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  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Grove Park to Crystal Palace - Capital Ring Section 3: (2 June 2013).

    Source: Capital Ring Web Site:

    Start: Grove park Station.

    End: Crystal Park National Rail Station.

    Attractions: Beckenham Place Park, Maitland Road, Crystal Palace Park.

    Note: One of the most exausting days of the whole Capital Ring. The last part, Crystal Palace Park itself - is quite demanding and involved in a long way walking inside the park. Please note that the CR section starts at the END of Marvels Lane. It is almost one hour walk until you just start the section !

    Introduction: Much of this section is shared with the Green Chain. It is
    generally fairly easy walking but there are a variety of surfaces – road,
    tarmac paths, rough paths and tracks, and some of them may be muddy in wet weather. The terrain is generally level with some long and quite steep slopes and steps at the railway bridges, but there are alternative routes.

    There are pubs and cafés at Grove Park, Beckenham Place Park, Penge
    and Crystal Palace Park.

    Public toilets are at Grove Park, Beckenham Place Park and Crystal Palace Park.

    Follow the route with the distinctive Big Ben Capital Ring signs and look out for Crystal Palace Park on the signs. There are railway stations and bus stops along the route. 

    Directions: To reach the start of Section 3 from Grove Park Station follow the signs to Chinbrook Road then turn left on to Marvels Lane where this section starts. You'll see a turn to the right in Marvel Lane before this lane ends. DO NOT turn there (even if there is a Capital Ring sign !). Continue 200 m. further in Marvel Lane, until its end, to find the proper turn to the left of Section 3.

    At the end of Marvels Lane turn right into Somertrees Avenue and then immediately left up Coopers Lane. At the main road (Baring Road) turn right then immediately turn left into Railway Children Walk, which
    commemorates the famous book by E. Nesbitt (Mrs Edith Bland), who lived nearby. Cross over the 24 steps of the railway footbridge. Follow the signs, past a children’s playground and Downham Fire Station and turn left into Woodbank Road. Here and in Undershaw Road, the next part of the route, keep to the right.

    Cross over Moorside Road and go straight ahead to join the Downham
    Woodland Walk. This runs for over a mile (1.6km) and covers one of the
    remaining parts of the Great North Wood. The Woodland Walk crosses four roads. At the first, Downderry Road, keep ahead along a lane serving cottages on the left to re-enter the wood then turn sharp left, crossing the Greenwich Meridian Line. Passing between garden fences, cross Oakshade Road, Haddington Road and Oakridge Road to reach the shops at Downham. Cross Bromley Road, then turn half left along Old Bromley Road, crossing to the right-hand pavement. Pass Downham Way and Brangbourne Road, then in 60 m turn right into Beckenham Place Park. Follow the tarmac foot path along the right-hand edge, shortly crossing a humped footbridge over the River Ravensbourne:

    Follow the signs towards the house up some steep steps – there is an
    alternative step-free route signposted – and past a golf green. There are
    toilets and a café at the mansion, which is also the golf club house.

    Leave Beckenham Park through the car park and turn left along Southend Road. Cross the road and turn right down Stumps Hill Lane. Keep ahead as Stumps Hill Lane becomes unmade and turn left along Worsley Bridge Road at the bottom. At the T junction cross over and turn right along Brackley Road. The route becomes more urban with residential streets and goes past St Paul’s Church:

    At the end of Brackley Road cross Copers Cope Road, turn left and then shortly right along Park Road to follow the ramp down under New Beckenham Station. Go straight ahead with the HSBC sports centre on your right. Turn left into Kings Hall Road and then right down an alley which takes you into Cator Park:

    There’s a shared walking/cycle path in the park, so keep to the left. At the park exit, by Cator Park School, turn left and follow Lennard Road up to the crossroads. Turn right into Kent House Road and look out for left turn signs into another alleyway - this is a straight, fenced path that crosses playing fields. At the end turn right onto Cator Road. A little way up the road the route turns left between houses to another park, Alexandra Recreation Ground, named after Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII:

    After the park turn left into Maitland Road with a wide green between terraces of attractive houses with carved details:

