If you're looking for paradise, this is as close as you'll ever get. Unspoiled, uninhabited islands where you can camp under the stars, snorkel in pristine waters and marvel at what a beautiful world we live in.
Sweden is magical in winter when the countryside is transformed by snow. Hire a car and head west from Stockholm to the lakes around the pretty town of Nora (around 90 minutes drive). Head to nearby Lake Fåsjön and join families skating, with their dogs skittering behind them on the ice.
On the edge of the lakes you will find wooden smoke saunas (known as bastu). They are often close to where a stream joins the water so that you can plunge into the lake near the edge where it's not frozen. You feel surprisingly warm when you re-emerge to drink your cold beer!
In the quiet of early morning, when the mist still hangs over the water, you can often hear the eerie sound of the ice cracking.
Stay at the pretty 19th century Åkerby Herrgård hotel on the lakeside, or stop in for a coffee in their cosy library.
Fåsjöhyttan Åkerby, 713 93 Fåsjöhyttehäll
Google map: bit.ly/qr63Ef
A crescent of crushed white pebbles, the crystal clear water of Lake Pirihueico and a couple of snow-capped Andean volcanoes looming overhead. A simple, leaning wooden shack with a corrugated iron roof was the restaurant/shop. I bought a beer and a sandwich, slapped on the factor 30 and unfurled my towel while waiting for my bus to Argentina. The elderly Maipuche woman who ran the place provided entertainment when she decided to give her cat its weekly wash in the lake.
At the eastern end of Lake Pirihueico in the south of Chile's lake district. A breathtaking 90-minute ferry ride from the opposite end of the lake is part of the little-used cross-border route to San Martin de los Andes in Argentina.
Google map: bit.ly/pGl09h
1-Altitude Gallery is the highest observation point in Singapore at 282 metres. Opened in 2010 at the rooftop of OUB Centre in the business district offers unparalleled, unobstructed 360-degree view of the city-state. All visitors are equipped with hi-tech iPod devices showing information about 19 points of interest visible from the rooftop. At the end everyone receives a souvenir photo taken with a stunning view of Marina Bay as a background. Highly recommended!
The west coast of the island is amazing. Buy a park permit which is a bargain - about $19 dollars for two days - and allows you access to all the car parks, trails and centres. Every trail between Uclulet and Torfino is worth doing for diversity. If you have a chance to join a trail walk with ranger Carl you must do so. His knowledge, enthusiasm and charm was a highlight of our holiday and changed the way I think about Banana slugs. This is genuinely a paradise park.
+1 250 726 3500
Google map: bit.ly/oEe27g
This is much larger than i had anticipated and could be a full day trip with a picnic. The walk or preferably a cycle around the water's edge is a good starting point but there is so much more to it. Go up to the viewing point to see Vancouver beneath you - cruise liners and sea planes etc. A great way to start a Canadian adventure.
It's the Domincan Republic's most unknown but most must-see national park. It's named the Three Eyes park because it has three lagoons inside three caves. There's also an open lagoon which is not considered an eye by the locals. I completely recommend this as it's so breathtaking to see such a beautiful sight so hidden away. You can get boat trips and guided tours.
I always feel a little nostalgia when I return home from Coll. I've been twice and on both occasions it has been truly special. Not only is the island beautiful (perhaps because it is so isolated) but the locals on the island are so welcoming. I think its the simplicity of the place which captures my love for the Island. And you feel a sense of belonging there. On top of this, my reason for visiting has caused my admiration for the place to grow as it is where the charity Project Trust are based. It is this organisation which are allowing me to spend a year out in Thailand taking on projects in both teaching and orphanage work at the age of 18. Therefore I associate Coll with the positive prospects which I would not have received had they not have existed. Visiting the Island is all part of the Project Trust experience yet I would urge anyone to visit. Be it the Coll show, the golf tournament, Ceilidh dancing, fishing competition or beach football, there is certainly enough to keep you occupied. Or whether you fall more for the tranquil side which Coll offers: the unbelievably picturesque beaches, the wild flowers, rare birds or sea life you can find complete escapism here. Need I say more...
