The much overlooked islands in the northern Sporades are like stepping stones leading out into the azure waters of the Aegean National Marine Park, each one less inhabited than the other.
The largest island, Skiathos, hosts the only airport and once landed you should quickly make your way to the more beautiful and less touristy, Skopelos. Once there I would recommend making the exhausting climb through Skopelos Town to "Anatoli" restaurant where the views are breathtaking and the food is sumptuous - all accompanied by traditional rembetika music.
If possible travel by boat to the other islands; the sleepy Greek island of Alonissos with it's crystalline waters and hidden coves; the tranquil monastery at Kyra Panagia inhabited only by monks and male donkeys and the flat volcanic island of Psathoura hiding the underwater ruins of a lost city.
Fly direct to Skiathos and take one of the daily Flying Dolphin boats or a high-speed catamaran to the islands of Skopelos or Alonissos. Alternatively, hydrofoils go directly to the islands from either Athens or Thessaloniki;
A day trip to Sintra is a must. Rather than get the crowded bus, those who can should walk up to Castelo dos Mouros, high on the hill above the town. The path starts near the Church of Santa Maria and winds up through woodland. You’ll feel like you’ve earned the magnificent views you get from the castle walls.
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
Ruined church right in Chiado in Lisbon's centre. Wonderful, relaxing and quiet place to escape the heat. Great museum also inside with some weird and wonderful exhibits. In a nice shady square too. Go in early spring to get the jacarandas in bloom. Closed on Sundays (whereas most museums close on a Monday). You can get a look in if you go up the Elevador da Santa Justa - which also has fabulous views over Baixa.
Largo do Carmo;
tel: 21 346 0473
Come out of the top exit of Baixa-Chiado metro, walk down the hill (past cafe Brasileira) and turn left up any street – which will be steep. It's at the top in the shade.
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.
If you want to see artists and bourgeousie come together in what used to be a down and out area, try Main st/Mt. Pleasant. There's a cluster of hipsters, boutiques, coffee shops and ethnic restaurants that give the atmosphere of the way Vancouver once was: countercultural.
Main St. spans from our 'skid row' area on Hastings up to an Indian district. There's everything in between, including expensive character homes.
Budapest has three metro lines that are great for getting about, but spend a few moments enjoying the look of them too. Line 1 is the oldest (as far as Hosok Tere, anyhow - the extension to Mexicoi Utca was completed in 1973) and is undoubtedly charming (even the little cartoon fanfare noises that signal imminent arrival or departure sound chipper), but I also became quite obsessed with the grimy space-age look of the other two lines, particularly the Dr Who/Kubrick/James Bond look of the Deak Ter station on lines 2 & 3. It's all in the lights, it seems - very photogenic, in it's own brutal fashion. Deak Ter station - as someone else said, it's the Kings Cross of the Budapest system. If you can't find it, you're hopelessly lost, and perhaps in the wrong city.
Gamla Stan is the old town of Stockholm, with narrow cobbled little streets. Lots of medieval history and the Royal Castle, Storkyrkan (oldest church in town), and Stortorget (where the bloodbath of Stockholm took place in the 16th century. Check out the red brick building with white stones on one side of the square - the white stones denote how many people got their head chopped off. Nice!).
There are plenty of medieval cafes to head into for lunch or fika (morning or afternoon tea/coffee break) - sitting sipping hot chocolate in a medieval stone cellar complete with arches and stuff is exciting for most people. Chokladkoppen on Stortorget is always good, and so is Kaffegillet on Trångsund.
Västerlånggatan is the main drag, but sadly quite touristy these days. But if you're in the business of getting some reindeer slippers or the like, this is where to go. Österlånggatan is nicer, with little antiques shops and galleries. Next to Gamla Stan is Riddarholmen, which also has lots of history. The Parliament and the beautiful Riddarholmskyrkan church are located here.
Good places for food/drink:
Pontus in the Green House on Österlånggatan (good for lunch) - traditional Swedish cuisine but with an exotic twist.
Pontus by the Sea on Skeppsbrokajen (good for lunch) - see above.
Grill Ruby on Österlånggatan (lunch) - brasserie.
Källaren Movitz on Tyska Brinken – doesn’t look that special, but the restaurant downstairs is good for Swedish food.
Järnet Matsal & Bar on Österlånggatan is cosy and does good food.
Engelen/Kolingen on Kornhamnstorg - a nice old-school type of place where you're pretty much guaranteed to get a good night out.
Walk from Norrmalm along Drottninggatan towards the Houses of Parliament, or northwards from Slussen.
