Borough Market, London, United Kingdom
Eat for free (or very cheap)
I dare you not to act like a kid in a candy store when visiting Borough Market. Hundreds of different types of cheese, cured meats, seafood, breads, pates, chutneys, jams and even a little Biltong (god, I love Biltong). Plus you actually don’t have to buy a thing! They have free samples laid out for passers by to try and if you get a little banter going with the server, you can score some bigger sample sizes. In fact, it’s possible to almost have an entire lunch in bite-sized pieces without spending a penny!
London, United Kingdom
Free London or super cheap: Number 11 bus
Did you know that there’s one bus route running through London which hits loads of the tourist hotspots and is a public service bus and therefore so much cheaper than a guided bus? Well you do now, and it’s easy to remember… it’s the number 11 bus and I like to remember it by thinking of the number 11 as a pair of legs, and that’s what you’ll be saving by using the bus. OK I know my brain is strange sometimes. Anyway, this magical bus hits loads of the good spots, starting in Liverpool Street (close to Spitalfields market and Brick Lane, famous for its curries), and passing St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Westminster (for Buckingham Palace), Chelsea and ending in Fulham Broadway. All this, and just £1.20 a ride, capped at £4.20 for oyster card users, meaning you’ll only ever pay £4.20 in a day, no matter how many times you jump on and off. That’s a saving of £17.80 off a London bus tour!
La Croisette, Cannes, France
This is precisely the sort of place for which the verb flâner (to dawdle, saunter) was invented. Head to this famous waterfront promenade—which runs for 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from its western terminus by the Palais des Festivals—and allow the esprit de Cannes to take over. Stroll among the palm trees and flowers and crowds of poseurs (fur coats in tropical weather, cell phones on rollerblades, and sunglasses at night). Continue east past the broad expanse of private beaches, glamorous shops, and luxurious hotels (among them the wedding-cake Carlton, famed for its see-and-be-seen terrace-level brasserie). The beaches along here are almost all private, but it's worth forking out the money to get the total Cannes experience.
CANNES AT A GLANCE
Backed by gentle hills and flanked to the south by the heights of the Estérel, warmed by dependable sun but kept bearable in summer by the cool breeze that blows in from the Mediterranean, Cannes is pampered with the luxurious climate that has made it one of the most popular and glamorous resorts in Europe. Its graceful curve of wave-washed sand peppered with chic restaurants and prestigious private beaches, its renowned waterfront promenade strewn with palm trees and poseurs, its status-symbol grand hotels vying for the custom of the Louis Vuitton set—this legend is, to many, the heart and soul of the Côte d'Azur. A tasteful and expensive breeding ground for the upper-upscale, Cannes has long been a sybaritic heaven further glamorized by the ongoing success of its film festival, as famous as (and, in the trade, more respected than) Hollywood's Academy Awards. About the closest many of us will get to feeling like a film star is a stroll here along the famous La Croisette promenade, lined with fancy boutiques and lorded over by the Carlton hotel, the legendary backdrop to Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief. Nearly 60 years later with life imitating art, a whopping $53 million worth of jewels was stolen from this same hotel, one of many high-profile heists to hit Cannes during the summer of 2013. Settled first by the Ligurians and then dubbed Cannoïs by the Romans (after the cane that waved in its marshes), Cannes was an important sentinel site for the monks who established themselves on Île St-Honorat in the Middle Ages. Its bay served as nothing more than a fishing port until in 1834 an English aristocrat, Lord Brougham, fell in love with the site during an emergency stopover with a sick daughter. He had a home built here and returned every winter for a sun cure—a ritual quickly picked up by his peers. Between the popularity of Le Train Blue transporting wealthy passengers from Calais, and the introduction in 1936 of France's first paid holidays, Cannes became the destination. La Croisette, which starts at the western end by the Palais des Festivals and leads over to the Jardin Alexandre III, is precisely the sort of place for which the French invented the verb flâner (to dawdle, saunter): from the broad expanse of mostly private beaches to the glamorous shops and luxurious hotels, which these days are filled with the not-so jet set and conventioneers. info by fodors.com
Botanic Garden, Ubud, Indonesia
Botanic Garden Ubud
These gardens, spread over 4.9 hectares (12 acres), provide an excellent look at the variety of lush island plant life. Highlights include the orchid greenhouse, a Muslim garden with a symmetrical tiled path, and the fruit tree area. A labyrinth, purportedly the first in Bali, is a surefire hit with youngsters.
