A small city has been built in the centre of Aarhus, the up-and-coming but lesser-known cultural capital of Denmark. The student population has been allowed to run riot with creativity, displaying their university art projects, elusive theatre and musical constructs for the 50th anniversary of the ten-day Aarhus Festival - one of the largest cultural events inScandinavia.
Friends were sceptical when I told them of my plans to visit Berlin. And it wasn't hard to understand why. Paris has Versailles and food, Rome has the Colosseum and fashion, Athens has the Acropolis and antiquity, Madrid has the Prado and flamenco.
There are 600 acres of land surrounding this remote but very stately home in St Laois. Parked by its lake are bikes and golf buggies but the best way to look around is by pony and trap. The driver, Lionel, points out the estate’s parish church, various follies, such as the viewing tower built to create jobs during the potato famine, the grottos and hidden gardens.
I had just turned into the side street from Dublin’s famous Grafton Street to the Westbury when I saw it. I instantly recognised the life size statue of Dublin-bred Phil Lynott. I was still humming “The Boys are Back in town” when I got to the reception desk on the first floor. “A fan of Thin Lizzy are you?” asked Eddie, the concierge in a charming Irish lilt.
When you are alone in a strange town, spending a few nights there can seem a little, lonely. So on a recent budget trip to Worcester, I shied away from the faceless chain hotels, opting instead for a bed and breakfast.
I found one in the village of Ladywood, a few minutes drive from town and noisy local pubs. At the every least, I reasoned, I would be in pleasant surroundings.
The Iadera gleams with newness. From the glass lifts, to the radiant white bathtubs, to the burnished sheen on the croissants, everything is polished. For guests at the luxury spa, it’s all about renewal too, settling into fluffy white robes, cleansing in the clear blue sea of the private beach, getting the grime scrubbed off, your tired muscles pummelled and eye bags smoothed away.