Located in the historic Sultanahmet, district with a roof terrace overlooking the Blue Mosque, this is a friendly hotel right in the heart of old Istanbul. Rooms are really well equipped with toiletries, dressing gowns and all the extras, and the friendly staff are very helpful. Double rooms start from around €60 in low season.
Mimar Mehmet Aga Cad. Amiral Tafdil Sk. No: 22 Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Tel: (212) 638 19 96/97
Restored historic kasbah, just outside Ait Benhaddou, set among mountains and palm groves. Rooms are set around a cool tiled courtyard and terraces overlook the unspoilt countryside. Half-board is compulsory, with fantastic food cooked by the French chef owner, and there are also sometimes local musicians in the evening. Good value with double rooms from €84 per night (half board).
Kasbah Ellouze, Tamadaght, Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate
Built in the 12 and 13th centuries as status symbols by rich Bolognese merchant families, the city originally had over 100 of these towers but these are the tallest of the few which remain.
You can climb the Torre Asinelli, the taller of the two at about 100m, which has great views over the red roofs of the city and the hills beyond. The shorter Torre Garisenda, which had its top removed in the 1300s to stop it falling over, is closed to visitors as it has a more extreme lean of about 3m.
Piazza di Porta Ravegnana.
Open 9am-6pm, entrance fee €1,55.
Great place for post-skiing drinks.
Rastros also serves traditional food, with good fondues and raclette, until about 10.30pm. Has famous Tuesday night Rock Parties with 70s music and dancing on the tables.
In the Chatelet area of Méribel-Mottaret (just past the Plattieres lift station)
Tel 04 79 00 41 51
Sledge down La Truite, a green piste which leads from Mottaret to Méribel - a lot steeper on a sledge than it looks on skis!
Great fun, you are given a sledge (with brakes of sorts), a helmet and a glow stick so you can spot the other sledgers in the dark as you hurtle down the slope, and are accompanied by ski guides to give you a push if you get stuck.
Tuesdays at 5.45pm, meet at Méribel-Mottaret tourist office (costs €3 per person, including sledge and helmet, put your name down at the tourist office)
Bar/restaurant with panoramic views across the mountains.
You can eat traditional Savoyard specialities on the terrace or sit in a deckchair in the snow on a sunny day for a drink.
Good place to meet non-skiiers for lunch as you can reach it by the Pas du Lac cable car from Mottaret, and for learners there are lots of blue runs leading all the way back down to Méribel.
At the top of the Pas du Lac 1 cable car from Méribel-Mottaret
A fortified former Portuguese port on the Atlantic Coast below Tangier, Asilah is built in Andalusian style with whitewashed buildings and is surrounded by huge ramparts. It has a small medina that is easy to navigate and fairly hassle free. There are also some good seafood restaurants and beaches which stretch for miles up the coast. A good place to relax away from the madness of the big Moroccan cities.
Asilah also has an International Festival that runs for 3-4 weeks in August, with musicians and artists from around the world.
About 45 mins from Tangier by train (station is 2km out of town).
Restored riad within the medina walls. A real hidden oasis with just two rooms and two suites set around a tiled courtyard with citrus trees and fountain. Slightly eccentric and very friendly German owner cooks the fantastic food - a mixture of Moroccan and European dishes with local ingredients. Good value with rooms from €65.
3 Derb Skallia, Douh, Batha, Fes Medina
There are a series of signposted walking routes that take you through the medina of Fes, set up in 2005. Each one has a different theme with different coloured arrows to mark it, and there are information boards in English, French and Arabic at various points of interest along the way. A good way to explore the medina without getting completely lost.
Throughout the medina.
This cable car - the Transbordador Aeri - takes you from Montjuic Park to the beach at Barceloneta. It travels over the harbour, suspended across two 400m-high towers. Not advisable if you are in any way scared of heights, but the views across the city are amazing, particularly around sunset.
Leaves from Montjuic, Barcelona's World Trade Centre and the Torre de San Sebastián. Usually open 10.30am-5.30pm and later in summer. Single journey €7.50 or €9 return.
One of Vientiane's few clubs (and one of the few places open after 11.30pm). Local bands play a varied, and sometimes quite bizarre, mixture of Thai, Lao and Western pop and rock.
Good place to hang out with the locals and try a bit of Lao dancing!
Piawath Road, Sisatanak District, Vientiane
This cafe-restaurant also offers wine tastings and sells wine and the terrace overlooks the vineyards and karri forests beyond. It's a good place to stop for a glass of wine if you need to steady your nerves after climbing the Gloucester tree.
The Gloucester Tree is a 61-metre high Karri tree originally used as a bushfire lookout in the 1940s. If you have a head for heights you can now climb up 153 spiralling metal rungs stuck into the tree trunk to a platform at the top with spectacular 360-degree views of the forest.
Three kilometres from the centre of Pemberton in Gloucester National Park, in the southwest of Western Australia.
Google map: tinyurl.com/n3uny7
A series of seven picturesque waterfalls falling over 1500m with clear turquoise pools for swimming. Popular with locals and tourists, the lower pools can get quite busy, but paths and wooden footbridges lead up through the jungle to the quieter pools further up.
65km from Kanchanaburi - buses run daily and lots of guesthouses and travel agencies offer day trips. 200 baht National Park entry fee.
Set in a Haui Nam Dang National Park outside Pai. The water bubbles out of the ground in clouds of steam at the top of the hill and gets cooler as you head downhill.
You can choose your temperature and bathe in the river or one of the ‘hot tubs’ cut into the riverbank. Sometimes they're lit up by candles at night.
Tha Pai Hot Spring are near Huai Nam Dang Waterfall in Haui Nam Dang National Park, 8km outside of Pai town. You can take a 15-minute taxi ride, walk or cycle.
Run by the very friendly Yui in her house, you get picked up in the family camper van, taken round the local markets to buy ingredients and then taught to cook (and eat) a whole range of classic Thai dishes.
Courses are from half to 4 days (1 day course is 800 baht - £12) and are in small groups (max 8) and you also get given a recipe book so you can try it out when you get back home.
165 Soi 9 Lampoon Rd;
Tel: (66) 053 800724;
Set in jungle about an hour outside of Luang Prabang, the Kuang Si waterfall is a spectacular series of cascades and clear turquoise pools. Quite a climb to the top but you can cool off with a swim in the pools.
30km from Luang Prabang - can be reached by road or boat
Huge white-sand, palm-fringed beach that stretches for 30km, and can be almost empty on weekdays.
There are deckchairs to rent and kiosks selling fresh seafood and drinks, as well as a few restaurants and top-end hotels.
Located about 4km from Hoi An. Easily reached by bike from Hoi An or taxis cost approx US$3.
About 60km from Adelaide, the Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s major wine-producing areas. It's home to big names like Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and Wolf Blass as well as over 70 smaller producers. Most vineyards do cellar door wine tastings and some have really good bars and restaurants.
Tours to the Barossa run from Adelaide but it’s a good place to explore for a few days. You can base yourself in one of the towns amd hire a bike and cycle around the vineyards – maps are available from the local tourist information office, which can also book local B&Bs for you (often individual country cottages where you get left the food to cook your own breakfast).
High up in the limestone cliffs along the edge of the Mekong is the Buddhist pilgrimage site of the Pak Ou Caves. Accessible only by boat, the two caves have been filled with thousands of Buddha figures of all shapes and sizes over the years, apparently by local people who wanted to get rid of them but didn’t want to destroy them. Very atmospheric with spectacular views of the river.
25km from Luang Prabang, a 2-hour boat trip along the Mekong;
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