Category: All Natural Blog

Move over San Francisco – all eyes on Oakland

  • Oakland has long sat in the shadow of its immediate neighbour San Francisco 
  • But with new flight links from the UK, it is increasingly a destination in itself 
  • Highlights include the Jack London District, with its waterfront restaurants 

They loom like gigantic white giraffes, casting shadows across the Bay. Paddling closer in my kayak, I lean back to gaze up at the steely beasts. In the distance, the San Francisco skyline shimmers in the mid-morning haze. read more

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Gorgeous Georgia: Tbilisi is terrific for a weekend away

  • Once a Soviet republic, Georgia is an increasingly popular call for a mini-break
  • The capital Tblisi is around four-and-a-half hours’ flying time from London
  • Highlights include Old Tblisi, which swells out on the banks of the River Kura

The former Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia, now simply known as Georgia, is still an off-the-beaten-track destination with its own language, culture and alphabet. Tbilisi is its ancient capital and the country’s largest city. read more

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New Zealand city returns: The resurrection of Christchurch

  • Picturesque Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand
  • It was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2011 which destroyed its cathedral
  • After a slow process of rebuilding, the city is rebounding – though scars remain 

No one knew there were fault lines under Christchurch — not until it was too late.

Now, six years after the earthquake that left 186 dead and destroyed huge swathes of this most British of New Zealand cities, the pain is still there but so, too, is a new optimism. read more

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Upbeat Chicago rivals New York for music, art and glitz

  • Mark Porter discovers Chicago’s wild side on his quest for great bars and music
  • He calls it ‘cooler than New York and one of the friendliest places on the planet’
  • Live the high life at Hugo’s Frog Bar – or grab a beer at Buddy Guy’s Legends

We were in the legendary Pump Room bar of a hotel on Chicago’s Gold Coast, one-time favourite of the Rat Pack. 

My friend Melissa, who has lived in the Windy City for decades, approached the full and large coupe of vodka martini with lips puckered. Her cocktail looked capable of stunning a bull elephant.  read more

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An Inspector Calls on London’s Sunborn Yacht hotel

  • The Daily Mail’s Inspector called in at the Sunborn Yacht hotel in London
  • While the views over Canary Wharf are terrific, the rest leaves a lot to be desired 
  • Its food, the Inspector says, is overpriced and overly fussy, and the decor is naff

Rating:

The Sunborn Yacht hotel is the closest place to stay near the ExCel centre, London. Just one minute’s walk and you are there.

From its stern, there are terrific views of Canary Wharf, the Emirates Air Line cable car (hardly anyone on it), what was the Millennium Dome and, in the distance, the Shard. The staff are pleasant and it’s clean. read more

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Falling for fabulous Ferrara, a city of pasta and palaces

  • Ferrara is one of northern Italy’s less heralded cities – and weekend destinations
  • It sits in the Emilia-Romagna region, about 40 miles north-east of Bologna
  • Attractions include the Castello Estense, once the home of Lucrezia Borgia 

The walls around Ferrara were built to repel enemies. Now, though, the wars that kept medieval Italy busy are a distant memory, and those same walls feel more like the packaging around a scrumptious selection of sweets. read more

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The other Queen of Jordan: In search of Fahrelnissa Zeid

  • Jordan is arguably the most accessible country in the whole Middle East
  • It is most famous for the ruined Nabatean city of Petra, deep in the south
  • It was the home of artist Fahrelnissa Zeid, the subject of a Tate Modern show  

 When T. E. Lawrence passed through Amman a century ago at the head of the Arab Revolt, the city had fewer than 6,000 inhabitants. The only aircraft flying in were Ottoman biplanes hoping to drop a bomb on the British officer’s head. read more

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A weekend trip to Bordeaux for a glass of claret? Why not?

  • Bordeaux is rightly known as France’s – and the world’s – capital of wine
  • It is now more reachable than ever thanks to France’s modern rail network
  • A new high-speed line means the train journey from Paris is just over two hours 

Fancy a rail trip to Bordeaux?

A new section of high-speed line means the train journey from Paris, via TGV, now takes just over two hours — 70 minutes less than before. read more

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Malaga’s Picasso Museum and Mariposa Hotel are stunning

  • The Daily Mail’s Andrew Harris toured the Spanish port city of Malaga to explore its latest offerings 
  • Museums there include the Pompidou Centre, the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Picasso Museum
  • He stayed at the four-star Mariposa Hotel, a chic, ultra-modern abode which was great value for money

Malaga’s red light district has been shown a red card.

And in its place? Well, take your pick from the Pompidou Centre, the first European branch of the State Russian Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum and the Picasso Museum, in honour of Malaga’s most famous son. read more

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Naples guide: The scruffy city in Vesuvius’s shadow

  • There is more to Naples than the shadow of its big volcano, and trips to Pompeii
  • The city is busy, chaotic, choked with traffic – but a lot of fun for a weekend
  • Visitors can sip Lacryma Christi (Christ’s Tears) – a local wine made by monks 

Crucifixes that talk, shop assistants with the faces of Botticelli angels, cathedrals where miracles are commonplace.

You could believe anything might happen in Naples, never more than a Hail Mary away from being buried by the fractious Mount Vesuvius. read more

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