    Turn right onto Lennard Road and then left towards Penge East Station.
    Cross the footbridge near Penge East Station. Turn right along Station
    Road and then left along Kingswood Road. At the end cross High Street at
    the pedestrian crossing. Turn right after the crossing and head along High Street. Straight ahead are two railway bridges: the first, built in 1839, carries the main line from London Bridge to the Sussex coast. The second bridge was built in 1854 for the branch line to Crystal Palace. Cross Thicket Road and enter Crystal Palace Park. Once inside Crystal Palace Park the route goes up the central avenue of plane trees. On the left is a café and on the right are toilets. The park is dominated by the 900 foot Crystal Palace Transmitter, London’s tallest structure, which sends out most of our terrestrial television and radio channels. At the top of the avenue is the huge bust of the remarkable Joseph Paxton, the designer of the 1851 Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace started life as the home of the Great Exhibition in 1851. The building was only supposed to last for the life of the Great Exhibition but instead of demolition in 1854 it was moved to Penge Park, as it was then called, and re-erected there on a larger scale. It was a great public success but never made money and went bankrupt in 1911. The building was destroyed in 1936 by a fire which, because of its elevated position, could be seen from many parts of London. There are several routes throughout the park with an interesting but winding path around the north side. The park includes a famous collection of 1850s animal sculptures and their surrounding landscape, known as the Dinosaur Park. The main Capital Ring route passes through Dinosaur Park, with an alternative route signed when the gates are closed. After your walk around the park follow the signs to Crystal Palace Station and the end of Section 3. 

    The Crystal Palace Sport Stadium on your ascent back from the Park to Crystal Palace Station:

    If you are still fit - continue from the CP Station, along the Anerley Hill Rd to find a long array of restaurants and bars. Turn right to the Woodland Rd to get a nice view of the City of London:

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    From South Kenton to Hendon Central - Capital Ring Section 10:

    Source: Capital Ring website: (with some modifications and enhancements).

    Start: South Kenton Station. End: Hendon Central Station or Finchley Road Tube Station (with an extension to the original capital Ring route).

    Distance: 10 km - 11 km.

    Introduction: This walk includes some of the most rural parts along the
    whole Capital Ring, with fine hilltop views and a long lakeside stretch as well as residential streets. It’s mostly level walking, on firm or tarmac paths, tracks or pavements. There is some rough, muddy ground and some steep climbs. The route takes in Preston Park, the 18th century landscape of Barn Hill, Fryent Country Park, St Andrew’s Churches and the Welsh Harp Open Space and Brent Reservoir. There are either pubs or cafés at South Kenton, Preston Road, West Hendon Broadway and Hendon Central. There is a café at the Garden Centre near the entrance to Welsh Harp Open Space. There are no public toilets.

    There are underground stations at South Kenton, Preston Road and Hendon Central and National Rail at Hendon as well as buses along the route.

    Directions: From South Kenton Station platform, turn right in the subway and head for the Windermere pub. Turn right onto Windermere Avenue for 50 metres and then left into Allonby Gardens. At the end take the alleyway and then turn right onto Montpelier Rise. In 50 metres turn left into Preston Park. Continue straight across the park to the exit on College Road:

    Turn right on College Road and then left onto Glendale Gardens. At the end turn left into Longfield Avenue, right along Grasmere Avenue and then left onto Preston Road. You are now passing through Uxendon. First recorded in 1257 as Woxindon, the name probably derives from the Celtic word for water due to its position on the Wealdstone Brook.

    Pass Preston Road station and then turn right into Uxendon Crescent. At
    the end turn right onto The Avenue and head under the railway bridge. Turn left onto West Hill and then left again onto Uxendon Hill:

    Then turn left and take the grassy pathway into Fryent Country Park. The name comes from Fryent Farm which was once owned by a holy order of friars. Once on open ground, stay on the left until the railway footbridge. Now turn right and take the steep woodland path, which might be muddy and a bit slippery, to the top of the hill, passing a hollow oak tree on the right:

    Pass around to the right of a large pond:

    There is a white painted ‘trig’ point, originally used in mapping the land.  There was an 18th century folly here but now there is only a seat giving views of Wembley Stadium and, on a good day, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Telecom Tower:

    Barn Hill, rising to 282 feet (86m) above sea level, was landscaped as part of the Wembley Park estate in 1793 by the famous landscape gardener Humphry Repton and is one of the best surviving examples of his early work. The Lombardy Poplar Avenue, which gives Barn Hill its distinctive skyline, was planted in about 1935, possibly to commemorate King George V’s Silver Jubilee. To head to Wembley Park station turn left at the Trig point and follow the track to the car park. Keep ahead along Barn Hill and cross Forty Lane to take Bridge Road to the station.

    To continue, walk back past the pond on the opposite side, and descend by a steep path to the right of the one you came up by. Turn right just before the path passes out from the woodland into open fields. Emerge from the woodland near an informal car park. From its entrance cross the road to the old hay meadows. Follow the hedgerow along to the left, past a small pond, and continue along the hedgerow to the left of the field until you reach the far left hand corner. Turn left through the gap in the hedge, and proceed up to the summit of Gotfords Hill, known as 'Telly Tubby Hill' by the local children for its grassed rounded top. From the summit, turn to face the path you came up by and head towards the left hand corner of the field; go straight ahead across the next field. Follow the signs, past a small area of scrub woodland, turn left and pass through some of this scrub to leave the country park by a short alleyway with a wooden kissing gate at the end. Turn right onto Salmon Street, left along Lavender Avenue and then right onto Holden Avenue. Turn left onto Dunster Drive and right onto Church Lane, passing St Andrews Church:

    The large St Andrews Parish Church, opened in 1847 was moved here from near Oxford Circus. With a shift in population from the commercial West end to more rural areas, the church became redundant and was moved to the growing village of Kingsbury in 1931.

