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English Seaside Towns

1. Aldeburgh, Suffolk

Aldeburgh is a charming, traditional, unspoilt seaside town with a sand and shingle beach. There is a traditional boating lake for model yachts, local museum, and historic 16th-century moot hall. The fishermen still draw their boats up on to the shore and sell fish from the beach. Some say that the fish and chips here is the best you can get on the East Coast.

This was once a busy port famed for its shipbuilding acumen. This is where Sir Francis Drake’s ships “Pelican” and “Greyhound” were built and local men sailed with Drake on these vessels. Sadly, the industry declined when the river Alde silted up.

Aldeburgh is internationally famous for its association with the Albeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts begun by Benjamin Britten. Look out for his stature along the beach front. The festival is in June each year and has many events in and around Aldeburgh.

There is a good range of accommodation available from good quality bed and breakfast establishments to three star hotels. There is also a wide range of restaurants from cosy cafés to starred restaurants and plenty of querky, independent shops.

2. Blackpool, Lancashire

With miles of gorgeous beaches combined

Whale Watching in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy

It’s amazing how quickly one can pick up the lingo of an activity. Fifteen minutes out at sea and twenty minutes after clambering into my orange all-in-one weather protector suit that will also serve as a life jacket if I fall overboard, I’m shouting “there’s a blow” along with the best of them.

Okay so I might not be quite ready to be an extra in the remake of Moby Dick but I am having – and I’m sorry but I can’t resist this – a whale of a time. A blow, a soaring exhalation of water and steam – is what marks the great creature’s whereabouts. You scan the horizon til you spot one, you holler and then you go haring off towards it, bumping across the waves in a small swift boat. It has all the thrill of the hunt without any of the cruelty: you come, you see, but they remain unconquered.

I’m whale watching in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy where the nutrient-rich Atlantic waters attract more than 15 species from June to November. As a first timer I was more than happy just to see one. In fact we saw three,

Lille a Flemish City in Northern France

Just 20 years ago, Lille was an ailing industrial town with only a defunct textile industry to show for itself. Since then it has undergone a multi-million euro face lift, attracted world-famous designer shops into its gabled buildings, became a feted university town and got itself onto the Eurostar network.

With its Flemish culture, its Ch’ti dialect, and gorgeous Flemish architecture, Lille has lots to offer Le Weekender.

Why go now ?

Lille’s streets are ablaze with festive lights and the Christmas market is in full swing. Eighty wooden chalet shaped stalls grace Place Rihour, roasting chestnuts and selling jewellery, toys and gifts. Don’t miss the waffles and gingerbread.

Nearby at Grand’Place a big ferris wheel offers a bird’s eye view over the city and there’s a merry-go-round dancing to the sounds of Noel.

Life is a Cabaret

Spend an evening at the all sequins and feathers dinner and cabaret show at La Prestige Palace (think mini Moulin Rouge) for a spectacular show. After a three course dinner, the pink and silver curtains draw open, the drums roll, and out come the dancing girls and boys singing tunes like Hello Dolly in Franglais

Things Didn’t Know About Colorado

1. Denver can lay claim to the invention of the cheeseburger. The trademark for the name Cheeseburger was awarded to Louis Ballast, a resident of the city in 1935.

2. In a small town called Fruita just outside of Grand Junction in Colorado’s west the locals celebrate Mike the Headless Chicken Day. The celebrations stem from a day when local farmer Mr. Lloyd Olsen cut off the head of Mike the chicken on September 10th 1945, in anticipation of a chicken dinner – Mike survived the ordeal and lived for another 18 months without a head!

3. Colorado boasts the highest continuously paved highway in the United States.  Trail Ridge Road – (US-34) passes through Rocky Mountain National Park between Estes Park and Grand Lake, crossing the Continental Divide at 12,183 feet above sea level. Colorado is also home to the highest paved road in North America. The Road to Mt Evans off of I-70 from Idaho Springs climbs up to 14,258 feet above sea level.

4. The world’s largest flat top mountain is in Grand Mesa. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views stretching from valley floor to the mesa top as they tour the Grand Mesa

Cycling Tour through Cuba

Cuba is said to look like a crocodile on the map, or a great fish swimming in the Caribbean’s blue waters. Whatever its shape, Cuba possesses a rich culture and is by far the largest of all the Caribbean Islands. The land is made up of lush mountains, rolling hills and flat plains, all covered with a fertile soil from which springs sugar, tobacco and a vast array of tropical fruits and vegetables. Cuba’s mountains, swamps and offshore keys, conceal a wealth of plant and wildlife, barely seen by natives let alone tourists.

The island’s natural riches are equalled by the charms of its people. Cubans are a mulatto race from the early days of the colony, Spanish blood mixed with Indians and black slaves, bought over from Europe and latterly French from the 20th century. All these influences created something akin to a bottle of aged rum – dusky flavour, full and intoxicating!

