Uluru is undoubtedly a priority on every travellers list when they visit Australia. Although spectacular in its own way Uluru's beauty is eclipsed by nearby King's Canyon in the Watarrka national park. This ancient canyon created by a pre-historic inland sea allows breathtaking views over the Watarrka national park. The scenery is much more varied than at Uluru and the red domes against the azure sky are a visual treat. The walk around the rim of the canyon takes three hours - but is pleasant with lots of variation in incline and scenery. Halfway through the walk you come across the garden of eden which is a permanent waterhole. It's safe to swim here and the experience of swimming in this waterhole surrounded by sheer red cliffs with the sky above is amazing. Sunrise is the best time to visit the canyon when temperatures are bearable and the flies are few in number. Take plenty of water, sun screen and insect repellent. Nearby Kings Canyon Resort offers accomodation and there is a camp site nearby as well.
From Uluru airport Kings Canyon is a 400 km drive (takes about 3-4 hours as the roads are desserted). The drive is well signposted. Kings Canyon can also be reached from Alice Springs. For accomodation see the resort website - www.kingscanyonresort.com.au
Edinburgh isn't exactly a city that hides its charms: a castle bang in the centre of town atop dramatic cliffs, a gothic skyline, a cobbled old town crammed full of tourist shops, a Georgian 'New Town' of refined restaurants and leafy squares, and several celebrated museums and galleries.
However, if you tire of tourists and want to seek real, everyday Edinburgh, consider a trip to the district just south-west of the city centre. Tollcross isn't what you would call beautiful, but is home to some of the city's finest ethnic restaurants (such as Number 1 Sushi and Lai Thai), as well as the King's Theatre and the Cameo Cinema. One of the finest arthouse cinemas in the country, the Cameo is both atmospheric and cheap, and with several screens offers something for every discerning cinema goer, as well as a much loved bar seeping with old-world atmosphere. The Beckett Pub nearby is similarly atmospheric, and neighbourhood newcomer, Cuckoo's Nest offers some of the cities best value for money drinks (particularly the cocktails).
Heading up the hill, you reach the Bruntsfield Links on your left, and beyond spectacular views across the Meadows to the Castle, Old Town and Arthur's Seat. Bruntsfield itself is one of the city's loveliest districts, a pleasing mixture of vibrant student district and upscale residential neighbourhood. Its main drag is home to several quality restaurants and bars, as well as a handful of intriguing shops, especially for foodies.
Coco's is arguably Edinburgh's best chocolatier, and sits near to a branch of Peckham's delicatessen and an extravagant cake shop. For those who wish to continue, the main road heads down into extremely well-heeled Morningside (though the shopping strip is perhaps a little underwhelming), and neighbouring the Grange and Merchiston, all of which are home to some beautiful Victorian villas on their leafy streets, and are a pleasure to stroll around.
Tollcross is at the southern end of Lothian Road, a ten-fifteen minute walk from all parts of central Edinburgh. The main road, Gilmore Place-Bruntsfield Place leads up the hill to Bruntsfield and then round towards Morningside. Multiple buses to all of these neighbourhoods, see Lothian Buses website.
When someone says 'Venice', you think of gondolas and canals. But there is so much more to Venice.
If you go down any backstreet you will find little shops like no others in the world. Small bars, restaurants, that only the locals know about - and you can see why they haven't told anyone - some of the nicest food I have ever tasted was in these backstreets.
Also, don't buy a map- just let your senses take you wherever. Get lost in the Venice Backstreets.
Any backstreet in Venice.
This is "real" Alexandria and a real treat too. Unlike the Khan in Cairo, tourists don't get hassled to buy stuff here. As it is not touristy you'd better bring a phrase book if you are looking for something specific, otherwise just enjoy wandering around the streets.
The Eastern end starts with clothes and material (some lovely scarves here), then there are a few streets with spices (far, far cheaper than Cairo!) and then the fresh fish, fruit and vegetables take over.
Best buys are loofas, dried Hibiscus, dates and Halva.
It's relatively easy to find your way home as well; as turning off the main street will take you to the Corniche and a taxi will never be too far away.
