City Breaks

City Break Ideas

City Break Ideas

A crêpe fraise-chocolat 

What’s your top city break recommendation? Write a reply below and we’ll compile your ideas into a future episode. Where would you like to go and why?

Our own ideas include St Petersburg, for an evening of ballet at the Mariinsky, Munich for a tour of Ludwig II’s fairy-tale castles or Paris, just to linger over a crêpe at a pavement café in the Quartier Latin. How about you?

 

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A book for city wanderers

A book for city wanderers

If you like discovering cities on foot and are interested in the many authors who have done just that, then you’ll enjoy reading Lauren Elkin’s Flâneuse. It is partly about the cities themselves, partly about the authors wrote in them (think Jean Rhys in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London) and partly about Elkin’s own journey to becoming a writer. Wander via its pages through areas of Paris, New York, London, Venice and Tokyo and, the hint is in the title, meet some of the female authors who were inspired there.

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Gorgeous Georgian Bath

Gorgeous Georgian Bath

Today’s newspaper tells me that Donald Tusk, former President of the European Council, didn’t like the lovely city of Bath, when he spent time there on a language course. Not even the glorious Georgian architecture. After visiting the Circus, he complained that it was merely ‘a circle of boring, identical facades.’ We beg to differ. Bath is so spectacular that, when our Paris series ends, we have chosen it to be the subject of our very first UK series. Something to look forward to!

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Things you didn’t know you needed

Things you didn’t know you needed

Will you be dusting down your poshest knick-knacks for Christmas? Or re-gifting them, perhaps? Can you find anything to match two of our favourites from the Schatzkammer in Munich’s Residenz: golden toothpicks and egg-holder …. for ostrich eggs? Find out more in Episode 02 of our Munich series.

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Lost in Paris

Lost in Paris

The first episode of our new series on Paris will go out on December 4th. Since Paris is the city of ‘flâneurs’, what better time to recall the Paris-born writer Julien Green’s remark that ‘Unless you have wasted time in a city you cannot pretend to know it well.’? And where better to ‘waste’ time than Paris?

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Two Travel Books with a Twist

Two Travel Books with a Twist

Finishing off the Seville series with a look at interesting travel books, here are two which are a little out of the ordinary: Edward Lewine’s ‘Death in the Sun’ was written after a year following a well-known bull-fighter and his entourage round Spain and Jason Webster writes of the Arabic influences in Spanish culture which he uncovered on his journey across the country in ‘Andalus’. Both go far beyond the ‘here-are-some-things-I-saw’ approach and analyse a specific aspect of Spanish culture in fascinating depth.

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Gallery snobs

Gallery snobs

Are you ever annoyed by other people in art galleries? Can you match the snobbery of Sophia Peabody, the 19th century American art critic, infuriated by two hapless Englishmen visiting Florence’s Uffizzi gallery? She objected to their ruddy appearance, to the fact that they knew less about the paintings than she did and perhaps most of all to their ‘loud, lumbering voices, like sledgehammers modulated by a certain amount of civilisation.’ Ouch. Find out more in Episode 17 of our Florence series.

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Great travel anthologies

Great travel anthologies

City-Lit books, published by Oxygen, are such a good idea for anyone wanting to read a whole host of bits and pieces about the city they plan to visit. The Paris one offers extracts by ‘sixty dazzling writers’, everything from Victor Hugo at the top of Notre Dame to tips from Joanne Harris on avoiding the tourist bakers in Montrmarte and finding the ones where ‘the bread is better and the croissants are baked fresh every day’. Other cities covered include Berlin, Amsterdam, Venice, Istanbul, Dublin, New York, St Petersburg, and London.

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Bienvenido a Sevilla!

Bienvenido a Sevilla!

Our new series on Seville started this week and we’ll be covering everything from the city’s gorgeous Moorish architecture to the delights of tapas via flamenco, bullfighting and the golden age of Christopher Columbus. Here, as a reminder of the world-famous ceramics industry in the Triana disctrict, is the sign from the Royal Tobacco Factory, nineteenth-century workplace of thousands of ‘cigarette girls’ including  the fictional Carmen. There’ll be more about her in Episode 13.

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Peter the Great’s Vision

Peter the Great’s Vision

The site on which Peter the Great built his glorious city of St Petersburg was quite an inauspicious one. When you read the description of it, written in 1801, you have to admire Peter for his vision and determination. Compare the description with the photos of the finished article. ‘On the marshy shores of the Gulf of Finland, under an inhospitable sky, buried in fogs and snow, stood a miserable village.’ To get to know the city much better, see our St Petersburg series.

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