Much evocative prose has been written about Havana. Words do not really do it justice with its diverse architecture, wide avenues and the famous ‘Malecon’ promenade, particularly those at the city centre of Old Havana. Its magnificent decaying edifices

The Langeudoc beach

Languedoc has some beautiful beaches on offer, but you have to know where to go.Espiguette, for example, is often not marked on maps, yet it is one of the longest beaches in France, stretching from the marina at the Grau du Roi all the way into neighbouring Provence. Completely wild, with a sandy landscape of dunes and cacti bordered by beautiful clear waters, it’s a little difficult to find and the walk from the car park to the beach can be a long one, but its size guarantees everyone their own space, and its remoteness makes for an utterly peaceful, relaxing experience.

Near the city of Narbonne, Leucate Plage is also a great tip. Fir-covered hills rise along this stretch of the coast, dotted with attractive villas. The village has the feel of a Californian beach town, complete with surf shops and good restaurants serving up ultra-fresh seafood. The vibe is relaxed and the beach is enormous, attractive and clean, with fine sand and plenty of toilets and showers. Clamber around the rocks at the beach end and you come to a much narrower area enclosed by steep rocks which offers a more intimate and secluded atmosphere.

Reasons Why The Sahara is so Special

1. The beauty and tranquillity

…of the Sahara is unsurpassed, and the scale and sight of a clear 360° horizon is awesome. The landscape changes constantly and is anything but bare and barren, with high dunes, low dunes, wells and dry oases. In certain places there warm springs feeding into a warm lake, abandoned villages and an ancient ruined palace at Ksar Guilane.

2. Sunrise and sunset

…simply defies description, spectacular over that wide horizon.

3. Sky at Night

Sleeping under the stars, the desert sky at night is an evocative and awe inspiring visual phenomenon. Many times I have lain on the sand looking up at the night sky and sometimes, when my gaze returned to earth, it seemed as though the entire horizon was shrouded in mist. Impossible to distinguish between earth and sky, it looked as if the stars had come down to earth and were hanging in the bushes all around. Another night the sky was masked by one large black cloud leaving just the stars around the horizon showing. They looked like large, bold lettering. Later, the cloud had gone and the half moon was so bright and

Visit to Kazakhstan

For hundreds of years the nomads of Central Asia roamed over an enormous territory that stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Tien Shen mountains and as far south as Afghanistan.
Fought over, at first by the three dzus or clans known in the West as the Great, Middle and Little Hordes, and then annexed by the Soviets, Kazakhstan remained an enigma, its vast size – roughly that of western Europe – and inaccessibility put it beyond the reach of all but the most adventurous of travellers.

The Xanadu of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem was a ‘savage and enchanted’ land of sacred rivers, caves of ice and ‘twice five miles of fertile ground’.  It is almost as if his words were written for Kazakhstan whose rivers and holy places were sacred to the pre-Islamic shamanistic society that once dwelt there.

And 200 years after Coleridge wrote the opening lines, the country is itself opening up.  Thousands of miles of plains, mountains and glaciers, stunning canyons and natural monuments shaped by the wind, ancient cave paintings and glyphs can still be seen – as can modern cities complete with entertainment centres and shopping malls, built from scratch

French Towns Outside of Paris

1. Lille

Very visitor-friendly with a network of pedestrian shopping streets selling everything from high street fashion to haute couture, antiques to interior furnishings, rich chocolates to sumptuous patisseries.

Sit at a pavement cafe on the Place du General de Gaulle; stroll amongst the flower sellers and second-hand book stalls in the quadrangle of the Stock Exchange; and soak up the city’s past in the museum of the Hospice Comtesse. The Fine Art Museum housing France’s second most important art collection is far more manageable than the Louvre. And all just two hours from London by Eurostar.

2. Arras

Just 70 miles from Calais by motorway and famous for its two huge cobbled squares, laid out in the 13th century to house regional markets. The 155 gabled houses and stone arcades which lined the squares were completely destroyed during World War One and painstakingly rebuilt in the 1920s.

Take the lift up the belltower for a panoramic view of the city, then visit the 14th century underground passages beneath the squares which became British Army HQ during World War One. Watch the history film in the town hall, then follow the

Places to see in Puglia Italy

Part of the charm of Puglia, Southern Italy’s rising star, is its slow approach to everyday life. Centuries old farmland are hemmed by a superb sun-bleached sandy coast and travellers looking for a little more authenticity, are spurning Tuscany’s frenetic vibe for the peaceful nature of this region.

1. Gargano

In the spur of Italy, Gargano is replete with beautiful fishing villages, dark and ancient forests inland, fine sandy beaches but also rugged cliffs, secret caves and picturesque coves. A perfect hub for eco-tourism and relax.

The most popular and fashionable town in Gargano is the medieval village of Vieste, with its narrow streets and white houses, dominated by a stunning 13th century castle.

Among the most beautiful beaches we recommend Mattinata beach, especially the coastal area of Baia delle Zagare, with its famous stacks a few metres from the shore.

If you like fresh fish you have to try a dinner at trabucco, a traditional wooden fishing platform on the coast where you can watch the fishing process, help out if you want, and dine leaving you with a very memorable experience.