The best way to get to Mendoza is by bus from Santiago in Chile over the Andes and across the border into Argentina. It takes about 6 hours and you will drive through mountainous scenery reminiscent of Central Asia and past the vineyards that surround Mendoza.
Villefranche is a 15-minute ride on the No 100 bus from the Gare Routier.
The views as you leave Nice and curve around the Cap de Nice into the Rade de Villefranche are spectacular.
Loads to do when you get there whatever your tastes. Sightseeing: the Citadel, Rue Obscure, the old Port; culture: four museums/galleries, all free entry; relaxing: two beaches, one coarse sand, the other stony; and loads of bars and restaurants.
There's a food market with local produce on Saturdays, antiques (well bric-a-brac) on Sundays, and above all it's a nice, relaxing, cosy place after the brashness of Nice.
PS don't take a car!
Not only does this museum have a great collection of modern art, but the icing on the cake if the amazing 360° panoramic view that you get from the roof terrace.
It's an amazing place to just sit and watch the sun go down as you can see almost the whole city.
Like most museums in Nice, it's free on the first and third Sunday of every month.
Promenade des Arts, in the old town;
On the Hilton Hotel's top floor this is one of the hippest and most elegant bars in Athens. A huge variety of cocktails and tasty finger food at somewhat high prices in Wallpaper-like surroundings. Bonus: a stunning view of the Acropolis that will impress you unless you are an Athenian and used to it.
Hilton Hotel, Athens
You can walk to the next station through the path, which is next to the mountain. It is a little bit far away, but you can enjoy great views of the beautiful beach and cliffs. Those are fabulous scenes.
It's an easy walk: not too steep those make you healthy, for sure. Go there and enjoy fresh air.
This is an old Roman fishing town that’s accessible by train from Marseilles. The station is at the top of a hill, and the walk down is superb – through a vineyard-lined road with views over the town and the sea. The town is very pleasant to wander around and is home to the wines which share its name. The best feature, however, lies in a boat trip around the bay; here you can see what are known as the Calanques. They are a series of mini fjords with rock formations of the most amazing shades and hues, set off by the blue of the sea and sky.
Take the coast road (GR98) east from Marseilles or the Marseilles – Toulon train
Chicago's finest 'pork project' in decades, it features surprising architecture and art that are all interactive in some way. In nice weather, you'll find dozens or hundreds of kids playing at Crown Fountain, with two towering digital screens showing the smiling faces of Chicagoans in slow-motion.
The city also offers free performances in the Gehry-designed Pritzker Pavillion. There's a bike centre to rent or stow a bike, a large garden, skating rink, restaurant and spectacular views of both the lake, and the most elegant stretch of Michigan Avenue.
My favorite part? The world's only Gehry bridge, which meanders like a lazy stream, and leaps across Columbus Avenue, tranporting you into another large park.
On Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe.
One block from the Loop, served by every elevated train in the city, numerous buses, and several underground garages; www.millenniumpark.org/
When in Brussels, this place is not to be missed for three reasons:
1.The museum is located in one of the most stunning art nouveau buildings in Europe, built by master architect Paul Santenoy.
2. It houses one of the best collections of musical instruments you will ever see, with over 6000 pieces.
3. The top-floor bar and restaurant offer good food in a very stylish décor, where you can relax for a few hours or entertain friends.
Bonus: the stunning views over central Brussels. There is an open-air roof terrace in summer.
2, Rue Montagne de la Cour
Tel: 02 545 01 30
Fax: 02 545 01 79
Climb up the hill behind the Vieux Lyon district or get the funicular railway from Place St Jean up to the cathedral at the top. The hill offers great views across Lyon and on a clear day you can even see Mont Blanc (considered by the locals to be an omen of bad weather, apparently).
It’s the Lyon equivalent of Sacre Coeur in Paris, except that this cathedral sort of reminds you of a giant wedding cake. Also at the top of the hill is a metal tower, which looks just like the top of the Eiffel Tower. Reminding yourself that you are in Lyon, not Paris, there are some Roman ruins on the other side of the hill, including an amphitheatre, which once represented the centre of the city.
A pleasant alternative to the fume-choked Blackwall Tunnel which offers wonderful views as a bonus! The loading jetty on the Woolwich side gives an amazing view of London, it takes in the Thames Barrier, Dome, Canary Wharf, Gherkin etc, right back to the West End and the Post Office tower, all linked by the shimmering thread of the Thames.
Sintra is awesome - even more for the views than for the fantastic architecture. Get the train from Sete Rios (Rossio was closed at the time of writing) to Sintra. Exit the station and catch a bus or turn left for a taxi to Palácio da Pena. Try going around the battlement running outside this palace. Then taxi it back to Sintra for Palácio Nacional.
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