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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The wine on the Rhine is all mine, all mine – well, and yours

The wine on the Rhine is all mine, all mine – well, and yours

If, like me, you think most TV wine experts sound as if they have consumed too much rather than telling us anything sensible, imagine my trepidation at listening to actual wine producers. Add to that, the fact that these wine producers are predominantly young, incredibly enthusiastic people in Germany’s most celebrated wine growing area, the flood of fruity, flowery fabulousness would surely be unstoppable. Fortunately, the over-the-top tipple-talk seems to be confined to our shores – or at least the wine…

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Roman holiday in Trier

Roman holiday in Trier

“What are those windows balanced on your nose?” our toga-wearing guide Heidi asked me before embarking on a tour of Trier where 2,000 years of history pass under your feet in an afternoon’s stroll. “I have heard these vehicles have horse power but I am looking and I cannot see the horses”, she continued, staying in role as a Roman citizen of the city that was once known as the second Rome and is so closely linked with the first…

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Malta’s Mediterranean Magnet

Malta’s Mediterranean Magnet

Malta’s Mediterranean location has made it irresistible to outsiders over the centuries. But now the island welcomes the waves of overseas visitors with open arms rather than valiantly trying to repel them. Just three hours’ flying time means Malta is near enough to be a good alternative to the Costas for families looking for an easy-going sunny holiday. Being a Mediterranean country the way of life is relaxed and family friendly. The lion’s share of life revolves around the pools and…

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Cars, culture and cuisine in Stuttgart

Cars, culture and cuisine in Stuttgart

Even if, like me, you see cars purely as a way of getting from A to B you still cannot be impressed with two of Stuttgart’s favourite tourist attractions, two magnificent modern museums and their shiny exhibits, one for Porsche and one for Mercedez-Benz. But don’t get the impression cars are the only attraction to this city with its industrial reputation as the ‘cradle of the automobile‘.  The sixth largest city in Germany, the capital of Baden-Württemberg, is one of the…

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Montenegro makes it on the map

Montenegro makes it on the map

Montenegro has the attraction of being a sunny Mediterranean destination that lots of people would find hard to find on the map. But it won’t stay like that for long – and it certainly didn’t use to be the case. Hollywood stars used to take their luxurious breaks on the stunning coast of what is now one of Europe’s youngest and smallest nations when it was still part of Yugoslavia. While there is much, much more to this country of just 600,000…

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Washing away your sins in Bhutan

Washing away your sins in Bhutan

FEW people have heard of the country of Bhutan and fewer still could point to it on a world map. In some respects it would be best for Bhutan and in turn for the small number of visitors to the Himalayan kingdom if it stayed that way. Bhutan is indeed a very special country, deeply traditional, devoutly Buddhist but also at first seemingly paradoxically progressive. When I asked our delightful guide what it would be like to live in Bhutan if…

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KOLKATA has had a bad press

KOLKATA has had a bad press

KOLKATA has had a bad press. Think of Kolkata – or Calcutta as most of us still know it – and you instantly see images of Mother Theresa, slum dwellers, squalor and beggars. In reality this is a fabulous city with some of the most glorious colonial buildings in Asia, smiling faces, superb cuisine, luxury hotels, vast green spaces and fun. Kolkata is also more relaxed and less intimidating than the other big cities of India. It is also virtually tourist free….

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Tea time on the right tracks in India

Tea time on the right tracks in India

Darjeeling conjures up images of women in colourful saris delicately hand picking the finest tips of the tea plants. It is also where the British Raj fled to escape the heat of the Indian plains and sweltering Calcutta. The town itself is precariously spread down a steep mountain ridge in the foothills of the snow-capped Himalayas amid tea “factories” on sprawling plantations. While it has lost the charm of other colonial hill towns such as Strawberry Hill in Malaya’s Cameron Heights or…

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