    After the church turn left into Old Church Lane, and alongside the
    churchyard of Old St Andrews. Turn left again, following the sign to Birchen Close. On the left is the 12th century Old St Andrew’s Church, with Roman bricks incorporated into it, which was once at the centre of the village of Kingsbury. Walk past the entrance to Birchen Close and through the barriers, turning left along Birchen Grove. At the end of Birchen Grove follow the main roadway into the grounds of the Welsh Harp Reservoir. Continue along this track following the north bank of the reservoir for nearly a mile, until reaching Cool Oak Lane. There is a viewing platform over the water near the end of the walk. The Welsh Harp Site of Special Scientific Interest provides an oasis of water, woodland and grassland. The site attracts many varieties of breeding and wintering waterfowl, as well as watersports enthusiasts, especially in sailing boats. It was used for the rowing competitions in the 1948 Olympics in London.

    Turn right along Cool Oak Lane taking care when crossing the narrow
    bridge; there is a control button to press on the other side of the road which stops the traffic in both ways. Continue to the busy road junction at the end, where it joins West Hendon Broadway. Cross at the lights and turn left along West Hendon Broadway, where there are shops and cafés. To reach Hendon station follow West Hendon Broadway and then take the second right turn into Station Road otherwise turn right into Park Road. Follow Park Road over the railway and the end of the M1, pass under the noisy A41 Hendon Way using the subway and follow the signs to Beaufort Gardens turning right along Cheyne Walk. Just before Renters Avenue, turn left into an alleyway and over a railway footbridge into Hendon Park which completes Section 10 of the Capital Ring.

    To reach Hendon Central tube station, take the first signposted left and
    passing a handsome granite drinking fountain of 1905, follow the avenue of lime trees to the top of the park. This is Veterans Avenue, dedicated to the veterans of the British Arms Forces in June 2007. Cross Queen’s Road just outside the park and turn left to walk down to Hendon Central tube station.

    In case you have still spare time take the tube to Fincley Road Station:

    Turn left and take a walk along Finchley Road, raising your head to see very interesting 18th century houses with charming porticos:

    Finchley Road extends along 7 kilometres (4.3 miles). It  is one of the major thoroughfares of north London. The most commercial part of the road is here - near to Finchley Road tube station and the O2 Centre.

    End your day with a pleasant stroll in the O2 shopping centre. Take the stairs to the upmost floor to have a look at these porticoed houses:

  • Nature
    Updated at Jul 11,2014

    The Vatican Gardens - Brilliant tour only if the weather is good:

    Practicalities: Full price ticket: 32,00 Euro. Reduced ticket: 24,00 Euro -children aged between 6 and 18 years and students aged no more than 26 years on presentation of a student identity card (International Student Card) on the day of the visit. The ticket also includes the Vatican museums and Sistine chapel. Doing the conducted tour in the Vatican Gardens gives you the opportunity of access to the museums without waiting in line. Easy reservations through the Vatican site but must do it weeks before. Duration of the tour is about 2 hours. The ticket enables the visitors to continue, on their own, a tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

    Days: Every day except on Sundays and Vatican holidays.

    Entrance times:8.30 - 9.00 – 9.45 - 10.30 – 11.00 – 11.45 – 12.30 – 13.00.

    audio guide: Italian, English, French, Spanish, German.

    I recommend taking this CONDUCTED tour in the beginning or end of your day of visit the Vatican Museums. In a hot day - take the Gardens as EARLY as possible. Avoid coming in a very hot and/or humid weather. There is water along your visit route. Note that the sheer numbers of people in the museums is always overwhelming after the serenity of the garden walk. Bear in mind that the Gardens are the only opportunity to view the entirety exterior of Michelangelo's dome on top of St. Peter's Basilica.

    You visit the Gardens only with a group and with a Certified Vatican Tour Guide (one guide every 40 participants). You must make reservation in advance (internet, telephone, on spot). Book online before arriving to be able to skip the queues. At the moment of the reservation an advance payment is required. You will pay the balance on the day of the visit.

    After the payment is confirmed the applicant will recieve an e-mail with the confirmation of the booking, the voucher containing the reservation code and tour information. The applicant is asked to print off the voucher so as to present it (with its bar-code) on the day of the tour. The reservation will be checked by means of the bar-code present on the voucher. This tour is not for people with limited walking ability or are mobility impaired. 

    The tour lasts a couple of hours and takes you past beautiful fountains and sculptures, manicured lawns and flower beds while allowing you the most amazing views of the dome of St. Peter's and the city beyond.

