Philippa Burne

Report problem

My Profile

Philippa Burne

Philippa Burne

UK

Philippa Burne caught the travel bug late in life. Too afraid of flying to board a plane for over ten years, she was trapped in Australia. When offered the job of a lifetime in London, she succumbed to hypnotism and now possesses a slab of frequent flyer cards. Since then, she has lived and worked in Croatia, Poland, Holland, London, Slovakia and the USA. Currently she is living in London, mainly because it is an excellent transport hub for getting to nearly anywhere in the world.

Mar132013

Travel Recommendation

Iceland Sagas

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

As summer ends and the Icelandic days get shorter and the air crisper, it’s time in Iceland to crank up that thermal heating and listen to a good story. Bring on a Saga. The Icelandic Sagas are the ancient stories of the country, they are the Icelanders touchstones of their history, their Acropolis or Great Wall if you know what I mean. They are basically family sagas of the early Celtic and Norse settlers who struggled and warred during Iceland’s settlement in the 10th and 11th centuries.

Dec172012

Travel Recommendation

New Year’s Eve in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Paris is one of the world’s top 5 favorite places in which to welcome in the new year. Not really surprising – it’s gorgeous, it’s romantic, and it has wonderful champagne. This is a city of hopes and dreams and that’s what New Year’s Eve is all about, right?

Dec042012

Travel Recommendation

Driving on the Autobahn in Germany

Germany

My Recommendation Tip

The German autobahn was the first and remains one of the world’s only roads to have no mandatory speed limit.

Nov202012

Travel Recommendation

Free Things to Do in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Paris is not known to be a cheap city but some of its main attractions are free – just another reason we love this city so much.

Nov162012

Travel Recommendation

Potsdam

Germany

My Recommendation Tip

The palaces of old Germany monarchy, the modern day palaces of film stars shooting big-budget movies: Potsdam has both kinds of royalty.

Nov142012

Travel Recommendation

Tips for Visiting the Uffizi Gallery

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

The Uffizi Gallery is the number one place to visit on most people’s list when they’re headed for Florence, but I'll admit I didn’t go until my fourth time to the city. It is difficult not to at least see the lovely building designed by Giorgio Vasari and commissioned, of course, by the Medicis, as its colonnades lead from the Piazza del Signoria (dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio) to the river close to the Ponte Vecchio. (Vecchio means old which I suppose is why so many things seem to be called Vecchio in Florence.)

Nov052012

Travel Recommendation

Tips for Visiting Sacre Coeur

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Sitting high up in Montmartre, on the highest hill in Paris, the white domed cathedral Sacre Coeur is one of the loveliest buildings in Paris and has some of the best views over the city.

Oct312012

Travel Recommendation

Best Street Festivals of Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Barcelona is a city that knows how to throw a party and some of its best blowouts are its neighborhood street festivals. The streets are decorated, tables and chairs are brought outside and feasting and drinking with friends and neighbors takes over the weekend.

Oct262012

Travel Recommendation

Corsica

France

My Recommendation Tip

It’s the birthplace of both Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte and Italian explorer Christopher Colombus who did most of his land-claiming under the flag of the Spanish Empire. Confused? That’s Corsica – an island in the Mediterranean Sea that was once Genoan (now Italy), briefly independent, and is now French.

Oct242012

Travel Recommendation

Gambling in Monte Carlo

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Not actually France, but close enough to often be included in trips to the Cote d’Azur, Monte Carlo in the tiny independent country of Monaco, is known for its wealth and its Monte Carlo Casino.

Oct222012

Travel Recommendation

Iona Island in the Hebrides

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

Iona is a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland in the Hebrides.

Oct222012

Travel Recommendation

Avignon Day Trips from Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

“On the bridge of Avignon, we all dance there, we all dance there. On the bridge of Avignon,
 we all dance there in a ring.”

Oct222012

Travel Recommendation

Pamplona

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

I say Pamplona, you think of the running of the bulls. This is the town’s most famous event and the one that has put it on the world stage, especially after Ernest Hemingway made his name by writing about it in The Sun Also Rises. But there is more to Pamplona than just the chaos of bulls chasing runners through the narrow city streets.

Oct192012

Travel Recommendation

Train Travel in the Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Traveling by train is a great way to get around The Netherlands. Trains are frequent and reliable if not particularly luxurious.

Oct192012

Travel Recommendation

Getting Around Andalucia

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

The Costa del Sol and Andalucia have so many great beaches, interesting little towns and amazing places of history such as the Alhambra in Granada that it’s likely that you’ll want to travel around a bit. There are many options, some safer than others.

Oct172012

Travel Recommendation

Monte Forato: the Devil’s Mountain

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

At the top of Monte Forato in the Apuan Alps is a strange hole. On clear days you can see it from all around the mountainous Garfagnana district and the Versilia, an area of the Tuscan coast. There’s nothing like seeing something strange from afar to make you want to go there. For visitors to Tuscany the hike to Monte Forato is a popular one but should not be taken lightly – you’ll need to allow a whole day and wear proper hiking boots, take water and stick to the trails.

Oct112012

Travel Recommendation

Champagne Route

France

My Recommendation Tip

The Route Touristique du Champagne – the Champagne Route: could anything sound like a better holiday destination?

Oct112012

Travel Recommendation

Amsterdam’s Best Cafes

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

There are two kinds of cafes or coffee shops in Amsterdam – the famous ‘coffee shop’ which is one of the city’s main tourist attractions (though this is fast changing with the new laws coming in), and the brown cafes which actually serve coffee, beer and food and which are where you’ll find the locals relaxing in an atmosphere that is both vibey bar and laid back café.

Oct102012

Travel Recommendation

Aix-en-Provence

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re in Provence and missing the café culture and sophistication of Paris, head straight to Aix-en-Provence, a little piece of heaven in the south of France.

Photo courtesy of abrocke via Flickr.

Oct092012

Travel Recommendation

Town of Setubal

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Once the main visitors to the coastal town of Setubal, sardines contributed to the town’s thriving fishing industry. Now there are dolphins living in the Sado River estuary and the lovely beaches of Arrabida Natural Park and the Troia Peninsula have made Setubal a magnet for nature-lovers and sun-seekers.

Oct092012

Travel Recommendation

Spain’s Best Beach Destinations

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

Every year hundreds of thousands of us flock to Spain‘s 5,000 miles of coast in search of sun, sand and sea. Are we finding the best beaches, though? Here are some excellent destinations where you’ll find the best beaches in Spain:

Oct092012

Travel Recommendation

Haunted Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

A city this old with this much history will inevitably have its ghost stories and hauntings. They call it the City of Lights, but Paris is just as exciting when the lights go out, and the city becomes dark and spooky all around.

Oct082012

Travel Recommendation

Benalmadena Marina

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

It’s got the sun, the sea, the marina facilities, the apartments and the nightlife: no wonder Benalmadena Marina is so popular and often voted Best Marina in the World. If you’ve got a boat of your own this is a great place to weigh anchor for a while along the Costa del Sol. If you haven’t got a boat this is the place to come and dream while looking at the 1,000 or more boats moored here.

Oct042012

Travel Recommendation

The City of Rotterdam

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Rotterdam is The Netherlands second largest city, this is Europe’s biggest port with modern buildings and a lively contemporary feel. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of history and that wonderful Dutch café life we love so much.

Oct032012

Travel Recommendation

St Andrews, Scotland

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

These days St Andrews might best be known as the place where Prince William met Kate Middleton when they both attended university here. But it was an important Scottish town for many centuries before these two came along – for its cathedral, for golf and for the university.

Oct032012

Travel Recommendation

Dijon International and Gastronomic Fair

Burgundy & Dijon

My Recommendation Tip

If you like food you’ll like Dijon, capital of the Burgundy (Bourgogne) district, and you’ll especially like it in early November when the International and Gastronomic Fair is on!

Photo courtesy of kruder396 via Flickr.

Oct022012

Travel Recommendation

Barri Gotic: The Gothic Quarter of Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona and retains its medieval layout of narrow crisscrossing streets and squares in which awe-inspiring churches are crammed. No trip to Barcelona is complete without really exploring this lively mix of history and contemporary life.

Oct022012

Travel Recommendation

Guimarães Jazz Festival

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

The 21st Guimarães Jazz Festival will be held from November 10-19, 2012. This year it will be special not just for turning 21 but also because the city of Guimarães is this year’s European Capital of Culture along with Maribor in Slovenia.

Photo courtesy of Ação Cultural via Flickr.

Sep272012

Travel Recommendation

Haunted Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Dutch might be the least superstitious people on earth, but in a city as old and full of history as Amsterdam, there’s bound to be some ghosts haunting the place and sure enough there are.

Sep262012

Travel Recommendation

Sete: A Well-Kept Secret

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

It’s one of the most unspoiled places on the Mediterranean, a well-kept secret so don’t tell anyone but do head there as soon as you can!

Photo courtesy of Bear Clause via Flickr.

Sep242012

Travel Recommendation

Visiting Morocco from Spain

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

The southwestern tip of Spain is just 9 miles (14 km) across the water from Morocco, perfect for a day trip or even a longer adventure into Africa.

Sep242012

Travel Recommendation

Train Travel in Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

Travelling by train is one of the best ways to see a place—you get to relax and let someone else do the driving, and you can gaze out the window at the scenery. This is particularly true in Scotland where the passing scenery is some of the most beautiful in the world—in fact, don’t think about the travel as getting from point A to point B but as the journey in itself.

Sep192012

Travel Recommendation

Top Places to Eat and Drink in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Edinburgh is not all haggis and whisky, there’s a lot more to this city that is full of musicians, writers, students and festival goers.

Sep182012

Travel Recommendation

Barcelona for Cruise Visitors

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalan region of Spain and is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid. It’s a lively, historic city with stunning architecture, great food and entrancing street life.

Sep182012

Travel Recommendation

Free and Cheap Things to Do in Reykjavik

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

Iceland is known as an expensive destination to visit, but there are still plenty of things to do that won’t cost more than a few bucks, so you can save your money for the adventures that can’t be done on the cheap.

Sep132012

Travel Recommendation

What to Eat in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

As you’d expect from a country that made its wealth out of international trade in spices, and these days is one of the world’s most visited and international cities, Amsterdam has a huge range of foods and flavors. A few things not to miss while you’re there:

Sep132012

Travel Recommendation

How to Experience the Excitement of the London Olympics After the Games

London

My Recommendation Tip

So, the flame has been extinguished and London 2012 is over. Two fabulous competitions: the Olympics and the Paralympics were enjoyed by millions.

Sep112012

Travel Recommendation

Baixa: Lisbon's Lower Town

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

The main shopping district of Lisbon is Baixa, the downtown area which is literally down, being the flat part of the city between the hills on either side.

Sep102012

Travel Recommendation

Dining on a Budget in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

It’s a city for indulging the senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch. Paris just makes you feel alive. French food in particular is renowned for waking up the tastebuds but can you do it without breaking the bank? Yes, it is possible to eat well in Paris on not much money. Here are a few ideas:

Sep102012

Travel Recommendation

Valencia City Guide

Valencia

My Recommendation Tip

Valencia is small enough that visitors are able to see it all and big enough to have that depth and breadth of life and culture that makes a visit truly memorable.

Sep072012

Travel Recommendation

Windmills in the Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

The Netherlands are damp.

Sep072012

Travel Recommendation

Reykjavik Film Festival

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

The Reykjavík International Film Festival (RIFF) is held every year in Reykjavik and takes place over 11 days in September.

Sep052012

Travel Recommendation

The Port Town of Calais

France

My Recommendation Tip

The main reason people come to Calais is to leave. It’s a major ferry port and a huge transit zone for people entering France from England or heading across the English Channel to enter Britain.

Sep052012

Travel Recommendation

Haunted Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

As soon as you step off the train at Edinburgh’s Waverley station you can feel it: the history – and the haunting. This is a city with stories to tell.

Aug292012

Travel Recommendation

Surfing in Biarritz

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Was Napoleon III’s wife the Empress Eugenie a surfer? Is that why, in the mid-19th century, she insisted he develop a royal seaside resort at Biarritz, facing one of Europe’s best surf breaks? On the Bay of Biscay, near where France meets Spain, Biarritz is still a magnet for the wealthy with lovely hotels, expensive shops, fine restaurants and a casino; but it’s also known as the surf capital of Europe and throughout the year the coast road is lined with surfboard topped cars and vans.

Aug272012

Travel Recommendation

Hiking and Trekking in Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

Whether you’re a serious trekker or just a Sunday stroller, Scotland is an excellent place to strap on those sensible shoes and head outdoors.

If you like a long walk, there are four official long distance paths in Scotland:

Aug272012

Travel Recommendation

What to Drink in Spain

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

In every village, town and city in Spain you’ll find a healthy bar culture: it’s where people gather to share news, listen to music, dance and celebrate life. And of course to have a drink or two. But what does one drink when in Spain?

Aug272012

Travel Recommendation

Fete des Jardins: Paris’s Garden Festival

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

One thing Paris is famous for is its gardens. For centuries it has excelled at designing and nurturing green places to take refuge from the hectic city. Each year this is celebrated with the Fete Des Jardins, or Garden Festival, which marks the coming of Fall.

Aug242012

Travel Recommendation

Murano Day Trip from Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

In the lagoon of Venice are a number of significant islands, one of which is Murano, home to the glass making industry for which the city is famous.

Aug242012

Travel Recommendation

Sheffield – A City Guide

England

My Recommendation Tip

An industrial city tracing the southernmost borders of Yorkshire, Sheffield is perhaps best known as the gateway to the Peak District, one of England’s most popular National Parks.

Aug242012

Travel Recommendation

The Best Small Towns in The Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

So you’ve had enough of the trams and bicycle packs of Amsterdam and want to see a quieter side of Dutch life.

Aug222012

Travel Recommendation

Festival d’Ile-de-France

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Every year Paris ends the summer with a feast of music with the Ile de France Festival. In 2012 it runs from September 8 until October 14.

Aug222012

Travel Recommendation

The Dutch Theater and Fringe Festivals in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The annual Dutch Theater Festival (Nederlands Theater Festival or TF) is on again this year from August 30th to September 9th.

Aug222012

Travel Recommendation

Iceland for Beer Lovers

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

It’s no secret that Icelanders like a drink or two at the end of the day.

Aug222012

Travel Recommendation

Camera Obscura in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Long before digital cameras, smart phones and our passion for photographing everything, Aristotle and indeed the cavemen long before him, used camera obscuras to create images.

Aug212012

Travel Recommendation

What Not to Do in Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

A golden rule of travel is to remember that you are leaving your own home and going to someone else’s. That means remembering that they may do things a bit differently than you, so fitting in isn’t always easy. You should always try to accommodate the local customs, as it’s respectful and it’s also less likely to get you into trouble.

Aug172012

Travel Recommendation

Hiking Routes in France

France

My Recommendation Tip

There are 120,000 miles (180,000 km) of hiking trails in France so what are you waiting for? Strap on those walking boots and let’s go.

Aug162012

Travel Recommendation

Things to do in Montpellier

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Sunshine on the beach by day and sipping world-class wine by night. If that sounds good to you then head to Montpellier on the south coast of France.

Aug142012

Travel Recommendation

Visiting the Port Houses of Porto

Porto & Northern Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Porto (or Oporto) and the nearby Duoro Valley is the true home of port. It was first developed here when British winemakers added a neutral grape spirit to stop the wine fermenting further on its long trip to the markets of England. This is what gives it that distinctive sweetness. Only Duoro Valley wines are true ports so this is the place to sample them.

Aug142012

Travel Recommendation

Visiting Nuremberg, Germany

Munich

My Recommendation Tip

Nuremberg is probably best known for its association with the Nazi party during World War II, its defeat by US army forces in 1945 and the subsequent war crime trials that occurred there.

