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10 of the best things to do in Palm Springs, California

10 of the best things to do in Palm Springs, California Palm Springs’ modernist masterpieces are celebrated in this week’s fall preview but the mountain haven for the Hollywood set is worth a visit any time of year In the early 1920s, Hollywood stars adopted Palm Springs as a place to escape the travails of Tinseltown. They were wowed by the fine weather, laid-back vibe and views of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains – plus it was close enough to comply with the “two-hour rule” stipulating actors under contract had to be on call if needed by the studio. The Oasis Hotel, built in 1924-5 and designed by Lloyd Wright (son of Frank), led the way with…

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High society: El Alto, Bolivia, steps into the spotlight

High society: El Alto, Bolivia, steps into the spotlight After landing at El Alto, canny travellers don’t go straight to La Paz but soak up the exuberant architecture, culture and women’s projects of Bolivia’s second city Most travellers never give El Alto a second thought. Bolivia’s second city, home to the highest international airport in South America (and fifth-highest in the world) at 4,061 metres, it is a place visitors fly into before being whisked to La Paz, the de facto capital, 15km away and 421 metres lower. Yet, El Alto is emerging from the shadow of its neighbour, thanks to its fantastic rebel architecture, new cable car routes, emerging culinary credentials and the trailblazing input of its first…

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On the Mersey beat: a walking tour of Liverpool

On the Mersey beat: a walking tour of Liverpool A guided walk is a great way to take in the city’s architectural and cultural riches ‘It’s not just the history but the sheer chutzpah of these buildings that fascinates me,” announces Trevor Newton, my guide to Liverpool, as we meet under the looming portico of the Town Hall. An artist and architectural historian, Newton, 59, grew up here before heading south to work in London as a topographical artist in the early 1980s. He’s returned to launch Magnificent Liverpool, idiosyncratic tours of a city that’s captivated him since childhood. “There’s still an outdated view of Liverpool which dates back to the Toxteth riots and declining docks of the 1980s,”…

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Restorative powers: a stay at historic Llwyn Celyn

Restorative powers: a stay at historic Llwyn Celyn As the Landmark Trust opens this 600-year old house in Wales’s Black Mountains, Owen Sheers finds its period details offer a richly atmospheric stay We arrive in a storm. It is late, the night alive with wind and slanting rain. For the last few miles the narrow lanes, lit by the car’s headlights, have been strewn with a winter confetti of leaves, twigs and branches. In contrast to all this wild movement and scattering through which we’ve been driving, our destination, Llwyn Celyn (meaning holly bush) at the mouth of the Llanthony Valley near Abergavenny, appears as a mass of stillness and solidity, looming dark above us. With no exterior lights…

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Need a hygge? Try Copenhagen for a happiness fix

Need a hygge? Try Copenhagen for a happiness fix With its startling architecture and world class food the Danish capital is all about enjoying the good life … at a price. Our writer is also struck by the story behind a statue – and it’s not of a mermaid I arrived at Copenhagen’s Central Station with Danny Kaye’s voice blaring in my head. Maybe he was right when he sang about wonderful Copenhagen. When you get off the train, after a 15-minute journey from the airport you are greeted by the turrets and rollercoasters of a huge theme park. Within seconds of tugging my case across the concourse, all I could hear were the squeals and screams from the…

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9 amazing UNESCO sites in Russia

9 amazing UNESCO sites in Russia For many, Russia is a place shrouded in mystery. The language, the history, the land, the gorgeous architecture — they all seem to be oddly indecipherable, piquing the curiosity of travelers. But, this fascination for the country that takes up more than one-eighth of the planet’s dry surface, should not be limited to just Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Here are nine amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites in Russia that will take you beyond the tourist trail and into the deepest, most-isolated, and incredibly beautiful confines of the Motherland. 1. Lake Baikal Photo: Windofchange64/Shutterstock Lake Baikal, located in the south of Siberia, is more than meets the eye. Containing more water…

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Amazing synagogues

Amazing synagogues Houses of worship represent some of the world’s most brilliant architecture. Religious monuments like Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque attract millions of visitors every year, both as important cultural landmarks and active places of prayer. Fewer synagogues around the world are immediately recognizable though many are considered top attractions by the cities that host them. Here are seven breathtaking synagogues from around the world that you should definitely visit. 1. Jubilee Synagogue, Czech Republic Photo: Pres Panayotov/Shutterstock Despite being sandwiched between banana-yellow and creamsicle-colored buildings, the Jubilee Synagogue is the only thing you see when you walk down Jerusalem Street. Its red-and-gold-striped facade is complemented by splashes of color, such as the periwinkle accent that…

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London’s coolest skyscraper

London’s coolest skyscraper If you’ve ever wanted the thrill of climbing a skyscraper without the risk of falling twenty stories into traffic, you might want to visit this new London skyscraper. Twentytwo (located on at 22 Bishopsgate) is slated to be the newest addition to London’s skyline, towering over both the Gherkin and Leadenhall buildings. It will contain a workspace for up to 12,000 people, as well as a massive climbing window installed on the inner face of the building. In what might be the ultimate distraction from work, employees can spend their lunch breaks on a climbing wall with the best city views around. The building won’t just be a corporate space. It will offer a fresh food…

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Amazing Russian Churches

Amazing Russian Churches Yes, the Sistine Chapel and the Sacré Coeur are impressive pieces of architecture, but, like most Catholic churches, their exterior tend to be sober and austere, lacking the color and the tiny bit of fun that could make walking in a little more tempting. Eastern Orthodox churches don’t have that problem — they tend to be brightly painted, and the “onion domes” that top them make them look straight out of Candy Landy. The most iconic Russian Orthodox church is St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, but it’s far from the only merry-looking church worth visiting in Russia. Here are seven of the coolest-looking Russian churches you should definitely seek out. 1. Church of the Nativity of…

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Amazing Russian Churches

Amazing Russian Churches Yes, the Sistine Chapel and the Sacré Coeur are impressive pieces of architecture, but, like most Catholic churches, their exterior tend to be sober and austere, lacking the color and the tiny bit of fun that could make walking in a little more tempting. Eastern Orthodox churches don’t have that problem — they tend to be brightly painted, and the “onion domes” that top them make them look straight out of Candy Landy. The most iconic Russian Orthodox church is St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, but it’s far from the only merry-looking church worth visiting in Russia. Here are seven of the coolest-looking Russian churches you should definitely seek out. 1. Church of the Nativity of…

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