    (Italian: Giardini Vaticani) in Vatican City. They are private urban gardens and parks which cover more than half of the Vatican territory in the South and Northeast and they are bounded by stone walls in the North, South and West. The gardens and parks were established during the Renaissance and Baroque era and are decorated with fountains and sculptures. There are several springs under the earth which are not in use.There is a wide variety of flora, and the area is considered a biotope. There are a variety of fountains cooling the gardens, sculptures, an artificial grotto devoted to Our Lady of Lourdes, and olive trees donated by the government of Israel. There are very few buildings in the "green area" such as Radio Vatican with its huge antennas and a variety of medieval fortifications, buildings and monuments from the 9th century to the present day. Some of the excursions in the Gardens pass near the residents of Benedict XVI and the Domus Santa Marta where Pope Francis lives. You also get to see the Papal private rail track and the landing pad for his helicopter.

    The Gardens are from the place of rest and meditation of the Roman Pontiff since 1279, when Pope Nicholas III (Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, 1277-1280) moved the Papal residence from the Lateran to the Vatican. Within the new walls, which had erected in defense of his residence, the Pope planted an orchard (pomerium), a lawn (pratellum) and a veegetables garden (viridarium), as can be seen from the epigraph stone now kept in the room at the Palace of the Captains in the Capitoline Museums in the Capitoline Hill. This first unit was built near the hill of Sant'Egidio, which now houses the Palazzetto del Belvedere ed i Cortili and the courtyards of the Vatican Museums. The area where today begins the visit to the Vatican Gardens is located instead in the newer part of the state, on which were built new large gardens that, together with those of the original nucleus, covering about half of the area on which extends the Vatican. The place is quiet and not as many people go here compared to St. Peter Basilica and Vatican Museums. It's fun on a good weather day.

    Exit from the Vatican Museums' entrance to the Gardens:

    Mosaic from Caracalla Baths - displayed near the entrance to the Gardens:

    View to the Vatican Museums:

    A small fountain:

    Statue of Augustus:

    Statue of Pope Leo XIII:

    Madonna della Guardia shrine. A replica of The Shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia ("Our Lady of the Watch") which is a Roman Catholic place of pilgrimage located on the top of Mount Figogna in the Municipality of Ceranesi, about 20 kilometres from the city of Genoa, in the northwest of Italy. In memory of the Grotto of Lourdes:

    The Vatican walls built by Leo IV (847 -855) in Piazzale S. Chiara:

    A frieze depicting Pope Leo XIII, Bismarck and Prime Minister of Spain in a dispute on isles in the Far East:

    Gardens around the Vatican Radio Station - Largo della Radio:

    The flowering French Garden:

    The French Garden - view to St. Peter Basilica Dome:

    A Sea Nymph blows water into the air through seashells in one of two "Siren Fountains" in The Garden Of The Arches:

    Exit from the French Garden - facing the Grotta di Lourdes:

    Grotta di Lourdes (also Grotta della Madonna di Lourdes) is an artificial cave in the Vatican gardens. It was built in 1902–5 and is a replica of the Lourdes Grotto in France. The context of building this grotto is the vision of the Madonna that a young girl, Bernadette Soubirous, experienced 18 times. Pope Francis, a day after his appointment as the new Pope, visited the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the afternoon of 15 March 2013 and offered prayers before the statue of the Virgin Mary. The grotto donated to Pope John XXIII (Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, 1958-1963). It is a place where traditionally at the end of May each year the pope comes to pray and greet the faithful who have made their way up the hill in a torch-light procession:

    An olive tree more than 200 years old grown near Nazareth was sent as a gift from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Pope Benedict XVI. The tree was planted at Viale Degli Ulivi, or Olive Tree Boulevard, in the Vatican Gardens:

    The Frogs Fountain:

    Statue of Juan Diego: one of the most special pieces of sculpture in the Gardens is its namesake statue, which was donated by Mexico to Pope Pious XII in 1939. Its figurative program represents the foundation story of Our Lady of Guadalupe: the statue depicts the apparition of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as it was miraculously revealed in Mexico City In the year 1531. The poor native Juan Diego stands, showing the sacred image of the Virgin that had appeared on his vestment, while the Franciscan Bishop Juan de Zumaraga kneels before it, bowing down as a witness to the miracle of the beautiful, sacred image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

    Cedar trees:

    The Leonine Wall with its two mighty towers:

    St. John's Tower:

    Statue of John Paul II:

    In the end of the Leonine Walls, near one of the towers, further on is a clearing called “capanna cinese”, meaning Chinese hut, where one can admire a bell which is a memento of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. In this area Pope Pius II used to make his daily afternoon walk:

    La Madonna del Divino Amore:

    The manicured, formal, box-hedged Italian Garden:

    St. Peter Dome from the Italian Garden:

    St. Peter Statue and Dome - from the Italian Garden:

    Fontana dell'Aquilone (Fountain of the Eagle):

    The Pontifical Academy of Sciences - seeks to pay honour to pure science, wherever it is found, to assure its freedom and to promote its research. The Academy was founded in Rome in 1603 by Federico Cesi, Jan Heck, Francesco Stelluti and Anastasio De Filiis. It was originally called the Academy of the Lincei, then the Pontifical Academy of the New Lincei. On October 28th 1936, Pope Pius XI granted it new Statutes and the name it has today. The latest Statute was approved by Pope Paul VI on April 1st 1976. The academic body comprises 80 Academicians chosen from among the world’s most famous scientists. The Pope appoints the members of the Academy. It is the only Academy of Sciences in the world that operates beyond national boundaries. It is located in the Casina of Pius IV (Casina Pia) in the Vatican Gardens. The Casina Pio IV (or Villa Pia) is a patrician villa in Vatican City which is now home to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas:

    Courtyard of the Academy:

    The highly charged Mannerist front of the Casina Pio IV:

    Vatican Gardens - Giardino Quadrato (Square Garden) - opened in 2013. And back to the entrance of the Vatican Museums:

  • Nature | France
    Updated at May 20,2016

    Eze - French Riviera (Cote d'Azur):

    Introduction: It is one of the most beautiful villages in France and an unmissable highlight of a visit to south-east France. We urge you to get away from the French Riviera for an half day (better, sunny full day !)   and see it for a unforgettable experience. The medieval village of Eze is perched high on a hill above the French Riviera - from where it has lovely views along the coast and out across the Mediterranean. The ancient fortified village is still crowned with the ruins of its 12th-century fortified castle (torn down in 1706), sitting on a narrow rocky peak. The castle grounds actually host the well-known exotic garden (see below) (Jardin Exotique). Keep in mind that EZE IS VERY TOURISTIC. Many of its houses are now shops, restaurants or galleries. Eze is a pretty village, but it's not at all off the beaten path.

    Weather: Choose a sunny - BUT NOT a HOT day. in the height of summer it can be exceptionally crowded and challenging to visit, helped by its easy access from so many of the popular riviera resorts including Nice and Monaco. If you can visit Eze in spring it will be a more pleasant experience.

    Public transportation:Busses 82 or 112 from Nice. They depart from a parking lot near Vauban (6 stops from Place Massena on the Nice Tram line). Eze village sits beside the very busy Moyenne Corniche (RN7), the main road (along with the Basse Corniche and Grande Corniche) between Nice and Monaco-Menton. The Moyenne Corniche is usually very crowded, and in the summer extremely crowded, so plan an early start.

    Dining: There are plenty of cafés and restaurants at Eze village. Most of the lower-priced ones are at the lower part of the village. In the upper part of the old village there are are some up-market hotels' restaurants.

    Short history: The area surrounding Èze was first populated around 2000 BC. Eze was the site of an ancient Ligurian oppidum, probably established by the Phoenicians and later occupied by the Romans. The original oppidum was on Mont Bastide, 1 km northwest of the current perched village. A trail, marked by yellow, goes from Eze Village up to the Oppidum de Mont Bastide. The Gallo-Roman Heraklean Way (later replaced by the Via Domitia) passed by Eze; there's a pillar somewhere,  3 km to the west of the village. A Roman tomb can be seen at the Chapelle des Pénitents inside Eze. The area was subsequently occupied by not only the Romans but also the Moors who held the area for approximately 80 years until they were driven out by William of Provence in 973. By 1388 Èze fell under the jurisdiction of the House of Savoy, who built up the town as a fortified stronghold because of its proximity to Nice. The history of Èze became turbulent several times in the next few centuries as French and Turkish troops seized the village under orders from Hayreddin Barbarossa in 1543, and Louis XIV destroyed the walls surrounding the city in 1706 in the war of the Spanish succession. Finally in April 1860, Eze was designated as part of France by unanimous decision by the people of Eze.

    Eze Highlights: There are three main highlights in Eze that would deserve even a FULL DAY:

    Exploring old Eze: The whole medieval village itself is entirely pedestrianised so you will need to park in the car park down near the main entrance to the village.  Next to the car park you can also find the Eze tourist office. The public toilets are near the parking lot.Spend a few minutes in the village entrance to catch stunning views of the Mediterranean and the hills around the village.

    Note: Finding parking at the bottom of the hill can be difficult !!!