Walk inland from the Unknown Soldier memorial on the Corniche (Midan Orabi) until you hit the main crossroads (Midan el-Tahrir). Go right here and you'll gradually walk deeper and deeper into the market. It runs parallel to the Corniche between here and El-Anfushi area, just a few blocks in from the bay.
For such an urban country, Japan's many mountain ranges remain unspoilt and relatively unknown other than to numerous enthusiastic and fit Japanese walkers of all ages. The North Alps are as good as the European ones and once away from the busy valley entrance lodges, exhilaratingly empty, and stunningly scenic. A network of dozens of simple traditional mountain huts provide ridge-top overnight accommodation in dormitories which are decidedly cosy for taller people and a welcome evening meal of meat, fresh vegetables, rice, and mizo soup. Enormous bento box lunches see you through the days. With snow on the peaks much of the year, the summer season is quite short but the ridges are covered with alpine flowers, miniature love lies bleeding, stunted birch, pine and rhodedendron woods, and marmots. Autumn colours come early. Numerous trails are signed and there are plenty of routes for a few days to a couple of weeks. The Kamikochi Valley is a good place to start with afew hours walk up to many peaks at around 3000m. Booking accomodation which in summer is necessary will be easier if you speak Japanese or have a friend who does. Water is scarce high up, so treat yourself in a hotel with onsen baths when you descend.
Central North Honshu, a half days drive north of Kanazawa.
I have been reflecting on some of my travel highlights of 2008 and it would be no exaggeration to say that top of the list came my trip to Sri Lanka in late October – and in particular my visit to Mahatenne House on the Ashburnham estate.
The guest house is situated on a working 70 acre tea plantation on the side of a mountain in the Knuckles Range, close to Elkaduwa. It is run by an ex-City whizz highflier type who (ahead of the credit crunch curve) reassessed his priorities in life and stepped off the London treadmill to go and live The Good Life on the other side of the world.
It is futile to try and convey the magic of my experience in words, but I will attempt to paint a picture with a few broad brushstrokes.
The day typically starts with breakfast served on the verandah while the morning mist and clouds unfurl to reveal the breathtaking view of rolling green hills and valleys, carpeted with tea plantations.
You will not be short of things to do during the day (children and adults alike): go for an exploratory wander around the estate – the ultimate Swallows and Amazons fantasy; take a power shower under the most beautiful 60ft waterfall at the bottom of the estate, reached by a 400 step path; anyone for a game of tennis on the newly refurbished court?; go and watch the daily weighing of tea; enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and lounge by the poolside catching up on all that holiday reading; or just sit on the verandah and breathing in the intoxicating air whilst contemplating life in peace and serenity. For Doctor Doolittle fans there are four resident dogs, a lake full of fish (which also yields some great meals), wild chipmunks that scurry through the trees, an array of beautiful birds and butterflies scattering a kaleidoscope of vivid colour everywhere (as far away as you can get from London’s monotone shades of grey), but most delightfully of all, Menike, a beautiful female elderly elephant, enjoying a peaceful retirement on the estate, her most arduous task these days carrying the occasional bare back passenger down to the waterfall. Sitting out after dark in planters’ chairs listening to the nocturnal chorus of cicadas under a canopy of glittering stars is mesmerising – the perfect lullaby.
The host is a very gregarious and generous character, and the staff are incredibly friendly and attentive (but unobtrusive) – you will be left wanting for nothing. The home-cooked meals are delicious and the (few) rooms are clean and quiet – not aiming to be top notch “boutique hotel” but very comfortable, and the rates are a real bargain.
This place really made an indelible impression on me – the memories of my trip will stay with me forever. Whether you are a lone traveller in search of something slightly off the beaten track, or a family looking for a package that will keep the children entertained whilst giving adults a peaceful break, I urge you to seek out this piece of paradise and complete the picture for yourself (apologies for plagiarising the previous submission).
Note: All the clichés contained in this account are statements of fact; all the superlatives are an understatement
Elkaduwa | 40 kilometres North of Kandy, Elkaduwa, Sri Lanka
tel: 0094 (0)66 4920206
Crows Nest Cottage is one of the prettiest Victorian cottages in the New Forest. The cottage is set in Lyndhurst which is known as the capital of the new Forest.
