Plaka is one of the most popular spots in Athens. Since Melina Mercury cleaned up the area from the noisy bars and night clubs, today Plaka is a quiet small Greek village inside the overcrowded Athens center.
Best time to enjoy Plaka is early spring and late October when the tourist wave has gone. There are many places and museums to visit in Plaka among them the museums of Greek folk art, the Children's Museum, the Frissiras Museum of Greek painting and the Greek music instruments museum. In Plaka you can see also the Roman bath of the Winds and the Lysicrates monument, next to it was the Capuchin Monastery where Lord Byron stayed. Across the Adrianou street and on the steps of Plaka you will find many shops, cafes and restaurants.
In Montreal as an anglophone it is tempting to stick to Ste Catherines and St Laurent, but it is definitely worth your while overcoming a fear of the language barrier and heading to the French side. The areas of Rue Mont Royal, rue St Denis and around provide better shopping, friendlier cafes and a real insight into the true heart of the city.
Leave metro Sherbrooke and walk north up St Denis, or station Mont Royal and walk East/West along rue Mont Royal and then South down St Denis
Rome is overwhelming. But I have some reservations. Compared with other European cities its facilities for visitors are primitive. The main bus and tram station in front of the central station was a free for all for traffic (this is true of the city as a whole), and the melted tarmac was churned up into waves so that one had to totter across a petrified sea to catch a bus.
The ticket machines for the Metro were generally not working and there were vast queues for the one booth that seemed to be open. Indeed, queueing seemed to be imposed upon all visitors who wished to see any of the city's sights. Moreover, if you had a mobility difficulty, such as being confined to a wheelchair, you could forget a place like the Forum, which required climbing gear to explore it - so steep were the steps. There was litter everywhere.
In contrast Vatican City appeared well cared for and receptive to visitors. I wondered how much of the money made from visitors to Rome was being fed back into the conservation of monuments and improvements in facilities. I visited Rome for the first time in March 2006, and I would be interested to know if more recent visitors have seen progress in these respects.
Rome, Italy, Eternal City.
The Priory is a former hospital dating from the end of the 17th century. It was later used as a religious retreat. In 1913 the painter, Maurice Denis, who was deeply religious, as well as being a leading theorist of Post Impressionism, acquired the building and its grounds.
The Priory now houses a small but good collection of French art from the period 1880 to 1940, including Symbolism and Post Impressionism, especially the work of the Pont Aven artists and the Nabis.
The gardens are very beautiful and show sculpture by Bourdelle and Maillol. It's a quiet and contemplative sort of place except when the primary schools are in for an afternoon of art.
2 Rue Maurice Denis, 78100 St Germaine-en-Laye, west of Paris. Metro/RER from Chatelet to St Germaine-en-Laye. Then 10 minute walk through the town. There is said to be a bus but I never saw it.
If it's a clear day, take the cable car up to the top of the mountain behind the Old Town (the one with the very classy 'Brasov' sign).
The view over the town and the mountains beyond is spectacular, especially when the sun comes out and turns the houses below varying shades of gold.
You can also climb up a zigzag path to the top, apparently this takes about 45mins if you're fit.
Closed on Mondays, open till around 5pm otherwise.
From Piata Sfatului, take Str. Hirscher to the end, then turn left for 200m and right onto Str. Julius Romer to reach the base station.
Roskilde was once the capital of Denmark, and the beautiful cathedral there (a World Heritage site) contains 38 royal tombs, including that of Harald Bluetooth.
The fjord is a short walk down the hill and has an extensive museum and boatbuilding yard where traditional Viking longships are made and sailed before your very eyes.
When I visited the place it was swarming with tiny children all done up in lifejackets enthusiastically climbing aboard these craft and setting sail, under expert supervision. The Vikings are evidently still keen.
Roskilde town, a short train ride from Copenhagen central station. Then walk to the cathedral and fjord.
Filey on the Yorkshire coast is an enchanting 5 mile long stretch of clean golden sand. Great for walkers, children, surfers and anyone who enjoys beauty and quietness. From Filey Brigg jutting out into the North Sea to the cliffs of Speeton and Bempton it is an uniterrupted paradise.
Filey, North Yorkshire, has its own passenger train station and frequent bus services. It is also in reach of the North Yoks Moors, Scarborough, Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay .....
Loch Ness is well known and visited by thousands, but when you've tired of Nessie tartan gonks, there is a more beautiful and less visited landscape to the north.
Glen Affric has been referred to by those in the know as Scotland's most beautiful glen. It stretches for many miles upriver from the village of Cannich, becoming progressively wilder and more desolate. There are beautiful lochs, mountains and waterfalls, but it is the pinewoods that make this glen so special. You might think you've seen one forest, you've seen them all - but this is different. It is one of the largest remnants of the original ancient Caledonian Forest that once covered Scotland, and walking amongst the trees, it has a really special atmosphere and beauty. Look out for plentiful, incredibly cute red squirrels, pine martens and other wildlife.
This website features walks and accommodation.
Torridon is one of the most dramatic areas on Scotland's west coast. The mountains here are not the rolling ridges seen elsewhere in Britain - these are completely separate and individual, gaunt, bare and incredibly steep and imposing peaks. The first time I arrived to camp, a herd of red deer swam across the deep river. The landscape is so otherworldly that I wouldn't have been suprised if dinosaurs came roaming round the corner. What a place.
