The honey-stone walls of Oxford city centre conjure all kinds of wishes and whimsy – and each time that I’ve stayed overnight in Oxford, it’s like slipping into an architectural Narnia. Disclaimer: On this visit I was an invited guest of Mercure Hotels and Experience Oxfordshire, but all thoughts and laboured literary metaphors are very much my own.
Oxford is one of those cities that seems unaffected by the passing of time.
Dear planning shy travellers,
Cologne in Germany is the perfect destination for a long weekend city break.
(Nb: I write Cologne, Germany to ensure that the whole London/Tower Bridge confusion doesn’t happen – years and years ago an American millionaire thought he’d bought the beautiful Tower Bridge, but actually bought the rather more plain London Bridge and transported every stone all the way to the desert in the US…)
I loves me a church or temple, especially tucked way in the metropolis of London. There is something soothing, uplifting and endlessly fascinating about spires, minarets and gloriously stained glass windows shining their jewelled tones on a polished floor.
At university when I was studying architecture, we were asked to compare and contrast two very different styles of churches, but expressly forbidden to discuss the religious aspects. I decided to rebel and do it anyway because you can’t really have one without the other – if it wasn’t for the religion, you wouldn’t have the church in the first place.
The Transylvanian city of Brasov is usually just a day trip from Bucharest. People spend maybe an hour or so to wandering around the town square, and buy a drink before hopping back on their transport back to the capital city of Romania.
But, thanks to an epic tip-off from the travel ninja Shikha at Why Waste Annual Leave and a few other Brasov devotees, instead of following the crowds, we booked a couple of leisurely nights there. At the end of our day trip, instead of returning to Bucharest and getting stuck in the Sunday evening traffic, we checked into our hotel and waved our guide off.
The draw of Dracula’s Castle and the historic coup over communist tyrant Nicolae Ceaușescu was enough to fire up our curiosity about visiting Romania, but I didn’t quite expect how hard it would be to get out of my head.
Sometimes we travel to escape, and sometimes we travel to explore – our 4.5 day trip to Romania, staying in Bucharest and Brasov – was a combination of the two.