Five years after the Emperor Vespasian’s forces razed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the legion he once commanded in England moved to pacify the population of another small country: Wales. The military camp it set up in Caerleon on the River Usk may have been bad news for the locals, but it left some of the finest Roman remains in Europe, including the most fully excavated amphitheatre in Britain where you can still make out the pens where fighters were held before they entered the arena.
Lord Levy isn’t happy. Actually, that isn’t strictly accurate; sitting in warm sunshine, eating breakfast with his wife Gilda, in Bubbe’s, one of two breakfast venues at Eilat’s Royal Beach Hotel, the chairman of Jewish Care seems remarkably happy and relaxed, especially at the end of a year during which JFS (of which he is president) has been riven by seismic legal judgements, and in which he underwent emergency heart bypass surgery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.