floodlit. Afterwards casually make your way down through the barrio visiting the numerous Flamenco bars.
Numerous tourist buses go to Sacromonte barrio from the centre of Granada.
On Rechtsrheinisch, which is on right side of the river, is a beach bar called Shark Island. There's also a beach by the Rheinterrasse called KM689, and a new one in Cologne's central shopping area. The Sky Beach is on the top floor of the Kaufhof carpark: sand, cocktails and a great view!
Resting against the beach logs on this Kitsilano neighbourhood beach and watching the sunset, you will experience all the quintessential elements of Vancouver at once. The beach, a view of the mountains, the ocean air, and a purely laid-back West Coast vibe. To make it even better, stroll along barefoot with a specialty coffee or smoothie from any of the local cafes and take in dinner at the Naam restaurant a couple of blocks away, where the service is so refreshingly unhurried it IS the evening's entertainment. Namaste!
Naam restaurant: 2724 West Fourth Avenue, Kitsilano;
tel: 738 7151;
The stuttgart television tower was the first tower of its kind in the world and has recently been completely refitted. It is the unofficial symbol of the city, as you can see it from almost anywhere. For details and a webcam see the website, which is in German and English. The view from the top is great.
Jahnstraße 120 (U-Bahn station: Waldau);
tel: 0711 23 2597
Worth the trip alone. The Pacific beaches are stunning and Tofino is a great little town - posh-hippy, laid back, with great restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe offers sublime high quality food. Walk through the temperate rainforests and the cathedrals of tall cedars and pines. You will probably see bears on your way too. In Tofino try the Wolf House bed and breakfast, a really great bed and breakfast with lots of character.
Tofino is on Vancouver Island;
Rainforest Cafe: 250 725 2215;
Wolf House: 250 725-2330
Cycle around Stanley Park, then take a small ferry to Granville Island and then go along Kitsilano beaches - totem poles, wildlife and great views looking back at the skyline and the mountains.
Cycle hire shops can be found along Denman/Robson Street area. For details see: englishbay.com/?category=recreation
This 12th century Citadel is constructed on an artificial hill very close to where Old and New Rhine meet in the middle of the oldest part of the city.
Having lived close to Leiden for many years, I never knew it was there until I found it one day. Since then, every time I visit Leiden, I go up to "de Burcht" to enjoy the views and the tranquility that surrounds it.
Going south on the Breestraat, go left after city-hall, cross the New Rhine and walk straight into the Burgsteeg, at the end of it go left and there it is.
The Grouse Grind is a fairly intense hike up Grouse Mountain, one of three mountains on the North Shore. It's a rewarding hike, and you can further reward yourself with a pint at the top and a Gondola ride back down the mountain if you don't feel like trudging back down.
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