Florence has dozens of world class highlights: The Duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo and the Uffizi Gallery to name a few. Far away from these popular sights, it also has wonderful cobbled backstreets and uncrowded alleyways. Aimlessly wandering these laneways is a rewarding experience. Small, local restaurants and quiet piazzas with charming fountains. Neighbours gossiping door-to-door. Tiny flower stalls and greengrocers. Best of all, as the the crowds stay on the well-worn tourist path, you have these experiences largely to yourself.
The beach in Nice curves around the Bay of Angels for about 4 kilometres and is almost entirely composed of smooth pebbles. Interspersed along this stretch of coastline are 15 private beach concessions. These private beaches are marked out and fenced off from the general public and have sun-lounges, umbrellas, towels and food and drink facilities. For those not willing or unable to afford 40 Euros for this privilege, there is plenty of free beach space available.
Founded by The Moors in the 8th Century, Alfama is Lisbon's oldest district. It's a labyrinth of alleyways, compact archways and small cobbled terraces. The houses are outwardly derelict looking, yet ornately tiled with wrought iron balconies. As you progress further up the hill away from the Rio Tejo you find magnificent churches and viewpoints where Lisbon opens up beneath you.
The landscape of Val d’Orcia was redeveloped in the 14th and 15th centuries to reflect an idealised model of good governance and to create an aesthetically pleasing picture. The landscape’s distinctive aesthetics, flat chalk plains out of which rise almost conical hills with fortified settlements on top, inspired many artists. Their images have come to exemplify the beauty of well-managed Renaissance agricultural landscapes.
The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or "Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flowers" is the main church of Florence, Italy. Il Duomo di Firenze, as it is ordinarily called, was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style with the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Renaissance master Filippo Brunelleschi. The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.
Whilst the Berlin Wall separated the city above ground between 1961 and 1989, the underground U-Bahn network still spanned East & West. Three lines that began and ended in the West but transited through the East contained 16 stations. These stations became what is known as "ghost stations". To stop people getting on in the East to go to the West, these stations were manned with soldiers carrying machine guns. As trains approached these desolate, musty stations, the trains slowed, but never stopped. Barbed wire fences were installed to prevent any would-be escapees from East Berlin from accessing the track bed, and the electrically live third rail served as an additional and potentially lethal deterrent. An alarm was triggered if anyone breached one of the barriers. The signage was removed at the entrances, walkways were walled up and stairways were sealed with concrete slabs.
Nice Old Town, known locally as Le Vieux Nice, is a charming honeycomb of narrow streets, dotted with beautiful Baroque churches, vibrant squares, shops and restaurants. The pastel shades of the Old Town houses, often with their shutters drawn against the fierce summer light, bring reflections on a grander age of travel. From the second half of the 18th Century English aristocrats came to Nice to escape the chill, both seasonal and moral, of northern climes for the warm, welcoming air of the Mediterranean.
Australia is renowned as one of the world's premier surfing destinations. Its 25,000km of coastline is blessed with beach, reef and point breaks to challenge the most experienced surfers. Some of the world-class breaks include Cactus, Bells, Snapper Rocks & Ship Stern Bluff. There's also hundreds of city breaks, where you can easily head to after the working day has ended. Surfing in Australia is more than just a sport; it's a way of life for thousands.