Aug132012

Travel Recommendation

How to Get Around Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

One word: Metro. It’s efficient, inexpensive and there are stations everywhere you’d want to go. That said there are a few different options for travelling around Paris.

Aug132012

Travel Recommendation

La Tomatina – A Food-Fight Festival

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

What could be more fun than doing something you’re not normally allowed to do? Say, for example, throwing tomatoes at people.

Aug102012

Travel Recommendation

Seville: Things To Do

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Seville is the capital of Andalucia and the fourth largest city in Spain. Its historic center is the largest in Spain and only third in size in Europe after Venice and Genoa. It has a harbor on the River Guadalquivir, and a university dating back to 1505. What all these facts don’t tell you is that Seville is a lively and contemporary city with history and culture to see during the day and fun to be had during the evening.

Aug092012

Travel Recommendation

Enjoying Ostalgie in Berlin

Berlin

My Recommendation Tip

You know when you’re in the former East German parts of Berlin: the Walk and Don’t Walk signs look different.

Aug092012

Travel Recommendation

Redhead Festival in the Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Did you know that in Poland if you see three redheads at the same time you will win the lottery?

Aug082012

Travel Recommendation

Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Like any city, Edinburgh is somewhere you can visit and spend a lot of money or somewhere you can explore and discover while spending very little and still having a great time.

Aug072012

Travel Recommendation

How to Rent an Apartment in Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Flights, hotel, suitcase – the three essentials when planning a holiday, right? Or is it Flights, apartment, suitcase? Most of us automatically think hotel but renting an apartment can be cheaper and have many benefits.

Aug022012

Travel Recommendation

Indonesian Food in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Netherlands made itself rich during the 17th century – the Dutch Golden Age – by trading Asian spices through the Dutch East India Company.

Aug022012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do on the Dingle Peninsula

Ireland

My Recommendation Tip

The Dingle Peninsula is that bit of Ireland that protrudes off the south-west corner into the wild Atlantic Ocean.

Aug012012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in St Tropez

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Once the only thing glistening on the docks of St Tropez were fish scales, now you’re more likely to be blinded by diamonds.

It’s the little fishing village that’s grown to be a very big fish indeed. Discovered by artists such as Picasso and Matisse in the mid-20th century, this pretty, sunny town soon became the focus of the wealthy as a holiday destination and these days the rich and famous from all over the world come by plane and yacht to see and be seen.

Jul312012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Óbidos

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

About 50 miles (80km) north of Lisbon, perched on a hilltop is the small well-preserved medieval town of Obidos, still nestled within the old walls of Obidos Castle, in the municipality of Obidos which stretches to the lagoons on the Atlantic Coast.

With roots in the 1st century Roman town Eburobrittium, a Moorish fortification, and being claimed by the King of Portugal in the 12th century and from then on finding itself being gifted to all the wives of all the kings for the next few centuries, the town of Obidos has managed to survive and thrive through the centuries and yet retain its medieval character.

Jul302012

Travel Recommendation

Bagging the Munros of Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

No this does not mean playing bagpipes and wearing tartan at the Munro family home.

Jul302012

Travel Recommendation

The Many Routes of Camino de Santiago

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

For more than a thousand years pilgrims have walked this trail across northern Spain and every year more and more people join that number.

The Way of Saint James, as it is called in English, was an important pilgrimage made in medieval times. It is believed that the remains of Saint James were carried from Jerusalem to Spain along this path before being buried where the city of Santiago de Compostela now stands, the end point for the pilgrimage walk. The cathedral was built in the 9th century.

There are five main routes that are walked: the Camino Frances, the Via de la Plata, the Northern Routes, the English Road, and the Portuguese Road.

Camino Frances
This is the most popular of all the Camino Routes and probably best for first timers as it is well-supported with hostels along the way. It starts in St Jean Pied de Port and runs for 485 miles (780km) west to Santiago de Compostela. Many people just do a section of this route.

Jul302012

Travel Recommendation

What To Do With One Day in Dublin

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

If you’ve only got one day in Dublin you’ll need to get busy because this is a city with a long history and plenty of world-class things to see and experience.

Jul272012

Travel Recommendation

Accommodation in England

England

My Recommendation Tip

When you’re looking for somewhere to stay in England, don’t just think hotels, or even bed-and-breakfasts.

Jul272012

Travel Recommendation

Tarifa, the Southermost point of Europe

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Tarifa is a small city on the southernmost tip of Spain, in fact it’s the southernmost point of Europe, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, facing Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar.

Since Roman times there has been a fishing and port town here, with the name Tarifa coming from a Berber warrior who attacked and took the town in the 8th century, Tarif ibn Malik. Tarifa was the first town to ever charge merchants a fee for using its port and some say this is where the word tariff comes from.

Jul272012

Travel Recommendation

Royal Delft Experience

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Along with clogs and windmills, an icon of The Netherlands is the blue painted ceramic: plates, vases and tiles.

Jul252012

Travel Recommendation

400 Years of Beauty: Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Celebrating their 400th anniversary this year, the pharmacy at Santa Maria Novella church in Florence is clearly something special.

The first thing you notice when entering is the heavenly scent. Since they made their first perfume for Catherine de Medici in 1533, this place has become world famous for their perfumery.

The next thing that hits you is how beautiful the building itself is. Many people go just to see this historic place dating from the 13th century with its ceiling frescoes, gold inlaid walls, and antique bronzes. Most people end up staying longer than intended, mesmerized by the lotions, teas, soaps, potpourri and tonics. All the ingredients are natural, without the chemical additives so prevalent these days. And it is not all just pampering and nice scents – this is a working pharmacy where you can find medications to treat health issues and such necessities as chemical-free toothpaste.

Jul252012

Travel Recommendation

How to Enjoy Cafe Culture in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

First, have the right attitude. Paris is a city that likes to be watched. Parisians dress well and promenade past the cafes where the rest of the city sits for hours just watching people go by. In Paris you are expected to linger over one cup of coffee for up to an hour or so, just looking, reading, writing in your notebook so don’t ever feel rushed. Next you’ll want to find the café that is right for you. Each neighborhood has a slightly different flavor:

Jul242012

Travel Recommendation

Olympics Football in Hampden Park

London

My Recommendation Tip

Although the official opening ceremony is not until Friday, the footballers are ready to get things started and will begin the first games on July 25th and 26th.

Jul242012

Travel Recommendation

Things to do in Husavik, Iceland

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

It’s possible that whales actually outnumber people in Husavik.

Jul242012

Travel Recommendation

Traditional Foods in Tuscany

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

The key to Tuscan food is simplicity. Fresh, seasonal produce is prepared to bring out the flavor and lose none of the natural goodness.

The region is blessed with a soil and climate that favors farming and one of the joys of traveling through Tuscany is stopping in any village and finding the market or the little local restaurant. Another reason people flock here to take cooking classes is that many of the most flavorful dishes are so easy to prepare, having only a few ingredients—the key is the quality of the raw food you use.

Jul232012

Travel Recommendation

Free Museums in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

One of the most fantastic things about London is that nearly all the public museums and galleries are free.

Jul202012

Travel Recommendation

The Amazing Island Abbey of Mont St. Michel

France

My Recommendation Tip

It takes real vision and commitment to create something astoundingly beautiful and that’s what the initiator of the abbey at Mont Saint Michel had. It’s said that the abbey was built after a visitation to St Aubert, bishop of Avranches, by the Archangel Michael in the 8th century. Aubert initially ignored the angel’s suggestion that he build an abbey on the small rocky island just off the coast of France so the Archangel Michael made his point by using his finger to burn a hole in the bishop’s skull; that got his attention and the church was dedicated in 708.

Jul192012

Travel Recommendation

Vondelpark Open Air Theater in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

Vondelpark is Amsterdam’s largest and most visited park.

Jul192012

Travel Recommendation

Biking in Dublin

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Not too hilly, not totally flat, Dublin is one of those cities that is perfect for cycling.

Jul172012

Travel Recommendation

Exploring the Ribeira

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Ribeira, meaning river, is the area alongside the Tagus (Tejo) River in Lisbon.

Being an important port city for centuries, the riverside is where so much of Lisbon life developed and still thrives.

The city’s biggest market is riverside, the Mercado de Ribeira. Established in 1882, the lovely building is topped by a Moorish dome and the market is worth a visit. Not surprisingly the seafood and fish are fresh and plentiful. There’s inky squid and bacalhau (cod) which is so important to the Lisboan diet that they have enough recipes to eat a different bacalhau dish every day of the year. There are also fresh fruits and vegetables and upstairs on the second floor a more tourist-oriented market space selling port, honey and handicrafts. Note the pictures on the walls showing market traders over the years which were put up in 2007 to mark 125 years of the market. Open Monday through Saturday.

Jul162012

Travel Recommendation

Gilbraltar City Guide

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Gibraltar is the imposing rock at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, sitting between Morocco and Spain where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean.

It’s only 6 square miles in total but rises to a height of 461 feet above sea level. The city crammed in at the bottom of the rock has 30,000 residents known as Gibraltarians.

Jul162012

Travel Recommendation

Sherry Tasting in Jerez

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Vino de Jerez or Sherry is produced in the Sherry Triangle of Andalucia, in the towns of Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria, with most bodegas or wineries clustered around Jerez de la Frontera.

Some believe the word sherry comes from the Arabic for Jerez which is Sherish. Others say it is an anglicizing of the word Xeres (Jerez) and in fact the industry began with Irish and Scottish entrepreneurs about 250 years ago. Either way it is a particularly popular drink in the Spanish area of Cadiz and also in Britain and Ireland.

Spanish sherry must, by law, be produced in the area of the province of Cadiz near Jerez de la Frontera so this is where you’ll find a multitude of sherry bodegas, many of them open to the public for tours and tastings.

Jul132012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Leeds

The North of England

My Recommendation Tip

Once a heart of England’s textile industry, Leeds has updated itself to become one of the most vibrant cities in the north of England.

Whether it’s history, shopping, sport, or nightlife you’re after, Leeds has it.

Always a place for shopping, the elegant old Victorian and Edwardian arcades have kept their atmosphere while updating their shops. The Victorian Arcades are found in the Victoria Quarter of the city center and have small luxury shops, fashion shops, small quirky shops, and tearooms.

Jul132012

Travel Recommendation

First-Timer Tips For Visiting the Blue Lagoon

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

It’s one of the must-do things for any visit to Iceland: soaking in The Blue Lagoon.

Jul122012

Travel Recommendation

Texel: the Other Side of The Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Culture, art, and city nightlife are not all there is to The Netherlands. There are many good reasons to get out of the city and explore the country more deeply and the island of Texel is one. Pronounced locally as Tessel, Texel is the largest and most populated of the Frisian Islands and the closest to Amsterdam. It’s a popular holiday and tourist destination, indicated by the fact it has 46,000 holiday rental beds available on the island!

Jul102012

Travel Recommendation

Tips for Riding the London Eye

London

My Recommendation Tip

The London Eye is one of the most popular things to do in London, even for people who live in this great city.

Jul102012

Travel Recommendation

The Great Outdoors Around Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Barcelona is blessed with parks and beaches and the sort of weather that lures you outdoors, but if you need to stretch your wings further than the city allows, heading just out of Barcelona will provide everything you can want from mountain climbing to alpine hiking to beach strolling.

Montserrat
The name translates as Serrated Mountain and this jagged peak is forbidding which makes it even more impressive that there has been a monastery located high up on the mountain since the 11th century. 30 miles (48km) from Barcelona, the monastery itself makes an excellent day’s outing and there are walks further up via a cable car, or down to the sacred grotto. But if it serious climbing you want there are a huge range of routes here. From sporty bolted single pitch routes to classical multi pitch routes of between 200 – 300 metres, there are well over a thousand routes in all. The Gorros area is a good place for first time climbers here. Read more about Exploring Montserrat and Costa Brava.

Jul092012

Travel Recommendation

How to Buy Leather in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

It’s one of the must-buys when you visit Florence; the city specializes in beautiful leather goods and the markets make them affordable. If you have a love of either shoes, purses, belts, coats or jackets, this is the city for you to shop in.

There are leather shops dotted all over the city and it’s definitely important to sample the market before you part with your cash. You’ll find many places have the same things but at different prices. And then of course there are the markets.

The two markets for leather goods are San Lorenzo and Mercato Nuovo.

Jul092012

Travel Recommendation

Things To Do in Dublin With Kids

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

If you bring your kids with you to Dublin, here’s a list of activities and places you can take them to:

Jul062012

Travel Recommendation

Nantes - City Guide

France

My Recommendation Tip

The Venice of the West, Nantes sits at the river delta of the Loire, the Sevre and Erdre Rivers, just inland from the Atlantic coast. Originally settled by the Celts, then a major French port city, Nantes is now young and hip with half its population under 40. The city shows its youthful verve at Les Machines de l’Ile de Nantes, the brainchild of two artists sparking off the imaginary worlds of Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci, which opened in 2007 in the redeveloped shipbuilding yards.

Not surprisingly then there are huge fantastic contraptions to see and interact with including a mechanical elephant you can ride. The next being built is the Marine Worlds Carousel and you can watch its construction in the workshop area. If this unique project isn’t enough to draw you to Nantes, there’s also the Museum of Jules Verne, one of the city’s best-known sons. The Musee des Beaux-Arts has a wonderful collection of art including Picasso, Monet and Chagall.

Jul052012

Travel Recommendation

Things To Do With Kids in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Dutch are very child-friendly and so Amsterdam is a great city to take kids, with lots of activities just for them.

Jul052012

Travel Recommendation

Best Day Trips from London

London

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re looking to get away from the mass of people coming to London for the Olympics, here are a few options.

Jul032012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Guimaraes

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Guimarães is a small city with huge importance to Portugal, both historically and in 2012.

This year it is the European Capital of Culture, along with Maribor in Slovenia. What this means is that the city will be alive with cultural activities throughout the year, with a long-term outlook of urban regeneration for the future.

Historically, Guimarães is known as the cradle of Portugal. It was in this town that the country was born. In the 12th century independence was fought for and won here and a new nation was forged. The first king of Portugal Alfonso I is said to have been born here and the Dukes of Braganza, the royal family of Portugal had a palace here for many centuries.

Jul032012

Travel Recommendation

Liffey River Cruises in Dublin

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

All great cities have their great river, and Dublin has the Liffey.

Jul032012

Travel Recommendation

Harry Potter Sights in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

Harry Potter’s world was a world where magic and reality met, sometimes not too happily.

Jun292012

Travel Recommendation

The City of Utrecht

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Utrecht is The Netherlands’ fourth largest city, center of the Dutch Catholic church and home to the largest university in the country, Utrecht University.

The city had its heyday in the early Middle Ages when it was the country’s biggest city (until Amsterdam took over), and many of its buildings and its layout still date from then.

Jun292012

Travel Recommendation

The British Grand Prix in England

England

My Recommendation Tip

From July 6th until July 8th this year, the green and pleasant lands of Northamptonshire, England will rumble to the sound of Formula One cars racing it out in the British Grand Prix.

Jun282012

Travel Recommendation

Food Festivals in Italy

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

The Italians love food and they love wine. They also love to celebrate. So the seasonal harvest of any food is a great reason to hold a festival. From the smallest village to the biggest city, you’ll find people getting excited about tomatoes, fish, pumpkins, chocolate, and grapes. It’s one of the reasons we love Italy so much.

Jun272012

Travel Recommendation

Shopping for Tartan in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

When we think of tartan we think of Scotland.

Jun262012

Travel Recommendation

What To Do With One Day in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

A great new travel option is to fly from the U.S. to Europe, with a stopover in Iceland.

