Stupendous stupas, dangerous dragons and sensational snorkelling

Stupendous stupas, dangerous dragons and sensational snorkelling

The traditional dancers in their exotic costumes were already coaxing tourists, having sampled the Indonesian lunch buffet, slugged down thirst-quenching drinks and commented on how hot it was, to join them on the stage. But Mad Dogs and all that. So we valiantly cooked under the by now seriously hot sun as more and more of our group headed for the lunch shade having decided they had seen enough carvings, climbed enough steps and listened to enough explanations for one…

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Size really does matter when you are all at sea

Size really does matter when you are all at sea

When it comes to cruising size really does matter. Yes, smaller really is better. That was patently clear as soon as we reached Dover and drove passed a towering floating town on water. Not our vessel. Phew! Instead, a few minutes later we were efficiently and friendlily checked in, on board, and after a turn on deck were sipping tea and trying to forget how many calories were in that second piece of cake. Yet, it is also true that…

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Cruising the Seine: lily ponds, Joan of Arc, afternoon tea – and the gym

Cruising the Seine: lily ponds, Joan of Arc, afternoon tea – and the gym

My partner Robin and I have different priorities for cruising – his involve visiting the gym, mine involve avoiding it. I judge the quality of the Afternoon Tea and views from the sofa; he the gym equipment and burning rather than consuming calories while watching exquisite sea and landscapes pass by. In fact, it was on Fred Olsen’s medium-sized ship the Boudicca that about eight years ago, we went on a cruise on the very same ship and he visited…

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Crossing the Arctic Circle

Crossing the Arctic Circle

You can tell there is something really special about sailing into Norway’s impossibly narrow Trollfjord when the Captain leans over the bridge to take his own holiday snaps. We were heading away from the stunningly beautiful Lofoten Islands off Norway’s North Western Coast on MS Boudicca when our excited captain announced that the weather conditions were good enough to take the ship through the 100 metres wide mouth of the Fjord Bear in mind that his ship is just over…

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What a hot geyser – Iceland

What a hot geyser – Iceland

On the first day I went swimming three times and spent 20 minutes on the running machine – well, gently ambling while watching the horizon gently tilting.  By day two, however, my pledge to the bathroom scales that I would not indulge in afternoon tea, show restraint with the wonderful dining and certainly avoid the midnight buffet had been thoroughly broken. As the stunning coast of Iceland appeared there was nothing for it but to accept this was going to a holiday of calories…

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ANTWERP: A WATERSIDE CITY WITH A CAPITAL

ANTWERP: A WATERSIDE CITY WITH A CAPITAL

ANTWERP’S official logo is a capital letter A with three little gold dashes either side. Some people tell you it has the dashes to remind you of the city’s glittering diamond heritage, others that is so you don’t confuse it with Amsterdam in the neighbouring Netherlands. I tend to go for the latter.   Sparkling Antwerp One of the galleries of Golden Age art in the Rubenshuis Antwerp benefits from having had a heyday in the 16th century, lapsing into…

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Coping in Copenhagen

Coping in Copenhagen

IF your idea of Copenhagen is the Little Mermaid and the Tivoli Gardens and probably the best lager in the world, you won’t be disappointed. But scratch a little deeper and you will find one of Europe’s most endearing and unusual cities, that is suited to a long weekend or the basis of a family holiday in Denmark. For families the unmissable attraction is Tivoli, one of the world’s amusement parks and unusually, it is located in the city centre….

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Blooming great time to visit Berlin

Blooming great time to visit Berlin

Looking for some green gifts to take home from Berlin? What about gardening inspirations,  vegetarian food ideas and some vegan condoms? As one of Europe’s “greenest” cities you are never far away from a park, garden, lakeside or riverbank to breath in some fresh air or just sit yourself down after hefty sightseeing in the German capital. Green is no longer alternative in the city but mainstream; so too are sustainable co-operatives, hipster bars and eco-friendly shops. So don’t be…

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Nuremberg is shining the spotlight on its Nazi torchlight rally past

Nuremberg is shining the spotlight on its Nazi torchlight rally past

On my first two visits to Nuremberg you have to take yourself off to find the monumental structures built by Germany in its Nazi period. While the city was keen to show off its magnificent medieval past, castles, walls, churches, the home of its famous son Albert Durer, beer halls and restaurants, the ever lingering shadow of its shameful past was kept just that, a hidden shadow. Now there has been a rethinking of what to do about the structures…

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