A friend and I drove a budget rental car from Sydney to Uluru (Ayres Rock) after signing to say we would stay on sealed roads and intimating that we'd be staying around Sydney. It's a long way between 'attractions' in Australia's interior so there was plenty of driving.
Highlights included picking up a didgeridoo toting hitch hiker. It turned out he was from Coventry and was teaching didgeridoo in Australia! Also seeing Uluru in the rain. I was so excited because EVERYONE sees it with a blue sky. We camped overnight and saw it with sunshine the next day so we were properly spoilt.
Breaking down and fixing the car ourselves because we didn't want to tell the rental company we were 100's of kms from the nearest tarmac added to the fun.
Opals, a space centre, road trains, sunsets, the Blue Mountains - a great trip.
My top tip would be to start out with a workable plan and be cheerful and eager to change the plan to grasp unexpected opportunities as you stumble across them.
Also, pair up with someone with an opposing body clock. My friend could drive at night and I do early mornings so we covered plenty of miles.
On clear days, it's hard to beat the view from the Nanpu river in the South of Shanghai.
Tickets cost 68RMB to go up the elevator to the start of the bridge's arch. From there it's some 360 steps to the observatory deck at the top.
From this point you can see the Expo site (opens in June 2010), and the city laid out like a map as far as the eye can see: The Pearl Tower, the Financial Centre, People's Square, and miles of skyscrapers in every direction.
Ticket office at the very end of Lujiabang Lu (near Xietu Lu).
It's the second highest motorable road in the world, crossing several passes, including two over 5000m. Snaking right through the middle of the Himalaya in North West India, it's closed over the winter due to snow. In the summer though, driving it is an incredible experience as you can see snow capped mountains high above you and below, valleys becoming increasingly green as you cross from Leh at 3600m in Ladakh which is very dry, high up on a plateau above the monsoon's reach, to Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Depending on how many stops you want to make, the journey takes up to two days and can be done by car, jeep or public bus.
Leh, Ladakh and Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India.
A bus from the centre of Marseille will take you to the head of the trails (through some unsalubrious bainlieues) that lead over craggy limestone peaks to one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful coastal features, the calanques. A little under an hour's walk will lead you to beautiful Sormiou and Morgiou, with pint sized beaches and tiny hamlets sandwiched between dramatic cliffs strewn with shrubs, cedars and maritime pines. The water is crystal clear and sheltered so that it is calmer and warmer than the open sea. On summer weekends, the calanques can get busy with daytrippers, but the rest of the time they are a picturesque treat to enjoy with only a few other people. There are other calanques more easily accessed by boat or from the neighbouring town of Cassis.
Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou, south of Marseille. You can drive the whole way along winding, precipitous, unpaved roads, but as the weather is usually good, it's best to walk - though remember to bring lots of water in summer time! Buses no22 & 23 run to Morgiou and Sormiou respectively from the Rond Point du Prado metro stop.
Just on the road to Humahuaca Gorge, Yala is a small village, famous for its lagoons, surrounded by the amazing landscapes of Las Yungas.
By the Yala River, La Casona del Camino Real offers lodging in comfortable private rooms and the services of Gourmet restaurant.
Adress: Pedro Ortiz de Zarate sn , Yala, Jujuy .
+54 388 4909263
13 kms fron San Salvador de Jujuy
Nestling in the hills, with False Bay and Table Mountain in view, a very pleasant place to have a very good and cheap lunch and drinkable wine starting at around 30 ZAR/bottle, which is almost cheaper than water.
The food is simple, with Cape Malay dishes the speciality.
Booking at weekends is recommended
Stellenbosch, 7599, South Africa
It is hard to get more remote and stay in Europe. El Hierro is the smallest and furthest of the seven inhabited Canary Islands, and there are only perhaps four hotels on the whole Island. The Parador is at the end (yes, it really is the end) of a long road, through a long tunnel, and stands between high cliffs and the sea.
It's a hostel for hiker and climbers near Soto de Sajambre in the Picos de Europa. You can only get there by foot - it's about an hour from the nearest village. Right in the heart of the Picos de Europa National Park with has some of the most stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It's set beside some mountain pastures and in between centuries old beech and oak woodland. The facilities are simple - shared dormitories and probably best to take your own food but definitely worth it as the views are out of this world.
For the location: maps.google.com/?q=43.166046,-5.005045
For the views: www.mallorcaweb.net/estebanmk/SantaCastilla/SantaCastilla002.jpg
A small town nestled at the base of the Strezlecki ranges , Yarragon has a range of speciality shops covering arts and antiques, bookshops and places to taste the local cheeses and wares. We stayed at the Yarragon motel, a small neat and tidy place just off the main highway (it was cheap accommodation too.)
about 130km SE of Melbourne on the Princes Hwy
Google map: tinyurl.com/pf36vv
An historic Inn 15 mins from downtown San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge with stunning views of the city and the Bay. Just a five minute walk to the ferry crossing through streets of funky boutiques, museums, eateries and scented gardens. Finely furnished historic Inn with wonderful touches of detail.
I took my kids camping during half term and we spent an afternoon catching crabs. And then put them back.
We stayed at the only campsite open in this part of the New Forest called solent view camping.
We stayed in this apartment during a recent trip to Italy and wished we had been able to stay longer. It's in a lovely little village called Loro Ciuffenna and is a perfect base for anyone wanting to live the Tuscan experience. Best for longer stays (a week or more) and for people who have access to a car to be able to get around to all the fabulous tiny places that nobody gets to see. Run by an American woman, Barbara (she lives in the apartment below), who took such wonderful care of us and knew all the best places to see and things to do. Fabulous hiking and nature experiences if you tire of all the antiquity. Generally, just a wonderful place to recharge the batteries and forget the world for a little while.