Jun252012

Travel Recommendation

Bars and Restaurants on Bermondsey Street in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

After years as a bit of an outsider, Bermondsey is firmly staking its place as a great place to go in London for food and drinks.

Jun212012

Travel Recommendation

Summer Activities in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

Here is a list of six events happening in Amsterdam this summer:

Jun212012

Travel Recommendation

Walking the Howth Coastal Path near Dublin

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

When you feel like a break from the bustling city life of Dublin, do what the Dubliners do and head for a walk along the Howth Coastal Path.

Jun192012

Travel Recommendation

Where to Find the Best Beaches in Portugal

The Algarve

My Recommendation Tip

People flock to the Algarve for one reason: its beautiful beaches.

Golden sands and clear waters are one attraction but it’s also the safety and cleanliness of the beaches that make them perfect for family holidays; in 2012 69 Algarve beaches were awarded a Blue Flag which signifies excellence in water quality, cleanliness, safety and environmental management. Most of these have lifeguards on duty throughout summer to give added peace of mind.

Jun192012

Travel Recommendation

Levanzo Island

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

There are places in the world that are just very very special. The island of Levanzo off the coast of Sicily is one of them. The smallest of three islands which make up the Aegadian Islands, it’s so small you can explore it on foot in a day, but so lovely and rich in food and history. A rocky, dry island with scrubby trees, little bays, creeks, some sheer cliffs and oh so blue crystal clear seas, it’s about a half hour boat ride from Sicily.

The port town is made up of houses painted white to deflect the hot sun, and you’ll find great little cafes with wonderful views of the water. Go for a walk around the island, go for a swim, and head to the Ristorante Paradiso for lunch. It’s one of those magical places where there’s no menu because it all depends what’s been caught that morning.

Jun192012

Travel Recommendation

Booking Tickets to the Shard in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

Everyone in London has watched Western Europe’s tallest building rise into the skyline: The Shard is here and it’s going to change the way we view this city.

Jun152012

Travel Recommendation

Best Hidden Beaches of Costa del Sol

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

It’s so popular with sunseekers that it’s hard to believe anything along this Spanish coastline could still be a well-kept secret but there are few beaches tucked away from the crowds.

The area to head for is east of Malaga. This stretch of coast—known as Axarquia—is far less urbanised than the busy tourist towns along the Mediterranean west of Malaga

Jun152012

Travel Recommendation

The Settlement Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

If you only go to one museum in Iceland make it this one.

Jun152012

Travel Recommendation

Free Things to Do in Cambridge, England

England

My Recommendation Tip

Cambridge is one of the most beautiful cities in England. It’s only about an hour from London by train and an easy day trip – book your ticket in advance online to save money.

Jun142012

Travel Recommendation

Shakespeare Sights in Verona

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Did Shakespeare ever actually go to Italy? That is the question.

Whether he did or not, he certainly set some of his famous plays there and today many of these settings have become pilgrimage sites – even though the characters never actually existed! Or did they?

Verona is the setting for Romeo and Juliet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is considered to be Shakespeare’s first play, written about 1590. The play is a comedy and is all about love and friendship, with misunderstandings, girls dressing as boys and a dog called Crab – always a brave move putting an animal onstage!

Jun142012

Travel Recommendation

Attending the Ascot Races near London

London

My Recommendation Tip

Horse-racing at Royal Ascot is one of the most important social, fashion and sporting events of the year in England.

Jun132012

Travel Recommendation

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Scotland is famous for its whisky and there are two good reasons for that: they make it very well, and a wee nip will warm you against that famous Scotch mist and cold.

Jun132012

Travel Recommendation

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Scotland is famous for its whisky and there are two good reasons for that: they make it very well, and a wee nip will warm you against that famous Scotch mist and cold.

Jun122012

Travel Recommendation

The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Scotland is famous for its whisky and there are two good reasons for that: they make it very well, and a wee nip will warm you against that famous Scotch mist and cold.

Jun122012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Volterra

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

Volterra is tiny, gorgeous, historic, and a little off the main tourist path beaten through Tuscany. It’s located halfway between Pisa and Florence but further south, not far from San Gimignano, one of Tuscany’s main tourist sites.

Jun072012

Travel Recommendation

Driving the Ring of Kerry

Ireland

My Recommendation Tip

Ireland is famed for its beauty and the 110 mile (180km) Ring of Kerry answers this promise passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in southern Ireland.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you choose to drive this circular route around the Iveragh Peninsula is that the road is very narrow in parts and it is recommended that you drive in an anti-clockwise direction to avoid congestion.

Jun052012

Travel Recommendation

Running with the Bulls and More in Teruel

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

Running with bulls is a big attraction in Spain – the meeting of danger and tradition is a heady mix, as are the parties that follow these events. Pamplona is the most famous but many smaller towns let bulls run free during certain festivals. The small but historic city of Teruel in eastern Spain celebrates their patron Saint Christopher with Fiestas del Angel, held on the Sunday nearest his saint’s day (July 10th): July 8th in 2012. The festivities include the usual singing and dancing in the streets and also bulls. Bullfighting is held in the main square with passersby only meters away from the action – in line with the new regulations in Spain the bulls are not killed, only subdued.

Jun052012

Travel Recommendation

Sao Vicente de Fora

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Just near Castelo de São Jorge, the castle on top of the hill in the Alfama district in Lisbon, is the impressive 17th century monastery and church of São Vincente de Fora. The massive building sits on a hilltop overlooking the city. The main late Renaissance (Mannerist) façade of the church is the result of King Phillip II of Spain wanting to make an impression when he ruled Portugal but there’s been a church here since the 12th century when Saint Vincent’s bones were brought to the city from the Algarve – he’s patron saint of Lisbon.

Jun052012

Travel Recommendation

The Wild Northern Islands of Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

The Scots are a hardy bunch. The landscape they inhabit is wild and harsh, especially during those northern winters; those who live on the islands are particularly close to nature in all its beauty and wrath. But in summer, there are long, halcyon days of sunlight and outdoor activities in spectacular landscapes: walking, sailing, swimming, and island-hopping. If you decide to make the trek—and it is well worth it—here are a few of the best to visit.

Jun052012

Travel Recommendation

London 2012 Festival

London

My Recommendation Tip

London 2012 is not just about running fast and jumping high, there’s also a Cultural Olympiad with nearly 3 months of events across the country.

Jun012012

Travel Recommendation

Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

As you head up the Grand Canal on a vaporetto, you might catch sight of a modern villa crouching between all the historic palazzo. This was the home of Peggy Guggenheim, a wealthy American art patron and collector and Venice personality until her death in 1979. She was the last person to keep a private gondola and gondolier in Venice.

Jun012012

Travel Recommendation

Things to do in Cadiz

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Cadiz is an ancient city dating from 1000 BC, and it’s been continuously occupied since then, making it one of Europe’s oldest cities. Like many old cities, it’s in two halves, or two characters: the narrow streets of the historic center and the more modern suburbs and business districts. Cadiz is on a peninsula, surrounded by water which is why it’s also been such a popular place for a port during the centuries; Christopher Columbus set off on two of his voyages from here.

Jun012012

Travel Recommendation

Things to See and Do in Manchester, England

Manchester

My Recommendation Tip

Yes, the weather’s often not great in Manchester but don’t let that put you off, Manchester is a lively, historic northern city which has spawned some excellent music (Oasis, The Smiths, Manchester’s Factory music label).

Jun012012

Travel Recommendation

Tips for Train Travel in Italy

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Train is one of the best ways to travel around Italy – it’s affordable, efficient and you get to see the landscape passing by. As the service adds high speed trains you’ll find travel times of only one hour and a half between Rome and Florence, two hours and forty minutes from Florence to Venice and three hours and forty five minutes from Rome to Venice.

The local company is Trenitalia and while many of the trains are a little old and worn and can be crowded at peak times, they generally run on time and go everywhere you need them to with the stations very often located right in the center of town.

You can book tickets online (trenitalia.com or raileurope.com) but it is often easier to just buy tickets at the station. There are two useful things to know that will save you time and money:

Jun012012

Travel Recommendation

The Jordaan District in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

One of my favorite neighborhoods in Amsterdam, Jordaan retains its historic feel while being alive with a great contemporary life.

May302012

Travel Recommendation

Ponte Vecchio - Bridge of Gold

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

There is something special about a bridge with shops along it. There are only four such bridges remaining in Europe: the Rialto Bridge in Venice, the Pulteney Bridge in Bath, England, the Kramer Bridge in Erfurt, Germany, and the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. During World War II the Nazis blew up every bridge in Florence except, thankfully, the Ponte Vecchio. I’m not sure if the magic comes from the dollhouse feeling these bridges give because you can see their exposed backs, perched precariously above the water, or whether it’s just the sense of difference from a normal shopping street because you know you’re crossing a river. But I know this sense of magic is shared by other people –you’ll always find a crowd on the Ponte Vecchio.

May302012

Travel Recommendation

Royal Botanic Garden

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden was established in 1670—that’s an impressively long time ago, when Charles II was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, just after the short period during which England had no monarchy.

King Charles II was known for his love of art and sciences so it’s no wonder that a Royal Botanic Garden was established under his reign. What is so great is that we can still wander through this garden today.

May302012

Travel Recommendation

Celebrate Bastille Day in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

July 14 is an important day in Paris. Every year the city celebrates La Fete National, or Bastille Day, the day the French Revolution began in 1789 with the storming of the medieval fortress Bastille Prison.

The prison stood where Place de la Bastille is now and was used largely to house prisoners critical of the King and his government. To an increasingly hungry and dissatisfied French population it became symbolic of the unfairness of the system and storming it seemed a powerful way to make their voices finally be heard, even if, to their surprise, only seven prisoners were inside. The remains of the prison were demolished over the next few years but the site continued to be the focus of pro-democracy protests during coming decades as France fought to overthrow their monarchy, and finally become a democracy in 1849.

May302012

Travel Recommendation

San Gimignano: What to See and Do

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

If you like towers, you’ll like San Gimignano, the medieval Manhattan: this is the town where many centuries ago wealthy merchants built yet bigger and higher towers in an effort to outdo their rivals.

San Gimignano is a small, walled town in Tuscany. The medieval architecture remains intact and it’s a wonderfully atmospheric place to wander around. The compact city center is based around four squares: Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza Duomo, Piazza Pecori and Piazza delle Erbe, and two main roads, heading north and south, Via San Matteo an Via San Giovanni.

May292012

Travel Recommendation

Driving Iceland’s Golden Circle

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

The must-do activity for anyone visiting Iceland is to take a day to drive the Golden Circle, a 185-mile (300 kilometers) inland route featuring some of the country’s best attractions in southern Iceland.

May222012

Travel Recommendation

5 Reasons to Go to Evora

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Évora is a beautiful city in Portugal with archeological findings dating back to 4,000 BC. With a well-preserved UNESCO-listed town center, some beautiful churches and plenty of historical flavor, it is one of the best places to visit during your trip to Portugal. Here are five reasons not to miss Évora.

1. Roman Ruins
Templo Romano is the best-preserved Roman temple in Portugal. It dates from 2AD and 14 ornate Corinthian columns still stand on a marble platform from which you can look across the rooftops of UNESCO protected Évora. Termas Romanos, the Roman Baths that date from 1AD lie beneath the town hall (Camara Municipal) and during office hours you can wander in and see the huge circular steam bath.

May212012

Travel Recommendation

Normandy Day Trips

Normandy

My Recommendation Tip

The D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944 were the beginning of the end of World War II much due to the heroic action by Allied troops including US and British forces, to begin taking Europe back from the Nazis.

May212012

Travel Recommendation

Swim Like a Star in the Mar Menor

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

It’s ‘the largest swimming pool in the world according to Esther Williams and she’d know – she was the famous water-ballet star of Hollywood. And I’m sure that many of the people who flock to the Mar Menor in south-eastern Spain are just as adept as Esther at swimming in bright red lipstick and emerging from the sea looking as glamorous as they went in.

May182012

Travel Recommendation

The Easy and Cheap Way to Get Around Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

The only wheeled traffic in Venice are the trolleys used to take things from barge to shop. And prams. There are no cars and very few bicycles, because of all the steps. It seems obvious to say that there are no cars but there was once a plan to fill in the canals of Venice and bring cars to the city. Thankfully that failed, but some of the wider streets you encounter in Venice are actually filled in canals from the days of this ill-conceived plan.

May182012

Travel Recommendation

The White Village of Ronda

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re looking for the spectacular then Ronda is for you. One of the famous pueblos blancas (white villages) of Andalucia, it’s situated around a 330 feet (100 m) deep gorge with sheer rock sides called El Tajo, which has three impressive bridges spanning it. This town is old, originating with the Celts in 6BC. Later it was Roman, then Islamic, then Christian. In the 20th century it was decimated in the Napoleonic Wars and later the Spanish Civil War. Between these two events, the area became a bit of a home for bandits and now there is a museum to these outlaws: Museo del Bandolero.

May182012

Travel Recommendation

Whitstable – A Place for Oyster’s in England

England

My Recommendation Tip

Located on the coast of Kent, only an hour and a half from London by train, is the little fishing village of Whitstable.

May182012

Travel Recommendation

Golfing in Iceland

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

How much do you love golf? Do you love it so much that you wake up at midnight wishing you were out on the course teeing off on the first hole?

May172012

Travel Recommendation

De Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

The De Hoge Veluwe park is the largest nature reserve in the Netherlands.

May172012

Travel Recommendation

Trieste: One of Italy's Most Unique Cities

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Some cities are just lone wolves – they are not like anywhere else, they have passed from country to country during political upheavals and so have ended up a bit of a hybrid, and geographically they are as hard to describe as never-never land.

Welcome to Trieste. Now part of Italy, Trieste was founded by the Romans, batted about by various warring tribes including the Goths and Byzantines, taken over by the Venetians, then gave itself to Austria in 1382 and was for many happy settled centuries that country’s seaport. Have you ever wondered about the Captain in The Sound of Music being in the Navy when Austria has no coast? Well, it did back then. (Some of Italy, some of Slovenia, some of Croatia.)

May162012

Travel Recommendation

Where to Shop in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Edinburgh is not a huge city – less than half a million people live there, but they are cultured and stylish.

May162012

Travel Recommendation

Top Tips for Shopping in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Florence is a haven for shopping, from leather goods in the markets, to big name designers, to outlet stores and some of the best food and wine in Italy. Here are some tips for finding just what you’re looking for, getting the right price and bringing it home.

Designers

Florence has birthed many a fashion icon, including shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Pucci, Roberto Cavalli and Patrizia Pepe. You can head to their stores in the historic center or to the department store La Rinascente, near the Mercato Nuovo (New Market), which has a great fashion section. There are also two museums of fashion in Florence: Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Piazza Santa Trinita, 5 and the Galleria del Costume at the Pitti Palace.

May152012

Travel Recommendation

Cycling in Tuscany

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

A lot of the attraction of Tuscany is getting back to a slower life. The flavors, the landscapes, the art – it all makes us look back to a simpler time. That’s why this is an ideal place in Italy to tour by bicycle. The one downside might be that it is hilly except for along the rivers and coast. But don’t be put off by a few steep hills. What goes up must come down, and as you’re freewheeling you can look around at all that beauty – your reward for slogging up the hill.

May152012

Travel Recommendation

Discover Rome like a Roman in Trastevere

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

When in Rome it’s tempting and very easy to stay in the Centro Storico, the historic center. But as they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do, which means you need to cross the river and head to Trastevere. This is the heart of real contemporary Rome. Trastevere is the place the city’s inhabitants come in the evenings, to the bars and restaurants that give the narrow cobbled streets such vitality.

