Monthly Archives: August 2016

Walk around an unfamiliar city of athens tips

The mother of all architectural styles, the elegant proportions and stately poise of classical architecture sired a legion of later revivals. The grand temples and civic structures of ancient Greece and Rome followed strict rules known as the ‘orders’ of architecture. The three most important are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian; all easily recognisable from their capitals (the decorative bit at the top of the columns).

How to spot it: Doric: plain capitals. Ionic: scroll-like capitals. Corinthian: elaborate capitals with carved acanthus leaves.
Where to find it: the Colosseum or Pantheon in Rome; the Acropolis, Athens.

With glittering mosaics and more domes than a field full of mole hills, Byzantine architecture was built to impress. Walking into a lavishly decorated basilica with high domed ceilings and a blanket of gold ornamentation, worshipers would have been under no illusions about the power and wealth of the emperors.

How to spot it: multiple domes and sumptuous decoration.
Where to find it: Aya Sofya, Istanbul; St Mark’s Basilica, Venice; Sacré Coeur, Paris (Byzantine revival).

The heavyweight of medieval architecture, Romanesque (called Norman in the UK) buildings were big, brawny and simple. A lack of technical know-how meant thick walls, massive columns and rounded arches were necessities while windows were small, vaults were built like barrels and decoration was confined to lozenges, chevrons or zigzags.

How to spot it: rounded arches and thick columns.
Where to find it: Leaning Tower of Pisa; San Gimignano, Italy; Durham Cathedral, England.

The colourful buildings and tall ships lining the sparkling waters

The popular inner city is the heart of Copenhagen, and its most visited neighbourhood. Nyhavn is just one of many major sights in this part of the city, which is also home to the family-friendly Tivoli Gardensamusement park, Strøget, the lively pedestrianised shopping street, and the fabled Little Mermaid statue, which sits right on the edge of the city centre.

This historic area is a fantastic place to explore many of the city’s cobblestone streets, charming squares, and excellent museums. At the royal residence of Amalienborg Slot, visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard and try to get a glimpse of the Queen, while Christiansborg Palace offers a look into the workings of Denmark’s monarchy and government.

Indre By is also a foodie paradise, home to many of the city’s top restaurants, including Michelin-starred AOC and Kokkeriet, the more modest yet fabulous Höst and Uformel, as well as the wonderful market Torvehallerne, packed with vendors selling fresh produce.

Though it’s not the easiest place to go off the beaten path, the abundance of sights, flavours, and experiences in bustling Indre By, combined with its lively atmosphere, makes it a must-see for any visitor.


Vesterbro: the happening hotspot

Once the most destitute area of the city, Vesterbro is still Copenhagen’s red-light district, though it’s not quite as seedy as similar areas in Amsterdam or Berlin. The neighbourhood’s vintage shops and summertime street markets give it a local and independent vibe, while the street art here is perhaps the best in the city.

Measuring up on Austria

Squeezed out towards the far west of Austria, where the country quietly narrows towards Liechtenstein and the roads twist and trail like untied shoelaces, the rugged Arlberg region offers the Alps at their most understated.

There are no flashbulb bulges here; no Matterhorn or Grossglockner for the cool breath of the Earth to chill. Instead peaked lumps slump like a herd of exhausted elephants, a snow-covered mass of wrinkled grey rock; beheld from up high it’s as if Hannibal’s hulking rear-guard never actually crossed the Alps, but created them entirely.

Seven ski resorts make up the Arlberg region (St Anton, St Christoph, Stuben, Zürs, Lech, Schröcken and Warth), but it’s taken a €45 million cable car to finally connect the lot. Whereas most cableways offer little more than a seat and an interminable conversation with a stranger boasting about where they’ve skied, the new Flexenbahn produces something a little more memorable.

If you can, board from Zürs first. The trip to Stuben takes six minutes, but for half of that you’ll be pretending not to speak any language invented since the flint tool, before the car suddenly judders over a supporting tower with a ‘is-this-going-to-come-loose?’ rattle and dangles over the Trittkopf massif.

A noisy rustle of nylon and a clumsy clatter of ski poles will ensue as the car dives almost vertically down the deep, ash-coloured scars of the mountain in a feat of engineering worthy of its own note. When the snow falls thick enough, experienced off-piste powder hounds can descend the slender couloirs beneath with controlled bounce and panache, the inexperienced usually require a helicopter.