Europe

Polished up and perfect for a cultural break

By Rebecca Raven, December 2, 2010

You would have little inkling of Hungary's turbulent history from its elegant, unhurried capital, Budapest, which bears a striking resemblance to Paris in the layout of its wide boulevards and Empire architecture, much ofit adorned with exuberant stone decoration.

Until the Chain Bridge was built in 1849, Pest was linked to historic Buda by ferry. When the unified city emerged as the capital in 1872, Jews were an integral part of it, having arrived during the Roman period, and forming a quarter of Budapest's population by 1939.

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Pass the port please, I'm cruising in style

By Jan Shure, November 18, 2010

Sibling rivalry can be a painful business. One moment you are the focus of family attention: pretty, petite, gorgeously turned out and perpetually seen in all the most chi-chi spots. Then along comes a younger sister, more beautiful, better attired and with other enviable assets.

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Bubbles at the double

By Sharron Livingston, October 14, 2010

It was a warm, sunlit day in the cathedral city of Reims, France's Coronation City, in the Marne region of Champagne Ardenne. But inside it was a cool 10 degrees with 85 per cent humidity, the lights were dim, Je t'aime - the song Radio 1 banned for being too sexy, remember? - was playing. Above me were a bas relief of frolicking naked cherubs, and at the bottom of the stairs was Silus, a Frenchman, waiting to take me into a room full of guitar-playing finches.

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Italy's Greek island is perfect for a touch of autumn sun

September 16, 2010

The Greeks knew a good thing when they saw it. Arriving on Sicily's lush eastern coast nearly 3,000 years ago, they settled, prospered and expanded until they had colonised most of this fertile island suspended between Europe and Africa.

Their spirit remains alive and well in what is today an exquisite holiday playground. The fact that the warmest welcome and loveliest hotels and villas are concentrated in the east is attributed by locals to the nous of the commercially-minded Greeks whose descendants are Sicily's congenial hosts.

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The Lugger

By Anthea Gerrie, September 7, 2010

It's just a little old inn perched at the top of a slipway in a tiny Cornish hamlet, but The Lugger at Portloe has somehow achieved iconic status. Perhaps because its owners have injected seaside simplicty with a measure of chic without adding an ounce of pretension. Or simply because its romantic harbourside location is unbeatable.

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From Wagner's garden to the lake of Lucerne

August 26, 2010

Tolstoy loved it, Queen Victoria did too, Wagner got through a chunk of an opera here and Mark Twain was on a positive high wandering the streets. Where is this? Lucerne: a postcard-perfect Swiss lakeside town, tucked into the Alps within easy reach of Italy, Austria, France and Germany.

Right now, it is home to the greatest music-makers in the world - Vladimir Ashkenazy, Riccardo Chailly, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Mariss Jansons and Claudio Abbado.

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Birds, beaches and bays: the other Somme

By Sharron Livingston, August 10, 2010

The Somme, in Picardy, is the spiritual home of First World War I tourism; a place where descendants of fallen soldiers go to find the graves of their father, uncle or grandfather, or parties of schoolchildren are taken on educational trips.

So entrenched is the Somme in its Great War provenance, that the area is an unlikely destination for holiday-makers in search of fun and frolics, but that doesn't mean it isn't a beautiful area of France to visit - even without the pull of history.

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Soho House

By Anthea Gerrie, August 4, 2010

With its lack of handsome lobby, uniformed flunkeys or even a sign over the door, Soho House is the antithesis of Berlin’s imposing five-star hotels. Yet it is a five-star animal, albeit of a different breed.

This is the latest enterprise of the media luvvies’ empire, now owned by Richard Caring, which started as a private club in London. Part of its appeal is that guests become members for the duration of their stay, admitted to the  fabulous 7th-floor bar, lounge and restaurant, and the rooftop pool and bar above.

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It's no mystery why Christie loved Devon

By Anthea Gerrie, July 28, 2010

You don't need to be a sleuth to figure out why Agatha Christie set so many of her crime novels in Devon. She was born in Torquay, fell in love there more than once and spent the happiest years of her life in a holiday home high above the River Dart with her second husband.

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Even in Berlin, the jewels are in the East

By Anthea Gerrie, July 22, 2010

Can there be a city in the world whose centre has shifted as often as Berlin?  We're not just talking pre- and post-Cold War here… at every one of my three visits since the Wall came down, I've found the hub of all that was happening marching relentlessly eastwards.

Blame it on the rich stock of buildings going for very low rents in the depressed east when this city of two halves was reunited in 1990.  

Artists, designers and all kinds of other creatives felt encouraged to set up in the grim but affordable corners of what was already perceived as a buzzy and happening metropolis.

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