When I went there with my friends, we chose a small local restaurant at random, and ended up having a wonderful meal and a great chat with the owner who happened to have relatives living in our hometown. Thanks to this connection, our tiramisu and coffee were free. We left feeling like part of the extended family.

May152012

Travel Recommendation

Things to See and Do in Montserrat

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Visiting Montserrat was one of my travel highlights. Not only is it visually spectacular, but there’s something about the place that takes you out of your normal thinking – even if only for an hour or two.

Built by Benedictine monks in 1025, on a black rock ‘serrated’ mountain – hence the name – about 30 miles (50km) from Barcelona, the place is still a pilgrimage site for Christians all over the world.

May102012

Travel Recommendation

January in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

If you can handle the cold, January is one of the best times of the year to visit Amsterdam.

May102012

Travel Recommendation

Irish History in Boyne Valley

Ireland

My Recommendation Tip

Not far from Dublin lies the Boyne Valley, site of the Boyne River, in parts a lovely trout and salmon fishing river.

May102012

Travel Recommendation

Tips for Shopping at Harrods, London’s Most Famous Store

London

My Recommendation Tip

Harrods Department Store, in Knightsbridge, opened in 1849 when Charles Harrod had a grocery store here on Brompton Road.

May092012

Travel Recommendation

Visiting Monaco During the Grand Prix

Monaco

My Recommendation Tip

It’s fast, loud and all about money: it’s the Monaco Grand Prix. This year the 70th Grand Prix event takes place May 24-27. If you like formula-one car racing head to Monaco then, and if you don’t, avoid the place for a few weeks either side of those dates also.

The race takes over the whole country, or it certainly feels that way. It takes time to turn streets into a racing circuit, so in the weeks leading up to the race grand stands and pit areas are constructed, huge advertising signage goes up, television filming scaffolding is built and streets begin being closed to traffic. It’s all part of the build-up of energy and excitement, but in a country as small as this, the race preparations dominate.

May082012

Travel Recommendation

Five Top Places to Eat and Drink in Glasgow

Glasgow

My Recommendation Tip

Glasgow is a very cool city. The city center is full of great little bars and places to eat. Here are a few recommended:

May082012

Travel Recommendation

Monte Palace Tropical Garden on Madeira

Islands of Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Some places are just magical and this is one of them. Overlooking the Atlantic and the city of Funchal in the Islands of Portugal, the Monte Palace and its Tropical Garden are a must-see. This is partly thanks to the original visionary of this little piece of paradise, the 18th century English Consul Charles Murray, who bought property up the hill in Funchal, which he called Quinta do Praza (The Pleasure Estate). At the end of the 19th century it was acquired by Alfredo Guilherme Rodrigues who built a house inspired by palaces he’d seen along the Rhine River.

May042012

Travel Recommendation

Caves of Nerja

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Cave paintings and skeletons found in the Caves of Nerja (Cuevas de Nerja) on the southern coast of Spain tell us that this complex of caverns which stretches for about 3 miles (5km) was once occupied by primitive people – originally as a winter shelter for nomadic tribes, then as a more permanent residence and place to keep their animals.

Then the caves were strangely forgotten for centuries until their rediscovery in 1959 by a group of five local boys who were hunting for bats. I suppose those early inhabitants began to build houses and over many generations the caves were just forgotten as nature took over to cover the natural entry points. Once the boys had stumbled over them, however, it didn’t take long for the caves to be opened to the public in 1960 as a place for tourism – largely because they contain one of the world’s largest stalagmites, which is 105 ft (32 m) high and 43 x 23 ft (13 x 7 m) at its base.

May042012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Gouda (Other Than Eat the Famous Cheese)

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Gouda is not just a cheese but a town.

May042012

Travel Recommendation

Roman Ruins in England

The North of England

My Recommendation Tip

One of the most significant Roman ruins in England and one of the most visited tourist sites in northern England, Hadrian’s Wall bisects the country from the North Sea in the east to the Irish Sea in the west.

May032012

Travel Recommendation

San Marino

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

I have a strange obsession with the small countries of the world. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s the David versus Goliath nature of these tiny places with populations of under a million people. Nine tiny nations even get together to hold their own Olympic games!

The Republic of San Marino, tucked into Italy, is Europe’s third smallest state after the Vatican and Monaco. It has a population of around 30,000 and is just 24 square miles (61 sq km) in size. The economy is mainly based on tourism and finance, the country has no national debt, almost no unemployment and is one of the world’s wealthiest countries by GDP; no wonder I admire these small yet strong nations.

May022012

Travel Recommendation

Florence in One Day: Itinerary

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

The historic center of Florence is compact so it’s easy to move between the main attractions on foot quite quickly. The railway station is also close in to the center, only about ten minutes walk from the Duomo which is the heart of the city.

Here are the top attractions you should try and work into your one-day itinerary.

May022012

Travel Recommendation

Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

It’s the City of the Dead all the world comes to visit, the resting place of many icons: Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf, Chopin, Modigliani – the list goes on. Pere Lachaise Cemetery is also very beautiful. Opened in the early 19th century it became the place for celebrity burials as a bit of a marketing ploy; many people at the time felt the cemetery was too far from the center of Paris and did not want to be buried there, so the city literally moved a few well-respected citizen’s graves to Pere Lachaise making it the place to be buried.

May022012

Travel Recommendation

Mummies Exhibition: Seeing through to the past

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Until May 27th, 2012 Scotland’s National Museum has a ground-breaking exhibition of Egyptian mummies featuring the latest technologies which are unlocking their secrets.

May012012

Travel Recommendation

Meet an Icelander

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

Surely Iceland is the only country in the world that would have a website on which local people invite tourists to come and have dinner in their home. It’s true and it’s an official, real website.

Apr302012

Travel Recommendation

London’s Brick Lane Curry Festival

London

My Recommendation Tip

Londoners love a curry, and the place to go for a really good curry is Brick Lane in the East End.

Apr272012

Travel Recommendation

Celebrating White Night in Locarno

Switzerland

My Recommendation Tip

If you happen to be in Locarno on May 12, count yourself lucky, as the town goes into a frenzy for Notte Bianca, or white night.

Apr262012

Travel Recommendation

Cycling the Loire Valley

France

My Recommendation Tip

If it sounds somehow ridiculous that one river valley can house around one thousand chateaux you need to remember that the Loire River is very long; this is the longest river in France extending for 630 miles (1010 km), running from Cevennes is the south of the country, north to Orleans and then west to the Bay of Biscay. The land in the valley is green, flat, rich and sometimes known as the Garden of France. It’s no wonder that so many kings and their friends wanted to build magnificent houses beside this river. These days it’s one of France’s prime tourist magnet

Apr262012

Travel Recommendation

Coffeeshops and the Red Light District in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Red Light District (De Wallen) in Amsterdam is one of the major drawcards for tourists.

Apr262012

Travel Recommendation

Dublin Marathon

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

A few years ago in a place that is the enemy of fitness – a London pub – discussion turned to running a marathon.

Apr252012

Travel Recommendation

Free Things to Do in Cannes

Cannes

My Recommendation Tip

Cannes has the aura of wealth and glamor, but there’s more to this small village than that annual red-carpet parade held in May. Cannes may feel out of reach for those with a budget in mind, but there's actually plenty you can do without spending a dime! Some great – and free – things to do in Cannes are:

La Croisette. This is the famous beach-side promenade of Cannes and it’s great for a stroll and people watching. The other places to go walking and sight-seeing are the shopping streets Rue d’Antibes and Rue Meynadier.

Apr242012

Travel Recommendation

Packing a Picnic at London’s Best Food Markets

London

My Recommendation Tip

With such wonderful parks dotted all over this huge city, one of the best things to do on a sunny day in London is pack a picnic basket and head onto that green grass with the squirrels and pigeons as company.

Apr242012

Travel Recommendation

Recommended Restaurants

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Lisbon is a city of flavors with its little cafes, bars and restaurants that can stun you with just how good their food is. I think the secret is in the personal approach – these are not big chains, but places where the owner brings the food to the table and makes sure you order the very best offering on the menu that day. Sometimes there isn’t even a menu – what they’re cooking depends on what was freshest at the markets that morning. Here are two recommendations to try when you visit this delicious city. One I’ve been to and the other is on my list for next visit.

Apr232012

Travel Recommendation

TIps for the Luxembourg Gardens

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

The Luxembourg Gardens are one of the world’s great places. They’re beautiful and iconic of Paris, they’re full of history and contain plenty to do and see. Built along with the Palais du Luxembourg in the 17th century by a heartbroken Marie de Medicis, after the assassination of her husband Henry IV, the park is typical of the time with its formal layout of avenues of trees, the central fountain and vista of the palace.

These days the Palais is the seat of the French Senate and you can go inside and watch a session for free. The building is based of Marie’s home in Florence, the Pitti Palace, with an updated, more French look to it. The 60 acre (25ha) gardens themselves are very popular with both Parisians and tourists. French children grow up pushing boats in the central fountain, Grand Basin, and you can rent the small sailing boats and launch your own.

Apr232012

Travel Recommendation

Valencia by Bike

Valencia

My Recommendation Tip

People often recommend cycling around small, historic European towns as a great way to see the place and it is; you can cover more distance than on foot but can still look at the sights on the way, stopping whenever something takes your fancy. The major problem with it is that the streets can be narrow, filled with pedestrians and impatient local drivers, especially the taxis. But Valencia is one city I would definitely recommend hiring a bicycle for half or a whole day because they have created one of the best places to cycle: Turia.

Apr202012

Travel Recommendation

Shopping in Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

Let’s face it; when you think of Venice, you probably think of canals more than anything else. And when you think of shopping in Italy, you likely imagine spending time in the outlets and boutiques of Florence and Milan. However, Venice has been a shopping center for hundreds of years, and you can find high fashion here as well.

Apr202012

Travel Recommendation

Jerez - Flamenco Sights

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

That wonderfully passionate dance, the Flamenco, has come to represent the whole of Spain but it all began in the small region of Andalucia, the town of Jerez de la Frontera in particular. The town holds an annual Jerez Flamenco Festival in February and March with workshops where you can learn to dance the flamenco, exhibitions of history and famous dancers, and of course daily performances.

Apr202012

Travel Recommendation

Stonehenge and Salisbury

The North of England

My Recommendation Tip

Just over two hours from London by train, Salisbury has two claims for our attention: its cathedral and Stonehenge.

Apr192012

Travel Recommendation

Best Pizza in Naples

Naples

My Recommendation Tip

If you want to start a fight in Naples, ask to have pineapple on your pizza. Or egg. Or even olives, or anchovies. Neopolitans feel very strongly about pizza – after all they invented it – and a true pizza only has tomato, mozzarella and a few leaves of basil. And it must be cooked in a wood-fired oven. This is the Pizza Margherita which the pizzeria Brandi – the oldest in Naples established in 1780 – claims to have invented in 1889 for Queen Margherita. Each year a competition is held judging the best pizza in Naples. Here are five of those which end up on the list year in year out: they’re worth travelling that extra mile for, and even waiting in line.

Apr192012

Travel Recommendation

Bloemencorso: Annual Flower Parade

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Winter can be long and cold in The Netherlands so when spring comes there is cause for celebration.

Apr172012

Travel Recommendation

Summer Medieval Fairs in Tuscany

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re traveling the towns and villages of Tuscany this summer and feel like you’ve just walked into a time warp, you’ve probably lucked out and hit upon a Medieval Fair. Every year a few towns throw themselves wholeheartedly into days-gone-by and dress up in medieval costumes, entertain with storytellers and wandering minstrels, showcase ancient arts like blacksmithing and candlemaking, and generally celebrate the things that made their towns what they are. Here’s a brief list of where and when you can find some of these events:

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

Runtur in Iceland

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

Runtur means round tour and, to Iceland natives, this means a trip around Reykjavik’s bars and nightspots.

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

Queen's Day in The Netherlands

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Netherlands still has royalty and mighty proud of Queen Beatrix they are too.

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

One Hot Event in Scotland

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

The Scots have one foot in their modern city and one foot in their pagan past – that’s why we love them.

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

Columbia Road Flower Market

London

My Recommendation Tip

Just beyond the financial center of London lies the East End.

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

Crawling Dublin's Pubs

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Dublin is a city of pubs.

Apr162012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Views in Rome

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Rome is beautiful and knows it. It basks in its glorious history just inviting you to take its photograph. One of the most splendid aspects are the rooftops – all those spires and domes and jumbled, eccentric angles of apartment buildings – but how do you get up there to take your shot? Is it even possible to get up there? Well, it might cost you a bit in food or wine but it will be worth it. And nothing will beat watching the sunset over the roof of Rome. Here are a few terrace bars and restaurants worth checking out.

Apr122012

Travel Recommendation

Strawberry Hill House

London

My Recommendation Tip

London is so bursting with history it’s impossible to get a grip on it all.

Apr122012

Travel Recommendation

Built in Belfast: The Titanic

Belfast

My Recommendation Tip

The world is fascinated by the Titanic.

Apr122012

Travel Recommendation

Most Beautiful Churches in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Netherlands has historically been a very religious country with many different strands of Christianity represented.

Apr092012

Travel Recommendation

Dublin Literary History

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature.

Apr092012

Travel Recommendation

Things to Do in Toledo

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

If you were to put a pin right in the middle of a map of Spain you’d pretty well hit Toledo. 45 miles (70km) south of Madrid. It makes an easy day-trip and is well worth the effort. Toledo sits on a hilltop with fabulous views – once a necessity for seeing the approach of all those invading armies – above a bend in the River Tagus, the Iberian Peninsula’s longest river, which travels through Portugal to reach the sea at Lisbon.

Apr062012

Travel Recommendation

The Sierra Nevada- Spain's Highest Point

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

While the cities of Spain are wonderful it’s also rewarding to head out into the landscapes beyond. I recently drove through the Andalucian countryside to Granada and around every corner was yet another breathtaking landscape. We passed hills topped with wind-generators – which I have to say I find beautiful in a very modern way – then we rounded a corner to see snow-covered mountains: the Sierra Nevada, continental Spain’s highest point and a popular ski resort and national park.

Apr062012

Travel Recommendation

Day Trip to Volendam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

If it’s the picture-postcard Holland of women in traditional floral dresses, striped pinafores and pointed white lace caps and men in baggy, woolen breeches that you’re after then it’s to Volendam that you need to travel. This is a small fishing village on the shores of the IJsselmeer (the IJ), just near that famous cheese town Edam.

Apr062012

Travel Recommendation

Southhampton – Sailing port of Titanic

London

My Recommendation Tip

Although the Titanic’s home port was Liverpool she never actually visited that city. Built in Belfast, she sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York, but five days out of port she hit an iceberg and sank. A tragic history was made and never forgotten. 4 of every 5 crew on the ship were from Southampton so it’s unsurprising that the streets, churches and families of the city are still strongly connected to that great maritime disaster which happened 100 years ago, on April 15, 1912.

Apr052012

Travel Recommendation

Best Towns for Easter Traditions in Italy

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Italy loves Easter, or Pasqua in local terms. Aside from the deeply religious observation at the many Papal Masses held in Rome, and the explosive tradition of fireworks in Florence, many small towns and regions have long-held traditions for this time of year. Here's a list of just some of Italy's most beautiful and unique Easter traditions.

Apr042012

Travel Recommendation

Where to Find Macaroons

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Paris is a city of the senses – sight and taste predominate. In terms of sounds, it can be filled with music or just the rush of traffic; smells can go from sublime to awful depending whether you’re standing in the food court of Galeries Lafayette or next to a busy road, and touch.. But predominantly, Paris fills the eyes and tempts the taste buds. One of the things the French are famous for are their sweet treats – pastries, cakes, and desserts – and of these, one of their most famous gifts to the world is the macaroon…

Apr042012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Views in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Florence is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its bridges, palaces, and churches can all inspire the feeling of being inside a post card. Here are five places where you can find the typical, and not so typical post-card views when you visit this magnificent city in Italy.

