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Archive for June, 2010

T0 many Brits the case is closed, the Isle of Man is full of strange folk and is the place where weird things happen. It is however a whole lot more than this. The Isle of Man may be the secluded summer destination of many wealthy Brits but it is far from strange. The island itself is a natural paradise: rolling hills, lush and green valleys, rugged rocks along the coast. What could be so strange about that?

Sitting in between Ireland and England, the Isle of Man is a rare mix of Norse and Gaelic traditions, both having settled there between 400 AD and 800 AD. Today it is still heralded for its culture, heritage, landscapes and most of all its legends.

The island is ruled by Manannan mac Lir, the god of the sea, who protects the island by hiding it under his cloak when invaders are coming. Fairies are said to make their home here, so when you’re passing over Fairy Bridge make sure you wish them a ‘Good Morning!’ or ‘Good Afternoon!’ in order to ensure good luck for the near future.

It’s true that many visit the island for the TT Races every year, but if you ask me, it’s hardly a reason to go to the Isle of Man. Why watch some motorcycles when you can hike through the hills, explore the coastline and enjoy a steaming dish of spuds and herring, the local favourite?

You’re bound to wind up in a pub at some point during your trip to Mann, so pull up a stool and ask the bar tended to tell you some stories about the island. There is a reason why many refer to this place as the Isle of Strange, but it’s up to you whether you are going to believe it.

How to get there?

There are cheap flights from Liverpool to Isle of Man for £45 round trip. Both flybe and easyJet fly there on a daily basis.

You can also take the ferry from Liverpool or Heysham to the island’s capital, Douglas. During the summer there is also service from Dublin.

Don’t give into the legends of strange on the Isle of Man, travel there and discover it for yourself!

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Lovely Lyon, it’s never hard to choose where to go for a short holiday in France with so many choices just about every part of the country has something unique to offer. This year a lot of travellers will be trying to stay local, either because of their budget or for environmental reasons. The whole “buy local” has caught on globally and there is nothing wrong with exploring what’s in your backyard. I wouldn’t say Lyon is in Paris’ backyard but it’s close enough to make a great road trip for a weekend away if you fly.

My proposition: buy local. Even if it means staying home for holidays. Take a short trip away, hire a car (a hybrid is even better) and explore cities you’ve never seen in your own country. Lyon, if you’ve never been is a perfect destination whether you’re travelling solo, with a sweetheart, with your kids in tow, even with your parents!

Lyon is for lovers of food, wine (especially Beaujolais) and picnics in river-side parks. Architecture is at its best at the church of Notre-Dame de Fourvière in La Croix Rousse. The city is easy to enjoy and you shouldn’t waste any time getting to know Lyon’s dining scene: Lyon is second only behind Paris for the most restaurants per square kilometre in Europe. Not just restaurants, but delicious restaurants.

What to see in Lyon:

Musée des Arts Décoratifs – inside an 18th c. mansion is the city’s collection of silverware, furniture, porcelain, textiles and art objects.

Rue du Boeuf – located in Vieux Lyon, Rue du Boeuf has hidden courtyards, spiral stairs, fragile facades and endless towers and traboules. There is a lot to discover ion this street from 15th century houses to renaissance sculptures.

Jardin des Chartreux – a leafy park, it is a perfect place to set down yoru picnic basket while basking in the afternoon sun and soaking in the views of the rivier and Fourvière Hill.

Maison du Crible – one of the oldest mansions in the city, Maison du Crible has a charming courtyard with a rose tower.

Hotel de Ville – a gem designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte after a fire in 1674, the rest of the building dates even earlier than that in the 17th century.

Where to eat in Lyon:

Café 203/Café 100 Tabac – located near the opera, these two sister bistros are really popular for cheap dishes that are served from dawn until long after midnight. You should ask there the names came from. (9 rue du Garet, Presqu’île)

Juliénas – for something classically French, head here. The menu is almost strickly Beaujolais and is priced for those with a budget, even if you order a glass of wine with your meal. (236 rue d’Anse, Villefrance-sur-Saone)

Les Lyonnais – the local celebrities are immortalized in photographs on the walls of this French restaurant in Lyon’s old town. The menu features simple dishes adn tehre is always a plate of the day. (1 rue Tramassac)

Where are you heading for holidays this summer? Have you been to Lyon?

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