The Boston Harbour Hotel is located at Rowes Wharf, one of the oldest in the United States. Situated where a battery from the 1600s once stood, this arched structure is at once part of history and part of the regeneration of the Wharf. All around are fine dining restaurants and unique shops, ensuring that your stay in this area of Boston will be an enjoyable and memorable one. Of course, a hotel cannot merely rely on a great location; it must provide the service too, which the Boston Harbour Hotel does in spades.
Built to replace its predecessor, the Langham Grand Hotel, the Langham has continued the tradition of providing a warm welcome and friendly service at all times. It combines this perfectly with the sophistication that one would expect in what used to be the Federal Reserve Bank. As a result, it is a welcome luxurious retreat from the hustle and bustle that inevitably comes with such a central location. The hotel is located right in the heart of Boston’s cultural and economic centre.
Locals and travellers alike agree that one of San Francisco’s main appeals is its size: about 127 square kilometres. This, along with the excellent transport network, makes getting around all of the city’s attractions quite easy. This is a huge plus, considering just how many attractions San Francisco has to offer! One could quite feasibly spend weeks here, yet not get a chance to see everything. Here are just four essential San Francisco experiences.
North Beach, in the Italian Quarter of San Francisco, is a misnomer; it is not in fact a beach but a stylish neighbourhood of eateries, shops and cafés. One of its most popular buildings is the fabulous Church of Saints Peter and Paul. Make your way to the summit of Telegraph Hill, home of Coit Tower and spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a great place to get some treasured souvenir photos. The tower’s interior is adorned with huge murals dating from the 30s, showing San Francisco as it was in the early 20th century.
The Heart-of-Hollywood Hike brings the walker on a loop around the Runyon Canyon; a total distance of just under 5 kilometres. Cloud’s Rest is an amazing viewing point of the canyon and Hollywood Hills. Every so often, one will even spot a famous face around here! Those with dogs will welcome the fact that around here, their pets are allowed off the lead once they remain under control. The trail’s beginner level of difficulty means that it is very popular, so if one is looking to go “off the beaten track” as it were, this is not it. Nevertheless, it is a very enjoyable trail, overlooking luxurious estates, the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Sign.
The Topanga State Park Trek follows the Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook. Just over 11 kilometres in length (there and back), the reward for one’s efforts is the spectacular landscape that can be seen at Parker Mesa Overlook. The first 3 kilometres or so is full of zigzag bends and steeply sloping hills, bringing the walker to approximately 396 metres above sea level. As a result, it is certainly a challenge, but the views at the summit while one enjoys a well deserved picnic are guaranteed to be worth it.
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Dating from the Middle Ages, the district of Alfama is the ‘Old Town’ of Lisbon. Like most historic quarters, it has a unique old-world charm that makes one feel like they have stepped back in time. Situated on a picturesque knoll, this was originally where the Jews and Moors of Lisbon settled, before fishermen decided to move in. It was the one part of the city that was not razed by the earthquake of 1755; a testament to the quality of its buildings. The best way to explore this district is to get lost in its maze of narrow streets, soaking up the atmosphere as you stroll.
Avenida da Liberdade is the main thoroughfare in Lisbon, and as a result is where you will find the greatest concentration of shops (both high end and high street), cafés and theatres. There are also many stylish buildings along here; the most acclaimed are numbers 206-218. Some boast art nouveau windows, while others house a branch of Prada. The middle of the avenue is very attractive, as it is decorated with water features, sculptures and flowers.
The International Museum of the Reformation is situated on the ground floor of the very impressive Maison Mallet. This is located beside Saint-Pierre Cathedral, on Rue du Cloître. Through various artefacts such as writings, primitive prints and artworks, this museum teaches the visitor about the cultural and religious reasons for the Reformation, and how Geneva played a key role in its advent. It also describes the cultural and religious changes that were brought about as a result. There are also much more modern exhibitions for all the family, such as educational movies, workshops and rooms where one can listen to music associated with this seminal event in history. Mobility impaired can easily get around the museum. It is open Tuesday to Sunday (December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1 excluded) from 10am to 5pm.
In Parc des Bastions, you will find the University of Geneva liberal arts campus. Not only this, if you are a fan of chess you can have a game on one of the oversized chessboards. History buffs can admire the tall sculptures of venerated Calvinist figures. These men played an important role in Geneva‘s history. Located beside Place Neuve, this lush park also links Plaine de Plainpalais and the Old Town. Hence it is a great place to wander around while walking from one district to the other.