Ubud is one of the world's most magical destinations!
Ubud was the cultural, artistic, and spiritual heart of Bali centuries before the tanned, toned, and bejeweled began to sashay through the hallowed haunts of south Bali. Perhaps Ubud's destiny as a point of confluence was sealed in the 8th century by Rsi Markendya, a wandering priest from Java, who (legend has it) found the perfect patch for meditation where the eastern and western branches of the Wos River meet in Campuhan. This holy site is now Guning Lebah temple. Ubud's position as a center of the arts developed under Tjokorde Rai Batur, king from 1850 to 1880, a member of the Satriya family of Sukawati, who had been significant supporters of the arts and culture over the centuries. Ubud's modern cultural prominence is a result of a fortuitous meeting of one of the scions of the House of Ubud and Walter Spies, who came to Denpasar in 1926. At the time the arts in Bali were undergoing a process of redefinition, as the traditional forms of patronage and funding, namely the rajahs and the temples, were under Dutch colonial rule and were no longer sources of wealth. Survival meant innovation and an important meeting of the minds. Walter Spies came to Ubud on the invitation of Prince Sukawati, and, together with friend and fellow artist Rudolf Bonnet, encouraged and financed individual artists in developing new styles that put art and artist ahead of tradition. This is known as the Pita Maha. At about this same time Bali became the bohemian destination for glamorous artistic society, Dorthy Lamour, Charlie Chaplin, and Noel Coward loved it, Margaret Mead and her lover Gregory Bateson got married on a ship en route to Bali, and Barbara Hutton fell head-over-heels for Walters Spies who had a different sort of partner in mind altogether. By the early 1960s, Ubud had attained fame as a unique artists' community. Enter Arie Smit, the most well-known and longest surviving Western artist in Ubud, whose Young Artists school of painting in Penestanan earned him an enduring place in the history of Balinese art. In the following years the entire artistic region around Ubud flourished, including the enclaves of Campuhan, Penestanan, Sanggingan, Nyuhkuning, Padang Tegal, Pengosekon, and Peliatan. Nearby are the centers of wood carving at Mas and of silverware at Celuk. Described by many as one of the world's most magical destinations, Ubud, despite the advance of yoga centers, spas, villas, and luxury hotels, remains relatively unchanged. The town has taken a stand against the encroachment of tourism and has defended its cultural practices and artistic endeavors against the influx of outsiders. By order of decree no McDonald's, Starbucks, or KFCs are allowed within its boundaries. by frommers.com
Marbella is Spain's answer to St Tropez.
Situated along the Costa del Sol, Marbella is Spain's answer to St Tropez. This chic holiday resort is a favoured get-away among the rich and famous and it’s not hard to see why. There’s an endless supply of world-class restaurants, luxury hotels, spectacular golf courses, fashionable shops, a lovely marina and a vast number of lively bars and clubs to keep you entertained til sunrise. Marbella may be the most famous place on the Costa del Sol but there are numerous other areas that are well worth a visit! There is a wealth of things on offer in the surrounding region with each destination offering its own individual qualities. You can visit the ‘white village’ Mijas and wander the cobbled streets, dine in the mountains at Benahavis or go down to Gibraltar to see the rock and the monkeys that reside there. With the N340 coastal motorway traveling right across the Coast it is extremely easy for those that are unfamiliar with the area to navigate their way around the Coast! All the areas listed are within a two hour drive of Marbella and hiring a rental car at Malaga Airport is often the most popular and cost effective way of getting around!
