Quite apart from having six floors of books (you can happily spend hours browsing) this store has a handy cafe and bar on the fifth floor which I found nice and relaxing having dodged into the store to get out of the rain!
203-206 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LE
+44(0)843 290 8549
Google map: bit.ly/W4Nfj8
Budapest is one of Europe's great cities. However it is actual two for the price of one. Buda & Pest sit opposite one another with the river Danube separating them. The river is at the heart of this old and historic city and many tourist cruises take advantage of this fact. Taking in the views from the river itself is a great way to introduce yourself to the capital of Hungary. With the Parliament building complete with amazing spires on one side, and the Buda Castle sat on the other side with a majestic eagle statue keeping watch, my camera hardly stopped. However even these regal and wonderful landmarks are over-shadowed by the awe inspiring Statue of Freedom which towers over the city from a perch on top of a very large hill situated right on the banks of the Danube. Once you reach the summit you may be out of breath with the climb, but the views WILL take your breath away! On a clear day you can see for many miles in all directions and being able to see almost the full city in one place is a pleasure not to be missed. At night most of the main attractions are lit up which add even more beauty to this dazzling city. A walk over one of the beautiful bridges once darkness sets in is highly recommended.
Budapest, like any capital city, has many wonderful places and lots of wonderful dining, too. Food quality in Hungary is top notch with many mouth watering dishes to tempt the pallet. Catfish from Balaton is a firm favourite of mine followed by a slice of Retes which is a type of fruit pie with sour cherries. Regardless of what you eat or do in Budapest you will leave feeling richer for exploring this unique place. To see a city as vibrant and impressive is a wonder you will want to re-live again and again.
Nice photos on
You don't need a car to get to this lovely Chilterns walk as it follows the old drovers trails as they moved livestock along ancient sunken lanes that criss-cross the area.
Starting from Tring station, you have a choice of a four or six mile circular route through an area that supports an amazing diversity of birdlife; red kites, goldcrest and the lesser-spotted woodpecker. Wild fallow deer are a common sight too, badgers and the rarely found dormouse. But spring brings out the beautiful bluebells that can be enjoyed in the Ashridge Woodland, a National Trust estate.
Refreshments aplenty along the route at Ashridge and Aldbury.
Tring station on the London Midland line from Birmingham and London Euston.
The Chilterns nr Ivinghoe Beacon
Google map: bit.ly/11b7JNX
For a great break away from everything, I would recommend the Kennels cottage in Invertrossachs. It is situated beside beautiful Loch Venacher and is well appointed inside. The log burner was particularly welcome after a long day's cycling. Right at the front door are several cycling or walking routes, which you can explore and many of them are off road. To make things easier, there is also an excellent cycle hire shop, which among other things, sells guides of the cycling routes which mark facilities on the cycle route, such as toilets and pubs, making planning each day much easier. The scenery on the cycle routes is stunning, as most of it is alongside the lochs, past waterfalls, or through forests, in the boundary of the Trossachs National Park. There is also a good mixture of terrain. If in the evenings you have any energy left to go out, there are several cosy pubs close by serving food.
Portifino is much beloved of the celebrity (starting with Truman Capote and Guy de Maupassant), jet set and well preserved crowd. In summer it must be hell (50 euros just to park) and single track coast roads with very confident bus drivers. But in winter (even December) it was heaven: bright sunshine, enough warmth to fling the windows open and gaze at the bright turquoise Ligunan Mediterranean sea. We walked the ancient cliff paths (the coasts used to be cut off to cars till decades ago and the town still is car free) hardly meeting anyone gazing at the endless views. It is an almost surreal cute seaside town - and very close to the recent unesco heritage site of ' five villages/cinque terre' with its network of 15th century footpaths and grapes harvested by boats because the cliffs are so steep. But our bargain tip: We loved it all the more because we booked a luxury four-star hotel (which in high season is 500 euros) for the princely sum of 58 euros (including an extensive lazy breakfast in the sunshine and a check out at 12) , on a late booking website. Domina Home Piccola has a private beach, wonderful views, lovely staff and a footpath direct to the harbour. It is closely located next to Hotel Splendido, the hot spot of Portfino at a constant 600 plus euros. We could not believe our luck and spent the day wandering up to the old church in the national park that backs onto the village. However be warned and don't visit Restaurant Delfino, we nearly lost our savings on the hotel room by paying a not advertised cover charge plus service charge. Avoid Avoid.
Great food, staff, decor and views - from the terrace you can see Africa, the Atlantic, Cádiz - just stunning! The menu caters for all tastes and budgets. A great find!
Mimosa and jacaranda gave way to walnut, apple and cherry orchards as we climbed.
