A giraffe or rhinoceros in the middle of an Australian plain? Yes there are, at the Werribee Open Range Zoo. The Werribee Zoo is an extension of Melbourne’s famous zoo at Parkville, but with much more land. It’s billed as 'Africa out of Africa', and that is a very good description.
K Road, Werribee, Vic. 3030
tel: 9731 9600;
If you want an authentic economic and tourist-free experience, take the catamaran from Cais do Sodre to Seixal on the south bank of the Tejo estuary. It's cheap and fast.
When you get there, walk for about ten minutes past the shipyard and into old Seixal. There are numerous places to eat the little snails (Caracois) or slices of cuttlefish (Chocos) washed down with a couple of glasses of beer. The cheapest and best however, is the headquarters of the local communist party, which is friendly and open to all!
Take in the traditional boats that used to work the river and maybe the old cork factory just up the road. If you are desperate for internet contact there is free broadband and wireless access in the local library.
A day trip to Sintra is a must. Rather than get the crowded bus, those who can should walk up to Castelo dos Mouros, high on the hill above the town. The path starts near the Church of Santa Maria and winds up through woodland. You’ll feel like you’ve earned the magnificent views you get from the castle walls.
Regular trains from Sete Rios station or Entrecampos station (Estação Rossio closed at time of writing). Journey time is less than an hour;
Almost a stone’s throw away from St Stephen's Green, this little park is a quiet little getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. While full of office workers during lunchtime on summer days, you'll nearly have the place to yourself when they're in work. A real hidden treasure.
Entrance is on Clonmel Street, off Harcourt Street.
Nearest Luas (light rail) stop: Harcourt Street and St Stephen's Green
What is happening to Parque Mayer? This atmospheric hodge-podge of theatres, music halls, restaurants and cinemas just off the Avenide da Liberdade has been slowly crumbling away for years, and plans were announced to tear down the lot and replace it with a Frank Gehry-designed complex. Those plans seem to have been abandoned and the beautiful art deco Teatro Capitólio, despite a local campaign and listing by World Monuments Watch, is still being left to rot. Go for a wander around while you can: it's like being on a David Lynch film set.
Parque Mayer, Travessa do Salitre;
Every city deserves a high point, a look out, a place to be amazed by the city. Melbourne has Mount Dandenong, the perfect place for a restaurant, viewing platforms and television signal towers. The view gets better at night with all the lights. Parking (which used to be free) now costs.
Observatory Rd, Mount Dandenong;
tel: 9751 0443;
Beyond Estrela lies the smart, chic and self-contained district of Campo de Ourique: a grid of tree-lined streets with an almost Parisian feel, with plenty of small shops, cafes and a fresh produce market. Off the beaten track, but a pleasant (and mercifully flat) area for a stroll. South-west of here is the huge Prazeres ('Pleasures') cemetery, which has great views across the Ponte 25 de Abril.
At the western end of the 28 tram route: some trams end their journey at Estrela, so make sure the sign on the front of the tram says 'Prazeres'.
The small mountain that Cezanne endlessly painted is worth viewing from either a painterly distance or more closely, and is surrounded by beautiful countryside. The colour of the stone is said to change with the light, which is perhaps why it fascinated Cezanne so much.
East of Aix near the village of Tholonet.
Recently restored, the temple of mercy/compassion is little visited by tourists, despite being in the centre of Chengdu. Aside from its main purpose, this temple has a very lively yet relaxing teahouse (various teas, average price 5-8 Rb) and there’s a folklore museum. Some outstanding statues/carvings. 3 Rmb to get in. Open 9am to 6pm.
Da Ci Si Lu 23 hao (10-15 mins walk from Crowne Plaza/Holiday Inn);
Between the Baixa and Castelo is the sloping maze of Mouraria - the Alfama without the tourists and the chi-chi boutiques. Mainly African, it hums with life day and night. Walk up through the narrow streets and wind up in Graca - Lisbon's highest hill - then head for the rooftop bar of the Albergaria Senhora do Monte. It has the finest view over the Castelo and the city.