Funchal, capital of Madeira, began life as a pirate town, cultivating fennel. Nowadays, it is a vibrant city, with a host of upmarket hotels and restaurants. It is very popular all year round with tourists, as it is sunny whatever the season. Here, one will find sun, sea, sand, history, culture and easy access to nature reserves and mountains. With all this to offer, it is little surprise that those who visit here return time and time again.
For some decades now, Funchal has been a stop-off point for Atlantic cruise ships. This is because the centre of the old town, with all its heritage, shops, eateries and coffee shops, is easily accessible from the harbour. The view from deck as the ship sails into Funchal Harbour is considered to be amongst the most impressive in the world; rivalled only by Rio de Janeiro. It is customary for the majority of European cruise ships on their maiden voyage to stop here.
Albufeira’s location on the coast means that it is relatively easily accessible by a number of different nationalities. First came the ancient Romans, who established a settlement that they named Baltum. The Romans were great administrators; they brought to the newly founded Baltum innovative farming methods, as well as establishing mines and businesses. Even today, one can still see evidence of the streets, bridges and aqueducts that they built. Over the millennia, Baltum’s citizens were also heavily influenced by the Greek, Carthaginian and Phoenician peoples, who gave them the concepts of money, preserving food with salt, and the alphabet.
As Baltum began to trade with coastal North African countries, the Moors migrated here, quickly spreading along the Algarve. They referred to the town as Al-Buhera; meaning Castle of the Sea. It is thought that this was a reference to a fortress then in existence. At that time this fortress stood on top of an imposing rock, which overlooked the lagoon in the town’s low-lying section. Over time, the name ‘Albufeira’ came into being. The Moors also made their own contributions to farming practices in the region, as they introduced new methods of cultivating the land, ploughs, fertilizers and water wheels (used to bring water up from wells deep under the ground).
The Park of Sciences is a unique learning experience for young and old, with interactive permanent exhibition spaces such as the Biosphere Room, Perception Room, Eureka Room and Explore Room. This is not merely about reading boards on a wall, but using your senses to experience science at work all around you. There are also several temporary exhibition spaces, so every time you visit there is something new to discover and learn. Learn all about the wonders of space and the universe in the Planetarium and astronomical garden. Visitors can also learn about how the history of Spain was influenced by the Moors in a separate dedicated section. Appreciate the beauty of living butterflies in the butterfly pavilion.
The Sacromonte is amongst Granada’s most historic and vibrant neighbourhoods. Here you will find fascinating caves, where gypsies dance, sing and play instruments after the sun goes down. When the Christians took control of Granada, the gypsies followed them, bringing flamenco music to the city. They also introduced traditional dances such as the zambra and mosca, and songs such as the capucha. The Sacromonte’s biggest landmark is the Sacromonte Abbey, home to artefacts and relics from Granada’s first Christians. In the interpretative centre, you can learn all about the district’s history.
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Looking down on the Neva River’s south bank and Palace Square, the Winter Palace is undoubtedly one of the most well known landmarks in St. Petersburg. Over the centuries, this imposing building has played a very significant part in the cultural and political life of the city. Some sections of this early 18th century building have been renovated and can be explored by visitors.
Anichkov Palace was amongst the first buildings constructed on Nevsky Prospekt, one of the busiest main roads in St. Petersburg. At the time of its construction in 1741, on the orders of Empress Elizabeth, this tree lined area was in the outer reaches of St. Petersburg. It was a present for the Empress’s lover, Aleksey Razumovsky. When he died, his brother sold it to Catherine the Great, who in turn gave it to her lover, Prince Grigoriy Potemkin, as a present.
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Las Palmas is the capital city of Gran Canaria. It is found to the north east of the island; this is a particularly beautiful area, set amongst two scenic coves. In between these coves are the Playa de Las Alcaravaneras and Playa de Las Canteras beaches; two perfect spots for soaking up the rays and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Real de Las Palmas was first established in the late 15th century. Hence it also is a city of substance, with its own long established culture and local economies before it became popular with tourists. As the settlement grew, it split into two districts, Triana and Vegueta. These were located on the left and right banks respectively of the Barranco de Guiniguada. Nowadays, the Calle Juan de Quesada, a modern day main road, forms the border between both of these areas. Vegueta is the ‘Old Town’ of Las Palmas, and since 1990 has been officially recognised by UNESCO as a place of great cultural and historical importance.
For about four centuries, the population of Las Palmas mainly remained within the walls of Triana and Vegueta. During the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s, these two districts, as well as some humble immigrant and fishing districts and San José, together formed the city. However, in the 1800s, when Puerto de la Luz harbour was built, Las Palmas began to grow northwards, following the coast. It was at this time that Arenales, Alcaravaneras, La Isleta, Santa Catalina and Ciudad Jardín districts came into being.