There are no roads, only sand paths - small enough to walk around - and beautifully secluded fishing villages. Go in September, it's low season so there's few tourists. Amazing caipiroska stands on beaches, good nightlife and you can watch the sun rise over the ocean.
Take a ferry from the port in Salvador. It's a two-hour, stomach churning journey. However, well worth it.
Prancing around London in the middle of the night with a bunch of old men in fancy dress. No, this is not some kind of post-modern theatre, but an ancient ritual which has taken place pretty much every night for the past 700 years in this great old city. The Ceremony of the Keys involves an ornate and complex set of rituals to ensure that the Tower of London is locked up good and proper. At exactly seven minutes to 10 o'clock each and every night the Chief Warder in his regal red coat and somewhat bonkers Tudor bonnet, carrying the Queen's Key and a giant lantern, marches around the perimeter of the Tower of London locking up the gates, accompanied by Foot Guards, sentries and various other characters straight out of the history books.
Complete with archaic greetings, a bugler and the best costumes you're ever likely to see. Having lived in London all my life, I can honestly say that I've never spent such a magical and unforgettable 10 minutes in London and urge everyone to accompany the procession at least once. It's free, but to go along you need to go through the hassle of writing a letter (no emails of course!) -
Tower of London
For more information visit their website here: www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/WhatsOn/ceremonyofthekeys.aspx.
Lurking in the hinterland that is Hack-Hack-Hackney, this little bit of east has most definitely missed out on the regeneration, but it's also missed out on the outlaw years of estates, grime and crime. It's a beautiful spot offering tranquillity amongst the sprawl, where you can stroll along the river, watch the wildlife scuttle by, catch a real odd (but truly unique) pint at the Hope and Anchor, or pick up a fry-up at the cafe opposite Lea Valley Marina. Beautiful, chilled and totally hidden.
Excellent accommodation, reasonably priced, amiable host, everything within the old town (including Canterbury Cathedral) within easy walking distance.
28 Castle Street
Canterbury, Kent CT1 2PT
Telephone (01227) 761897
The Howgills are an oft-ignored area, nestled between its larger cousins, the Lakes and the Dales. Great scenery, lovely walking. A nice base town at Sedbergh, with good food and pubs.
Take Junction for Kirby Lonsdale off M6 and then turn right following signs, or via A65
I've done a guide to the walk at www.seanliquorish.co.uk/blog/?p=11
The Little Angel Theatre is a marionette (or puppet) theatre. It's a little gem hidden away in Islington behind the bustle of Upper Street and Essex Road. It's a tiny building on Dagmar Passage.
The puppet masters are just that - masters of their art. I used to go with a friend and we were often the only adults there without children, but many shows have two levels of interpretation and you certainly don't have to be a child to enjoy them.
Before or after the show have a stroll along the New River Walk, running between Canonbury (The Marquess Estate) and the Angel. It's a lovely linear park based around the river that used to bring water to London from the country. It's beautifully peaceful, and there are ducks to watch (or feed) and benches to sit and contemplate. You could do a round walk down the park and back up Upper Street to Highbury and Islington tube and get the best of shops, cafe, theatre and park for a day's entertainment.
14 Dagmar Passage, off Cross Street, London N1 2DN
Highbury and Islington or Angel tube
020 7226 1787 (Box Office)
020 7359 8581 (Admin)
Reached via cable-car, this mountain at the edge of Tirana gives an attractive break from the bustle (and traffic) of the city. There are some restaurants and amenities up here but it’s mainly about the view along the route and the scenery atop the mountain. Costs about 500 Lek for the trip.
I'm definitely more of an urban type and enjoy a regular matinee screening at the Barbican cinema followed by noodles in Smithfield.
Sometimes though, I enjoy a trip to Harrow-on-the-Hill, especially in the autumn.
My partner, who lives there, gave me a guided tour one weekend. We strolled upwards about 10 minutes from the tube (Metropolitan Line), past the famous Harrow school, to St Mary's Church on Church Hill. The atmospheric churchyard is where Lord Byron sought inspiration. We cut down a dark passage through the trees leading from the gravestones into an open area which had amazing views across London.
Another short walk back to the church and down the High Street and we were at The Castle Inn pub. We had lunch on the lovely garden terrace, where some windfall apples had fallen on the ground around our feet.
Castle Inn pub on 30 West Street (020 8422 3155)
Going for a walk on this gorgeous mountain/hill is a great, relaxing experience. Here you'll find beautiful gardens, great restaurants, a castle, a theatre and above all a gorgeous view of Barcelona. There's an open air area with tables where you can have affordable and simple barbecued food and a bottle of wine whilst you enjoy a marvelous view of the mediterranean and the city by night. The place is called 'el mirador del migdia'.
Bus 55 or bus Parc de Montjuïc/funicular de Montjuïc, then 10min walk. Follow signs to Mirador de Montjuïc
The hidden gem that is the Regent's Canal goes from Angel right out to Limehouse.
The western end of the canal gives you Camden and Little Venice... the eastern end gives you London's industrial heritage, the amazing Victoria Park, Bow, a quick detour for the Colombia Road flower market on a Sunday and Broadway Market on a Saturday.