Apr032012

Travel Recommendation

Il Cavallino Matto - Italy's Largest Amusement Park

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

So you’ve been dragging your kids around museums and historic houses, gardens and churches. They have been very patient, well-behaved, even interested. But now it’s time to give them something in return. Il Cavallino Matto. The biggest amusement park in Tuscany. Located not far from Livorno near the Marina di Catagneto Carduccio beach. The park has four rollercoasters, gentler rides for younger kids such as a carousel and aquatic canoe ride, a pirate boat and an African adventure and gold mine ride and etc.

Apr032012

Travel Recommendation

Iceland for Fashion and Design

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

For such a small country – a total population of around 300,000 people – Iceland is one of the most creative countries around. We all know their most famous export, Bjork, but do you know about their vibrant fashion and design scenes?

Apr022012

Travel Recommendation

5 Reasons to Visit Rome in April

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

1. Easter. April 8th is Easter Sunday in 2012 and both Sunday and Monday are public holidays in Italy. Rome is a very religious city and home to the Vatican so it’s a special time here. The Pope says Mass to hundreds of thousands of people who gather in St Peter’s Square at 10.15am on Easter Sunday. He also presides over mass inside the basilica on Good Friday and holds an Easter Vigil on the evening of Easter Saturday, but you need to apply for tickets to these two services direct to the Vatican months in advance.

Mar292012

Travel Recommendation

Villefranche-sur-Mer

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

5 miles (8 kms) outside Nice to the east lies Villefranche-sur-Mer. If you feel like escaping the crowds promenading along the Promenade des Anglais beside Nice’s beachfront, hop on the local bus number 82 to this quiet hideaway. Here you’ll find expensive yachts tied up beside traditional fishing boats.

Head to the Hotel Welcome for a drink and look at the all the photographs on the walls of the famous people who have stayed there: Cary Grant, Winston Churchill, Jean Cocteau.

Mar272012

Travel Recommendation

Exhibitions of the Titanic in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

On April 15, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank–claiming more than 1,503 lives. It was the world’s largest ship and it was said to be unsinkable, but it sank, shocking everyone and becoming the most famous shipwreck in history. There are exhibitions and memorials in many places. In London there are several permanent exhibits.

Mar262012

Travel Recommendation

Best of The Cotswolds

England

My Recommendation Tip

If you want to see the England of picture books and chocolate boxes, head to The Cotswolds. Its green and rolling hills really are the perfect image of dreamy England and the villages are just so English. Lots of thatched roofs on honeycomb colored stone cottages, pubs and little shops in narrow winding lanes. And churches. Market places. Tea shops.

And the names! Stow-on-the-Wold, the Slaughters, Moreton-in-Marsh. I promise I am not making them up. To really explore The Cotswolds you’ll need a car, bicycle or sturdy legs because bus services within the area are limited and trains go only to the northern and southern edges, from London Paddington to towns such as Cheltenham Kingham, Chippenham and Gloucester. Otherwise, there are regular bus services from London, Oxford and Bath. If you can, plan to stay the night in order to enjoy the quiet village atmosphere when all the other visitors have gone home. Some of the villages get very crowded with cars and sightseers during the day: it’s all too pretty for its own good!

Mar262012

Travel Recommendation

Murcia: Small City, Big Cathedral

Spain

My Recommendation Tip

Murcia is a small city with a big cathedral, one of the main reasons for going there. Inland from the popular Costa Calida (Warm Coast) and Mar Menor (Little Sea) lagoon in south-eastern Spain, Murcia is known as the orchard of Spain as it sits in the heart of the rich citrus growing districts. The cathedral was begun in the 14th century on the site of an existing mosque. The bell tower is the tallest in Spain and was built up in five layers of varying styles from the 16th to 18th centuries and contains 25 bells.

Mar262012

Travel Recommendation

Paris in Spring

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Spring is a happy time in Paris; everyone’s emerging from their winter hibernation and venturing back onto the streets and into the parks and cafes. You might need to take a jacket and scarf but the sun will be out and the flowers blooming. Some of the best places to soak up the spring sun are:

Jardin du Luxembourg

Marie de Medici’s royal residence during the Renaissance, there are wonderful formal gardens, daffodils, blossoms and green benches near the fountain for sitting and people-watching, an excellent Parisian pastime. Remember, there is no sitting on the grass – the French are too elegant for that.

Jardin des Tuileries

Between the Louvre and the Champs Elysees, this is a place to stroll and sit for a while but it’s more about people-watching than floral displays.

Mar232012

Travel Recommendation

Handmade Paper Stores

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

Venice has its typical souvenirs that everyone buys and every second shop sells: glass, lace, Carnivale masks. Another is paper – writing paper including little books with marbled covers, photo albums and more. I have to admit that these are where my money goes. Historically, Venice has always had a fine reputation for making good quality paper. The city became one of the first places in the world to begin printing books rather than having manuscripts copied by hand.

Mar222012

Travel Recommendation

Treno Natura (Nature Train)

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

Part of the attraction of Tuscany is its unspoiled landscape. Those lovely rolling green hills, olive groves and cypress trees that make you believe you’ve traveled back in time. Our desire to journey to simpler, slower times takes the form of walking and cycling holidays. In Tuscany you can also explore this unchanged landscape by vintage train.

Mar212012

Travel Recommendation

Walking: Center to the Sea

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Every city has its hidden secrets and the Water of Leith Walkway is one of Edinburgh’s. The Water of Leith is a 12 mile narrow river running through the city from the outer suburb of Balerno in the south-west of the city right through the sea near the Royal Yacht Britannia. Alongside it runs a walking path. Since 1988, management of the river has been in the hands of the Water of Leith Conservation Trust who organized keep the river clean and its banks well-maintained. Lovely for walking along in other words.

Mar202012

Travel Recommendation

Walking vs Public Transportation in Barcelona

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Barcelona is a large city, the second largest in Spain, with a population of over 1.6 million people. While it’s got an historic heart containing many of the things any visitor to the city will want to see, there are other attractions dotted further afield that you’ll want to visit, such as Barcelona FC Stadium, Gaudi’s Parc Guell and Montjuic (which is accessed by funicular railway). The historic center of the city itself is best negotiated on foot. It’s flat and many of the streets are either pedestrianized or very narrow for traffic. By walking, you’ll discover places and see sights you never would if you were whisking past in a taxi or on a bus.

Mar202012

Travel Recommendation

The Pantheon

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

One of my all time favorite buildings in Rome is the Pantheon. It’s not huge, it’s not flashy or complicated, it’s basically just one big round room, but there is something about it that I find really special. Perhaps it’s the Pantheon’s age and history. Built around AD125 by the emperor Hadrian, it’s been standing here ever since, watching Rome act out its dramatic and beautiful life. I love the fact that the Pantheon is such a feat of engineering. Its dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world – and it was built two millennia ago! Until 1436 when the Florence Duomo was built, the Pantheon was the largest dome in the world.

Mar192012

Travel Recommendation

Annual Free Monuments Weekend

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

This year’s Open Monuments Weekend in Italy takes place on the 24th and 25th of March. If you’re in Italy at this time circle the dates in red in your diary. This is the one weekend in the year that many of the privately owned grand houses and gardens throw open their doors and invite in the public. And entrance is usually free. Things just get better and better.

Mar192012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Gardens in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

At first sight, central Paris can seem like a city crammed with buildings. Look closer and of course you’ll discover the manicured lawns and clipped trees of large gardens like the Luxembourg and Tuileries. Tucked away though are smaller stretches of greenery with seasonal plantings of flowers and meandering gravel pathways. Here are our favorite top 5 lesser known Paris gardens.

Mar162012

Travel Recommendation

Contemporary Arts Bus

Bordeaux

My Recommendation Tip

In a country such as France, where the cultural history is so rich, it’s easy to forget that art is still being made. There are artists working right now, today, as I write, and as you read this. Sure, some of it won’t be as great as the legacy left to us by Picasso or Matisse or Monet, but some of it will be. And we’ve all envied those friends and collectors who spotted the next Picasso canvas still on the easel and bought it, enabling the artist to eat, and eventually the buyer’s family to live in a lovely house after selling the painting to a gallery.

Mar152012

Travel Recommendation

Top 3 Horseback Riding Places in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

It’s just one of those things: when you’re walking in one of London’s huge parks, you think of all the people who have been here before you, and it always turns my mind to the days when people got around on horseback. I’ve always wanted to ride a horse around Hyde Park or Richmond Park, and it’s actually not that difficult to organize. Many stables offer riding lessons for both adults and children, intensive learn-to-ride-in-a-day courses, and also morning and afternoon ‘hacks’ which are a ride around the park for those who have been on a horse before.

Mar132012

Travel Recommendation

Sir John Soane’s Museum

London

My Recommendation Tip

Even if you have never heard of him, wherever you go in London, you’ll be seeing the influence of Sir John Soane. He was an architect in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in London and designed many famous buildings such as Dulwich Picture Gallery (England’s first purpose built art gallery) and the influential original Bank Of England building. His tomb, which he designed himself, was the model for London’s iconic red telephone boxes.

But the most influential building he left with us was his own house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Soane lectured on architecture and collected books, artworks, and antiquities to rival the British Museum – he had over 700 Egyptian, Roman, and Greek objects as well as paintings by English artists such as Hogarth.

Mar122012

Travel Recommendation

Musee de l’Annociade - St. Tropez

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

There are more reasons to go to Saint Tropez than to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Once upon a town this was just a tiny fishing village, and it was to this small town with a superb climate and beautiful beaches and landscapes that some of the best artists in France came to work. A lot of the work they did back then is now collected in a lovely little gallery Musee de l’Annociade (Annunciation Museum). The name comes from the building that houses the gallery, an ex-chapel dating from 1510.

Mar092012

Travel Recommendation

Countryside Villas in Veneto

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

The mainland region surrounding Venice is called the Veneto. This is where the nobility of Venice would escape to when the canals became too stinky to bear in the hottest months. Most of us think of escaping to the beach in summer but sometimes green hills and pastures provide much needed shady trees and evening breezes. Nobles had lovely villas built for their perfect getaway homes.

Mar062012

Travel Recommendation

Vall de Nuria

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

You don’t have to wait long after the snows melt for the wildflowers to begin appearing in the Pyrenees. These fabulous mountains divide Spain (Catalonia) from France, and they’re easily visited in a day trip from Barcelona, or on a longer hiking trip, either organised with a group or on your own staying in a hotel.

In the mountains closest to Barcelona is the lovely Vall de Nuria where I went for a day trip.

Mar052012

Travel Recommendation

Twickenham

London

My Recommendation Tip

The upper reaches of the Thames River were once the playground of the rich and landed who built large elegant riverside houses. Of course the grandest and earliest of these is Hampton Court Palace, but there are many smaller houses.

Ham House in Ham, Strawberry Hill House, Marble Hill House, and the painter JMW Turner’s modest hideaway are all in Twickenham, and Syon Park in Chiswick, and the list goes on. Many of these are open to the public through such organizations as English Heritage but others have become working buildings.

Feb272012

Travel Recommendation

Women's Day and St Joseph's Day Rome

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

March in Rome has two special days: one for him and one for her. Neither of them are official holidays but in some parts of Italy and Rome in particular, they are popular days to celebrate. March 8th is International Women’s Day and in Italy this is known as Festa della Donna. The symbol of the day is the mimosa flower, the bright yellow version. In the first week of March you’ll see buckets of them at all the flower stalls and on March 8th itself you’ll see everyone carrying them. It’s not just a day for romantic gesture like Valentine’s Day, but is a day when everyone gives women flowers: mothers, sister, friends and all. Lovely.

Later in the month it’s the guys’ turn. March 19th is Saint Joseph’s Day, Festa di San Giuseppe...

Feb272012

Travel Recommendation

Barrio de Gracia - March Festival

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

Gracia is a barrio (district) of Barcelona that you must not miss. It has a fantastic community spirit and seems to have endless street festivities throughout the year. March 3rd is one of the most fun especially for kids, because it’s all about candy. You’ll almost certainly discover that Sant Medir is in fact the patron saint of the fava bean, known to us as the broad bean – sworn enemy of children everywhere

Feb242012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Activities for Families in Lisbon

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Here are some great things to do as a family visiting Lisbon!

1. Marionette Museum (Museu das Marionetas, Rua da Espercanca, 146, Lapa). In a lovely 18th century former convent, this collection of over 1000 puppets includes knights, princesses, and devils – something for everyone! Some of them date from as far back as the 17th and 18th century, and while most are from Portugal there are also puppets from places like China, India, and even New Zealand. Naturally they hold frequent puppet shows here.

2. Childrens’ Museum (Musea das Criancas). Located inside the zoo, each room has a central activity so it’s perfect for young kids who get bored looking at exhibits. You’ll need to get the helpful gallery assistants to translate from the Portuguese instructions for some activities.

Feb242012

Travel Recommendation

Race to the Sun

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

The Tour de France might be the most famous cycling race through France, but it’s not the only one. The professional cycling year begins with the Paris-Nice race, also known as ‘the race to the sun’, which has been going since 1933. It’s a grueling 720 miles (1156 km) over eight stages, which takes place in March.

Feb242012

Travel Recommendation

Blackpool Tower

The North of England

My Recommendation Tip

Blackpool is one of England’s most famous seaside towns. Or should that be infamous? Nearly everyone English has a story about Blackpool and it’s seaside theme park attractions.

This famous town is located in The North of England, on the Irish Sea coast, north of Liverpool and Manchester. Blackpool has gone from being farmland of peat lands which gave the river and sea a black color, to being a fashionable seabathing resort in the mid 18th century and a booming resort with the coming of the railway and building of the pleasure piers in the 19th century. By 1920 Blackpool was hosting around eight million holiday-makers a year.

Feb242012

Travel Recommendation

Diving to the Center of the Earth

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

Ever wanted to slip between the plates of the earth's surface and see what goes on down there under the crusty rock we walk on every day? Well, here’s your chance.

In the middle of Iceland, in Thingvellir National Park – incidentally one of the most beautiful places on earth – the Eurasian and American continents meet and, in fact, drift apart at a rate of about 2cm a year. This leaves a rift in the earth’s surface, a crack that you can peer down into or, if you like adventure, dive into the waters of the Silfra Rift.

Feb232012

Travel Recommendation

Galignani Bookstore

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Living history and written history, the famous Parisian bookshop Galignani has both. With family roots going back to the first printing presses in Venice in the 16th century when Simone Galignani published a Latin grammar book, Galignani has been an important name for books since they became mass produced.

There has been a Galignani bookshop in Paris since 1801, also a publishing business and a reading room for books and newspapers in English.

Feb232012

Travel Recommendation

Mantua

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Mantua is the capital of Lombardy, in central northern Italy. It is the city to which Romeo was banished in Shakespeare’s famous tale, after Romeo murdered Juliet’s cousin Tybalt and the Prince of Verona expelled him. Aside from the fact that his beloved Juliet was not there with him, Romeo couldn’t have ended up in a better place. Since the 13th century Mantua had been free of the rule of Rome, and had become prosperous and artistically rich.

Feb232012

Travel Recommendation

Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

No euro-trip is complete without a visit to Amsterdam. The best way to travel through the Netherlands is by train and, there’s a lot of time to do some reading.

These days it’s all about the e-reader and travelers do not need to carry heavy books around the world anymore. Call me old fashioned, but I still love bookshops. Being able to browse through pages of photographs and stories about the place I’m in, to discover the local writers and artists, to find obscure little brochures of local history; it makes travel so much more opulent.

