Edinburgh, Scotland (review published 2009)

There was a time when people starved to death in the dungeons of medieval castles. But there’s no fear of that ever happening again at Dalhousie Castle, a magnificent 13th century fortress near Edinburgh. In 1972, the castle was converted into a romantic hotel and its stone, barrell-vaulted dungeon is now a restaurant with two…

Sintra, Portugal (review published 2008)

There’s a romantic castle in Bavaria which prides itself on being the main inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland, California. The fantastical turrets of the hilltop Neuschwanstein Castle, begun by King Ludwig II in 1869, has made it the most photographed building in Germany. But what inspired the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty’s Castle?…

Bath, Somerset (review published 2008)

Beautiful Bath is justifiably famous for its Roman and Georgian heritage. The Royal Crescent, The Circus and Pulteney Bridge are among the architectural treasures which have made the entire city centre a World Heritage Site. But my visit on a mid-March weekend wasn’t about sightseeing. I was there to take part in the annual Bath…

Bruges, Belgium (review published 2008)

Like many people, I’m a little addicted to chocolate. But until recently, I’d always resisted the temptation to snort it. That changed when I visited Bruges and had the pleasure of meeting Dominique Persoone, a self-styled ‘shock-olatier’ and the city’s very own Willy Wonka. Last June, he was asked to do a dessert for the…

Seville, Spain (review published 2007)

There’s much more to the capital of Andalusia than flamenco and oranges… here’s how to spend 72 hours in Seville on a budget.  / DAY ONE When Star Wars creator George Lucas needed a location to double as the most beautiful planet in the universe he turned to Seville. The spectacular mixture of Spanish and…

London (review published 2007)

It was like a dream come true. I was within touching distance of Kylie Minogue’s famous gold hotpants. This time, however, they were not struggling to contain the pint-sized pop princess’s perfect posterior – I should be so lucky. Instead, the hotpants were forming part of an exhibition – and behind toughened glass to stop…

Carcassonne, France (review published 2006)

I had seen pictures of Carcassonne and read how this French medieval walled citadel was the largest in Europe. It all looked and sounded very impressive. But no amount of research could have prepared me for the jaw-dropping moment I first set eyes on its walls and the realisation that this was going to be home…

Salzburg, Austria (review published 2005)

It’s enough to make Mozart turn in his grave! The great Austrian composer’s legacy has been drawing crowds to his home town  of Salzburg for two centuries. But these days, its visitors are just as likely to be humming My Favorite Things or Climb Ev’ry Mountain as they are The Magic Flute or The Marriage…

Pisa & Florence, Italy (review published 2005)

Time is of the essence when you’re on a weekend break in Europe. So how’s this for a quick getaway… My wife and I were checking out the view from our hotel room in central Pisa less than two hours after taking off from the Midlands. Our 17.25 flight from Coventry with Thomsonfly.com lasted just…

Paris, France (review published 2004)

So, you’ve enjoyed too many burgers and beers around the barbeque and need to  shed a few pounds. Perhaps you’re thinking of joining your local gym or picking up the tennis racket that’s been gathering dust in the garage. All seems a little too much like hard work, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve got a much…