Monday, December 17, 2012
Federation Square lies just across the river from Southgate, opposite Flinders Street Station and the graceful St Paul’s Cathedral. One of the most ambitious and complex projects ever undertaken in Victoria, it involved building across the Flinders Street railway yards, where work was limited to the early hours of the morning so trains would not be disrupted. Conceived as a tribute to the first 100 years of Australian nationhood, the Square – which links the CBD with the Yarra, fusing art, architecture, culture and hospitality into a distinct public space with crazy paving-style facades of geometric panels – opened in late 2002, almost two years after the centenary of federation.
Former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett’s most costly public monument, it was completed by the Bracks government bearing a price tag of almost $460 million (three times over budget). Often referred to as the city’s “new heart”, it’s also been described by one Melbourne humorist as its “spleen”, given that it was “odd, misshapen and nobody’s really quite sure what it does”. One thing everybody’s in agreement about is its size: covering an entire block, its sheer enormity changes for the first time in over 150 years the famous grid of streets laid out by Hoddle (see p.217) by extending the CBD further towards the river.
The Square includes an expansive plaza of 500,000 sandstone cobblestones from the Kimberleys in Western Australia, which affords commanding views of Melbourne’s riverside and cityscape. There’s also a soaring glass and metal Meccano-style atrium, evolved from the same triangular geometry as the building’s facades, connecting galleries, an amphitheatre, the TV studios of multicultural broadcaster SBS, and a plethora of new plaza cafes, bars, shops and
restaurants like Chocolate Buddha and Reserve.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Costa Brava [SPAIN]
Costa Brava is classified as the one of the main destinations, not only in the northeast of Spain, but also in the whole country; because of its beautiful summer climate and the charming nature and the excellent beaches; all these factors and more play together to make your holiday to Costa Brava an unforgettable experience.
Monday, November 26, 2012
|Old Granary Burying Ground, Boston [UNITED STATES]|
Revere’s original engraving of the Boston Massacre, on display in the Old State House, did much to turn public opinion against the Tories, and he even went so far as to stage an exhibition of more patriotic prints at his North End home on the first anniversary of the incident. During the Revolution, Revere engraved the Massachusetts
currency, though a more profitable venture was his post-war bell-and-cannon foundry in Canton, located just south of Boston. After siring a brood of sixteen, he died in 1818 at the age of 83, and rests among his Revolutionary peers in the Old Granary Burying Ground.
Friday, November 9, 2012
For Estonians, the island of Saaremaa epitomizes the nation’s natural beauty more than any other place in the country. Cloaked with pine forest, juniper heath and grasslands, its coastline girdled with sandy beaches and tawny reed beds, it has long appeale to nature-loving, well-to-do Tallinners and increasingly attracts Scandinavian and Western European tourists too. Estonia’s largest island is also a fertile source of myths and legends, with local folklore centring on the adventures of Suur Toll, a friendly but short-tempered giant, and his wife Piret.
There is a scattering of farmstead-based B&Bs across Saaremaa, although most accommodation is concentrated in the island’s alluring capital, Kuressaare, site of the one must-see historic attraction, the Bishop’s Castle. North of Kuressaare lie some of Saaremaa’s best-known sights, notably the enchanting Angla windmills and the mysterious Kaali meteorite crater. On the western side of the island is the little-touristed coastal wilderness of the Vilsandi National Park, ideal for hiking. Historic churches crop up just about everywhere, with some especially fine examples at Karja, Kaarma and Kihelkonna.
Public transport is limited, with services to most destinations leaving Kuressaare at different times on different days of the week, making scheduling something of a nightmare – the Kuressaare tourist office is your best source of information. Thanks to its largely flat terrain, however, exploring by bike is a viable option; these can be rented in Kuressaare.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Considered as the highest city in Europe, Davos is located in the Swiss Alpes, and it doesn’t host only the biggest and the most beautiful Switzerland’s resorts ski, but it’s also the home of an annual meeting of global political and business elites named World Economic Forum (WEF).
Many international championships winter sports were and are held here because of the icy weather in Davos.
Davos is known for its famous Ice hockey team, and it has the largest natural ice skating field in Switzerland.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Watch, or even better join in with, the speedskaters of Friesland as they tear round the province’s canals in this infrequently staged open-air race.
The Elfstedentocht (“Eleven Towns Race”) is Friesland’s biggest spectacle, a gruelling ice-skating marathon around Friesland. The race is organized by the Eleven Towns Association, of which you must be a member to take part; the high level of interest in the race means that membership is very difficult to obtain. The route, which measures about 200km in total, takes in all the main centres of Friesland, starting in Leeuwarden in the town’s Expo Centre, from where the racers sprint – skates in hand – 1500m to the point where they get onto the ice. The first stop after this is Sneek, after which the race takes in Hindeloopen and the other old Zuider Zee towns, plus Dokkum in the north of the province, before finishing in Leeuwarden. The event is broadcast live on national TV, the route lined with spectators. Of the 17,000 or so people who take part, usually no more than three hundred are professional skaters. Casualties are inevitably numerous; the worst year was 1963, when 10,000 skaters took part and only seventy finished, the rest beaten by the fierce winds, extreme cold and snowdrifts along the way. Generally, however, something like three-quarters of the starters make it to the finishing line. If you’re not around for the race itself, the route makes a popular bike ride and is signposted by the ANWB as one of their national cycling routes; four or five days will allow enough time to sightsee as well as cycle.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Head into the far north to this untouristy town, from where you can explore the beautiful surrounding countryside.
Despite being a large town, it lacks any real tourist infrastructure, and wandering around you will most likely find yourself the object of curious (but not bad-natured) stares. Though at first you may wonder where you’ve ended up, soon enough the lack of other tourists, cool mountain air and stunning surrounding countryside will work their charm on you. With the trekking scene still fairly low-key here, the town is a great place to do an overnight trip to the province’s fascinating hill-tribe villages. A wide slice of terrain wedged between China’s Yunnan and Vietnam’s Lai Chau provinces, Phongsali province would surely be a part of China today were it not for the covetous nineteenth-century French. During the Second Indochina War, Phongsali came under heavy Chinese influence, a fact evident in the fortress-like former Chinese consulate, now the Phou Fa Hotel. It was during this time also that much of the province was stripped of its hardwood forests, compensation for China’s support for the Pathet Lao. The town’s inhabitants are made up of the Theravada Buddhist, Tibeto-Burman-speaking Phu Noi people and the Chinese Haw, descendants of Yunnanese traders who annually drove caravans of packponies south into old Siam.