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Review: Iberostar Grand Hotel Budapest
A budget-conscious Quentin Long checks in to a central hotel to find that affordable luxury can be found; you just can’t have it all.
Anantara Peace Haven Resort Sri Lanka Accomodation Beachviews Indian Ocean
Tangalle – Sri Lanka’s prophet’s pitstop to paradise
Full of colour, smiles,  and… whitegoods, Sri Lanka is a teardrop isle of exotic flavours and cultures, and it’s concentrated in the  paradise of Tangalle. Words & photography Lara Picone.
LOiseau Blanc Paris restaurant
Nine secrets to a romantic Parisian getaway
Even the most resilient of marriages needs some rekindling... Ask almost any wife – well, Quentin Long’s on this occasion – and the best place to rekindle is unquestionably Paris. Here Quentin shares his romance rekindling secrets after a recent City of Light sojourn - sans kids. Let’s be honest, being married with young children is an exquisite form of hampster-wheel drudgery.   A Sydney-sized mortgage leads to two stressful jobs that don’t necessarily fit between nine and five.   Meanwhile, the kids need to be nurtured; healthy meals three times a day, dropped off to training, picked up from school, and when the weekend arrives, with an endless string of birthday parties and sporting commitments, the priority is quality family-time not ‘just the two of us’ time.   After a recent trip to the City of Light with just my wife, here are my 9 secrets to rekindling romance in Paris. 1. Find a granny You need someone who is going to allay any anxiety you could possibly have about the kids while you’re away, so a trusted granny (or equivalent) is a must.   For the best outcome for both granny and the kids, get her to move in while the kids are at school.   This gives granny a break during the day and normalises the situation for the kids. 2. Break the budget up front Find the best, most exquisite hotel you can afford and book it for as long as you can possibly afford.   I chose the Peninsula Paris. An enormous room with a bath bigger than many plunge pools was just what the situation required.   A long post-long-haul soak and several post-meal soaks are just what the love doctor ordered for serious rejuvenation of body and soul-mate.   The elegant lobby, cosy Le Bar Kleber and sensational breakfast at the Le Lobby restaurant (the house brioche with raspberries is a food experience for life) melts away any drudgery and the fantasy of reclaiming your life takes over.   The rooftop bar has the most incredible view of the Eiffel Tower and a sunset champagne is a mood-setter like no other.   Stroll the 20 metres from the bar to L’Oiseau Blanc for a meal with the best view in the Paris.   MORE: Where else to stay in Paris 3. It’s not about seeing anything in particular Focus on enjoying the luxury of just being able to walk along a street without worrying which one of your children is most likely to jump out in front of which car.   Revel in the simple pleasure of walking without having a child hanging off your leg asking to buy a new toy.   There is no birthday party to get to, meeting to prep for, report to read or email to send.   Paris is a great walking city to roam around so just walk free from all these constraints. 4. Pick an area Don’t fool yourself - you will not possibly see all of Paris.   Merely focus on one area every two days and enjoy the pleasure of getting to know the ‘hood - or arrondissement, to be truly accurate.   The Marais is perhaps the perfect rekindling area of Paris. Its narrow medieval alleyways are filled with shops and bistros. [caption id="attachment_24943" align="alignnone" width="1000"] The Marais quarter, great for aimless strolling and open on Sundays, unlike much of Paris.[/caption] Even better, when the rest of Paris closes down on Sundays (yes, it really does), the Marais, thanks to its Jewish heritage and being closed on Fridays, is open.   Make a point of taking in the great Place des Vosges for an afternoon resting on the grass watching Parisians go by.   MORE: The best of the arrondissements 5. Make a Seine A sunset by or on the Seine soothes the most exhausted of souls.   An hour marvelling at magnificent Haussmann architecture, with its grand proportions and flamboyant finishes, is an antidote to the most exhausted and weary of bodies. [caption id="attachment_24944" align="alignnone" width="1000"] Paris's river Seine "soothes the most exhausted of souls".[/caption] 6. Find the smaller galleries The major intuitions; Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and Pompidou are worthy showstoppers but it is the smaller institutions that suit a rekindling effort as they are less frenetic and overwhelming.   There are so many to choose but the Picasso Museum is the perfect fit for the occasion. A two-hour experience of the collection is intellectually interesting but not overwhelming.   Make a point of booking online and don’t turn up at opening time, when it’s most crowded. Early afternoon is best. 7. Forget the Eiffel Tower I know, I know, I know it is a wonderful monument with so much emotion attached to it for many romance seeking people, but it is so clichéd that it is not worth the time and effort.   Just spying the Tower on your strolls around the city is enough to conjure the romance.   You will find more togetherness moments in the gardens, bistros or shops of Paris than climbing to the top with thousands of others. 8. Get the lingua franca going No, not just because it is fun to try to speak French with the French.   And not just because the French are so much more affable when a few bumbled French phrases are attempted.   But because it is the language of love and is fun as a couple to laugh at your awful French while secretly enjoying its sexiness. 9. KISS - Keep it simple and sophisticated To truly rekindle you need to find yourselves and each other you need to totally avoid anything that resembles home life.   Just take the time out to spoil yourself on things that you haven’t done for years, such as days with no plans; sophisticated eating and a cheeky wine or two at lunch; shopping for the sheer enjoyment of it all.   If you can do that together, you are on the track to remembering all the great things about “us”. MORE: Everything else you wanted to see and do in Paris
Mural by street artist Rone, in Christchurch, New Zealand.
