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.
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.
Every Sunday in the summer hundreds of people gather around a statue in Month Royal Park and play drums and other percussion type instruments. There are usually several different groups of drummers all playing in the same area. People of all kinds dance to the hypnotic beats and chill out in the sun. There are also lots of stalls selling various hippy, crafty type stuff. It's a great place to have a picnic and feel the real vibe of the city. Montreal is a really friendly city with crazy stuff going on all over the place in the summer and festivals galore. I don't speak French and it was never a problem. Just go with the flow, relax and enjoy. I have lived here for two years and have never felt safer or happier in a big city.
Mont Royal Park off of Avenue Du Parc, walk from McGill or Place-des-Arts metro
On our most recent visit (of many) to county Kerry in October 2008, we had a wonderful week’s stay in a house that we found from KenmareRentals.com, prompting us into posting this recommendation. The house was very spacious and comfortable, and offered us a relaxing base from which we could enjoy the town of Kenmare (about two miles away), and explore the various peninsulas on the wild west coast of Ireland. We’re pleased to say the owner could not have been more friendly or helpful and, although the house we rented was just one of many that he runs (as well as a busy pub and guest house in the town), he gave us his full attention for anything we needed, as well as helpful advice when we had to adjust plans after a disrupted ferry service from the UK.
We had chosen a house on a hill not far from Kenmare and enjoyed the fine views across the bay to the mountains of Macgillicuddy’s Reeks. If we had wanted to be closer into town, so that we could walk in each evening more easily, KenmareRentals.com also has houses on the outskirts but, after a substantial pub lunch each day, we were happy to settle into the comfortable house for the autumn evenings to read or watch DVDs with the open fire making it cosy. About 10 minutes walk from the house we rented, the Sailor’s Bar is a great place for a drink, with a warm welcome and local atmosphere. In the town of Kenmare itself, there are plenty of good places to drink and eat, with the house owner’s O’Donnabhain’s having a good buzz, while Davitt’s next door always served great food. Overall, a great week, heartily recommended and we’re sure to return.
The website offers a vast range of themed breaks, staying at small, family run, country hotels throughout France. Tours can be booked where you travel from hotel to hotel. If you are walking or cycling, they even arrange transport for your bags. Cycle hire is available too.
click on the "short breaks and tours" button
I live in Azóia near Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe - “where the land ends and the sea begins”. I can see the farol lighthouse through my window and in the spring the cliff tops will be covered with a carpet of colour.
This is a place for walking and I have already completed several walks, some alone and some with my family.
If anyone would like to share these walks check out my blog for details.
With credits crunching and economies sliding get on down to the north coast of Cornwall, arguably England's best slice of coast. I based myself at Newquay from where there is any number of adrenalin sports waiting to be experienced. I cantered on a horse across the Gannel estuary and beach Saturday morning, coasteered and zipwired along Lusty Glaze beach Saturday afternoon while Sunday wasn't lazy at all, being spent on fabulous Watergate Bay kitesurfing and bodyboarding. Superb!
You could try, as I did, www.visitnewquay.org, a great little site with all the info you need for a trip.
Newport is a small Pembrokeshire coastal town located within Pembrokeshire National Park, Britain’s only coastal national park. The surrounding scenery is stunning and Newport is a great access point to the Pembrokeshire Coastal path. The town itself is very small but has enough restaurants and pubs to allow you to dine in a different place each evening on a week’s holiday. We particularly enjoyed Llys Meddyg and Mochyn Drwg - most towns of this size would struggle to have one restaurant of this quality. We stayed at a lovely comfortable cottage called Bury Bach just outside town.
Well-situated independent hostel a stone's throw away from the Pembrokeshire coastal path - ideal for 'solos' or groups and families.
Situated in the centre of the village of Trefin.
No train station but the website gives great details on public transport links.
This area has fantastic walking, nice drives and plenty to explore. The resort is lively, but not too lively, has great food and bars, and a great fiesta in July. Great for a family holiday.
I've put a more detailed guide up on the link belowhttp://www.seanliquorish.co.uk/blog?p=7
This is a lakeside suburb in Eastern Berlin which still retains a village atmosphere. It's a great centre from which to explore the less familiar lakes and woods that were once the main recreational area for the 'capital of the DDR'. As in West Berlin, you can take boat trips, or walk up to the Muggelberg, the highest point in Greater Berlin. The town itself escaped much of the world war two bombing, and is full of restored 18th century houses and plenty of places to eat and drink. Schloss Kopenick, on its island, has also recently been restored properly, and now contains a Museum of Applied Art.