    As you enter the village, with your back to the Corniche and the entrance, right to the public bus station, on the south-east side you ascend to the castle. The view from the entrance to the village is stunning. Your way up is adorned with sculptures of: knights, gorilla etc':

    Eze is an incredible walking experience, especially in the Fall when most of the summer crowds have gone home. The views are incredible and the narrow cobbled streets are filled with wonderful galleries, stores and restaurants. This ancient village is a stone stairs hike. The more you ascend - the better views you gain on the village houses:

    From the village heights - view to the sea:

    We continued on up to the fortress-like structure at the top of the hill. There are small houses, tiny shops and cafes and most significantly brilliant views over the coast and out to sea.

    View of the castle promontory:

    Note: Eze has become a tourist magnet for good reason: the medieval jumble of houses and the views are just wonderful. Our only advice is to try to arrive either very early or very late in the day when the crowds are less.

    The Eze village is fluent with artists, handicrafts and colorful artifacts. Wood carving sculptures:

    Dolls artist:

    Artistic pillows:

    Flowers' paintings gallery:

    A visit to the church cemetery and garden are also worth a visit. As you climb towards the village you can see the church on the hill ahead of you, and you soon enter the narrow paved streets of the historic centre. The rather orange church in the centre of Eze old village was built from 1764 - 1772 and has a neo-classical facade. Eze is so high that the light ochre church (Notre Dame de l’Assomption) can be seen from afar. The two-level square clock tower on the church is lovely. The relatively plain exterior conceals an impressive interior where you can see several interesting decorative features including paintings and frescoes. An Egyptian cross inside the church suggests the village's ancient roots, when the Phoenicians erected a temple there to honour the goddess Isis:

    View of the village houses from the main church (Eglise):

    Around the church there is a path which allows further views of the village houses:

    Above the church there is a cemetery. From there you can gain spectacular views of the bottom bay and sea:

    Adjacent to the church - there is a military cemetery with view of the cliff opposite the village and its aqueduct:

    The village forms a circular pattern around the base of the castle (which is, actually, the Eze exotic garden). The old buildings and narrow streets are very well restored, with high stone walls and narrow roadways of red-brick centered stone. There are numerous streets and alleys to explore in Eze, with many beautiful courtyards, picturesque houses, pebbled roads. One of first views across the coast is also to be seen from here. So much to be seen and photographed around every corner.

    The only fountain in the village:

    Head sculpture on one of the houses:

    Two Grasse parfumeries are represented in Eze village, Galimard (open daily, Tel: (33) 493 41 10 70) with a shop and Fragonard (open daily, 08.30 -18.30, Tel: (33) 493 41 05 05) with shop as well as a factory you can visit.

    The lovely gardens of the Chèvre d'Or hotel: Situated beyond stone walls at the top of the village. This is one of the world's finest hotels. A series of terraces drop down towards the ocean, revealing quiet courtyards, swimming pools, sun decks and Moroccan-style gardens.

    Allee Chèvre d'Or:

    Horse sculpture on the hotel walls:

    We entered the garden free of charge - with no sign hinting or avoiding our free strolling around:

    Hotel Chèvre d'Or - the entrance:

    They are magnificent !!! Unbelievable sculptures, flower-beds, sights of the mountains around and the coasts far down below. It is an heavenly spot. Striking premises of a very expensive and aristocratic hotel. When you arrive at the bottom of Eze village, where the public parking area is located, walk up the road leading to the village and, on your right, follow the signs leading to the Chèvre d'Or hotel front gate. Please note that cars are not allowed in the medieval village. You enter the gates into a corner of paradise where the scents of jasmine, bougainvillea and rose guide the visitor up the gently sloping, multi-colored, rich, fresh and cool lanes:

    Inside the walled chateau there are high ceilings, marble decking and giant chandeliers. The spacious rooms have hosted Marlene Dietrich and Robert De Niro, and are decked out in Italian marble and Parisian antiques. They boast jacuzzis and large terraces with sweeping views of the Mediterranean. Very expensive (minimum 420-450 euros for a double room).

    Le Jardin exotique d'Eze: A magical place. Allow nearly 4-5 hours strolling leisurely through the paths, admiring the wide selection of plants from many locales. when you get close to the top of the village you will see the entrance to the gardens which have been established in the ruins of a medieval castle. Almost nothing remains of the castle itself. But, the tropical gardens are superb and the views across the village rooftops and the coast are exceptional and more than worth the admission price (6 euros). Don't visit Eze and dare not paying to enter the gardens. It is a spectacular place and memorable visit for months. The gardens are meticulously maintained. The gardens include a wide range of cactuses and succulent plants and areas for rest and relaxation until you finally reach the belvedere at the top and the best viewpoint of all.

    Note: despite being 550 metres above sea level - the uphill walk, inside the gardens, is relatively easy for an averagely fit person.