Feb222012

Travel Recommendation

Cordoba Bath Houses

Andalucia & Costa del Sol

My Recommendation Tip

Cordoba once had 300 public baths, and they were at the center of community life. People came herd to bathe, to gossip and to arrange marriages. But once the Catholic Spaniards took control of the city from the Moorish rulers in the late 15th century, the bathhouses were closed and left to crumble. Some were opened as architectural splendors with their domed and tiled rooms, but there was no water to be found in their baths. Then about ten years ago, the Baños Arabes reopened in Cordoba as a fully functioning hammam and people quickly rediscovered the joys of a good soak, steam and scrub.

Feb222012

Travel Recommendation

Giant Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

They arrived in December and already these eight-year olds are the sweethearts of Scotland. The first giant pandas to live in Britain for nearly twenty years, Tian Tian (Sweetie) and Yang Guang (Sunshine) took their first sick leave days this month when they got colic but they’re now back on show at the Edinburgh Zoo.

Feb222012

Travel Recommendation

Cortona

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

Did I hear you say you wanted a room with a view? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Cortona is the town that tumbles down a hillside, virtually guaranteeing that every building has plenty of rooms with views over the hillsides and valley floor of Val di Chiana all the way to Lake Trasimeno. Did you just say that the town of Cortona rings a bell for some reason? If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie of Frances Mayes’ year in Tuscany renovating her house you’d be one of the only people around – yes, that house was just outside Cortona. Much of the movie was actually filmed here.

Feb212012

Travel Recommendation

Dublin: One City, One Book

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

In 2010 Dublin was named one of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature (of only five) which is hardly surprising given the rich literary scene, both past and present.

Each year in April, the city holds One City One Book, a festival during which they encourage everyone to read the same book and they hold events to celebrate that book and author.

Feb212012

Travel Recommendation

Picasso and Modern British Art, Tate Britain

London

My Recommendation Tip

There is an exhibition at Tate Britain which acknowledges British art’s debt to Picasso and his influence on British modern art. Sixty works by Picasso are hung with work by seven British artists: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. They are all great artists in their own right, some of Britain’s best, but it is hard to stand up alongside Picasso, the genius. We travel all over the world to see him; his paintings still travel all over the world to be seen.

Feb212012

Travel Recommendation

Osita Antica

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re not going south to Pompeii on your journey through Italy, then this ancient Roman port is the next best thing. In fact, in some ways it’s better because it’s less crowded so you can really feel what daily life was like in Rome rather than the 21st century tourist vibe.

Ostia Antica was founded at the mouth of the Tiber River in the 4th century BC and became an important port city both for trade and defense. In the 5th century AD the city was abandoned after malaria and barbarians simultaneously attacked. River silt did to the city what lava did in Pompeii – covering it and preserving streets and buildings.

Feb172012

Travel Recommendation

Augusta Raurica

Switzerland

My Recommendation Tip

Along with an accompanying Roman castle, the restored ruins and open-air theatre/museum of Augusta Raurica are listed on the Swiss Inventory of Cultural Property of National and Regional Significance. Situated on the south bank of the Rhine near the villages of Augst and Kaiseraugst, Augusta is the oldest known Roman settlement in the region. The site consists of a full scale Roman theatre (home to an annual summer festival that is attended by tens of thousands), a museum with a collection including more than a million artifacts, an animal park wherein ancient Roman practices of animal husbandry are still practiced, and a fully restored example of a working Roman home complete with period-specific décor. Visitors interested in taking in the former colony should set aside a full day at a minimum.

Feb172012

Travel Recommendation

What to see in Strasbourg

France

My Recommendation Tip

I am ashamed but willing to confess that for most of my life I thought that the city of Strasbourg was in Germany. It’s not. It’s in France. Far eastern France, only 1.8 miles (3 km) from the border with Germany. And in fact the city’s name is German. So I think I can be forgiven.

Strasbourg is France’s ninth largest city, probably because it is home to the European Parliament.

Feb162012

Travel Recommendation

Best Places for Seafood Chowder in Ireland

Ireland

My Recommendation Tip

Sometimes you just stumble across something when you’re travelling and suddenly it defines your whole journey. Ireland and Seafood Chowder are a little like that. I’ve always loved seafood chowder but had forgotten how much. Then a friend reminded me and suddenly it was all I could think about eating.

Ireland is rightfully proud of its chowders, especially along the west coast where the Atlantic Ocean seafood is big, fresh and tasty. County Galway, Co Clare, Co Limerick, Co Mayo, Co Cork and Co Kerry are full of villages with pubs and restaurants that will proudly serve you a hearty bowl of chowder with a plate of brown bread and a pat of Irish butter on the side. The soups may vary from county to county but the variety will make you a connoisseur and give you an obsession to compel you from village to village, town to town.

Feb162012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Places to Stay in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

I’ve pretty well run the gamut of places to stay in Amsterdam. From five star hotels when visiting the city for a conference to a squat by the railway line when self-funding a trip, also in many different style apartments borrowed from friends and friends of friends. So here are my ideas of where to stay in the wonderful city of Amsterdam:

Feb162012

Travel Recommendation

Regent Street

London

My Recommendation Tip

Regent Street, London. We all know the elegant curve of its Georgian facades – it’s the famous shopping heart of this city, crossing with Oxford Street at Oxford Circus. Regent Street has the huge flagship Apple Store, the famous Hamleys toy shop, and Liberty department store. It’s so crowded before Christmas that you can hardly move along its pavement. But do you know its history?

Feb142012

Travel Recommendation

Florentine New Year

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

So you thought you were done with New Year celebrations for 2012? Think again. In Florence March 25th marks the Florentine New Year and there’s a traditional parade and festivities to mark it. In the Catholic calendar, March 25th is the Feast Day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. From the Middle Ages until the mid 18th century, Florence used this special day to mark the beginning of the city’s own civic year.

Feb142012

Travel Recommendation

ArcelorMittal Orbit

London

My Recommendation Tip

Who else grew up playing with Meccano?

Clearly artist Anish Kapoor grew up playing with Meccano, all those strips of metal you could bolt together to make the weirdest inventions, most of which would never fly, roll or even stand up. Here’s hoping that Kapoor’s latest vision, London‘s ArcelorMittal Orbit, stands up for many hundreds of years.

Feb142012

Travel Recommendation

Top Biking Trails in Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

They’ve got the wide open spaces, the highlands, the lowlands, the hills, mountains and views, so of course Scotland is becoming one of the world’s greatest places for mountain biking. And being smarter than they are often given credit for, and canny with their money which they are often given credit for, the Scottish have realized the outdoor assets they have and are developing fabulous world-class trails for riding.

Some of the top places to ride are:

1. Nevis Range. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles and is a ski resort in winter and a climbing and mountain bike haven in summer...

Feb132012

Travel Recommendation

Bargain Shopping in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Paris is a city where you want to shop. Perhaps it’s the fashionable French people you see passing the café window as you sip your café au lait. Or perhaps it’s all those Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Tautou movies which make us want to be equally stylish. But after those first few forays into the department stores and boutiques, it all begins to seem a bit of a burden on the credit card. So here are my top four tips for bargain shopping in Paris.

Feb132012

Travel Recommendation

St Patrick's Day Festival

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Yes, the day of green beer is growing closer, the day of the year when all of Ireland goes crazy for their patron Saint Patrick, he who rid the country of snakes and made it the green and pleasant haven it is today. March 17th, put it in your diary, if it’s not already there. In Dublin, the city holds a major festival from March 16th to 20th. This includes a parade on March 17th which this year has the theme of How? What? Why? in line with Dublin being the City of Science 2012.

Marching bands from Ireland, the UK, Russia and the USA will add music to the pageantry which begins at noon at Parnell Square and finishes near St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Feb102012

Travel Recommendation

Traditions to Try in Portugal.

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Delicious Pastries

If you do nothing else in Lisbon, you must go to the Belem district and eat a Pasteis de Belem. Known around the world as Portuguese tarts, you have not tasted one until you have had one here, the original and the best. The recipe originated in one of the convents of Lisbon, invented by the nuns of Jeronimos Monastery in the 18th century. It involves a base of filo pastry, cream, milk, vanilla and some secret ingredients. Perhaps it was the nuns’ purity or spirituality or calm that infused these pastries with such divine flavor, but whatever it was it’s lasted into the modern era and I’m not complaining.

Feb102012

Travel Recommendation

The Alhambra--Visit Paradise on Earth

Granada

My Recommendation Tip

It’s one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain and with good reason. The Alhambra palace and fortress complex in Granada is both beautiful and historically fascinating for its combination of different influences and styles, both of architecture and garden design. The name Alhambra literally means ‘the red one’ and the red fortress with thirteen towers was begun in 1238, with building continuing into the 14th century. It’s on the top of a hill called Assabica overlooking Granada and began life as the palace complex for the last Muslim rulers of Spain, the Nasrid dynasty, so the oldest buildings are Moorish in design. In the 16th century, Charles V, Ruler of the Holy Roman Empire (also known as King Charles I of Spain) built himself an enormous European-style palace (Palace of Carlos V) within the Alhambra walls.

Feb102012

Travel Recommendation

Touch Venice's Stone Heart - Find Love

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

I always say never try to find an address in Venice: the street numbering system is a mystery only understood by fifth-generation Venetians, and the street layout is equally baffling. However, if you’re looking for lasting love (and who isn’t?) then you’ll have to find your way to one small street in Venice, touch your hand to a stone heart embedded in the wall and trust in the magic of the city to do the rest.

Venice is full of wonderful stories, legends, mysteries, ghosts. The magic of the stone heart comes from one of these stories. Once a Venetian fisherman called Orio caught in his net a mermaid called Melusina. They fell in love...

Feb102012

Travel Recommendation

Stay in Historic Homes

England

My Recommendation Tip

Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited – we’ve watched the tv series, seen the movies, read the books. These stories of life in England during centuries past are one of the reasons we visit this small island. The stories and the houses. They are gorgeous – huge, historic, mysterious. The National Trust of England looks after many of the historic houses as well as gardens, castles, villages, coastlines, islands and important lands.

Feb092012

Travel Recommendation

Ninfa Gardens - 40 Miles from Rome

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Please don’t stop reading because you are not a garden-person. I myself am no garden fanatic; I can appreciate a beautiful garden, a majestic piece of design, a skilled pair of secateurs, but I have two black thumbs and have never successfully grown anything. But the Gardens of Ninfa is one of those places that makes everyone swoon, garden-fancier or not.

Feb092012

Travel Recommendation

West Frisian Islands and Mud Walking

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Keeping the North Sea from completely swamping the northernmost part of The Netherlands is a series of barrier islands called the West Frisian Islands. They ring the entrance to the inland sea and are a popular holiday destination for the Dutch, easily reachable from Amsterdam by train or car and ferry. Five of the islands are inhabited – from west to east: Texel, Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog – with small villages, holiday cottages, and hotels, and also farms. In fact, the lovely black and white dairy cows, Friesians, which are now found all around the world originated in this region.

Feb082012

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Piazzas for Relaxing in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

The historic center of Florence is densely urban. Everything is built of stone, and it can be exhausting. You’ll be gasping for a breath of fresh air. Even the River Arno gives little relief as it is choked with traffic rushing along the narrow road alongside it, and only the Ponte Vecchio gives a space to stand and peacefully view the river and breathe the air.

Feb072012

Travel Recommendation

Carnival in Viareggio

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

It’s not just Venice that celebrates Carnival in style. In the lovely seaside Tuscan town of Viareggio, Carnival is less about masked decadence and more about their world-famous parade of papier-mache floats. In 1873 this parade was born when the town officials decided to celebrate the coming of Lent in a new way, which quickly became a means of poking fun at the tax collectors who everyone disliked.

Feb072012

Travel Recommendation

Carnival in Barcelona and Sitges

Barcelona

My Recommendation Tip

The Spanish love a party so it’s not surprising that the lead up to Lent is a festive time in Barcelona. Carnaval (Carnival) literally means ‘farewell to meat’, and it’s a time of feasting in preparation for the 40-day fast period of Lent. This year Carnaval kicks off on February 16th with Dirty Thursday (Jueves Ladero or Dijous Gras) – let the eating begin!

Feb072012

Travel Recommendation

Top 3 Hostels in Reykjavik

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

Location, location, location. If you, like me, travel without hiring a car and without wanting to spend half your time working out the local transport system, then you’ll want to stay in walking distance of the main attractions whenever possible. In Reykjavik that’s pretty easy – the city center is small, with much of what you’ll want to see nearby, and the tour buses leaving for further flung excursions like The Golden Circle and the Northern Lights do so from the center of town.

Feb062012

Travel Recommendation

Charles Dickens' Birthday

London

My Recommendation Tip

Whether we know it or not, we’ve all grown up on the writings of Charles Dickens, one of London’s most famous chroniclers. He wrote The Christmas Carol, inventing Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come. He wrote Great Expectations and Bleak House – who hasn’t watched those on film or TV?

Feb032012

Travel Recommendation

French Spas Use Wine for Health Benefits

Bordeaux

My Recommendation Tip

Wine, wine everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Because you’re soaking in it. Yes, some wonderfully innovative types in Bordeaux, surrounded by some of the world’s best wine producing country, have come up with new ways to enjoy the goodness of the grapes. They noticed that French people are very healthy, despite all the wine and rich food. What’s the secret? At Les Sources de Caudalie, 20 minutes from Bordeaux, they’ll share their knowledge of this ‘French Paradox’ with you, combining naturally occurring hot thermal waters with wine and grape pulp to bring you back to peak health and beauty.

Feb032012

Travel Recommendation

Carnival in Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

Life and theater, all in a mask. This is the theme of the 2012 Venice Carnival and what better stage setting could you find for acting out your daily life than Venice. Carnival marks the beginning of Lent; it is the extravagant celebration of food and fun that leads up to the forty days and nights of abstinence before Easter. Begun as a Venetian tradition in 1296 the Carnival ceased in the mid 19th century and was revived in 1980. Since then it has grown every year as one of the city’s greatest traditions and definitely its biggest annual party.

Feb022012

Travel Recommendation

Aviva Stadium

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

In 1872 a young Irish athlete called Henry Wallace Doveton Dunlop realized his dream: to build Dublin a proper, dedicated sports venue. Landsdowne Road Stadium, only about a mile from St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin is this venue. In 1876 it hosted its first rugby match, in 1878 it held its first international rugby game. By the turn of the 21st century, Landsdowne Road was the oldest sporting stadium in Europe. It’s inevitable then that it’s had an update.

Feb022012

Travel Recommendation

Maritime Museum in Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

The Netherlands is all about the sea. Firstly because it exists in constant danger of being flooded by the North Sea and therefore spends a fortune on defensive dikes and floodgates, and also on reclaiming land. Secondly because the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century ­­– from when all those glorious buildings and artworks that we flock to see in Amsterdam emanate – was built on an incredibly successful seafaring trade in spices, silk, porcelain etc.

So, the Dutch know a lot about ships and the sea. In a city full of museums, one of the more significant ones reopens in October after a four year renovation. Het Scheepvaartmuseum (The National Maritime Museum) is located in a fabulous historic building, huge for the city of Amsterdam.

Feb012012

Travel Recommendation

3 Beautiful Roads to Drive

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Beloved of both tourists in their hire-cars and boy-racers in their Ferraris and Maseratis, the Cote d’Azur’s Corniches are some of the most spectacular roads in the world. There are three roads running between Nice and Monaco and on to Menton near the border with Italy. Clinging the beachfront is the Basse Corniche (or Corniche Inferieure) which passes through lovely coastal villages and enables you to make side trips onto the peninsulas which house the rich and famous: Cap Ferrat and Cap Martin.

