Travelling through the Mont-Blanc tunnel and emerging in the Aosta valley brings you en route for the classic Italian cities. First of all, you pass through Turin before experiencing the Levantine Riviera as you travel along side the Mediterranean. From here you can continue further down to visit the famous leaning tower of Pisa or head back up to Milan. The majestic city of Venice is on a direct road from here and on the way you can stop by historic Verona and get in touch with your romantic side by leaving a letter to Juliet.
Google map: bit.ly/iRuNcu
If you are in search of a vegetarian snack, Hendersons Of Edinburgh is split over two locations on Hanover Street as well as a bistro on Thistle Street in Edinburgh's New Town. The restaurant, bistro and deli offer a variety of vegetarian treats as well as other fair trade, organic nibbles. As a popular arts venue, in the evening you can sit back in the restaurant and enjoy musical performances or after your meal take a look upstairs around the contemporary art gallery.
Agonda Beach is a three kilometre stretch of beautiful white sand and if you are in search of a relaxing escape watching the sun go down while lounging in a hammock, or a romantic getaway the Om Sai beach huts will not disappoint. The six, simple yet spacious huts are located in a secluded, picturesque area of the beach and the friendly staff ensure you have everything you need to enjoy your exotic Indian retreat. The busiest season is over the New Year period so book early if you are looking to welcome 2012 in style.
Nestled in a valley of the River Sals, Rennes-les-Bains is a picturesque retreat for those in search of relaxation. This Roman spa town is host to a Turkish bath and to both hot and cold springs with the strong bath or 'le bain fort' reaching temperatures of up to 46°C, perfect for soaking in on a chilly winter's night. The popular waters are still used today as a natural cure for joint problems and skin conditions, a treatment that dates back thousands of years.
11190 Rennes-les-Bains, France
Google map: bit.ly/h4Vt2o
The Elephant House is a gourmet tea and coffee shop nestled on George IV Bridge in the heart of historical Edinburgh. Opening at 8am everyday of the week, treat yourself to every tea, coffee and hot milk blend imaginable from your regular Espresso to the exotic 'Banana Bounty'. Not only can you enjoy a unique tea and coffee experience but you can indulge yourself in the variety of cakes and bagels on offer. The cafe's central location makes it ideal to stop by for locals and travellers alike.
Catching a ferry across the straits of Gibralter you arrive in Tangier. From here you catch the, rather crowded, train through Rabat and Casablanca, finally rattling in to Marrakech. The true desert experience began after days of trekking above the snow line of Mount Toubkal after which you arrive in Zagora, Morocco's hottest town when you can ride a camel into the world famous, breathtaking, Sahara desert. Sitting around a camp fire with your Moroccan guides and camels under a full moon really is a magical, albeit surreal, experience. From here journey back to Marrakech and visit the desert settings for films such as Gladiator and Lawerence of Arabia. The soaring temperatures all year around are uncomfortable, so be sure to spend slightly more on good quality hotels, especially in Zagora, to ensure you enjoy your adventure.
When thinking of destinations to travel to, Haliax in the north of England is hardly the first place that comes to mind. However, The Piece Hall is a magnificant Georgian Grade 1 listed work of art and is home to the world famous Piece Hall Book Shop. Upon entering the shop you are greeted by thousands of rare, specialist and one of a kind books ranging from crime thrillers to cartoons towering all the way up to the ceiling as well as the welcoming, albeit eccentric, owner. However, Piece Hall Book Shop is not alone as Legacy Comics is located just a handful of shops away and stocks every comic imaginable from your typical American magazine to small press books. Hours can be lost in this treasure trove so if you are in search of a mid-shopping rest there is no shortage of cafes for you to take your pick from. The Piece Hall is also a stone's throw away from the train station so it is easily accessible from wherever you are.
12 The Piece Hall, Halifax HX1 1RE
+44(0)1422 347 775
Google map: bit.ly/aGkifc
Edinburgh is world famous for it's New Year's Hogmanay celebrations with the wild street party, the electrifying concert in the gardens and the magical torch light procession but the christmas season in general in the city is one of the best winter experiences to be found in Europe. Princes Street Gardens are transformed in to a Winter Wonderland complete with a snowball arena and an ice rink, situated in between the the traditional German Market and the fairground. The German Market is open from November 26th until Christmas Eve and is perfect for present and souvenir shopping with mulled wine and international food stalls dotted around when you are in need of a rest. The fairground lights up the city centre and the helter skelter and flying chairs make it fun for all ages. With all of the action going on in the centre there are hotels to be found all along Princes Street and North Bridge.
Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, EH2 2AA
Google map: bit.ly/cLS90w
Not only are The Vaults under Edinburgh's South Bridge terrifying as you pass through a small stomach churning torture museum before you are lead in to the vaults themselves, but you are greeted by the cursed witches circle, said to cause fits and collapses upon entering. If The Vaults don't satisfy your quench for fear, the Greyfriar's Cemetery offers you a chance to walk in the footsteps of the infamous Burke and Hare body snatchers after dark which unveils Edinburgh's grim history. The graveyard also comes with it's very own 'Creepy Wee Shop in the Graveyard'.
After travelling to both Milan and Rome, two of the most influential cities of Europe fashion-wise and finding nothing but street after street of generic designer boutiques, I was ecstatic to find Edinburgh riddled with vintage clothes boutiques. Not only does South Bridge and Nicolson Street play host to several charity shops, often home to the most wonderfully unique pieces, but W. Armstrong & Son (founded in 1840) is the true heart of Edinburgh vintage. Found on The Grassmarket, room after room is filled with genuine World War II jackets and 1940's fancy dress; complete with trunk full’s of top hats, wigs and Venetian masks. Although W. Armstrong & Son is the crème de la crème of retro fashion, other vintage gems can also be found along Teviot Place and on Frederick Street.
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