These are the world’s best cities for street art
The artistic antidote to urban greyness, street art has become increasingly popular across the globe. But for the best cities to see colourful and clever murals, we asked street art expert and author of new book ‘Street Art: International’ International Traveller's pick: Los Angeles, USA It may not seem the most obvious pick, but as it turns out, Los Angeles is bursting at the seams with incredible street art from local artists who adopt an unofficial way of life, battling against their common enemy; the Graffti Abatement. Here we meet the heroes and villains of the street art world... London, England London is somewhat of an epicentre for street art; the streets of Camden and Shoreditch, especially Brick Lane, draw local and international artists as well as art-loving travellers.   Here you’ll find the unmissable portraits of David Walker, Stik's simple and stylised figures, Dan Kitchener's evocative and almost abstract images of lights on wet nights and of course, the odd Banksy. [caption id="attachment_24439" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Mural titled 'Burn' by UK street artist Irony, in Camden Market, London.[/caption] One of my favourite artworks here is Irony's aerosol can spraying flames, a clever reference to the fact that a masterpiece is known as a 'burner'. One great local experience is getting up close and personal with the mini artworks of Ben Wilson (aka Chewing Gum Man). The best way to do this is to walk across Millennium Bridge with your eyes glued to the treads. If you look closely you won't be disappointed. Paris, France Paris has a number of home-grown artists who create thought-provoking work on its streets.   Featuring the sensitively drawn paste ups of Levalet, clever works in response to France's cultural heritage by Pejac, and the intricate titled mosaics by Invader.   Street art hunters should explore the Parisian neighbourhood of Belleville and the thirteenth arrondissement, both promising some of the city’s most impressive murals.   A short trip to Vitry-sur-Seine on Paris's outskirts provides an opportunity to not only see an outdoor gallery of stenciled portraits by Christian Guemy (also known as C215), but also the work of his colleagues that were invited to add to the local walls. Berlin, Germany In Berlin, head straight for Schoneberg and Friedrichschain - the collection of art here is truly inspiring, especially on the Bülowstrasse. Here you will find the work of Brazilian twin brothers known as Os Gêmeos and Irish artist Fin DAC. [caption id="attachment_24438" align="alignleft" width="668"] 'Forget Me Not' mural by Fin DAC in Berlin, Germany.[/caption] The East Side Gallery is another site worth visiting in Berlin - a publicly accessible remnant of the Berlin Wall, now home to street art. Łódź, Poland The quantity and quality of the street art in Łódź, surprises many. Due to the hard work and organisation of the local Urban Forms Gallery, an amazing collection of art can be seen enlivening the walls of this austere town.   While the work is often serious, much of it also bears a fairytale-like quality.   Perfect examples of this are the stunning walls painted by Sainer and Bezt, a duo who met here while studying in art school and are now known as Etam Cru.   This city is not to be missed by the serious street art hunter. Valparaiso, Chile Valparaiso, a close neighbour of Santiago, is made up of a series of hillside communities locally-known as cerros.   Many of them have been enhanced by the joyous street art across this vibrant Chilean city. Home to many wonderful artists, you will see beautiful works by La Robot de Madera and Charquipunk, as well as Valparaiso-born and internationally-renowned artist, INTI.  One of the city’s greatest works is by INTI, encompassing an enormous wall he painted against the backdrop of the busy local harbour. New York City, USA Like London, New York City is a magnet for street artists. Everybody wants to paint here, although the mark they leave may not be long lasting.   Bushwick, Williamsburg and Welling Court are important centres, as is Little Italy in Manhattan with its LISA (Little Italy Street Art) Project.   The work here is enormously varied and rewards those who wander. It ranges from Olek's guerrilla knitting to Dain's paste ups, with everything imaginable in between.   There's also Kobra's iconic wall with its patterns and vibrant colours that can be seen from the High Line. Christchurch, New Zealand Christchurch has reinvented itself using street art, since earthquakes in 2011 devastated the city and much of its architecture. Now areas once cleared and sparse, are starting to come back to life with new buildings and newer street art providing a riot of colour to fill the space.   Much of the work is by local New Zealand artists such as Askew, Owen Dippie and Jacob Yikes, as well as some international artists including Melbourne's Rone and Adnate.   Some of the most entertaining murals are painted by BMD.   Buy the book For more on the world’s best street art destinations, Street Art: International by Lou Chamberlin is now available from $45 at
Chelsea Flower Show in London, England
Flower power! These are the world’s prettiest flower festivals
It’s time to stop and smell the roses (or tulips, or cherry blossoms, or whatever flora takes your fancy), because these world-renowned flowering spectacles smell as good as they look.