Kasbah Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains can only be reached on foot or by mule. I chose a mule, and friendly Berbers guided me along a river valley where women washed clothes and gathered firewood. We stopped for mint tea in a village house, admiring brightly coloured carpets hung from walls above the narrow alleys.
The Kasbah is perched high like a fortress, surrounded by snow covered mountains, a gentian blue sky and a view to a distant waterfall. With warm sun and a cool breeze on my face, I devoured tagine of lamb and the sweetest ever oranges. I envied those staying, with their wood burning stoves and deckchairs.
I had discovered Shangri-La – not surprisingly, Toubkal has stood in for Tibet. I wanted right then to do the long trek to the top of Toubkal – at 4167 meters the highest mountain in North Africa. But it was Christmas Eve and time to return home.
Day trips can be arranged to the Kasbah with a pick up from your hotel in Marrakesh.
+212 524 485611
This was the most unassuming, beautiful, restful spot one could imagine. An hour from the airport through hilly countryside and quiet villages takes you to this wonderful place in the middle of Crete, among mountains and olive groves with the most amazing views from your bedroom balcony on waking. Eleonas is a treasure, peaceful and with amenities like air con, swimming pool and fantastic Cretan traditional cooking. They love children which was a bonus and helpful with anything you need.Great value too, you can book per night. There is also a lovely lake…walkable, and quaint village with tavernas for a local treat. Pure Simple Bliss.
This was the most unassuming, beautiful, restful spot one could imagine. An hour from the airport through hilly countryside and quiet villages takes you to this wonderful place in the middle of Crete, among mountains and olive groves with the most amazing views from your bedroom balcony on waking. Eleonas is a treasure, peaceful and with amenities like air con, swimming pool and fantastic Cretan traditional cooking. They love children which was a bonus and helpful with anything you need. Great value too, you can book per night. There is also a lovely lake, walkable and quaint village with tavernas for a local treat. Pure simple bliss.
One of the most stunning hidden treasures on the west coast of Ireland. I stayed there for a week or so this summer and was blown away by the people, the scenery, the tranquility and the culture. The region is in the Gaeltacht so there is still some Irish spoken among the locals and they will be very accommodating if you show an interest in picking up "An cúpla focail". It is a very spiritual place brimming with history. For example, the Inishkea Islands just off the coast are reputed to be the resting place of the mythological Children of Lir. There is an ancient church and a Holy Well dedicated to Saint Deirbhile. The Heritage Centre in nearby Aughleam contains a wealth of information on local and family history of the area. If you are looking for history, culture or just a bit of peace and quiet this place could not be recommended more highly.
Leim Siar Bed and Breakfast: www.leimsiar.com/
Blacksod, Belmullet, Co Mayo, Ireland
+353 97 85004
To get there by public transport you need to get the 446 Bus Eirann from Ballina and notify the driver.
Google map: bit.ly/Tw5b8v
I rediscovered this spot throughout my summer. I moved into Sandy Lane on Gower and inherited a dog named Sput, which needed walking every day. His favourite spot was the ten minute stretch from the Lane to the castle overlooking Three Cliffs Bay or 'Tub' as it's known to the locals. Every sunny evening we'd walk the stretch so Sput could chase rabbits and bounce around in the sand below the castle. It has the most beautiful views and rekindled my love with my country. There are very few places in the world that can make me feel so peaceful and perfectly happy. Even in the pouring rain, there is something mystical about this point that will stay with me forever.
2 Southgate Road Swansea, Southgate, Swansea, West Glamorgan SA3 2BT
Google map: bit.ly/W17ihO
One trip I won't forget (and nor will everyone I've spoken to since I returned, who can now recite all the details of my travels too), the tourist route in south Iceland takes in stunning scenery and completely surreal surroundings. Iceland is a geography textbook come to life, with an endless supply of waterfalls, live plate boundaries and an eternally moody sky. Though the Northern Lights never made an appearance on our trip, the country illuminates itself with pure exhilaration and beauty. Make sure to take in the Kerid volcanic crater, the geysirs at Strokkur and top it off with the Blue Lagoon on the way back to Keflavik Airport. And then bore everyone senseless with telling all your stories six times over when you're back home.
Fly into Keflavik International Airport, Reykjavik. Hire a car or use one of the numerous tour companies offering Golden Circle day trips (one being Netbus: www.bustravel.is/)
Cabo Polonio is, like that Arcade Fire song, a place where 'no cars go'. Down south, in the south of South America, in one of the most underrated regions of Uruguay: ROCHA. Locals have known the place for so long, but somehow, just a few non locals still adventure themselves further east than Punta del Este. Cabo Polonio is a fisherman's town, with just a lighthouse and a few hundred huts. No electricity or running water. just you, the sand dunes, the waves, the sea lions, the beach, the stars and the stories. A true magical place like no other. There are no roads to the town, so you have to travel on 4x4s that take you three or four times a day from route 10 trough the sand dunes.