At the foot of the glen is Loch Torridon, a great fjord, where the landscape is softened by ancient pinewoods.
This website has walking routes and accommodation options.
Rome's zoo is being gradually improved and has been renamed the Bioparco. A greater emphasis is now being placed on its ecological and environmental credentials. I visited it on a Wednesday afternoon. Apart from three Russians who asked me for directions to the exit, I was the only visitor. I think the animals were glad to see me. If you like wolves there are lots here. Very wolfish and sleek. Apart from its intrinsic merits, it's one of the few places in Rome where you can get away from the crowds.
Viale del Giardino Zoologico. Trams 3 and 19, plus a short walk.
Go to Harvard Yard, the Harvard museums. Have cake and coffee at The High Rise Cafe on Brattle St. Go to the MIT Museum. Watch an independent film at the Kenmore Square Cinema. Go to the Central Sq nightspots - River Gods, Zuzu's, The Middle East.
Boston, apart from the Back Bay, the Common, and the Aquarium, is a bit boring and touristy. If you're from England, the historic sites won't seem very historic.
Central Sq - Harvard Sq on the subway red line
These are some nice districts to explore. Not far from the city centre, the high streets of the following areas are nice to walk about with good shops, bars and restaurants. Chorlton, Fallowfield, West Didsbury, Didsbury.
All within 3 or 4 miles of the centre. Chorlton high street spreads out from the junction of Wilbraham Road and Manchester Road. Fallowfield from Junction of Wilbraham Road and Wlmslow Road. West Didsbury highstreet is on Burton road, from junction with Lapwing lane southwards and also along Lapwing lane. Didsbury from junction of Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow road.
There is an oldy worldy feel to the beach, with the chalets and bare concrete steps, and the enormous sandy area to the west is a paradise for kids. The cliffs add a sense of untouched nature and provide great views across the bay to the Isle of Wight.
In Poole, near to Bournemouth. Can be reached by car or puiblic transport at the bottom of The Avenue, or by walking through the delightful woods from anywhere in Poole.
Cobbled streets, tiny whitewashed cottages tumbling down to a massive expanse of beach, seagulls wheeling - Robin Hood's Bay is a haven of peace. Walk along the cliffs towards Ravenscar, shimmering in the distance, the moors rising above the headland, cloaked in heather. Stroll back along the sands, where there are rock pools and fossils - a happy hunting ground for grown ups and kids.
The light is pearlescent - and the fish & chips at The Bay Hotel very good indeed.
Lovely uncrowded beach on the South Gower Coast. One mile walk from the nearest parking or bus stop. Approach down rugged cliff, warm sea and gentle tides - ideal for young children to learn to swim. No shops/pubs, so take your own picnic
Between Caswell and Oxwich bays.
Newborough Warren is a nature reserve near the village of Newborough, on Anglesey, and includes two beaches: Maltraeth Bay and Llanddwyn Bay, separated by Llanddwyn Island. The beaches are a walk away from the car park, but are absolutely beautiful clear stretches of sand, backed by dunes, and with views to Snowdonia. A walk to the lighthouse and cross on Llanddwyn Island is rewarding, and there are smaller beaches here: a wonderful find.
Photo at: www.anglesey-history.co.uk/places/llanddwyn/AerialLlanddwyn.html
Coastal walk at: www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northwest/sites/walks/pages/newborough.shtml
Signposted from the A4080 in Newborough
The U6 U-bahn to Universitat takes you to Geschwester Scholl-platz, named after Sophie and Hans Scholl, the students who were murdered by the Nazis for challenging the regime. The buildings in this area, and the nearby Englischer Garten, will be familiar to admirers of "Heimat 2." This is where Edgar Reitz set his series about student life in the 1960's. The area just to the north contains many beautiful Art Nouveau villas.
U6 to Universitat. Short walk to Englischer Garten.
Great park in the middle of Hamburg, a nice place for children and family. You can find beautiful gardens, a Japanese garden, mini golf, ice skating, roller skating and trampoline. From May to September there is music on the bandstand.
Edmund Siemers allee from Damtor U station
Gorch Falk Wall from Stephansplaz U station
Up on Exmoor, which lies a few miles inland from Lynton, is an area called Badgworthy Valley. Due to the efforts of the writer R D Blackmore however, it has become known as Doone Valley, being largely the setting for the novel Lorna Doone.
The countryside here has an extraordinary wild beauty and whether you want to do some serious walking or just linger around Malmsmead, the village at the heart of the area, you won’t fail to share in the enchantment that inspired Blackmore to write his book.
There is a memorial stone to Blackmore on one of the footpaths and if you’re going to indulge in a cream tea, then Lorna Doone Farm is the place to have it while admiring the view over the little river valley.
Take the turning to Oare from the A39 just east of County Gate. After one mile fork right at Oare and into Malmsmead.
Crosby beach is a huge expanse of sand, where the Irish Sea buffets the dunes and the 100 iron men that are Antony Gormley's 'Another Place.' Very atmospheric, the men stare out towards the Wirral and the Welsh hills. Nice for a Sunday afternoon stroll, take the camera. Love it and long may it stay in Sefton.
Crosby beach is best reached from either Waterloo or Crosby and Bludellsands MerseyRail stations.
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