Barton Springs food truck park, Austin.
Why Austin is beloved by foodies and music fans
A must for food and music lovers alike, Austin is an intriguing blend of forward-thinking attitudes and Texan tradition. By Steve Madgwick.
Rabaul with the dark cone of Mt Tavurvur on the horizon.
How the Papua New Guinean city of Rabaul has been reinvigorated
After a century of bombardment by nature and the outside world, determination to survive and a positive spirit prevail in the isolated Papua New Guinean city of Rabaul. 
Inside Shakespeare's Globe theatre, London.
Shakespeare fans: 6 unmissable things to do in England
We take you to the unmissable places around England that shaped the world-renowned poet, playwright, and actor. 1. Shakespeare’s Birthplace [caption id="attachment_46969" align="alignnone" width="600"] The restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated on Henley Street, is believed to be the birthplace of William Shakespeare and is now a museum.[/caption] Pay a visit to the restored Tudor mansion in Stratford-upon-Avon where the Bard of Avon was born, and lived until after he was married.   A hands-on insight into Shakespeare’s early life, this landmark building is also a shrine to his career.   Be sure to check out the ‘Friends and Family’ display, which focuses on his nearest and dearest and the relationships he shared with friends, neighbours, drinking companions and colleagues.   Address: The Shakespeare Centre, Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6QW 2. Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall [caption id="attachment_46967" align="alignnone" width="600"] The gorgeous wooden buildings on Church street in Shakespeare's home town.[/caption] Going back to where it all began, Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall in Stratford-upon-Avon underwent a £1.8 million restoration project in 2016 and has been opened to the public since.   This is the school that Shakespeare attended as a boy from about 1571 to 1578, the place where he would have first experienced theatre, which now features a recreated classroom from his academic years.   Built between 1418 –1420, the Guildhall has been described by historian Michael Wood as ‘one of Britain’s most atmospheric buildings’.   Address: Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall, Church Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6HB 3. Shakespeare Walking Tours [caption id="attachment_46966" align="alignnone" width="600"] William Shakespeare is buried at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.[/caption] Take your time exploring Shakespeare's hometown in Stratford-upon-Avon by taking your own self-guided tour. GPSmyCity is a downloadable app that turns your mobile or tablet into a personal tour guide. You will be able to follow the built-in GPS navigation to guide you along the tour to the most popular Shakespeare attractions. The Stratford-Upon-Avon Shakespeare Tour takes in seven attractions over a distance of 1.1 km and lasts for about one hour (but of course you can take as little or as much time as you like). The app also works offline, so you don't need to worry about data while travelling abroad.   Download the app: GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities from iTunes App Store or Google Play 4. New Place Visit the New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home for the last 19 years of his life, which has become a significant heritage landmark.   Shakespeare wrote 26 of his best-loved plays as owner of New Place, which made it all the more devastating when the building was demolished in 1759 by the then owner, who was ticked off by visiting Shakespeare enthusiasts.   The re-imagined New Place will showcase how Shakespeare lived at the height of his career, as a family man, a homeowner and a successful entrepreneur.   Address: Shakespeare's New Place, 22 Chapel Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6EP 5. Shakespeare’s Globe No fan’s visit is complete without a visit to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, overlooking the River Thames in London’s South Bank. [caption id="attachment_15192" align="alignnone" width="1024"] A sympathetic and accurate reconstruction of Shakespeare's theatre.[/caption] Housing a modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan playhouse, the Globe Theatre, here you can see one of the classics performed like theatre-goers did in Shakespeare’s day, standing in the rowdy ‘yard’ in front of the stage.   You can also tour backstage or visit the popular exhibition about Shakespeare’s life and how it intertwined with London.   Address: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT 6. Bard-style biking [caption id="attachment_46968" align="alignnone" width="600"] You can visit Anne Hathaway's cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon.[/caption] Cycling-tour expert The Carter Company, offers a ten-night Shakespeare's Way tour, following a route that the great playwright regularly took himself.   Beginning at Shakespeare’s Globe, where most of his plays were first performed, the itinerary meanders along the River Thames, pedalling through beautiful English countryside of the Cotswolds, passing Hampton Court, Windsor, Oxford (where Shakespeare often rested on this journeys between London and his hometown), Blenheim Palace to Stratford-upon-Avon in the Midlands.   Covering a leisurely 17 – 35 kilometres a day, it’s a gentle ride and it includes accommodation at country hotels and quaint inns along the way.   More information: Starts Fridays from London and finishes Stratford on Avon.   Are you planning a trip to London? Here is our guide to everything you need to know about London before you go.
The charming historical centre of Leipzig, Germany.
Bach, battles and bratwurst: Germany’s cultural icons
From Berlin to Leipzig, IT reader Michael Azize explores Germany’s historical depths and cultural icons.

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