The open forest is but a few strides away, where New Forest ponies, donkeys and cattle graze just yards from the front door.
Lyndhurst village centre with its wide choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants is only a few minutes walk away. Terra Vina and Les Mirabelles, two of the top restaurants in Hampshire are closeby and are highly recommended for the discerning diner.
Crows Nest Cottage is ideally located for many interesting walks which start directly from the cottage. One of our favourites goes north up to Fox Hill, then across through Dockens Wood to the New Forest Golf Club, up onto Bolton's Bench, along the Ridge, down to the very beautiful Longwater Lawn and back to the cottage via Lyndhurst High Street - not forgetting to stop for a coffee in La Parisienne cafe on the way back.
Lyndhurst is the ideal base from which to explore the many local attractions such as the Beaulieu Motor Museum and Broadlands, the home of Earl Mountbatten.
A good day out can be had by taking the ferry across to the Isle of Wight, walking directly across the Island from Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay where you literlly seem to step back in time. If you feel energetic, you can continue to walk along the cliffs up to the Tennyson monument and along to see a stunning view of the Needles.
Lyndhurst, New Forest,
The Druid Circle is an ancient, historic site in the Snowdonian Mountains. If you are looking for solitude and tranquility and enjoy a brisk hike, this is the place to visit.
Follow the A55 coastal route, past Conwy and turn off at the village of Penmaenmawr. From here the Mountain Road will lead you right up to the foot of the Snowdonian Mountains from where you may follow the footpath to the Druid Circle. There is no vehicular traffic so a good pair of walking boots is adviseable. Also, there are no refreshments or ameneties along the way. The ideal backpack hike.
There is a train station in Penmaenmawr but trains will only stop on request. Be sure to inform the conductor if you wish to stop at Penmaenmawr station. The village offers a cafe, chip shop, Spar and chemist as well as a wonderful beach at the foot of the Snowdonia National Park.
Please visit: www.north-wales-holiday-cottages.co.uk and take a look at Gwelfor House, the perfect place to stay for a short break, week-end or family holiday, situated in the charming village of Penmaenmawr.
Loch Ness is a short drive from the city centre of Inverness and a cruise offers you a chance to relax and enjoy some breathtaking scenery.
There are plenty of beautiful towns and villages around the area such as Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit that are worth a detour and Inverness offers a perfect base for exploring the area.
www.hotelsininverness.net - Great for finding a place to stay in Inverness
Relaxing, leafy historic neighbourhood of small parks and restored late Victorian/early 20th century houses, all intriguingly different and painted funky colours, right next to the U.S. Capitol. Plus a great open-air flea and gourmet food market.
Walk due East from the Capitol down East Capitol Street to Lincoln Park (great statue of Lincoln emancipating the slaves) and take North Carolina Ave. down to Eastern Market. Or get the Metro (Blue/Orange Lines) to Eastern Market. Check it out on www.easternmarket.net
This tour will take you down paths less trodden and provide you with a different outlook on Rome and its superb landmarks. The tour is taken at night and, as mystery and your imagination take over, the guide will provide an entertaining side to the capital that you are not likely to get during the day. Particular landmarks explored include the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the beautiful Campo de Fiori. This is a really cool way to explore this magnificent city, especially if you have children.
Sant'Andrea Della Valle Church - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
On a visit to Cairo, as well as the usual tourist places, take a trip to Heliopolis, a suburb to the north-east of the city. It was built in the early 20th Century by a Belgian and hence has some fantastic European-style architecture (and his own palace, which is a wonderful Taj Mahal-esque structure). Within the district is the centre of Heliopolis, El Korba, whose Bagdhad Street has some amazing colonnade type arches running along in front of the shops; you could almost be in Venice's St Mark's Square! (or somewhere similar..)
Helipolis has a large, wealthy Christian community of a range of different denominations, something you will notice by the proliferation of churches there. It has a nice feel to it with a number of cafes, bars and one of the British club's branches is here. One of the two British Council offices is also in Heliopolis which means there is a small-ish community of British teachers in the area too.