    Opening hours: everyday. JAN-MAR, OCT-DEC: 09.00 - 16.30, APR-JUN: 09.00 - 18.30, JUL-SEP: 09.00 - 19.30. Prices: MAR-NOV: 6 €, students - 2.50 €, children - 12 yrs - FREE. You are buying the ticket for the exotic gardens, but the VIEWS are the highlight of this place. The breathtaking views and photo opportunities are well worth the visit and the entrance fee alone. You can leave and reenter with the same ticket on the day it was bought. Duration: 3-4 hours. You should save for it at least half a day - probably more...

    Note: take some water up because it does get very warm and the historic ruins at the top of the gardens are very exposed.

    Another note: every September, the French Riviera locales celebrate the Heritage Week Festival (Voyageur Heritage) for 2-3 days. During this period the entrance to the Eze gardens is free. During a couple of days in September - buildings, monuments and sites not normally accessible to the public will open their doors for the European Heritage Days. This is your one and only chance to visit extraordinary sites in France:

    Spectacular views from more remote spots of the gardens. It's well worth the walk up to the top to get a spectacular view. The top of the hill gives way to 360 degree views:

    View of the church:

    A special upper section in the gardens - is actually a sculptures' garden with remains of the old castle. The unique garden adds the visual glamour of sculptural women to the succulent and cactus they surround:

    A fountain near the bus station from Eze to Nice:

    After the village and gardens visit there is a possibility to use Nietzsche Path to go down to the coast and Eze train station (directly to Eze-sur-Mer) where trains to Nice can be caught. The famous writer walked the trail every day. It helped him to think more clearly. Path is in some places very rocky and absolutely not suitable for the unfitted. This trail is really quite difficult to negotiate unless you are used to hill walking. It took us an 75 minutes to get to the bottom. You can catch the #83 bus from Eze Village to Eze Beach. This is spectacular route of hairpin bends that saves you an arduous 1 hour descent.

  • Nature
    Updated at Jul 4,2017

    Stratford-upon-Avon Canal:from Stratford to Wilmcote section.

    Duration: 1 day. Weather: only bright days. Distance: every direction - 4.5 - 5 km. Start & End: Stratford Tourist Information Office - near Bridge Street. Transportation: frequent trains from Wilmcote to SuA. (11.55, 12.15, 13.15, 13.59, 14.15, 15.15, 15.59, 16.15, 17.16, 18.16, 18.37, 18.44 etc'). Price:  £1.80.

    The Stratford-upon-Avon Canal runs for just 40 km. from the Birmingham suburbs to the River Avon in Stratford on Avon.

    Order of locks (from north to south) - so use it bottom up:
    40-50 Wilmcote Locks (11)

    62a A46 Chaly Beate Bridge

    51 Bishopton Lock

    64a Railway bridges

    52 One Elm Lock

    65 A3400 Birmingham Road bridge

    53 Maidenhead Road Lock

    54 Lock

    55 Warwick Road Lock

    68 A439 Warwick Road bridge

    69 A422 Bridge Foot bridge

    We walk (up) along a short section which climbs gently across quiet rolling countryside and water meadows from SuA to the village of Wilmcote. The towpath from the centre of Stratford to Wilmcote is excellent, wide and for the most part with a good surface. After Wilmcote it becomes more difficult with large sections of mud.

    From the Tourist Information Office, walk  a few steps northward. On your right - there are stairs descending to the canal towpath. Folow the path NORTHWARD. Just after joining the towpath there are splendid clusters of houses and private boats, on your left,  on the opposite bank.

    If you stay with the towpath there is no need for any form of navigation for the next four kilometres as the canal takes you northwards and slightly uphill. There are apparently 22 lock gates between Stratford and Wilmcote, a rise of about 40 metres, this is hard work if you are in a canal barge and will take all day, but for the walker it will take between 1.5 and two hours. The return journey is easy, either retrace your steps back down the canal towpath or catch a train or bus back to Stratford:

    Most of the time the route up to Wilmcote is in quite beautiful countryside:

    There are boat people to chat:

    There are some really beautiful little cast-iron and brick bridges that are a charming feature of this canal, built in two halves and separated with a 1inch gap to allow the towing line between horse and boat to be dropped through, without need to unhitch the horse.

    You know when you are arriving in Wilmcote when passing a house which looks a bit like a castle on the left hand bank:

    Turn left down to the centre of the village, about 250 metres. As you walk down Featherbed Bridge 59. On Featherbed lane, on your right, is the Mary Arden House farm complex. Mary Arden was born in Wilmcote around 1540. A farmer's daughter, she married John Shakespeare, moved to Stratford-upon-Avon, and gave birth to William Shakespeare, who is recognised as the greatest English playwright ever.