To experience the feeling of being ‘up there’ you should visit the radio and television tower at Zaķusala - the 368 metre high tower in Riga which is the tallest in the European Union and a symbol of Riga.
The observation deck is the highest publicly accessible viewing point in Riga. From there you can easily see the city and in the right weather conditions you can see the Riga HES at Salaspils and the highest points of Sigulda (around 50km away from Riga), as well as the Gulf of Riga and ships in the gulf. Not many visitors, welcoming service staff.
You can book an excursion there (around 45min) or just go there and enjoy the view. For detailed information (mission, history, services, technical information etc) check their website. To get there you will have to take a trolley bus number 19 or 24 (at the city center) to the “Zaķusala” stop, which is located on the Salu Bridge. The tower is a 20 minutes walk from the bus stop. It is also possible to park buses and private cars at the tower car park.
You get a great view of Riga from the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Skyline bar in the city centre – there are beautiful sunsets you can enjoy together with your friends with a glass of your favorite drink there! Radisson Blue Hotel you will easily see walking just some three minutes from the Freedom Monument to the historical centre (away from the Old Town). The bar opens at 3 - 4PM, but you can't always get the table near the window and you can't reserve. But you can go there and walk around enjoying the sights, and you can do it for free. The best thing is that from this place you can enjoy the lights of Riga at night. If there are any free tables on the left side of the room – you are lucky, the view from there is the best. They have also panoramic elevators (and the view from the toilets is worth seeing).
If visitors want a great view of Riga I usually advise them to go to the tower of the Academy of Sciences. It’s in the centre of Riga, it’s easy to go there and the view over Riga is really wide - you can see the Old Town, the so called Moscow Suburbs of Riga, Central Market and you can enjoy the contrasts. The building itself was built after World War II, between 1953 and 1956 and it was the first skyscraper in the republic. The building is a cousin to similar Stalin-era skyscrapers in Warsaw and Moscow, and an example of Stalinist architecture. You can see the 360 degree wide birds eye view to Riga from the 17th-floor balcony (height of 65 metres, 213 ft).
The most popular place to see Riga from the height of birds is the Tower of St. Peters Church. The church is located in the Old Town, it’s included in the UNESCO World Heritage and from there you can enjoy romantic views to the old buildings, the river Daugava - which divides the city into two parts, and bridges. It’s a postcard worthy sight.
This is the 'remotest bunkhouse' on the west coast of Scotland situated in a beautiful bay at Ardintigh on the south shore of Loch Nevis with a fantastic view over the sea to the Cuillin mountains and across to the remote peninsula of Knoydart. It is only accessible by walking or by sea and our party arrived by various methods including walking, boat taxi and canoeing via Loch Morar (deepest loch on the UK mainland). It is a wonderful place for adventure or just chilling out. We spent a long weekend canoeing and walking and thinking about swimming! The accommodation is in small wooden bunkhouses scattered around the bay with plenty space for campers too. We cooked in the large bunkhouse by the beach (showers and toilet block under the kitchen and dining room) We went as a small party of 11 but the site sleeps up to 24 (plus extras camping). You can go as a group or as individual at £15 per night for the bunkbed (take your own sleeping bag).
The sunsets are wonderful and the last night we watched the sun go down not long before midnight after a beach barbecue. I almost forgot to mention the whale ...
This church, overlooking Loch Awe on the road to Oban, has a very weird and wonderful personality, and its multifarious design echoes the eccentricities of its architect. On the outside many ecclesiastical styles are blended, such as the grand flying buttresses and stained glass, as well as other more zany features such as the stone-carved rabid hound chasing frenetic rabbits down the guttering. The gloomy interior holds many more delights including a giant effigy of Robert the Bruce, underneath which you can view a fragment of bone belonging to the great Scottish king.
A mile or so from the village of Loch Awe on the A85 towards Oban. Loch Awe is the closest station.
For information- www.loch-awe.com/local_groups/stconanskirk.html
When I'm feeling flush, I like to treat myself to a dinner on the eighth floor of the OXO Tower and marvel at the views of the city from the huge summer terrace - summer weather permitting!