But now I'm having second thoughts about posting this because it's a rare treat and we don't want too many people bounding down the tow path...
Angel Tube, then turn down the street next to The York pub. Walk as far as you want...
Montsalvat is an eclectic collection of European-style buildings set in bushland in Eltham (a suburb of Melbourne).
Built in the '30s by Justus Jorgensen, it was a retreat for artists and sculptors. These days it's a nice place to visit on a quiet Sunday afternoon to view the various art exhibitions and sculptures (or in my case a celebration of a wedding in the Great Hall).
Houssine is a kind and friendly guide who will arrange a trek to suit your needs. We spent four days walking in the area around Jebel Toubkal, staying in gites/refuges in Berber villages, with a guide (Hassan), a cook (Mohamed) and a very lovely mule (Hasht-hasht). The mule carried our spare clothes, the food, and occasionally also the cook! We opted for four quite tough days walking (5-9 hours walking per day), culminating in a starlit ascent of Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa at 4167m.
Whilst it would have been possible to go up the mountain itself without a guide, having the guide enabled us to spend longer in the surrounding area and see more of the local villages than we would have done on our own; plus we had all our meals prepared for us and didn't have to carry too much gear. The extra few days trekking also ensured we had no altitude problems ascending the peak as we were well acclimatised to the altitude by that point.
Houssine's Ouassaggou Guest House was lovely - a good 15 minute walk from Imlil but small (just two guest rooms), peaceful and comfortable. Houssine met us off the bus and the mule carried our bags up to the guest house.
A four-day trek with just two of us in the group cost 360 euros total, including food and accommodation. This may be more than arranging something locally, but worth it for the security of having trek arranged in advance from the UK. A double room in the guest house cost about £28 a night including breakfast.
A 400-year-old building with seven apartments for holiday rental. Great location, close to all we wanted to see, and a quiet, friendly atmosphere. We spent five nights in July. My kids liked the idea of entering the building using their own keys. We felt at home.
Charming independent hostel a stone's throw away from the magnificent Pembrokeshire Coastal Path. Chris and Sue offer a warm welcome to families and non-families alike! The Old School is 'green' in many respects (recycling, use of public transport etc) but not in a preachy way.
great section on getting there by car AND public transport
Instead of trekking accompanied by 50 ponies plus handlers, guides and cooks (which somewhat destroys the peace and quiet of the Himalayas), stay in local homestays instead. It means that you only need a small bag to carry clothes etc, as all food plus water refills and bedding is provided. We didn't even have a guide but used a good map and compass, and it was so much better to be able to go where we wanted, when we wanted, rather than being constrained by a guide's plan. The homestays were fantastic and a great way to meet local people and eat local food. We even learnt a bit of Ladakhi and helped people learn some more English. The company which started the homestay is also a charity which works with villagers to preserve the local environment and wildlife, so you're actually doing some good too. The whole thing felt like a really valid exchange, with everyone benefitting.
Himalayan Homestays - several of the tour operators in Leh will help you book this, but you have to ask as they would prefer to sell you an expensive guided trek (of course). You can buy a map of the homestays, with suggested routes (choice of three) for 150Rs.
Worthwhile checking out the old Jewish quarter in the Mellah area in the south of the medina. The number of Jews in the area now numbers about 260 compared to more than 15,000 at the turn of the century.
You can see the evidence with the occasional Star of David and Hebrew lettering on buildings. There are still three active synagogues out of nearly 30. For a few coins the local kids will show you where the working synagogues are.
Mellah area south of medina
We went on a trip organised by the Livingstone Tanzania trust and we spent time visiting places we would have been scared of visiting without their help, staying with families in their homes and seeing an Africa we'd never seen before. The different tribes were fascinating and the landscapes completely beautiful.
Before our safari we visited the school that they sponsor, met the kids and saw their farm. The safari was a budget one, budget because we stayed in a local guest house rather than in expensive European ones and so the money was kept in the community, which was important to us. The vehicles were excellent and the guides knowledgable and friendly. We saw no other white faces!
Based in Babati, 175km from Arusha.
Upon arrival in Tokyo Narita International airport (or just before you leave!), don't just rush headlong into the city... If you have come long-haul and are tired, there's nothing better than to get your head down at one of the airport hotels for a few hours, and then use Narita as a gentle introduction to Japan/Tokyo. It is a nice small town, which is very walkable, and has many little gems including a temple, local restaurants, shops and backstreet pubs. Prices for food, hotels et al will be much cheaper that Tokyo city, and it allows you to acclimatise in a much less hectic/congested atmosphere. I have always found it a perfect way to take a breather before business in Japan and/or exploring the country on vacation.
Youthful crowds of artists and designers have made this neighborhood in the southern inner city of Stockholm into a trendy destination. Actually called Sodermalm but nicknamed SoFo (inspiration from London’s notorious Soho?), it’s a bohemian mecca that’s home to numerous individual shops and tiny cafés and restaurants, all with a fun, lively atmosphere. Take a stroll around its squares or enjoy a picnic in the park at Nytorget, right in the center of SoFo.
Nearest metro station is Medborgarplatsen (Green Line)
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