Alone bell tolls from somewhere close by, not an unfamiliar sound when you’re in Italy, but at this moment it’s rather more poignant. I’m inside Ferrara’s ancient shul, still going strong in the heart of the former medieval ghetto, nearly 600 years after it was built.
On any other day it would have been difficult not to notice the charm of the black volcanic landscape and the contrasting low-rise white-washed towns of Lanzarote. But as I drove along hilly roads from Playa Blanca in the south through Arecife, the capital, and on to the hillside village of Nazaret in the north, I hardly noticed the chain of multi-hued mountains that snake from end to end.
If you are going to visit Bordeaux, home to some of the world's finest wines, you may as well stay in the city's finest accommodation. The five-star Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa delivers on all fronts - an ideal central location, stunning 18th Century architecture and enough luxury facilities to make you dizzy.
Standing in front of the squalid exterior of the Tacheles building in the heart of Berlin's Mitte district, I pause to ponder the existential question posed on the building's side. "How long is now" the giant mural asks passers-by, while the severe, stylised face spray-painted below suggests the answer is anything but frivolous.
With so many millionaires crammed into its 0.78 square miles, its awesome architecture, improbable number of spotlessly-lush parks and one of the smallest royals-to-commoners ratios in the world, you'd be forgiven for thinking Monaco is something dreamt up as a vehicle for a Grace Kelly film.
It took a six-hour train ride from London to Perth and a half-hour drive to Crieff for my first sight of Knock Castle, but it was worth it. With its enchanting turrets and fairytale character, the castle has a magic that glows through the drizzle.
On the way up, all I could see were the clouds.They were blurring the view of the peak, but as we edged closer the scene began to look a little spooky as the silhouette of the mountain-top restaurant, Tête de Solaise, began to emerge through the misty white.
After a day skiing on Val d’Isère’s slopes. I admit to imbibing more than a soupçon of apres-ski sustenance, yet I was still cold. As activities levels and temperatures dropped well below freezing, by the time I got back to Le Chardon chalet (one of five that comprise the Chardon Mountain Lodges) I just wanted to thaw quickly.
THE road to Bovey Castle is narrow and winding, the approach marked by unimposing iron gates. It is far from an ostentatious entrance and one you could easily miss. This place is a closely guarded secret and they’d clearly like to keep it that way.