Metro: Martim Moniz, then head uphill. Albergaria Senhora do Monte is at Calçada do Monte, 39.
These two cities might be easier to find accommodation in when Frankfurt gets busy. You can reach Frankfurt from them in 35 mins with the S-bahn, which is very practical. They are also very close to Frankfurt International Airport.
Mainz is a university town, well known for its Gutenberg Museum (with the first edition of the Bible ever printed) and for its beautiful cathedral. It is also set along the Rhine and is a good departure point for Romantic Rhine excursions.
Wiesbaden is a former thermal town, very pleasant and chic with beautiful houses and a great town centre.
Nothing beats a summer's sunset than watching it along Spanish Banks. Just aim for Jericho Beach and walk along the beach until you find your perfect log.
The view stretches from the cruise ships on the horizon off to Alaska to the mountains to the city.
The atmosphere of couples and families just relaxing is unbeatable. Truly the best way to see the city's beauty.
Howth is 25 minutes on the DART from the City. It is a working fishing harbour, and on the (wet) Sunday we visited, had a farmers' market, as well as two fishmongers and an awful lot of boats. Of the pubs, I'd recommend the Bloody Stream for its fantastic local seafood - try the chowder - and a great pint. Despite the good food, it isn't expensive or pretentious. Just good beer, and good food in nice surroundings. Best of all, it is underneath the DART station, so you can keep checking when the next one's due. We prolonged our stay by about 2 hours this way, in twenty minute intervals. Howth is a good option for a Sunday afternoon, if you want a break from the City. (Try The Abbot as well)
14 West Pier (just below the DART station), Howth;
tel: 01 839 5076;
These are the main rivers and canals that criss-cross the centre of the city. Boat trips are widely available in the summer months, but walking their banks is also a very good way to literally view a cross-section of the city and what it has to offer. What you'll see will range from the industrial to the picturesque and parochial, but whether frozen or fluid they offer an unbeatable guide to the gamut of St Petersburg.
The Fontanka and Moyka rivers and the Griboedov canal all cross Nevsky Prospekt, the main street through the city.
The British, as everybody knows, apart from their interest in football have a thing for gardening, therefore the famous Palmengarten should be mentioned. Even if you´re not a hobby gardener it is a nice place to take a walk and relax.
Take trains U6, U7 or buses 32, 33 or 50 to Station Bockheimer Warte.
The Castelo de Sao Jorge is one of the most peaceful spots in Lisbon and has fine views over the city. It's a great place from where to watch the sunset.
When we were there, the Emperor Hirohito's son and heir were filming the amazing sunset.
Follow up with an evening meal in the Alfama district below the castle at the Esquina de Alfama for good value Portuguese food (tasty sardines!)
Get lost in the Alfama district. It is the real Lisbon, as it is the only district not to have been flattened by the great earthquake of 1850. The maze of confusing cobbled streets leading to the Castelo de São Jorge contain houses showing examples of azulejo tiling. Look out for the viewpoint with a beautiful mosiac of the city and a pond, looking out over the Tejo river and Ponte 25 de Abril.
A 5 minute walk to the east of the Praca de Comercio. The metro doesn't cover the Alfama area, but it's better to walk anyway.
Check out the pedestrianised streets of the Baixa district which is the comercial core of Lisbon. All the great fashion chain stores are here, and a wealth of cafes and restaurants. It comes alive at night as people meet to dine or go clubbing.
North of Praca de Comercio;
Nearest metro: Rossio or Restauradores
These districts are some of the friendliest and oldest parts of Lisbon. Some of the houses are superb. Markets often take place in the winding streets which contain small cafes and shops. Avoid the Lapa district after dark though.
A 20-25 minute walk to the west of the Praca de Comercio, or there are plenty of trams from here to Estrela and Chiado if you don't want to walk.
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