Loro Ciuffenna, Arezzo
A great walk in Marvão, Alto Alentejo, Portugal with fantastic panoramic views, wonderful countryside and interesting historical sites.
This walk is 7.38 km and is easy to moderate. The map/guide we bought earlier from the tourist office in Marvão, and the start is from Portagem near the public swimming pool.
The four of us, two adults and two children aged 12 and 14, set off from the 16th century bridge and tower in Portagem. The guide informs you to follow the trail by posts with green markers and we realised after a few kilometres there are none. Instead follow the normal markers of a red and yellow rectangles.
This walk took us about two and a half hours with regular stops to see the sights such as:
The 16 century bridge and tower next to the river Sever.
The mediaeval cobbled road, possibly of Roman origin.
Views of the imposing town and castle of Marvão, the mountain range of Serra de São Mamede and the granite plains of the Alentejo countryside.
The Convent and Church of the Lady of the Star (Igreja do Convento de Nossa Senhora da Estrela).
Typical small Alentejo hamlets.
The 16 century derelict chapel and mediaeval tombs cut into the rock at Fonte Souto.
Oak, Walnut, Olive,Chestnut and Horse-Chestnut trees.
Plenty of farm animals and the wonderful fauna and flora of this region.
At the end of the walk why not have lunch at O Sever restaurant at Portagem for a hearty typical Alentejo lunch washed down with a bottle of Conventual Red wine.
This is a perfect day out in this great region of Portugal.
The Portland Rose Gardens is another local landmark site - with gorgeous views of Mt. Hood and the downtown city proper.
The 'test' gardens are literally that - experimental buds abound and many award-winners at that. Row after row after row of botanically-engineered beauty, and not just for enthusiasts.
Located in the winding playland that is Washington Park - The Rose Gardens sit within one of the best walking tours Portland has to offer - stroll up to the Japanese Gardens for an authentic cultural experience (it has been called the most perfect replica of a Japanese tea garden outside of Japan), or keep strolling up the park - playgrounds aplenty for the young ones and gorgeous picnic spots - if you make it to the top you can visit the Portland Zoo, Children's Museum, the Hoyt Arboretum or Forestry Center. Watch out for stray foxes.
Washington Park is Portland's largest and most exemplary - it is quite tourist friendly with plenty of buses, but the best way to experience it is on foot. The Washington Park Zoo train is also a refreshing option, taking you up on narrow tracks through the heavily wooded hills on an old-fashioned locomotive.
Family friendly - absolutely - but romantic enough for adventurous couples. With good trainers. A walking stick wouldn't hurt, either. Spread over 400 acres - long rests are encouraged.
Off of Hwy 26, from Burnside to Vista Avenue.
Lacanau isn't one of France's most appealing beach towns and pales in the shadow of grand Arcachon with its Dune du Pyla to the south. However, it lies in the heart of the Landes pine forest, between the Atlantic and a chain of lakes, and the surrounding area's natural beauty is well worth exploring. Numerous establishments on the main road, Avenue de l'Europe, hire out bikes for the day or half day at very reasonable prices, and it's easy to get hold of a map of the extensive biking trails around the town from the tourist information centre (on the same street). Head south along the coast for views of the seemingly endless sandy beaches and atlantic breakers in either direction, or inland to explore the beautiful pine forests (some of Europe's most extensive). Dappled sunlight and the scent of pine and wild flowers add to the peaceful magic of leisurely riding through almost entirely flat back country. A perfect alternative to lying on the sand, and a healthy way to redress indulgence in local wines.
Lacanau Océan, Gironde, France. An hour's drive west from Bordeaux.
The best scheduled scenic train journey in Yorkshire, and probably England, is the Settle-Carlisle route over the massive but elegant Ribble Viaduct. Setting off from Leeds, the gritty mill towns unfold as the hills rise up, a prelude to the drama of Yorkshires Three Peaks and the panoramic views that motorists, and even walkers, never get. Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and finally the very flanks of Great Whernside fill the windows, making an assault on one of them almost irresistable followed by a yorkshire pint at a village pub, perhaps the welcoming Crown at Horton.
Ribblehead, Northern rail on the Leeds Carlisle line, Horton-in-Ribblesdale or Ribblehead for a walk
This could be quite possibly the plushest shopping center you may ever visit. Located on Florida Street and Cordoba Avenue, the exterior alludes to the amazing features inside, with its golden lighting and full length window displays. Enter through the doors and it’s almost like you have entered the halls of Grand Central station, with the superb bonus of having a stunning biblical mural painted upon the ceiling. The designer shops on offer are second to none in the city, as fashionista’s will find themselves in shopping heaven.
Corner of Florida Street and Cordoba Avenue
The Teatro Colon is Argentina’s major opera house and one of the city’s finest structures. You should venture into this section of the city, even if you are not interested in the arts, just to capture a photo of the Teatro itself. The sheer enormity of the building is overwhelming and at night the Teatro looks even more impressive and should you be able to afford a ticket, the shows are a must-see. The building is currently being refurbished so you should check it out before the original structure disappears altogether.
Cerrito 618, Buenos Aires 1010
This cool district is located by Buenos Aires’ waterfront, once a busy port in the early part of the century. A major regeneration project has now transformed the area into luxurious homes, apartments, office blocks and hotels. The port has a selection of stunning residential high-rises and office blocks that look amazing at night when lit up, and makes for a perfect evening of strolling should you find yourself close to the docks.
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