Feb012012

Travel Recommendation

New Wing in the Louvre

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

It would be a big mistake to think of the Louvre as only a storehouse for the past. Although the collection is an historic one and is set in the magnificent ex-palace building which has been an art museum since the late 18th century, contemporary directors of the museum have their feet firmly planted in the 21st century as shown by the new Islamic wing due to open in summer 2012.

Jan312012

Travel Recommendation

Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

When you visit the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence, Italy you will probably think I am crazy to say that I was a bit disappointed. The loggia courtyard is impressive and the small garden out the back is elegant and lovely. I’m really not sure what I expected. Perhaps it is because so much of the palace was not open to the public. ...

Jan302012

Travel Recommendation

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Basque Country

My Recommendation Tip

Established in the 14th century, Bilbao developed into a port industrial town during the 19th and 20th centuries, growing in population but perhaps not in status. All that changed in the late 1990′s when the Guggenheim foundation decided to build an art gallery in Bilbao.

Jan272012

Travel Recommendation

Highclere Castle - The Real Downton Abbey

England

My Recommendation Tip

The TV show won four Emmys this year, so it’s clear that we all love the glamor and drama of stately English country living. Downton Abbey is filmed at Highclere Castle, a wonderful house in Hampshire, west of London and south of Oxford.

Jan272012

Travel Recommendation

Grand Canal Bridges

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

Venice consists of 117 islands, 150 canals and 409 bridges. The biggest of all the canals is, unsurprisingly, the Grand Canal but it’s only crossed by four bridges. Until three years ago, this was only three. And, oh, the controversy that raged before the fourth was built, and it still rages now.

Jan262012

Travel Recommendation

Rotterdam Film Festival - Now Playing

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

There’s nothing that brings a city to life as much as a film festival. This year is Rotterdam’s 41st running from January 25 until February 5th 2012 in the Netherlands. Their slogan is Beautiful Moving Erotic Deeply Dark Film, which does sound rather enticing.

Jan262012

Travel Recommendation

Pilgrimage to Assisi

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Assisi, Italy is a little town with a big reputation. The population is around 3,000 people, but Assisi is visited every year by more than 4 million tourists! And it’s all because of one man: Saint Francis, patron saint of Italy and one of the world’s most popular saints

Jan252012

Travel Recommendation

RSA and the National Gallery of Scotland

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Every major city has great galleries, and every country has its national gallery with a few key pieces of major international art of different periods. So it can seem a bit of a cliché to say go visit the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh, but the thing is that national galleries do tell you a lot about the country especially if they have a good national collection.

Jan252012

Travel Recommendation

Top Flea Markets and Thrift Stores in Reykjavik

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

With their well-known economic challenges, it’s not surprising that the Icelanders have a healthy interest in recycling clothes, household goods and other things. It’s actually not a new thing for them – I suppose living on a small island like Iceland makes you naturally resourceful in using everything as well and as often as you can. Within central Reykjavik, known as 101 (its zip code) there are a few secondhand shops I like in particular.

Jan242012

Travel Recommendation

The Magnificent Villa Reale

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

The Count Ortessi built it, Napoleon’s sister desired it so much that he gave it to her after he invaded Tuscany, and, rumors flew that newlywed royals William and Kate were going to stay there for a few days at the end of their honeymoon. The Villa Orsetti just outside Lucca

Jan242012

Travel Recommendation

The Capuchin Crypt

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Some people find it macabre and some find it a celebration of life on earth. The Capuchin order of Franciscan monks (whose crypt it is) consider it a homage and reminder of the swift passage of life on earth. Located in Rome beneath the 17th century church Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini on Via Veneto

Jan202012

Travel Recommendation

Vence A Town of Art in the South of France

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Vence is France’s town of art near the French Riviera. This might sound like a big claim in a country so soaked in art history, especially 20th century art, but the lovely historic town on Vence in the South of France between Nice and Antibes has been a magnet for artists who left their legacy in both spirit and artworks.

Jan192012

Travel Recommendation

The Ceremony of the Keys, Tower of London

London

My Recommendation Tip

Once upon a time the Tower of London was all about locking people in. For nearly 1000 years it has been London's royal fortress, stronghold, and prison. It was originally built by William the Conqueror in 1080 to scare the Londoners he’d just conquered, and also to hide inside if they revolted against him. Although many kings and queens have stayed within the tower walls over history, it was never built to be a royal palace but rather a fortress, which it was until late in the 19th century.

Jan192012

Travel Recommendation

Things to See in Galway, Ireland

Ireland

My Recommendation Tip

The ‘Bilingual Capital of Ireland’, Galway is the country’s third largest city after Dublin and Cork, and is the gateway to the Irish-speaking part of the nation. You’ll find much of the town signage in both English and Gaelic and many people around you speaking in the lilting native tongue.

Jan192012

Travel Recommendation

Biking Around Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

I’m not the first to say it but really the only way to get around Amsterdam is by bicycle. It’s cheap, the city is flat, and you can go where the mood takes you and see the real Amsterdam.

Jan182012

Travel Recommendation

Being a sport fan in the Czech Republic

Prague

My Recommendation Tip

Like most nations, the Czech Republic loves sports. And like the rest of Europe, and most of the world, in fact, they love soccer (football in Europe). While the national team didn’t make it into this last World Cup, taking in games for free in Prague’s Old Town Square

Jan182012

Travel Recommendation

Granger and Co. - Great Breakfast in Notting Hill

London

My Recommendation Tip

Australians are famous for being great chefs and opening restaurants with interesting food and a relaxed, hospitable ambiance. One of Sydney's favorite and famous sons is Bill Granger. Now he's opened his first restaurant in London, bringing to Notting Hill some of the laid back Aussie attitude combined with the excellent food that made Bill's so popular in Sydney.

Jan182012

Travel Recommendation

Scotland's 5 Best and Most Historical Golf Courses

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Scotland is the home of golf. No matter where the original roots of the game may have sprung from, be it the Romans, the Chinese, the French or even the English, there’s no doubt that the game as we know it has its foot firmly planted in Scottish soil. Here are some of the best places to play golf while you are in Scotland...

Jan172012

Travel Recommendation

How to Not Miss Out on Versailles

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Can you imagine going halfway around the world, finally catching a train to Versailles to see the massive palace and gardens that you’ve studied in art history and seen in films such as Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, and then finding the gates locked and the place shut for the day? I don’t have to imagine it because that’s what I did.

Jan172012

Travel Recommendation

Russian Art in Prado Museum

Madrid

My Recommendation Tip

The Prado in Madrid and the Hermitage in St Petersburg Russia are two of the world’s greatest museums. This past year marked the Spain-Russia Dual Year, so these two world-leaders of culture got together and agreed on a bit of an exchange program. Until March 26th 2012, you can see 170 treasures from the Hermitage at the Prado

Jan172012

Travel Recommendation

Annual Templbar Irish Music Festival

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

From January 25-29th 2012, the 7th annual Irish Music and Culture Festival will bring Temple Bar and the rest of Dublin alive during the cold days and dark nights of winter.

Jan112012

Travel Recommendation

The Town of Norwich

England

My Recommendation Tip

The things you find when you head out of London on a train! When I ended up in Norwich almost by chance, I had no idea that I was stepping into such an historically important city – or such a lovely one. In the 11th century, Norwich was England‘s largest city after London, and in fact it was massively important until the Industrial Revolution.

Jan112012

Travel Recommendation

Padua and the Church of Saint Anthony

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

January 17th is the feast day of Saint Anthony, the patron saint of animals, lost articles, the poor and many other people and things beside. Although born in Portugal, not Italy, the early 13th century monk died in Padua and his relics are a site of pilgrimage, housed in the Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua.

Jan112012

Travel Recommendation

Brielle - A Fortified Town

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Some towns are locked into a moment in time and Brielle (Den Briel) in south-west part of the Netherlands is one of them. Still with its fascinating 18th century star-shaped fortifications in place, visiting Brielle is like stepping back into history.

Jan112012

Travel Recommendation

The Bargello Gallery

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Everyone who comes to Florence has their head turned by the magnificent David of Michelangelo but David is not the only tall handsome warrior in town. The Bargello Gallery has wonderful sculptures by some of the world’s best ever artists: Donatello, Cellini, Ghiberti and Brunelleschi (of Duomo fame), and of course Michelangelo himself.

Jan112012

Travel Recommendation

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Scotland‘s National Portrait Gallery reopened on December 1st after a massive renovation that’s taken over two years. The main difference is that now they have the space to exhibit 60 % more of their 3,000 piece collection, much of which was previously in storage.

Jan102012

Travel Recommendation

Urban Trekking in Siena

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

The local government of Siena have always been a progressive bunch.

Jan102012

Travel Recommendation

Iceland Selects Its Song for Eurovision

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

Around 50 countries each year compete to win the Eurovision song contest. Why? Probably because the winner gets to host the following year, which brings their country lots of tourism dollars. This year, Iceland wants to win.

Jan062012

Travel Recommendation

Skiing in France

France

My Recommendation Tip

So, here are five top spots to hit the slopes in France this winter.
Chamonix. On the top of Europe, in sight of Mont Blanc, so you get views and some of the best options from beginner slopes to challenging pistes and powder fields.

Jan062012

Travel Recommendation

Venice's Feast Day of the Epiphany

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

In Venice, life is celebrated on the water. It’s not surprising then that in Venice, the feast day of Epiphany is all about. January 6th is Epiphany, the day in the annual calendar that marks the 12th day of Christmas when the Magi, or three wise men presented their gifts to the baby Jesus. Italy is a very religious country and thus these feast days are important across the nation.

Jan052012

Travel Recommendation

The National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

A relative newcomer to the scene of museums and visitor attractions in Dublin, the National Leprechaun Museum opened its doors in early 2010. Its aim: to teach visitors to Ireland about Irish myths and folklore, and to let them experience life as a leprechaun if only for an hour or two.

Jan052012

Travel Recommendation

The Hermitage Museum of Amsterdam

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

Since 2009, the famous Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg in Russia has had an offshoot in Amsterdam. They hold exhibitions curated from the incredible collection held in St Petersburg. For those unlikely to travel to Russia, it’s a great opportunity to see art from the huge collections of western and other art collected there.

Jan042012

Travel Recommendation

The Epiphany and La Befana

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

La Befana’s role has been as a gift-giving figure, traditionally their version of Santa. On the evening of January 5th, she rides around on her broomstick to visit the children leaving gifts for those who have been good and coal to those who have been naughty. In Florence, La Befana is celebrated by a huge parade on the morning of January 6th, the Cavalcade of Three Kings

Jan042012

Travel Recommendation

Lisbon's Elevator Nightclub

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Located in one of the best and most unusual pieces of public transportation anywhere in the world, the Lift Club is a small, hidden nightclub with seriously good views over Lisbon’s center. The Santa Justa Elevator is the 1902 engineering-creation of Raul Ponsard, an apprentice to Gustave Eiffel who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Jan042012

Travel Recommendation

Van Gogh in Arles

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

Arles is best known to us for its association with the painter Vincent van Gogh. It was here that van Gogh was living when he famously cut off his ear. He lived here for just over a year, from 1888 to 1889, but he completed some of his most famous paintings in Arles, around 500 works in total.

Jan042012

Travel Recommendation

ZZZ Zen

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Finally a dream has come true – Paris now has a bar for sleeping. That might sound lame – and many people have scoffed – but I think it’s genius.

Dec292011

Travel Recommendation

Caffe Greco - Rome's Oldest Cafe

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Italians invented coffee. They have certainly made it their own by naming all the various ways to drink it: cappuccino, espresso, macchiato, caffe latte.

But actually coffee beans as a source of energy were first noted in Ethiopia in the thirteenth century. From there the drink spread to the Egypt, Yemen, and eventually through the Middle East and into Turkey. The close trading between Turkey and Venice in the 16th century brought coffee to Venice and it was here that the Italians first learnt to love the coffee bean with the Pope giving his approval for Catholics to imbibe in 1600.

Dec292011

Travel Recommendation

Ice skating in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

It’s that time of the year in London. As the days get shorter and the air gets colder and colder, people are strapping on ice skates and spinning in circles. Well, if you’re me, you are just falling down and bruising every part of yourself, but for other people the winter ice rinks across London are a highlight of the year.

Dec292011

Travel Recommendation

Irish Session

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Ireland is famous for its music: jigs, polkas, reels. The harp, the accordion, the fiddle. Traditionally Irish music was based in the community or the extended family; you invited people over for a seisiun (Irish for session), they brought their instruments and everyone played or tapped their feet in appreciation. Tunes were played by ear, memorised, passed down the generations. But as with so many things, the 20th century brought some changes.

Dec272011

Travel Recommendation

New Year’s Eve in Paris

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Paris is one of the world’s top 5 favourite places in which to welcome in the new year. Not really surprising – it’s gorgeous, it’s romantic, and it has wonderful champagne. This is a city of hopes and dreams and that’s what New Year’s Eve is all about, right?

Dec212011

Travel Recommendation

Picasso Museum in Antibes

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

There is a Picasso Museum in Antibes. You should visit it.

Dec202011

Travel Recommendation

Secrets of London: The Cut

London

My Recommendation Tip

London has many secrets, be it streets, shops, legends, or something you never even thought of. One is The Cut. Tucked in just behind Waterloo Station and Southbank is a street called The Cut. You can’t miss it the famous Old Vic Theatre is on the corner.

Dec202011

Travel Recommendation

A White Christmas in Scotland

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

I was happy to be going so far north for my first wintry Christmas; naturally I was hoping for snow. We left London amidst forecasts of snow, arrived in Edinburgh under those heavy grey skies that promise snowstorms, got on the train with literally seconds to spare and headed north to Pitlochry, a small town in the Scottish Highlands.

Dec192011

Travel Recommendation

5 Places to Eat and Drink Like a Local

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

These are places in Dublin where you’ll find the locals having a pint, a coffee or a meal. Dubliners are all about getting out and about and socializing over good food and drink, the craic as they call it. Here are a few places to find them

Dec162011

Travel Recommendation

Shopping the Rialto Markets

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

A good reason for early rising is to hit the markets around the Rialto. This is the heart of the city, the place everyone comes to get fruit, vegetables and fish.

Dec162011

Travel Recommendation

The Best Fish and Chips

England

My Recommendation Tip

It may seem a long way to go for fish and chips but it’s worth it. This is England’s national dish so when you taste it you might as well taste the best. The little fishing village on the East Suffolk coast called Aldeburgh is your destination.

Dec162011

Travel Recommendation

Coimbra

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Coimbra is a university town.

Dec152011

Travel Recommendation

Nativity Scenes

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

More so than Christmas trees, the Christmas decoration of choice in Italy is the nativity scene or presepe. They’re set up on December 8th, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, in churches, squares, and shops with the baby Jesus often not added in until Christmas Eve.

Dec142011

Travel Recommendation

The David

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Probably the three most recognizable images of Florence are the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and Michelangelo’s David. David was a favourite subject for Renaissance sculptors. He was the ideal of the Renaissance man.

Dec092011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas Market in Lille

Lille

My Recommendation Tip

Lille is one city on the edge: it’s architecture hints at its closeness to neighbouring Belgium, it’s a major French student town (always cultural edgy…) and it’s a major intersection in the European rail network with Eurostar coming through from England with links to Brussels, Paris and the southern cities of France.

Dec082011

Travel Recommendation

The Living Nativity at Mansion House

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re in Dublin between the 8th and 24th of December this year make sure you see the living nativity scene at the Mansion House. Each year since 1956, in celebration of Christmas, they make the Live Animal Crib – a specially constructed life-size stable with animals brought in each morning to set a traditional nativity scene.

