Author Archives: Peter Taylor

Verona and Lake Garda – a great two centre holiday in Italy

Verona, Italy

Verona, Italy

THEY are only a half hour journey apart but, for a memorable holiday full of contrasts, Verona and Lake Garda go together like Romeo and Juliet.

Of course, that”s what a lot of the tourist trail in the ancient Italian city of Verona is all about. The story of the two young lovers had been going the rounds for a long time before Shakespeare came along.

But he spun it in to a classic in which the pair belonged to rival families, one supporting the Pope and the other Emperor Frederick I.He set the scenes of the ball , the balcony , the secret marriage , the farewells , the suicide of Romeo and then of Juliet all in Verona in around 1302.

Shakespeare wrote this in 1597 without ever visiting the area. Verona later obliged by finding the buildings where these events might have taken place and tourists have been flocking for decades to see the balcony, Romeo”s house, Juliet”s tomb, etc.

But perhaps even more impressive than all this is the very real Roman amphitheatre, commonly known as The Arena, which dominates the city. The third largest in the Roman world after the Coliseum in Rome , it is 500 ft. long by 420 ft. wide and 100 ft. high. It could accomodate nearly 25.000 spectators.

Its origin is believed to date from the end of the first century and musical performances are still given in the theatre as it has perfect acoustics.

Verona was always an important city because of its strategic postion and in the Middle Ages was regarded as the key to northern Italy. So it abounds in architecture and fortifications which reflect the various stages of its history.

An example is its main art museum housed in what was once a castle – Castelvecchio – which was the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty which ruled the city in the Middle Ages.

The abbey of San Zeno is said to be the greatest example of Romanesque architecture in northern Italy, and is composed of three stages: the actual building during the ninth century, its renewal between 1120-1138 and an enlargement which followed in the same century.

After filling your head with history you can relax alongside the scenic paradise of Lake Garda which used to be a big favourite of wartime PM Winston Churchill, who liked to capture its beauty in his paintings.

Another part of the magic of Garda is dining out beside the lake at night. It is regarded as one of Europe”s most a href=”http://www.deutschgluecksspiel.de/” charming lakes – over online casinos/a 30 miles long and ranging from 1 – 10 miles wide throughout its length, and  over 350 yards in depth in certain areas.

Ferries cruise between the villages that dot it and you can cruise the ferries all day at reasonable prices taking in spots like upmarket Riva, at the north of the lake, and the beautiful village of Limone, named after its plantations.

You can take a ride in a cable car up Monte Baldo for a stunning view of the lake at the resort of Malcesine which offers an incredible panorama at a height of 1850 m.

The most famous town on the Lake is Sirmione which is home to the “Rocca Scaligiera” castle which is one of the main attractions of the Lake. Built by the Scaligieri who were warlords of Verona and Lake Garda, and who during their time prior to the Venetian conquest of the mainland ruled most of modern-day Veneto.

The economy of Lake Garda embraces wine production, fine cheeses and small artisan workshops as well as tourism. In the winter everything closes down. Best times to visit are during the spring and autumn months.

In the summer months, the climate of Lake Garda can be very hot and humid, and often these months the high pressure of southern air clashing with the colder mountain air can create thunderstorms on a regular basis.

Also, the roads around the Lake can be a bit overrun with motoring tourists rather like the Lake District in England. A good time to use the ferries.

Cruises – take in a whole lot of the world in a short trip

cruise ship costa atlantica
MANY independent travellers take a dim view of cruises as a way of seeing the world and experiencing different cultures. You are following a pure tourist trail, the argument goes. You are not mingling with the locals and experiencing their culture at a meaningful level.

Backpackers in particular often view cruises as travel for older people, with more money, who only want to stop in a place for a few days at a time.

I don’t go along with that view. It seems to me a seven or ten-day cruise offers a fabulous chance, if you can afford it, to sample different countries and decide which you would like to see more of.

For instance, a Mediterranean cruise might offer the chance to visit Italy, Sicily, Malta, the Greek islands, and Turkey, all in the same trip.

On a Caribbean cruise you can take in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic as well as Jamaica and various islands in the sun.
h2Cruise extras/h2
You aren’t obliged to use the tours sold on board the cruise ship. It’s often more fun finding your own way around. For example, a port stop at Naples in Italy offers the chance to visit Pompeii, possibly the greatest Roman site of all…… and you can do it by catching a local train.

In some cases it may be better to opt for the organised tour from the ship. A visit to Bethlehem or Cairo’s famous Egyptian Museum can be a bit intimidating without a chaperone who knows the area.

Follow globewanderer for a forthcoming series of articles about cruising. The next one will set out the options for people considering a cruise for the first time.

Choosing the right ship for you is possibly the most important thing of all so watch our for some helpful tips and advice. We will offer as much lowdown as possible an cruise ships and destinations around the world.

Pick the right ship for the trip to fully enjoy your cruise experience

cruise ship Queen VictoriaIF you want to really enjoy your cruise you need to do a little research before embarking on your voyage.

The first and most important thing is to pick the right ship. Everything else – such as paying extra for an outside cabin or balcony – is secondary.

A mum and dad with young kids who pick a Fred Olsen ship may find it disappointing. It is a great, long-established cruising company which has been in the business since the early days

Over the decades it has built up a base of loyal passengers which it sets great store by. Therefore average age is older and it is particularly favoured by the older generation seeking peace and quiet.

Retired people find a cruise is a safe and comfortable way to travel but the age of passengers is getting younger each year with the. average age of first-timers now well under 40.