    Wilmcote is where Mary Arden’s house (she was William Shakespeare’s mother as stated above) is located and a must trip out for tourists staying at Stratford. Mary Arden was the youngest of eight daughters of a well to do farmer Robert Arden, she married the son of one of her father’s tenant farmers, John Shakespeare. Their first child to survive was named William and although we know they had a total of eight children most died young. The Stratford canal at bridge 60 is just 50 meters from the Wilmcote station. For many people the Mary Arden's farm is the best experience of all the Shakespeare houses. There are actually two farms: Palmer’s Farm was for over 200 years, thought to be the house where Mary Arden was born, until in 2000 new evidence was discovered that the Arden’s lived next door in what was formerly known as Glebe Farm. If the museum is open it is well worth a visit. It is open daily except Sundays in wintertime. There is also a museum of agricultural implements and local rural bygones. In Wilmcote there is a choice of two pubs, The Mason’s Arms and The Mary Arden Inn, also in summer when Mary Arden’s House is open they have a cafe. Buy your ticket to the farm in the Tourist Information near Bridge Street in Stratford upon Avon. It is cheaper there. The farm itself isn't huge but there is plenty to do and see, plenty for children and adults alike. NOT suitable for anyone in a wheelchair. The tickets you get allow you to visit the attractions for 12 months. Allow 1-2 hours. Bring food. The restaurant here is a bit expensive with limited, but delicious, selection. Online prices: Adult: £11.92, Child: £7.65 (3-17 in full time education. Under 3s go free), Family: £31.50, Senior: £11.02 (over 60s), Student: £11.02 (in full time education),
    Concession: £11.02 (visitors with disabilities). Add 10% for on-the-spot fees. Not cheap.

    There are staff members in costume and in character who are working at the farm, and you can wander around watching them and talking to them as they work.No Elizabethean community was without its blacksmith:

    Mosaics made by local children:

    Farm's Main Courtyard:

    Mary Arden House and Zodiac Garden from the 1500s:

    Kitchens from the 1600s:

    Timber framing in the 16th century:

    Tudor Dinner - preparing meal for the farm's workers. The meal is based on vegetables, fruits, herbs and ... flowers. Must be as much colorful as possible. You encounter the smells, the protocol at the board table and the type of food they would of been having during the time period. This is a multi sensory experience:

    Palmer's Farmhouse:

    Falconry displays. Every one is dressed in Tudor costumes:

    Barn Owl:

    Common Buzzard:

    Eagle Owl:

    White Ferret:

    I found the Wilmcote village quite pleasant. I took the road pointing to Billesley and surrounded the prosperous village consisting, mainly, of holiday accommodation houses and glorious gardens:

  • Nature | Montenegro > Biogradska Gora National Park
    Updated at Jun 11,2013

    Day 4 – Snowy Mountain with Biogradska Lake at its feet

    In the morning we drove to Biogradska Lake in the rain and fog. There were no guards or rangers at the entrance to the nature reserve. We took some pictures with the view of the beautiful lake, and continued in the pouring rain to Žabljak.

  • Nature | Montenegro > Skadar Lake National Park
    Updated at Jun 23,2013

    When we got to Rijeka Cernovica we saw a map on a sign that uncovered the fact that this is the famous Skader Lake which stretches all the way to that point. Fortunately, on the road we drove here the traffic was light as so we could stop as we pleased, admire the view and take pictures.

  • Nature | Peru > Moyobamba, San Martin, Peru
    Updated at Jul 1,2013

    The two attractions on the outskirts of town are the orchid farm; where the orchids grow in their natural jungle habitat, unbelievable flowers - in all colors and shapes. One of the family members is a Botanist, and she'll take you on a private tour and provide explanations about all of the flowers. The entrance fee is a few Sols and you can donate more. 

  • Nature | Ecuador > Galapagos > Tortuga Bay
    Updated at Jul 1,2013

    Next thing I did was Totuga Bay, which included more cool iguanas than turtles - they crowded in big areas of moving hissing blacks, probably to warm each other. Their domesticity and their human facial expressions will melt hearts even in those of you who don't like reptiles. The bay you visit has a deep crevice in which you can see a mixture of sea and ground water - very recommended and refreshing experience. 

  • Nature | Norway > Laksforsen Falls, Trofors, Norway
    Updated at Jun 24,2013

    My husband and I love waterfalls, so this day was a celebration for us. We drove from one waterfall to another, and after Laksforsen we searched for several other waterfalls we had trouble to find. In one of the cases we got into a super marker and asked the cashier about a certain waterfall and said it was shut down for tourist. We thought to ourselves - what does it mean the waterfall was shut down. It's not a faucet you can turn it off. So we left the super market driving slowly until we reached a bridge with a great waterfall rushing below. We drove into a dirt road, parked the car and walked some distance until we saw we're in the right direction. 
    The waterfall was pretty hidden by trees, without any point we can shoot it properly. The probably maintained this place in the past and decided at some point to cut the expenses the let the vegetation grow wildly. We got back to the car only to discover that we brought with us aunts which climbed till knee height. After thorough cleaning we got to car and drove.