Dec072011

Travel Recommendation

St Tropez for Paupers

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

You can’t go to the South of France without seeing the place of legends, of scandals and movies and royal playtime. But could I actually afford to go there? And then we found Saint Maxime, the overlooked cousin of St Tropez, just across the water.

Dec062011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas Shopping in London

London

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re after something a bit more unusual as gifts this year avoid the high street shops in London and try one of these: 1. Traditional Christmas Market at Southbank

Dec062011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas in Lisbon

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

This is a particularly family-focused time in Portugal with a big meal on Christmas Eve, gifts exchanging, then on to Midnight Mass. On Christmas Eve the generations of the family gather together in front of the nativity scene, the presepio, to celebrate. A traditional supper might consist of boiled bacalhua (salt cod), with boiled potatoes and cabbage.

Dec062011

Travel Recommendation

Fashionistas head to Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Don’t be blinded by that fashion capital Milan, remember that Florence has also birthed many a fashion icon including shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Pucci, Roberto Cavalli and Patrizia Pepe. To pay homage to these leaders there are two excellent museums to visit

Dec052011

Travel Recommendation

Mosque Hammam

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

Winter is closing in on Paris so it’s time to find places to get warm. For an authentic Parisian experience off the tourist beat and very relaxing, head to the Paris Mosque. This place is an oasis. There’s a lovely café with mint tea and cushioned sofas to relax on.

Dec012011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas Traditions

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Traditionally, Christmas in The Netherlands is more about family than presents. Their day for gift-giving is the evening of Dec 5th/morning of December 6th when Sinterklaas comes to town from Spain. Thus the celebration of the birth of Jesus is more about feasting and family.

Dec012011

Travel Recommendation

Christ of the Abyss

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

For two thousand years people have made statues of Christ and venerated them. They have put them in churches, in small roadside shrines, and high up on hilltops. In northern Italy, they have put one under the sea.

Nov302011

Travel Recommendation

Storytelling and the John Knox House

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh aims to keep the storytelling tradition alive and bring out the best storytelling skills in the current generation of Scots. They run storytelling workshops, performances, seasonal events, a café, a library, and a bookshop and giftshop and also the John Knox House.

Nov302011

Travel Recommendation

Saint Thorlakur Feast Day

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

If Christmas is coming then it’s time for the feast of Saint Thorlakur. A 12th century cleric who studied in Paris and England, he was Bishop of Skalholt in Iceland until his death on December 23rd 1193.

Nov292011

Travel Recommendation

Carols at St Martin in the Field

London

My Recommendation Tip

One of my favorite churches in London is St Martin in the Fields. It sits on the edge of Trafalgar Square opposite the National Gallery and it’s so pretty and, to me, just so London. Probably because of its location, which makes it symbolize the city for me. The 1726 church is very pretty from the outside and surprisingly plain inside, but there’s been a church on this site since at least 1222.

Nov292011

Travel Recommendation

Tuscan Christmas

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

No one does Christmas quite like Italians. And Tuscany is no exception. With numerous holiday events going on all around Italy, we rounded up some of the best in Northern Tuscany.
1. Cinque Terre: The stretch of Italian coast in northern Tuscany where the villages of Cinque Terre cling to the edge of the land is spectacular enough at any time of the year, but at Christmas this area really turns it on.

Nov282011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas and Pantomime

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

This is not something very familiar to people outside Ireland and the UK but they are hugely popular and a sold-out feature every year in the Christmas season: it’s Panto time. Pantomimes are basically very simple, very gaudy, very noisy theatre shows, suitable for all ages, and requiring loud vocal audience participation.

Nov282011

Travel Recommendation

Christmastime in Rome

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Since Rome is basically the place from where Christianity was consolidated and spread, it’s no surprise that its makes a big deal out of Christmas–as it should; the Eternal city’s monuments and ancient architecture are prime for decorating, and the city does Christmas right.

Nov222011

Travel Recommendation

Give Art for Christmas

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

If you’re looking for something different to give as a gift this year, head for the Open Art Exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Open from mid-November to mid-December, its focus is on small scale, affordable artworks and there are literally hundreds of pieces to choose from, or just admire, by artists from across Scotland.

Nov222011

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Christmas Things To Do

London

My Recommendation Tip

London is a Christmas-y town (didn’t you see Love Actually?) and there are tons of holiday events going on. Here are just a few suggestions.
1. Christmas Lights: London’s Christmas Lights are famous, especially along Oxford and Regent Streets where this year they are giant parcels, a nice change from recent year’s film tie-ins… Don’t miss Carnaby Street around the corner with holly and berry garlands and mistletoe chandeliers. And Covent Garden’s display is impressive with a huge topiary reindeer and a Christmas tree in the piazza.

Nov212011

Travel Recommendation

Imaginosity

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

So the kids have finally had enough of historic buildings, historic libraries, and the Guinness factory in Dublin? Time to indulge their fantasies a bit and take them to Imaginosity, Dublin’s Children’s Museum. With the ethos of hands-on play and stimulating young imaginations, it’s definitely not a regular museum in the traditional sense of the word.

Nov182011

Travel Recommendation

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Evora

Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

Evora may be one of Portugal‘s best kept secrets, but just in case you needed extra convincing, here are my top 5 reasons to visit Evora.

Nov182011

Travel Recommendation

Best Views of Venice

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

Venice boasts some of the most spectacular sights in Italy. Here are my top 5 best places to get a good view of Venice.
1. Campanile: It’s the city’s tallest building at 325 ft (99m) and is slap bang in the middle of one of the greatest tourist precincts in the world. Happily, it has a lift. From up here you can see the whole lagoon over to the Lido, the lovely jumble of the city’s rooftops and on a clear day even the Dolomite mountains in the distance.

Nov172011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas Markets in Italy

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

It’s that time of the year – a frenzy of gift buying for family and friends and if you’re in Italy it just gives you more of an excuse to shop in the world’s top style destination. Not surprisingly many cities and towns turn on special Christmas markets (Mercatino di Natale) from the end of November through to early January, so here’s a few of them

Nov172011

Travel Recommendation

The Maastricht Caves

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

I have to admit that due to my well-developed claustrophobia visiting caves is not high on my list of things to do. Especially not caves as intricate and deep as the Maastricht Caves. Located under Saint Pieterberg Hill and stretching under the city, there are over 20,000 passageways creating this labyrinth of tunnelling dug by centuries of miners of marl, a lime stone for building houses.

Nov162011

Travel Recommendation

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

Since 1950, the forecourt of Edinburgh Castle has hosted the annual Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Set up to raise money for charity, the Tattoo began with eight items on the programme; this year it will run for three weeks during August, with hundreds of performers representing four continents.

Nov162011

Travel Recommendation

Palazzo Strozzi

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Florence is honestly full of gorgeous historic palaces which amaze you with their glimpses into how people once lived – well, the wealthy people anyway. Palazzo Strozzi has the added attraction of being a modern arts center as well as an historic palace.

Nov152011

Travel Recommendation

Christmas Tree Lighting in Reykjavik

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

It’s already started snowing in Iceland – well, the first snows have fallen on the mountains across from Reykjavik – so you’re pretty well guaranteed a white Christmas if you head there for December. With the onset of the cold and long dark days ahead, Icelanders embrace the festive season by emblazoning their towns with light.

Nov142011

Travel Recommendation

Ham House

London

My Recommendation Tip

Ham House. Terrible name, wonderful house. This gorgeous 17th century mansion is on the banks of the Thames River near elegant Richmond on the edge of London. It was home to Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart, a woman very involved in political life during the time of the Civil War, that shortlived time when England was a Commonwealth without a king or queen.

Nov142011

Travel Recommendation

Roma Moderna

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Benito Mussolini is a name that still haunts Italy and Rome. Every empire founder needs a city built to their glory – Mussolini decided to create Roma Moderna, his 1935 vision of a city within a city.

Nov112011

Travel Recommendation

Chamonix and Mont Blanc

France

My Recommendation Tip

France is full of top ski resorts and one of these is Chamonix. You can’t go wrong heading to a valley under Western Europe’s highest and most famous mountain, Mont Blanc. I am not a skier, I am more likely to say Pen when people say Mont Blanc, but that’s where the Aiguille Du Midi cable car comes in.

Nov102011

Travel Recommendation

Sinterklaas

Amsterdam

My Recommendation Tip

He might be an old man with a flowing white beard and a long red cape but The Netherland’s Sinterklaas is a little different to the Coca-Cola-type Santa Claus we all know. For starters, he comes from Spain, which means there is no tradition of snow and reindeer and sleighs. Instead, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain, coming up the Amstel River in mid-November

Nov092011

Travel Recommendation

Catch a Bus on the Cote d'Azur

French Riviera

My Recommendation Tip

discovered the most fantastic thing in Nice: the local buses cost €1 no matter where you go. (Well, there are limits.) Although it would be difficult to tire of Nice itself and that gorgeous seafront, the museums and food, we were keen to explore a little more of the coast but didn’t have a car.

Nov082011

Travel Recommendation

Shopping the Markets in Florence

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Milan may be the fashion capital, but Florence is known for its shopping, too. Leather goods and jewelery are particular specialties. The markets and their charming, haggling stallholders are world famous, and you must never accept the first price offered: bargaining is a game here and they expect you to play: it’s half the fun.

Nov082011

Travel Recommendation

Madeira has Year Round Sunshine

Islands of Portugal

My Recommendation Tip

If the approaching winter is beginning to scare you, you can always head for Madeira. This island in Portugal sits in the Atlantic Ocean on about the same latitude as Casablanca in Morocco, hence all year round sunshine. The islanders boast it is never too hot, never too cold, and they can grow bananas all year round. To those of us who watch the snow build up outside our windows for a few months each year, that’s envy-worthy.

Nov072011

Travel Recommendation

The Arts Are Alive and Well in Montmartre

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

104 Centquatre in Paris is an artists’ studio and exhibition space that’s reenergizing artistic life in Montmartre. Once home to visionaries such as Picasso, Dali, Monet, van Gogh, Montmartre inevitably became trendy and gentrified and too expensive for artists to inhabit. But a new arts space has opened up in an old 19th century building that was, until 1997, home to the municipal undertakers, Pompes Funebres.

Nov042011

Travel Recommendation

Bristol: from Brunel to Banksy

England

My Recommendation Tip

The port city of Bristol has always been a place of innovation. Once it was the city where explorers set out across the seas to discover new lands, more recently it has been a source of great contemporary music and home to the infamous graffiti artist Banksy.

Nov042011

Travel Recommendation

Madonna della Salute

Venice

My Recommendation Tip

n 1630-31, Venice was gripped by a second plague in a century. It claimed nearly 100,000 lives, or one in three Venetians. The Doge appealed to the Virgin Mary, promising to build a magnificent church of thanks if the plague ended. End it did and he made good on his promise with the Church of Madonna della Salute.

Nov032011

Travel Recommendation

Visit Picturesque Groningen

Netherlands

My Recommendation Tip

Groningen is perhaps not a name that immediately springs to mind when you are thinking of cities in The Netherlands, but this university town in the north might surprise you. There’s been a university here since 1614, and it graduated the first female student in The Netherlands and also the country’s first astronaut!

Nov032011

Travel Recommendation

Palace of Caserta

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

Back when the south of Italy was the least wealthy part of the country and people struggled to feed their families, the King of Naples decided to build a grand palace. Construction of the Palace of Caserta was begun in 1752 and it was the largest European palace built in the 18th century. Charles wanted his very own Versailles and he came close to achieving it.

Nov022011

Travel Recommendation

Reykjavik's Pools

Reykjavik

My Recommendation Tip

Iceland is blessed with an endless supply of hot thermal waters. It’s what makes the country habitable in the winter. So you’ll find that all these local pools have outdoor thermal pools. My favorite is Sundlaug Seltjarnarness where there are three outdoor hot pools, a large swimming pool and kids’ pool and a sauna.

Nov022011

Travel Recommendation

The Sherlock Holmes of Edinburgh

Edinburgh

My Recommendation Tip

The creator of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Picardy Place, Edinburgh in 1859 and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He based the character of Sherlock Holmes on his teacher Joseph Bell, an Edinburgh surgeon famous for being able to draw medical conclusions from small shreds of information: he was one of the first forensic medical investigators.

Nov012011

Travel Recommendation

Seeing Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress

London

My Recommendation Tip

I have to say I had no idea just how fabulous Kate Middleton’s dress was until I visited Buckingham Palace during the summer openings and saw it up close. It is absolutely a work of art. Unlike Diana’s dress, which was so over-the-top and dated so fast it now looks frankly a bit silly, Kate’s dress will, I’m confident, continue to look elegant and quite, quite beautiful for years, if not centuries to come.

Nov012011

Travel Recommendation

The San Miniato Truffle Fair

Tuscany

My Recommendation Tip

In Tuscany during November, people flock to the San Miniato Truffle Fair. It’s held in a medieval hall on the 2nd, 3rd and 3rd weekends of November, the heart of truffle gathering season. 25% of Italy’s truffles are found in this region and other towns also have truffle festivals in October and November including Volterra and San Giovanni d’Asso near Siena. If you haven’t tried truffles, this is your chance

Oct312011

Travel Recommendation

The Hugh Lane Gallery

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

In 1908 art collector Hugh Lane left his collection to Ireland, which established Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. This gallery of modern and contemporary art includes works by Monet, Manet, Degas – important Impressionist works. Since then the collection has grown to over two thousand pieces, including such artists as Sean Scully and Joseph Beuys.

Oct312011

Travel Recommendation

Verano Cemetery

Rome

My Recommendation Tip

Verano Cemetery in Rome was the first municipal cemetery built in Rome and is still the city’s largest. Begun in 1811 it was situated just outside the then city walls on land that had belonged to the Verani family.

Oct252011

Travel Recommendation

Bringin Back Tartan

Scotland

My Recommendation Tip

Sir Walter Scott may have been the world’s best marketer. What was he selling? Scotland.

Oct242011

Travel Recommendation

O'Connell Street

Dublin

My Recommendation Tip

Cities and their streets are as much victims of fashion and the changing of government policy as the rest of us. Take O’Connell Street in Dublin for example.

Oct242011

Travel Recommendation

The Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop

Paris

My Recommendation Tip

The Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop place is one of my favorite haunts in Paris. It has a wonderful location on a small street, Rue Bucherie, beside the Seine, within eyeballing distance of Notre Dame, and close to the crepes and red wines of the Latin Quarter.

Oct212011

Travel Recommendation

Bicester Village

Bahamas

My Recommendation Tip

This place is a shopper’s paradise with pretend little village streets full of designer stores in which everything is massively discounted – clothes, homewares, cosmetics. Sometimes its samples, sometimes last season, sometimes the greatest find of your life which then lasts you for years because its well made, of good cloth and gorgeously styled.

Oct212011

Travel Recommendation

Belem Tower

Lisbon

My Recommendation Tip

Back in the day, Portugal was quite the maritime force in the world, and Lisbon was the center of the beginnings of globalization.

Oct202011

Travel Recommendation

Bari - Gateway to Everywhere

Italy

My Recommendation Tip

One of the main reasons travellers find themselves in Bari is because it is a major ferry port. From here you can get to Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. And being the major city of southern Italy, train connections within Italy are also good, heading for Rome and Milan in the north as well as many of the southern towns.

Oct192011

Travel Recommendation

The Vasari Corridor

Florence

My Recommendation Tip

Florence is known for its history of powerful rulers and political intrigues. Combining these both into one massive architectural show of power and secrecy is the Vasari Corridor.

Oct182011

Travel Recommendation

Lobster Soup

Iceland

My Recommendation Tip

The New York Times food reviewer said it was the best lobster soup he’d ever tasted. In his life. Anywhere in the world. And it’s found in a tiny rustic cabin alongside the docks in Reykjavik, Iceland.