Kopenick S-bahn station is a short walk from the town centre, and is a 20-minute journey from central Berlin.
Go to Sentosa Island and climb to the top of the 361-foot tall Carlsberg Sky Tower for a breathtaking view of Singapore. Or visit the Botanic Gardens for a great escape from the city and a charming education in tropical flora and orchids, with black swans and enormous fan palms. Or try the inspiring Night Safari, which you can take by tram. And if you like religious architecture, take a trip to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple or the Sultan Mosque or the Thian Hock Keng Temple.
Or you could take a simple walk. Start from Collyer Quay and Clifford Pier (where most European colonists and Asian immigrants first set foot on the island); meander past the General Post Office (now the Fullerton); walk along Cavenagh Bridge onto North Boat Quay; take in the Empress Place Building and Raffles’ statue; admire Old Parliament House then take a breather at the Singapore Cricket Club. Walk on to Raffles City and while there, grab some lunch. Perfect.
Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, Trafalgar Square are all well known options but I would heartily recommend Holland Park and its surroundings. Hugely underrated, this beautiful park in West London has a truly gorgeous flower garden, Marco Pierre White’s yummy Belvedere restaurant, tennis courts and ample space for a summer’s day picnic.
Casa do Pasto in the centre of Castel de Vide is a great place to eat. Every time we visit this area we always go here for dinner, homecooking at its best and fantastic value. Eat outside in the warm summer months and admire this ancient and historic town in the mountain range called the Serra de Sao Mamede. A place where you will discover some great walks.
Casa de Pasto: Rua de Santa Maria de Baixo, 10
Tel: 245 919 034
For your first day in Paris, take a classic walking tour with an English-speaking guide to take you to all the main sightseeing spots. It only costs about 20 euros per person for 3.5 hours but you get to see all of Paris on the first day and allows you to go back and re-visit any of the sights for the rest of your holiday or go elsewhere. Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking and bring your camera!
Been here so many times and never get bored of it. There is a maze of narrow streets - during the day you can shop at little independent outlets, eat tapas, enjoy a beer in a little square or just wander. At night, add more bars and all sorts of weird places - last time I visited I found an ice-cream and chocolate waffle shop at 2am in the morning after a night at a great little club. For the full effect it's best to book your hotel in the Gothic Quarter. I used this site for a list of hotels.
You can buy some interesting-looking Iranian carpets along the main drag of Hammadiya. Forget about the antiquities near the Umayyad Mosque. Most of them are junk or fakes imported from Iran. Some nice knick-knacks and trinkets to be had, but you’ll certainly pay much more than they’re actually worth (about zilch).
Hiking in the countryside around Maaloula/Saidnaya (micro-buses from Zablatani cost approximately 25SL/.25 pence for a 30km journey). It’s possible to stay at the convent at Maaloula for a nominal sum, but be sure to get there early. Also, don’t miss the last buses back to Damascus (about 8 pm, but check on this).
Deir Mar Mousa, near Nabak, 100 kms from Damascus. Hike there from Nabak through some astonishing valleys and landscape (but beware of the local shepherds’ guard dogs). The monastery is presided over by the Italian Father Paulo. He loves an audience. You can stay there but all donations are happily accepted.
Also, walking the disused railway line from the Hijaz railway station out into the Damascus countryside as far as Bloudan (about 6-8 hours of moderate walking) is a great way to get an idea of Damascus’ modern and ancient character. As you get to Wadi Souq al-Barada, after Tel El-‘Awaameedh, you can see carvings on the cliff walls dating back to the beginning of the Christian era, when this area was known as the Tetrarchy of Abilene).
Very helpful, responsive and efficient company offering self-catering accommodation in the Lake District. We enjoyed our stay at High Spy in Keswick, a nice flat ideally located for the town and surrounding attractions.
Since this was our first visit to Paris, we weren't sure how to best spend our time. We came across Aeon's site and ended up taking a tour. We were, all in all, pleased with our tour and guide. She was knowledgeable and willing to answer any of our group's questions - even our most ridiculous ones. And, trust me, we had a few since we were there during the Metro workers strike in 2007. She was willing to start our tour later due to us not being able to get to the meeting point in time.
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