Best of European Travel
5 reasons you need to visit George Street, Edinburgh
Leigh-Ann Pow checks her credit card balance and sets out to stroll one of the Scottish capital’s most stylish streets.
Bookended by Charlotte Square at one end and St Andrews Square at the other, Edinburgh’s George Street is lined with the type of gracious Georgian architectural gems that the Scottish capital is so well known for.
Situated in the city’s New Town, the term is relative: the confection of grand townhouses, imposing bank buildings and wide squares were created from 1767 to the 1830s to ease the overcrowding in the Old Town, the ancient warren of tenements and closes crowding The Royal Mile.
Nowadays these buildings house some of the Scottish capital’s most desirable boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels.
1. Having replaced a collection of dreadfully uninspiring 1960s and ’70s office blocks and a depressing bus station, Harvey Nichols department store is a soaring piece of modern architecture that reflects and enhances the historic architecture that surrounds it.
Inside it’s a fashionista’s dream come true, with every designer brand imaginable available for the taking.
The Forth Floor Window Bar is also one of the hottest places in town to meet for a drink and soak up the view across Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth.
2. Cruise has been catering to the cutting-edge fashion needs of the city’s bright young things for well over 30 years, and was a style oasis back in the days before the likes of Harvey Nics moved into town.
Its longevity comes from its brilliantly curated collection of designer names (which after starting in menswear now includes women’s and kids’ fashions) including the likes of Kenzo, Vivienne Westwood, Dolce & Gabbana and Saint Laurent.
3. Open since 1866, and by appointment to the Queen no less, Hamilton & Inches is a glory box of pretty shiny things.
Generations of Scottish girls have dreamt of picking out engagement rings here; if you aren’t in the market for one, content yourself with window shopping.
4. At number 7 Charlotte Square, The Georgian House was completed in 1796 for the Clan Lamont chief.
Now beautifully restored to reflect a typical New Town house in the late 18th and early 19th century, it gives an irresistible glimpse into the day-to-day life of Edinburgh’s great and good at this time.
5. With its entrance flanked by hulking Corinthian columns, The Dome is a breathtaking proposition to behold, and that’s before you even get a glimpse of the stained-glass dome at its heart.
The former bank building is the go-to place for locals to meet friends and family, and impress out-of-towners, with everything from coffee and cake, to lunch or dinner and drinks on the menu.
The Georgian Tea Room is one of the best places in town for afternoon tea.
City guide to Hull, England
It’s still gritty, but the northern English port city of Hull (or, officially, Kingston-upon-Hull) is having a cultural renaissance.
Hull, England is known for
Its port, art in 2017, poet Philip Larkin
Hull's Eat streets
Head to Humber Street, with newly laid cobblestones, in the Fruit Market cultural quarter for good meals in cool, repurposed industrial spaces.
Try gourmet tapas at Ambiente and an experimental menu at bistro-style Butler Whites.
Nearby, you’ll also find Indian fine diner Tapasya@Marina, (tapasya.org.uk).
Local institutions Cerutti’s, a family-run seafood restaurant that’s been doing its thing on the site of Hull’s old pier since 1974, and pub and steakhouse Humber Dock Bar & Grill (known as The Green Bricks until recently) offer a thread of tried-and-tasted continuity to this rapidly changing area.
Out & about
The British public was bemused when it was announced, four years ago, that Hull would be the UK City of Culture in 2017: in 2003 it was voted number one Crap Town in Britain.
But serious money and creative nous has gone into regenerating this ancient, gritty port city whose number one attraction before now has been its huge aquarium, The Deep.
Those looking to engage in some world-class culture can let the Hull 17 program be their guide.
Much activity is focused on the old fruit market’s redevelopment, and the Ferens Art Gallery (based in the Old Town, which has its own charm) will host the Turner Prize this year.
If you’re getting cool-new-art-space overload, head to residential West Hull for a gig at the city’s alternative music institution, The Adelphi Club. Once a three-bedroom terrace house, this tiny and insalubrious-looking venue has seen Radiohead, The Stone Roses, Pulp and many more grace its stage, and is where local band The Housemartins started life.
Look out for the Humber Street Market on the third Sunday of every month at Fruit: arts, crafts, records and vintage clothes plus craft beer, street food and live music.
The ultimate experience
visit multifaceted new venues like humber street gallery, a three-storey contemporary arts space that exhibits visual art, film, photography and more and also houses a cafe and rooftop bar.
Thieving Harry’s is based in the Fruit Market quarter, overlooking Hull’s marina, and makes coffee using beans from a local specialty roasters.
It does a great line in brunch and grilled cheese too. Coffee nook Caffeinated in Trinity Market and hidden-away Liquid Jade in the Old Town will hit the spot too.
Where to stay & play
Book the Olde Town Victorian Hideaway, 1869 through Airbnb for a cosy base that’s next to ‘England’s smallest window’.
A Victorian-era hotel in the Old Town, Kingston Theatre Hotel offers classic rooms and full English breakfasts.
Occupying two floors of a townhouse that dates back to the 17th century, the boutique Arthouse Apartment merges vintage and modern stylings.
What to do in Stockholm when it rains
Don't let the rain dampen your trip away, here are six things you can do in Sweden's capital Stockholm when the heavens open up.
1. Take a fika
Absorb local culture by taking a fika. Essentially meaning a coffee break with a cake or pastry (the cinnamon bun or kanelbullar is a favourite), ‘fika’ can be used as both noun and verb and is a word – like hygge in Danish – that’s hard to define and very much of its place.