Holy Chapel (La Sainte-Chapelle), Paris, France
Built by the obsessively pious Louis IX (1226–70), this Gothic jewel is home to the oldest stained-glass windows in Paris. The chapel was constructed over three years, at phenomenal expense, to house the king's collection of relics acquired from the impoverished emperor of Constantinople. These included Christ's Crown of Thorns, fragments of the Cross, and drops of Christ's blood—though even in Louis's time these were considered of questionable authenticity. Some of the relics have survived and can be seen in the treasury of Notre-Dame, but most were lost during the Revolution. The narrow spiral staircase by the entrance takes you to the upper chapel where the famed beauty of Sainte-Chapelle comes alive: 6,458 square feet of stained glass is delicately supported by painted stonework that seems to disappear in the colorful light streaming through the windows. Deep reds and blues dominate the background, noticeably different from later, lighter medieval styles such as those of Notre-Dame's rose windows. The chapel is essentially an enormous magic lantern illuminating 1,130 biblical figures. Its 15 windows—each 50-feet high—were dismantled and cleaned with laser technology during a 40-year restoration, completed in 2014 to coincide with the 800th anniversary of St. Louis’s birth. Besides the dazzling glass, observe the detailed carvings on the columns and the statues of the apostles. The lower chapel is gloomy and plain, but take note of the low, vaulted ceiling decorated with fleurs-de-lis and cleverly arranged Ls for Louis. Sunset is the optimal time to see the rose window; however, to avoid waiting in killer lines, plan your visit for a weekday morning, the earlier the better. Come on a sunny day to appreciate the full effect of the light filtering through all of that glorious stained glass. You can buy a joint ticket with the Conciergerie: lines are shorter if you purchase it there or online, though you'll still have to go through a longish metal detector line to get into Sainte-Chapelle itself. Sights aside, the chapel makes a divine setting for classical concerts
Musee Rodin, Paris, France
MUSÉE RODIN REVIEW
Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) briefly made his home and studio in the Hôtel Biron, a grand 18th-century mansion that now houses a museum dedicated to his work. He died rich and famous, but many of the sculptures that earned him a place in art history were originally greeted with contempt by the general public, which was unprepared for his powerful brand of sexuality and raw physicality. During a much-needed, multiyear renovation that has closed parts of the Hôtel Biron (it's set to finish in late 2014), the museum is showcasing a pared-down, "greatest hits" selection of Rodin's works. Highlights Most of his best-known sculptures are in the gardens. The front garden is dominated by The Gates of Hell (circa 1880). Inspired by the monumental bronze doors of Italian Renaissance churches, Rodin set out to illustrate stories from Dante's Divine Comedy. He worked on the sculpture for more than 30 years, and it served as a "sketch pad" for many of his later works. Look carefully and you can see miniature versions of The Kiss (bottom right), The Thinker (top center), and The Three Shades (top center). Inside the museum, look for The Bronze Age, which was inspired by the sculptures of Michelangelo: this piece was so realistic that critics accused Rodin of having cast a real body in plaster. There's also a room (condensed during the renovation) of works by Camille Claudel (1864–1943), Rodin's student and longtime mistress, who was a remarkable sculptor in her own right. Her torturous relationship with Rodin eventually drove her out of his studio—and out of her mind. In 1913 she was packed off to an asylum, where she remained until her death. For €1 you can enjoy the 7 acres of gardens. If you want to linger, the Café du Musée Rodin serves meals and snacks in the shade of the garden's linden trees. As you enter, a gallery on the right houses temporary exhibitions. An English audioguide (€6) is available for the permanent collection and for temporary exhibitions. Buy your ticket online for priority access (€1.80 extra fee).
Take in the city’s best views
The Madrid skyline is one of the most attractive in Spain. And if there's a perfect place to take it all in, it's from the rooftop terrace at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in C/ Alcalá. From this massive patio you can see the whole city, its great avenues, famous monuments, green spaces, and the Cuatro Torres, the capital's big skyscrapers. It's also an ideal spot to have a drink and watch the sun set. But that's not the only vantage point for enjoying the incredible views. In Gau&Café, smack in the Lavapiés barrio, you can have dinner while you admire ruins from an 18th-century building or the 'corralas' - apartment buildings with a central courtyard and balconies running around each floor that each flat opens onto - very typical of Madrid's residential architecture, especially in this neighbourhood. If you're looking for something a bit more central, try the Hotel de las Letras or the Urban (with a swimming pool), which are just a short walk from the Puerta del Sol. The lookout point from the Basílica de San Francisco el Grande or the one behind the Templo de Debod show a lesser-known side of the capital, while if what you're after is more of a bird's-eye view, head for the Teleférico de la Casa de Campo.
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