An island in the river Seine in Paris- you can go for luxury ice creams at the famous Berthillon's shop and feed tame sparrows by hand.
Take the Metro to the Pont Marie stop, and then cross the bridge.
Google map: bit.ly/ZcEwmi
I would recommend the Jardin d' Acclimatation, in the north part of the lush Bois de Boulogne. It is easily reached by underground and it is a children's amusement park, there are also playgrounds and great for a picnic.
It is a very clean hostel with private rooms with their own bathroom. We had a triple room with bathroom for 240 RMB. The staff are friendly and there is always lots going on. You can book tours through the hostel to see the Terracotta Warriors or Han Yang Lee museum which is smaller but much quieter but in a beautiful setting. You can buy western food here or try local Chinese restaurants nearby for a quarter of the price.
It is a lush sprawling cultural park on the outskirts of Bangkok in Samut Prakan. It is a great way to see all the major monuments of Thailand in three hours or so. But more than this, it is a green, cool peaceful oasis. Try to avoid Thai public holidays as it can be crowded then. You can hire bicycles, take a golf buggy or hop on a tram. There are plenty of places to buy food around the park. There is a street market and floating village and prices of souvenirs are cheap. Children will love it as they can run around. In nine years of living in Bangkok this was always on my list of must-sees for visitors. At around 350 baht plus bike or golf buggy hire t is excellent value for money as you will spend at least four hours here.
In the old quarter of Istanbul the Empress Zoe hotel is to be found. The rooms range from tiny to more spacious two roomed suites with kitchens and sitting rooms but what they all have in common is exquisite taste; hand painted Byzantine murals, antique furniture, traditional textiles and cool marble Turkish bathrooms. There are many twisting narrow stairs but they are worth the challenge to reach the cool, shaded courtyard garden. The breakfasts are to die for- plump cherries, freshly squeezed juice, crusty bread, olives, home baked cake, cheese and coffee. The staff are attentive and kind- when we arrived too early for our booking after a 12 hour overnight long-haul flight they offered us another room to rest for a couple of hours followed by a delicious breakfast free of charge. It is a popular hotel so book in advance.
Tel: 90 (212) 518 25 04 518 43 60 / Fax: 90 (212) 518 56 99
Empress Zoe Hotel,Akbiyik Cad. No: 4/1 Sultanahmet, Istanbul/TURKEY
On Buyu Kada island just a boat ride from Istanbul stands the magnificent Hotel Splendid Palace with it's red shutters, silvery-grey domes and white wooden walls. When you enter the hotel you expect to bump into Hercule Poirot with its faded 20's splendour. The ballroom has huge gilt mirrors and a candelabra perched on the grand piano.There is a swimming pool surrounded by shady trees to cool off during the hot Turkish summer. The views are fabulous from the sea facing rooms.Horse drawn taxis wait outside the hotel to take you on tours of the car-free island to see the historic wooden mansions.If it's history and atmosphere you want then stay here but not if you want modern luxury.
Take the slow boat to Buyukada island. It takes about one and a half hours and only costs about four pounds each way. It is a lovely way to escape the scorching heat of Istanbul as the boat is open and breezy. You can watch the people getting on and off the boat and the tea sellers coming around- buy a cup it is refreshing and cheap.The boat stops at two islands before reaching Buyukada so you can enjoy the scenery. Buyukada is a great place for a day trip or overnight stay. You can buy an infinite variety of ice-creams, drink coffee by the port and watch the boats and people, or have a kebab. If you are feeling energetic hire a bicycle; but if you want to relax hire a horse drawn carriage taxi; then tour the island. You will be impressed by all the authentically restored wooden mansions. If you decide to spend a night, you have to stay in the iconic 1900's Hotel Splendid. Don't be surprised if you bump into Hercule Poirot in the elegantly faded drawing room.
Kadakoi ferry, Istanbul
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