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Posts Tagged "city break"

Six Cycle Friendly Cities of Europe

Six Cycle Friendly Cities of Europe

On Yer Bike; On two Wheels Cycling is a popular, affordable and environmentally friendly way to see a city. In many European cities, it is positively encouraged. City planners are realising the benefits of cycling as a mode of transport and are providing cycle-paths, plenty of parking for bicycles, automated bike hire facilities, smartphone apps and bike-friendly public transport. Not all cities are equal in their provision of cycle-friendly facilities. Many provide facilities aimed solely at the commuter and not the visitor. I have picked out several of Europe’s cities that are best explored on two wheels. Each of the six have excellent facilities and infrastructure specifically aimed at the cyclist. Copenhagen The Danish capital has been at the forefront of making a city cycle-friendly. They have been so successful at it that the word, “Copenhagenization”, defined as urban planning…

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Review: Four Corners Cafe

Review: Four Corners Cafe

Four Corners Cafe was one of those finds you always dream of coming across in a serendipitous way. I had arrived at Waterloo Station more than an hour and a half before a scheduled meeting at The Sea Life London Aquarium and was looking for somewhere to settle down and get an hours work done. Out came my go to coffee app, Best Coffee (£). I discovered that there was an independent coffee bar a few hundred metres away. Using the map on the app I was able to find Four Corners Cafe easily. My route from near the London Eye did take me through what looked like London’s street art gallery – the long dark passage under the tracks out of Waterloo Station. Like many London cafes, they cater for cyclists in addition to walk-in customers. The first indication…

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European city breaks off the beaten track for 2017

European city breaks off the beaten track for 2017

London, Paris, Vienna, Venice and Florence, cities of the Grand Tour have always been popular and remain so to day despite the hordes of tourists and the high prices. Then there are the trending, or trendy, cities like Reykjavik, Tallinn, Barcelona, Prague and Amsterdam. Below are six cities I would recommend for 2017. I have included three or four highlights in each case but there is much more to see in all of them. Cologne Cologne sits on the banks of the Rhine and is dominated by its cathedral or Dom. At one point its soaring spires made it the tallest building in the world. After only nine years it was locked off the top spot by a tower of girders built by one Gustav Eiffel. The cathedral is said to house the relics of the magi who visited the…

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Thames River Walk – Westminster to Tate Modern

Thames River Walk – Westminster to Tate Modern

I had arrived in London’s Waterloo Station several hours early, fully intending to head underground and resurface at one of the many museums London has to offer. Then I noticed the rare sight of a warm, clear and sun-filled vista beyond the station. The River Thames was a silver streak glinting in the afternoon sunshine. “Why,” I thought, “spend time in a museum when I could be enjoying a stroll along the River Thames.” Putting thoughts into action I left Waterloo Station and headed for Westminster Bridge. I would follow a section of the Queen’s Walk; a promenade along the south bank of the River Thames. It was created for the Silver Jubilee Queen Elizabeth II and runs from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge. Westminster Bridge to the Hungerford Bridge I have always liked Westminster Bridge because of its iconic…

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Lyon: My top 10 reasons to visit

Lyon: My top 10 reasons to visit

Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, fly daily from my home city of Southampton to Lyon in France. Lyon is a city I have come to love and the fact that it is now connected by air without having to go through London and Paris means I will probably visit more often. They say Paris is the heart of France and Lyon is the stomach. Lyon is awash with restaurants with many holding Michelin stars. Certainly Lyon is the gastro-capital of France. However, there is more to Lyon than food as you will see from the list below. They are not ranked but rather listed according to approximate geographical location. 1. The Fourviere Basilica The Fourviere Basilica, perched high above the city on Fourviere Hill is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the patron saint of Lyon. It is fortress on the outside and…

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Sunset over Valletta

Sunset over Valletta

Having been distracted by Mint, a coffee bar in Sliema, we did not arrive in Valletta till mid afternoon. Being November we knew that our daylight hours were limited but this was only a preliminary wander to recconoitre Malta’s capital. From the ferry we climbed up to Republic Street, the main thoroughfare through Valletta. We wandered from square to square exploring but could not find the definitive view of the Grand Harbour the subject of so many photographs. A quick look at the map and we realised that the walled city of Valletta was on a peninsula between two harbours. Having discovered this we headed down the other side towards Victoria Gate. As we did so we were greeted by the instantly recognisable vista of Malta’s Grand Harbour. The best place to view the Grand Harbour is from the battlements…

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9 European cities for 2016

9 European cities for 2016

As a travel writer I am willing to travel to most cities of the world. However, I do have a wish list of places I would like to visit or revisit in 2016. The emphasis is on the word wish and not all wishes come true. That said however, here is my wish list of European cities for 2016. Ljubljana First is Slovenia’s boutique capital Ljubljana. I first visited this city in 1992 and immediately fell in love with it. Since that time I have visited a further three times and watched it metamorphose from a Soviet era regional city into a vibrant capital. Its cafe lined streets and riverbank, hilltop castle and the distinctive architecture of Slovene architect Pletničk are the draw. It’s the people, the events like the Ljubljana Jazz Festival and the cafe culture I want to experience…

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Malta: 8 Valletta Experiences

Malta: 8 Valletta Experiences

Back in the 1950s a young newly wed and her naval officer husband moved to the Island of Malta and immediately fell in love with the place. They settled in a quiet suburb of the capital Valletta and stayed for nearly three years. This year that same couple returned for a few days to the city they called home as a monarch and her consort. This time round it was not a navy wife following her officer husband to his posting but the naval officer husband (retired) following his wife as Queen and Head of the Commonwealth. In November 2015 I arrived in Malta and, like the Queen, immediately fell in love with the island. Two things are certain: I will not be returning as monarch and I will not wait as long to return. I will write about several aspects of…

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European city breaks by rail

European city breaks by rail

In the plane vs train stakes the train often wins hands down, or should that be wheels down, when it comes to total travel time from city centre to city centre. For journeys beginning in London this only applies to the cities nearest to the Channel Tunnel. Places like Brussels, Paris, and Amsterdam immediately come to mind. However, Cologne, Strasbourg and Lyon can be reached in little more than it would take to fly there. When the issue of comfort, no baggage fees or restrictions (within reason), high speed city centre to city centre journeys are taken into account travel by train becomes a far more inviting option. I have travelled on the high-speed Eurostar, TGV, ICE and Thalys trains across some of the European network and have chosen 6 cities worth considering for a rail break. Paris and Brussels are Eurostar destinations…

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Paddington Trail

Paddington Trail

It all started in one of London’s busy mainline stations. A little bear from “darkest Peru” was found with a label around his neck with a note “Please look after this bear. Thank you” Today there is a shop at Paddington Station that sells hundreds of these little bears resplendent in blue duffle coat and red bush hat. There is also a bronze statue of the same little bear who has had fame thrust upon him on the concourse. Named after the station on which he was found by Mr and Mrs Brown Paddington Bear has delighted generations of children for almost 50 years – including myself who grew up on the tales of the little bears, Paddington, Rupert and Winnie the Pooh. Somewhere between platform 8 and 9 there is a new Paddington Bear to be found. Instantly recognisable as…

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