City Break: Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

Marseille is an intriguing, heady mix of melting pot cultures and extremely hip scene setting. With a population of 1.5 million, the city – France’s oldest and the largest after Paris – thrums and throbs to the beat of neighbouring North Africa.

Budapest: Coffee House Hunting

Szimpla Kertmozi

Here’s a question for you: given the choice between the carefully crafted, historically imbued and Viennese-style elegance of Café Gerbeaud and the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, Mad Max, punk rock-style demeanor of Szimpla Kertmozi Café, in which one would you choose to nurse a coffee while either gazing into the distance, avoiding eye contact, reading a magazine or tapping away at a laptop?

48 Hours In: Sicily

Via Garibaldi, Catania

It doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to discover that Sicily has always been coveted by those who know a good thing when they see it. That fact that it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean certainly made it noticed; more significantly, perhaps, was its central Mediterranean position, which strategically made it a point of convergence between the European and African continents.

City Break: Perpignan

Perpignan

For no good reason that I can think of, Perpignan hasn’t been on the list of people’s must-see destinations. True, it doesn’t readily spring to mind when you tick off places in France you might want to visit, yet after spending a few days here in early April (raining in Dublin; 20-degree plus in Perpignan), a conclusion is quickly reached: you’re missing something quite special.

48 Hours In: Dingle

Dingle Peninsula

There is such a surfeit of culture in the Dingle region that if someone could process it, and distil its essence into some kind of chemical compound, it could service the yoghurt industry forever. If that seems like some fanciful notion from a recently bewitched visitor, then so be it.

48 Hours In: Bruges

 

Dusk, Bruges. Image © Jan Darthet

It is often overlooked that Bruges is about one hour’s train journey from Brussels city centre. Just think – one hour away from the hustle and bustle of Brussels (now there’s a Eurovision song title for you!) is a compact city of less than 120,000.

City Guide: Verona

Summer view of Verona

A gaggle of teenage schoolboys are giggling, their hands reaching up to the statue of Juliet so as to stroke her right breast – a breast that, by this stage, has been rubbed so many times it glints in the sunshine.