Pop up there and spend half a day especially if you're interested in architecture, churches and an alternative tourist experience. The Presidential Palace and a number of official government buildings are in Heliopolis as well, should you be interested in that.
Just mention Heliopolis (Arabic: Masr Gadida) to any taxi driver, they will know it. It should take about 20 mins from Downtown, much longer at busy times.
Off the beaten track, but easy to get to - an unbeatable combination!
The Moorish "white villages" that nestle in spectacular scenery up in the mountains of the western Axarquia, are actually only a short drive from the almost deserted Mediterranean coves east of Nerja. The best of both worlds! The village of Cutar is a tangle of white-washed alleys and doorways. We've been there 3 years running now, sitting on the balcony watching swifts and kestrels hawking below us. It's genuinely untouched, with the dry river bed in the valley still being used by locals as their preferred route to the nearest (small) town.
We stay at a little one bedroom finca on the edge of the village which is charming and has hosts who are knowledgable & welcoming, but don't get in the way. The walking around there is just great - and many local customs survive & flourish, from village celebrations like the Verdialis to the spectacular Santa Semana processions in the city of Velez Malaga half an hour away. Strongly recommended!
This is a tailored walking tour company operating in Seville. The owner, David, is an Englishman who has lived in Spain for some years and knows Seville intimately. For a relatively modest outlay, he brings the history of the city to life, in a fun way that is simply brilliant. It is more than a tour, it is an experience.
David took us to local tapas places (not a tourist in sight) which were just fab, not to mention cheap - the money you spend on the tour you can mostly save by eating at these spots. Next time we go we will go to one of the local flamenco evenings. Thoroughly recommended.
Their partner company also found us a great apartment to rent.
0034 955 113 912 (24 hours)
We've just spent four nights at Five Acre View and it was simply wonderful. A big kitchen/communal area, a sun trap garden with views to die for and recently refurbished rooms (also with the view).
Very family orientated, dogs welcome (they get a sausage each for breakfast) it is the perfect place to explore the North York Moors.
New York's Greenwich Village has an international reputation as the city location where many artists and writers lived and worked from the middle of the Nineteenth century onward, through to modern times. Yet, paradoxically, while the United States celebrates many of its historical sites, parts of the Village remain shabby and run-down in appearance.
The traffic races through its main thoroughfares, while the quiet back streets are disfigured with garbage bins or heaps of building materials. The romance and associations of the place struggle against this neglect. It is still well worth a visit, however, and it may be that in time discreet improvements will be made by the city authorities: improvements which retain the battered elegance of the place but recognise its significance in the history of American art and literature.
Subway to West 4th Street, Washington Square
Villa consisting of four apartments, family run, with fantastic grounds and own swimming pool.
Very friendly English family who embraced Italy, the culture and language and renovated an old farm house in this small village.
The apartment we stayed in was very spacious and extremely well equipped, everything we needed and more was there. The surrounding grounds were perfect for our children to explore safely. There were hammocks for relaxing quietly while admiring the amazing views across the mountains, and a badminton net (for when you're feeling more energetic) and bikes.
The girls (aged eight, 11 and 12) spent most of holiday in the pool. Our son (aged five) helped Damien the owner pick, plant and water their many vegetables and fruit (hours of entertainment) and they didn't mind the guests helping themselves.
The apartments were full, but not overcrowded and there was a great mix of people. You could take a 10-minute stroll into town from the villa. Walk up into the centro historico for beautiful buildings and views. Stop for a coffee half way up and enjoy the mountain views while soaking up the sun. Take the children to the park, play crazy golf or tennis.
The nearest beach is only 45 minutes away. We had an amazing time and would definitely suggest you check it out.
Other towns nearby which are especially interesting include Riverside (winding streets, interesting home architecture), Oak Park (many Frank Lloyd Wright and other interesting homes), Evanston (home of Northwestern University) and the North Shore in general (take a drive up Sheridan Road after you do the Outer Drive northbound trip in Chicago).
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org