Cabo Polonio sits in the eastern shore of Uruguay, right in front of the atlantic ocean.
Google map: bit.ly/Uxf9nO
Another spectacular Indonesian sunrise featuring otherworldly landscape of Mount Kelimutu and its three differently coloured lakes: turquoise, green and the colour of a well know non-alcoholic beverage. It’s possible to hike around and get onto the rims for a closer look of these sulphuric beauties. Monkeys might be your only friends once the crowds disperse (a fraction of people compared to Mt Bromo). The 7km hike back to the village is a thrill in itself too. Cloud forest bursting with birds, very unusual and loud singing. The drive to the top of the mountain can be arranged in Moni.
Google map: bit.ly/T5xydv
The adventure starts at 4am in the village of Cemoro Lawang, Eastern Java. The 4x4 ride takes you to the viewpoint where in pitch black, probably wearing the rented jacket, you’re waiting for the sunrise. Slowly the darkness gives in and the silhouettes of mountains start appearing. The first morning light reveals the spectacular landscape with Mt Semeru in the distance, the highest mountain in Java; Mt Batok, beautifully grooved greenish cone of a dormant volcano; and of course, fuming Mt Bromo encircled by the sea of sand. It is possible to visit its rim by climbing 250 steps and the stop at the Hindu temple on the way there is obligatory.
Google map: bit.ly/ZIpIui
A must-see for anyone visiting Indonesia is Mount Bromo - an active volcano on the Indonesian island, Java. Base yourself in the nearby village of Cemoro Lawang and drag yourself out of bed before sunrise – trust me, it’s worth it – to head up Mount Bromo. The view of the surrounding volcanoes with the cloud of smoke high above your heads and the sun lighting up the Tengar massif is spectacular. On the way down, you’ll pass a hive of activity on the hillside as locals prepare their goods to sell to tourists.
Mount Bromo, Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, Java, indonesia
Google map: bit.ly/XKd20s
Away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta, Ubud is still very much alive - with a busy market, monkey forest and temples putting on performances each night. Heading west from the market and taking a right up Jalan Kajeng, you will stumble across authentic restaurants and homestays. Ubud’s crown jewel is it’s amazing location. If you continue along that road, taking the left at a fork, you will find yourself surrounded by rice paddy fields, stretching as far as the eye can see. Great to do in the late evening as the sun sets and then grab dinner on the way back into town.
Jalan Kajeng, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Google map: bit.ly/R589ky
Seeing the sun rise at Mount Penanjakan and then climbing 249 concrete steps up to the ridge of Mount Bromo to peer into the active volcano, albeit accompanied by hundreds of other tourists, is on the “to do” list of every visitor to Eastern Java. However continue your journey by jeep beyond the volcano and you will have the Sea of Sand to yourself, with unique views from within the Tengger caldera to Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java and also an active volcano. You eventually emerge from the desert of ash to be surrounded by verdant hillsides with wild flowers and crazy paving terraces of cultivated farmland. Continue to the 13th century Budhhist temple of Candi Jago in the village of Tumpang, then on to Malang, founded in the 8th century and still displaying its recent Dutch colonial heritage, and you will have encompassed thousands of years of astounding geology and history in a single day.
BromoTennger Semeru National Park
Google map: bit.ly/XKd20s
A ride on the Lady Crystal can make an incredibly romantic date setting or a wonderful party venue, and is one of the best ways to get a really scenic night view of Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge. There are a few different cruises to choose from: the lunch cruise (7,000yen), afternoon cruise (1,800 yen), the dinner cruise (12,500 yen) and the night cruise (3,800 all you can drink). The cruises are subject to good weather conditions and should probably be booked beforehand to avoid disappointment. I’d definitely recommend the one hour night cruise for an incredible view of the lit up bridge with the city lights nestled in the background.
Google map: bit.ly/TS8Aya
* Hollie is our Been there local for Tokyo. You can check out her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/tokyo-local-hollie-mantle.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/HollieMantle
One of the most incredible and surreal places I've been to. After a rocky jeep ride and a long hike with stunning views (encountering the Ijen sulphur miners en route) you come to the surreal landscape of Lake Ijen, a sulphuric acid lake of turquoise blue (and a foul stench) where miners work for under $10 a day and for a pack of cigarettes you can take a photo of them as they carry their heavy bright yellow load with just a straw basket. Spectacular landscape and a world away from usual Javan landscapes.
East Java near Randu Agung.
Google map: bit.ly/SSuxwZ
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