September 8, 2008
La Tomatina – The Biggest Tomato Fight in the World
Each person at some point in their lives will usually take an inventory of their experiences and accomplishments. For most men, this occurs during the dreaded “midlife crisis”. Upon reviewing the list, many will draw up a checklist of things to do while they still have the time to do it.
Luckily for us, the Independent UK has provided an excellent photo gallery of 100 things to do before you die. You’ll find the standards of travel there such as Mardi Gras, the Running of the Bulls, the Dakar Rally and Tomatina (pictured above), the world’s biggest tomato fight, held every year in Bunol, Spain.
September 5, 2008
The UK Telegraph is counting down the 50 Most Beautiful Gardens in the World. Why don’t we take a look at some of the European selections?
Courances, France (image above)
Is this the perfect example of the French formal garden? Created in the mid-17th century – reputedly by Jean, father of the great Andre Le Nôtre – the garden is filled with water in many moods, although it is serenity that sets the tone. In front of the château, to the south, is an elaborate box parterre that prefaces a perfect rectangular still pool, surrounded by lawns and trees. This vista continues along a broad grassy walk to a small circular pool with a statue of Hercules (symbolising strength and virtue) and on to a larger pool and amphitheatre. The woodland on each side of the main vista contains many more delights, with allées cutting through and pools, canals and cascades to discover. The other side of the house is dignified by a pair of long rectangular canals. The singularity of the conception is what appeals so much and lends this place its sublime beauty.
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September 4, 2008
A village in the south of France
The word “France” conjures up images of wine and cheese, of art and beauty, of quaint villages and the metropolis that is Paris. A compact country, France is nevertheless quite diverse in itself as one goes from the Norman coast along the English Channel through its Midlands and down into the Mediterranean south.
Anthony Peregrine, a British reporter for the UK Times, so fell in love with France that he’s moved there and has married a local. He writes an excellent series on France for his publication entitled Peregrine’s France.
In Peregrine’s France, you’ll learn about thebest towns in Provence, the Smart Guide to Gascony and you’ll be taken on a virtual cheese tour of the country.
Visit Peregrine’s France and share his journey with him.
August 15, 2008
Berlin’s The Weekend Club
In North America Berlin seems to get a bad rap (Europeans know better). When listing off the best European capitals to visit, people will usually start off by naming the holy trinity of European travel destinations: London, Paris and Rome. Beyond that you’ll usually hear Prague and Budapest and maybe Vienna and Copenhagen shortly thereafter.
It’s really quite too bad since Berlin has to be Europe’s most underrated city for tourism. A tectonic fault line worthy of San Andreas during the Cold War, the city manages to balance the old (Unter den Linden) with the new, tradition with technology, art with finance. The city has long been a centre of the arts and especially a nucleus for architecture and design.
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August 12, 2008
Bansagopal Temple, from the 17th century, in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square
Nepal served as the link between Hindu India and Buddhist China and remained a closed place until 1950. What Nepal lost from the lack of contact with the outside world, the rest of us gained from Nepal as the country and especially its capital Kathmandu are incredibly well-preserved in all their medieval glory.
Lucinda Lambdon of Vanity Fair takes a peek at how Nepal is intent on preserving its medieval charm in The Once and Future Kathmandu:
The movement to preserve the valley’s architectural wonders has gathered momentum ever since. In an act of astonishing bravura, in 1969, to celebrate the wedding of King Birendra, the German government backed the restoration of the Pujari Math, a Hindu priest’s house, and later undertook the restoration of more than 200 buildings in the town of Bhaktapur. In 1972, unesco began restoring the vast Hanuman Dhoka Royal Palace, in Kathmandu’s Durbar Square. There have subsequently been heroes aplenty, but here I must reserve my plaudits for the Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust, founded in 1991 by Harvard professor emeritus of architecture Eduard Sekler and American architect Erich Theophile, on whose heads I place glistening laurels; for, to date, the trust has saved, or helped to save, some 50 buildings. The most prominent supporter of the cause is Prince Charles, who helped launch K.V.P.T.’s plans for Patan’s Royal Palace complex by hosting a fund-raiser at Clarence House and making a donation from his personal trust. Restoration of the complex began in May of this year.
Read the rest of the article and see the photographs at this link.
August 11, 2008
Tim Moore takes the scenic route with his llama chum in the Tyrol
Why stroll through Austria’s Tyrol region alone or with a friend when you can hire a llama for company? Sounds silly, but it’s a tourist micro-industry there now. You can hire a llama for around 400 EU for three days.
Tim Moore gives us a bit of insight into his Tyrol trek with a llama.
The Eagle Way is a 1,480km trail through some of Europe’s most heart-stoppingly glorious scenery: distant clutches of chalets and spires engulfed by manicured, velvety meadows, verdant hillsides veined with tumbling glacial brooks and iridescent bursts of midsummer Alpine flora. And above it all a rearing backdrop of jagged, piebald peaks, among them Austria’s highest, the mighty Grossglockner. The sky was huge and blue, the air as crisp as apple strudel; it could not have been more Sound of Music. High on the hill with a lonely Guy-herd.
Up beyond the treeline we trekked into a suddenly desolate realm of scree and lichen, the rarefied air making every uphill step seem a little steeper. After three hours we spied our goal, at 2,642m, the mountain-pass hostel at Glorer. We toasted our arrival with a slug of schnapps, tethered the llamas, and enjoyed our first brush with the strange celebrity status bestowed upon those who accompany large animals in public. Two French families ran out of the hut in a state of gleeful enchantment, petted the llamas, quizzed their drovers, and manically photographed both species together and separately.
Read the rest at the link.
July 29, 2008
The Brits are coming, the Brits are coming! Greek tourist operators shudder……
If you’ve ever been on vacation in Europe and in particular along the Mediterranean coast, you’ve no doubt encountered the ugly British tourist. Usually clad in a soccer jersey and roaringly drunk by noon, they travel in packs and by the evening are engaging in the most public of sex acts with their female counterparts for whom the concept of shame is a completely alien one.
This year the Greeks are ready for the onslaught, as Helena Smith reports from Athens:
While Faliraki might be shaking off its notoriety as a ‘modern-day Sodom’, young Britons are still flocking to its neighbours in search of sun, sex and a hedonistic nightlife. Sometimes the result has been rape or even death, leaving bewildered Greeks to ask: what is wrong with the British?
In Malia on Crete, for example, the tourist season may barely have begun, but already a seemingly non-stop stream of Britons, many in their teens and most on their first trip abroad, have passed through the local courts. Evangelos Rossakis, the owner of a local supermarket, was last night recovering at home after being attacked by six British youths who had beaten him ‘black and blue’ because he had dared to ask them to drive less recklessly on quad bikes through the resort. Rossakis says his injuries are nothing next to the damage the teenagers later inflicted on his shop – or the time when a Briton bit off the nose of a bartender who asked him to leave.
But wait, there’s more!
Meanwhile in Laganas, on Zakynthos, 17-year-old Matthew Cryer, from Sheffield, appears to have drunk himself to death last week; the previous week 15 English tourists were charged with ‘lewd behaviour’ after participating in an open-air oral sex contest.
‘What is wrong with the British?’ asked Yiannis Kyriakakis, a senior police officer on Crete. ‘Why can’t you have fun calmly?