Holidays

Manhattan: Curtain up on the world’s biggest film set

By Richard Burton, January 7, 2010

A group of us were in the Monkey Bar being stung the price of a cup final ticket for a bottle of fairly ordinary merlot when Keith Richard strolled past.

The smokers spotted him, ambling by with his daughter when they popped outside for a cough and a wheeze.

The following night Jessica Simpson sat a few tables away at Jean Georges, and in the morning in the lounge at Plaza Athenée, a waitress told me I was sitting in Sir Paul McCartney’s favourite seat.

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Goa: The hippie trail ends

By Roma Felstein, December 29, 2009

Idyllic but flawed would fairly sum up Goa’s reputation. On the one hand reliably perfect, warm weather when the rest of the northern hemisphere is in deep winter; on the other, a haven for crazy hedonists and party animals.

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Istanbul: The empire strikes out

By Anthea Gerrie, December 22, 2009

One effect of Istanbul’s stint as European Capital of Culture 2010 will be an opportunity to showcase its shiny modern face. The city, best known for ancient Byzantine and Ottoman splendours, is actually a hip, thrusting metropolis with great designer shopping and a burgeoning contemporary art scene. But with a famous historic skyline dominated by domes, minarets and fortified Ottoman palaces, 21st century Istanbul remains largely unknown.

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There's much more to Oxford than Morse

By Anthea Gerrie, December 17, 2009

You wouldn’t think you could spend a morning in Greece, an afternoon in Rome and a lazy Sunday in ancient Egypt — all without leaving Oxford. You wouldn’t know it because the Ashmolean — a once fusty, dusty collection of curios crammed into display cases — didn’t let you know. But that place is a planet removed from the marvellous museum which has just reopened.

More than £61m has gone into transforming Britain’s oldest museum into what must surely be the best showcase the nation has of the world’s most important civilisations.

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Champagne welcome for inaugral Eilat flight

By Jan Shure, December 15, 2009

Around 150 passengers were given a champagne welcome when they flew into Eilat City airport on the inaugural Isrotel Sun Express flight from Luton on Sunday night.

The flight – the first of a programme running through the winter – was arranged by the UK-owned hotel chain to provide direct flights between London and the Red Sea Resort.

Rafi Sadeh, managing director of Isrotel said they had decided to provide the charter flights for those booking packages at their hotels to “keep the UK market alive”.

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St Petersburg: truly a city for all seasons

By Daralyn Danns, December 3, 2009

With its pretty canals, ornate churches and palaces, St Petersburg still exudes the opulence of Imperial Russia. Wander round the streets studded with beautiful buildings and you half expect to bump into Catherine the Great or see Rasputin lurking around a corner. Yet, while St Petersburg is cleverly embracing its past, it is also confidently moving into the future.

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After the mines, Durham sees the light

By Anthea Gerrie, November 26, 2009

Considering its vibrancy, beauty and historical treasures, it’s amazing that Durham is not a major fixture on the tourist trail. One can only assume it’s because this little jewel of a city and county are squashed between the majesty of Yorkshire, which trumpets its offerings much louder, and the glorious Northumberland coast.

But this tiny place — which has been dubbed the best to visit in the UK — won’t be hiding its light under a bushel much longer.

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Get the needle on a trip to US coffee heaven

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, November 19, 2009

A few years ago, Seattle tourism officials coined a new word to sum up the charms of this lively hub of the US Pacific Northwest. The slogan they came up with — “Metronatural” — evokes the way the city’s modern urban centre is ensconced in one of the most beautiful natural settings in North America ; it also reflects how this setting inspires the lifestyle and experience of residents and visitors alike.

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Solved: mystery of Sweden's tourist boom

By Anna Goldrein, November 19, 2009

It began in front of my TV, watching Henning Mankell’s deadpan detective, Wallander, shuffle his way unerringly to the solution of a crime. Wallander’s world was one of strong spirits, heart-warming humour and cold-hearted murders set in the moody landscape of Southern Sweden.

Not content to buy the best-selling Kurt Wallander Mysteries or wait for the second BBC series starring Kenneth Branagh in the New Year, I flew to Copenhagen and crossed the Öresund Bridge to the fertile region of Skåne (pronounced skoener), home to two worldwide hits — Absolut Vodka and Kurt Wallander.

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Iceland's frozen assets

By Anthea Gerrie, November 12, 2009

Their banks may have hammered our pension funds,  but Icelanders are giving something back this year — at least to visitors. This fascinating land of geysers and volcanoes, which has also carved an urban reputation for hot clubs, cool bars and cutting-edge design is now at its most affordable in a decade. 

Devaluation — theirs — plus low-cost flights make this a great time to discover Reykjavik, the most northerly capital in the world, as well as the natural wonders of the nearby Golden Triangle.

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