There are much more exciting options for the young family, for instance Disney Cruise Line ships which are designed to handle both children and adults well with different areas for different age ranges.

Ships with a nursery for ages 6-36 months are Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, Disney Wonder and Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.

Much is made of life on board a cruise ship but let’s not forget it’s all about travelling and seeing new places. Inside or outside cabins may be an important question for regulars to cruising but is it so important for people seeking their first cruise experience?

Having a balcony can enhance the cruise but how much time do you want to spend on your own reading a book as opposed to enjoying the sundeck or a bar or restaurant aboard?

Royal Caribbean  is good for families and children. Carnival offers a fun ship all-American cruising experience  which attracts passengers of all ages, mostly between 30 and 55, and is also good for children and teens.

The Norwegian cruise line and Princess Cruises offer a similar friendly US-style experience. Princess Cruises are popular with couples, families with teenagers and young children and older singles who like to mingle.

Costa  Cruises offers an Italian ambience with stylish lifts and atriums and is geared for families with children.

Celebrity Cruises are aimed at sophisticated adult couples and families with older children such as teenagers  who want to travel in style.

Holland America’s  big ships appeal to younger families with children while its small cruise ships are popular with seniors. MSC  Cruises are stylishly geared for adult couples and singles and families with children.

P & O is a  traditional British cruise company popular with British families wanting to sail fom the UK. It has adults-only ships and ballroom dance instructors and does theme cruises.

Cunard  is steeped in maritime history and the grand traditions of ocean liners  and best enjoyed by experienced travellers who enjoy a cosmopolitan sailing experience.

The Music City of Nashville

Nashville Music City

Downtown Nashville

Nashville is a big-hearted friendly southern USA city dedicated to music

The heartbeat of Nashville is an area where 2nd Avenue dissects Broadway, just a stone’s throw from the Cumberland River. This is Music City and it doesn’t disappoint.

Band after band can be found in bar after bar belting out their own live songs and the enjoyment goes on day and night. For the price of a beer, you can listen to one of the numerous bands that head to the city in search of recognition.

If you don’t like the band you can head for another bar until you the find music you like. It’s not all country music either. You can find rock and roll, blues, crooners, honky tonk. Take your pick. On 2nd Avenue, B.B. King’s blues club and restaurant is a famous venue.

Nice thing about downtown is that It’s not hyped up and over-commercialised and I hope it never will be. By day, there’s a casual and friendly family atmosphere which is totally enjoyable. By night it becomes even livelier as revellers flock in to bar hop and enjoy everything from retro-disco to line-dance hootenanny.

Broadway in downtown Nashville

Broadway, downtown Nashville

This downtown Nashville area, known as the District, is within walking distance of most of the venues and centres that have made this small city famous.

Between 2nd and 5th avenues lie the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ryman Auditorium and the Johnny Cash Museum, the state capitol building, the Tennessee State Museum, the Tennessee Centre for the Performing Arts, the Tennessee Convention Centre.

One thing about walking in the USA, many Americans consider any distance more than two blocks away to require a taxi. My hotel was between 25th and 26th Avenue so the hotel staff were just about imploring me to use shuttle or taxi.

But, after establishing it was safe to walk this area, I walked it and was rewarded with some great views of the Nashville skyline and a wander in to Music Row, on 16th and 17th, which houses famous old recording studios currently the subject of a battle for their conservation.

But for one thing, Nashville would be like any other party city throughout the world. That one thing is genuine grass roots music. The city’s love for it makes it a special place. I can’t think of any other city I have visited that compares with it. Maybe New Orleans, but New Orleans has an edge to it and you have to be careful where you go. Not so in Nashville.

When I was there, Paul McCartney was playing the Bridgestone Arena and I was lucky enough to take in his show. As I left towards midnight, after watching this great British musician perform non-stop for three hours showcasing 39 songs, the band in the bar across the road was playing a rousing version of Hey Jude. Nashville was buzzing.

Set on a bluff by the Cumberland River and surrounded by farmland, Nashville attracts millions of visitors each year, most coming for the country music.

Its other Mecca is The Grand Ole Opry which is 12 miles away from the city’s downtown area. The weekly country music stage concert presents the biggest stars of that genre. Founded in 1925 by George D. Hay it is also among the longest-running radio broadcasts in history.

http://globewanderer.co.uk/category/usa/georgia/

http://youtu.be/OU_BvX-k_iw




Hotels by Globe Wanderer

Variety is the spice of hotel life

I usually enjoy a wide range of hotels when I am travelling..

If I am travelling alone from place to place I will go for something cheap, with the occasional taste of luxury now and then, while if it’s a leisure break with my wife I like us to enjoy a good hotel.

 

Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

I’ll start at the top end with one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in and that is the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. It costs around £100 a night for a standard room but it’s worth it. You are right in the centre of an exciting city, no need for taxis, and there’s am amazing food court just over the road in the Peachtree Centre where you can eat fabulous food from all corners of the world for just a few dollars. The lift is a treat in itself as it takes you up 30 floors with some great altitude views.

Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, night view from guest room

Night view from my room in the Hilton, Atlanta

There are five restaurants and two lounges on the property. One is Nikolai’s Roof, which serves French cuisine with a Russian flair on the 30th floor. Be sure to check out the rooms with the best views on the Hilton website and enjoy the pictures below.

Hilton Hotel, Atlanta, gives a great birds-eye view of the city

Daytime view from my room in the Hilton

.