The key ingredient? Sit back and slow down. You’ll find no shortage of cool and cosy Stockholm cafes in which to fika!
2. Vasa Museum
Head to Scandinavia’s most visited museum for a one-off experience: to see the world’s only preserved 17th-century ship. The Vasa capsized and sank in Stockholm in 1628 and spent 333 years on the ocean floor before being salvaged and restored.
Today, visitors can find their sea legs throughout a variety of exhibitions based around the ship and life on board in the 1600s.
3. Östermalms Saluhall
Stockholm’s historic food hall – which dates from 1888 – is undergoing a renovation and is out of action until 2018. But the Östermalm district’s main square, the site of a thriving market trade prior to 1888, has become a temporary hub for all things foodie.
Visitors can find gourmet Swedish fare – such as västerbottenpag (cheese pie) from Lisa Elmqvist – alongside international cuisines in a contemporary space designed by architecture firm Tengbom at Östermalms.
4. Stockholm Public Library
If you’re a book lover, an architecture enthusiast, or even just an avid Instagrammer then check out Stockholm’s Public Library, or Stadsbibliotek. With a rotunda built by architect Gunnar Asplund in 1928, this beautiful space is a city landmark. Monumental from the outside and majestic inside, its books are spaced over three floors.
5. Swedish style
Make the most of being at the heart of Scandinavian design by hitting the shops. Head to the creative Södermalm district for an eclectic mix of fashion, interior design and vintage stores; and explore the more exclusive streets around the Östermalm neighbourhood for classic Swedish interior design store Svenskt Tenn on Strandvägen and big Swedish exports such as Acne and COS.
There’s no shortage of great contemporary art galleries in Stockholm, and Södermalm is home to some of the best. Fotografiska is a must: its 2500 square metres of exhibition space showcases the works of world-renowned contemporary photographers and the building also houses a good bookshop, a rooftop cafe-cum-bar and an award-winning restaurant (with one of the city’s best views).
City guide to Sucre, Bolivia
Bolivia’s constitutional capital is an elegant city of narrow streets and colonial architecture set deep in the country’s central-south.
Sucre, Bolivia is known for
Its beauty, it being bolivia’s capital and Bolivian chocolate.
Sucre's Eat streets
For a small city, Sucre has a diverse dining offering. For snacking, explore the three levels of Sucre’s Mercado Central – with its cafe dedicated to Bolivian cuisine at the top, and jugo ladies on the ground floor making freshly pressed juices.
Make a beeline for El Patio or Flores to try Sucre’s best salteñas; a type of Bolivian baked empanada, or savoury pastry, usually filled with meat and a sweet and spicy sauce.
For main meals choose from humble home cooking at Pension Dona Petra and fine(r) diner La Taverne.
Sucre is also good for vegetarian fare.
Try El Condor and El Germen, which serve meat-free Bolivian dishes among others, or newcomer Prem – El Arte de Vivir, which is all-out vegan
Out & about
Sucre is Bolivia’s first capital city and its symbolic heart. Although La Paz has been its administrative capital since 1899 (holding the seat of government and treasury), Sucre retains its capital status according to the constitution and in the eyes of its proud citizens.
Sucre has a moderate (for Bolivia) altitude of 2790 metres, which makes it a good stopover for those wanting to ease into high-altitude living and fend off soroche (as Bolivians call altitude sickness).
It means you can navigate Sucre’s elegant, narrow streets with ease, taking in the white-washed buildings that earned the city its nickname La Ciudad Blanca, ‘The White City’; and the wealth of religious buildings that date to the 16th century.
In 1991, the city was declared a World Heritage Site. Most stops on your itinerary will be within a five-kilometre radius of the main square, 25 de Mayo.
You’ll find tribes of digital nomads in sucre’s cafes: the wi-fi’s good for bolivia.
If you’re in the market for some Bolivian textiles, you’ll find a colourful and high quality selection at the Sucre store of not-for-profit organisation Inca Pallay, which seeks to improve lives of indigenous weavers in some of Bolivia’s poorest communities.
And then there’s chocolate.
With its long history of chocolate production, Sucre lays claim to yet another moniker: the ‘chocolate capital of Bolivia’.
You’ll find the best at Taboada and Para Ti, which uses local ingredients such as quinoa, coffee and chilli.
The ultimate experience
Sucre was founded by the Spanish in 1538 as Ciudad de la Plata de la Nueva Toledo (Silver Town of New Toledo), on the lands of the Yampara people.
In 1825, the region became the Republic of Bolivia and it was at the Casa de la Libertad (House of Freedom), in Sucre’s main square, that the declaration of independence was signed.
Today, the building – originally a chapel constructed in 1621 as part of the Convent of the Jesuits – exists as a museum dedicated to this period in Bolivia’s history and provides a fascinating insight.
Sucre’s cafe scene is ever-expanding: try Abis Cafe, Metro Cafe and Cosmo Cafe on the Plaza 25 de Mayo for a decent cup of joe.
Stay & play
Casa Verde B&B is a homey stay with clean, comfortable rooms plus a pool.
Mi Pueblo Samary Hotel Boutique, has sleek rooms that open out to patios overlooking a lovely central courtyard.
A five-star hotel, Parador Santa María La Real is set in an 18th-century colonial mansion just one block from 25 de Mayo square.
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