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.
From his lofty perch, Napoleon gazes across at what might have been. Back in 1804 more than 100,000 men of his grand army stood alongside him here at Boulogne-Sur-Mer poised to invade England. They even built the column in anticipation of victory.Fortunately, they got distracted by Austria and Russia in the east and abandoned the invasion.
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.