The British-Asian fusion cuisine is pretty tasty too.
If strange and eccentric is your thing, then you'll not go wrong in the imposing Camelot Castle in Tintagel. Perched on the cliffs like a giant sandcastle overlooking the ethereal ruins of the real castle, this is a Victorian station terminus hotel of grand proportions. The station and rail line have long since gone, but the owners of the hotel (none other than John Mappin, heir of Mappin & Webb and his stunning wife Irena from Kazakhstan) have maintained the grandiose Gothic feel of this monstrous building in a recent refurbishment. Beware! The owners and the residential artist Ted Stourton are scientologists ... but don't let it put you off. Other than some gently crazy conversations about Super Power around the fabulous King Arthur's round table in front of a roaring fire (and no, I was neither converted nor felt intimidated), this really is a friendly, quirky find. You can just pop-in for coffee or have the full-blown wedding package, but either way, your dogs and your cats will be as welcome as you are. Oh - and the whole place is stuffed full of Ted's original (in every sense of the word) art work. He may even take you down to the bowels of the castle to show you his lightbox. Honest! It's an advertised option. Don't forget to take the whole thing with a light heart and absolutely make sure you go around Tintagel Castle. It'll hurricane the cobwebs away.
An atmospheric gem of a lovely informal old house with accommodation and a little traditional bar in an exquisite remote setting overlooking a bay. They serve exceptional spanking fresh local seafood cooked to perfection at very good prices with a few tables looking out over the lovely view. But it is really the atmosphere of the place, the laid back and unpretentious welcome from each family member that makes it like visiting friends, the traditional little bar where you can get a pint of Guinness and hang with the locals, listen to music, have a seafood snack, and then at the end of a brilliant night of chat and craic you can fall into bed in one of their newly renovated bedrooms with lovely views across the bay.
Dawros Bay House & Joe’s Seafood Bar, Rosbeg, Co. Donegal
+44(0)74 954 5252
Google map: bit.ly/rc9EUt
The CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in the Western hemisphere, standing at 1,815 feet.
This communications and observation tower, located in downtown Toronto, is a familiar icon of the city’s skyline. Its name refers to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower.
In 1995, the CN Tower was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Taking the glass floor paneled elevator up to one of the observation decks is an exciting
experience in itself. It takes about 1 minute to reach the Look Out Level at 1,135 feet.
Other observation levels include the Glass Floor Level, at about 1,120 feet, which allows you to see straight down to street level. Brave children can sometimes be seen jumping on the glass floor, while those with less nerve remain on the sidelines. Also on this level is the Outdoor Observation Deck, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the city. The Sky Pod level is one of the world's highest public observation galleries, at an elevation of 1,465 feet. In June 2007, the tower installed 1,330 super-bright LED lights inside the elevator shafts, which shoot upwards to light the tower from dusk until 2am. The tower changes its lighting scheme on holidays and to commemorate major events.
If you want to be pushed to your limits, literally, the CN Tower opened EdgeWalk on August 1, 2011, where thrill-seekers attached to a safety harness can walk full circle and hands-free around the 5-foot ledge encircling the main pod of the tower, at 1,168 feet.
Tucked away at the end of a built up area is a pleasant walk along Bangor Pier. This has views to Anglesey on the way there, a cafe selling great home made scones at end, and a view of the mountains on the way back.
Take road diagonally opposite the public swimming pool, and at the end is a car park for pier.
Google map: bit.ly/qwJn7D
Castle Rock’s smaller sibling is Calton Hill, a grassy spot some 450ft above sea level at the east end of Princes Street. It is from this spot that every postcard shot of the city has been taken, so take a wander up and take in the view for yourself.
Explore the strange structures at the top – including the locally named ‘Edinburgh’s disgrace’ – an overambitious attempt to replicate the Parthenon in the ‘Athen’s of the North.’
Take a picnic and take this short walk to one of the finest views of Princes Street, the Castle and beyond.
Google map: bit.ly/qNhCjl
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