The summer weather has finally arrived, and you know what that means – it’s time for a visit to the local market to stock up on the essential French picnic supplies: fresh bread, cheese, charcuterie, a couple of sun-kissed veggies and a bottle of wine.
Choose a destination from the list below, and don’t forget the candles, some sort of musical instrument, and a blanket.
Heading to Paris? Explore the city like a real Parisian with these new audio walking tours for your iTouch, iPhone or mp3 player. The app includes five neighborhood tours (Latin Quarter, St-Germain-des-Prés, Bastille, Marais, Montmartre), each with over 45 minutes of insightful audio content, an expert guide and audio soundscapes and excerpts from the BBC Archives. Apple / mp3 Continue reading “Paris Walking Tours app”
Before The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, the most famous literary thriller involving coded manuscripts, secret societies, and a gruesome sacrifice was Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. An investigation into conspiracy theories and the Templar Knights, a meditation on symbols and language, a serious poststructuralist joke, there’s no doubt that Eco beat Dan Brown to the punch.
Ah, the joys of Paris on a budget. Yes, you read that right. Paris may be an expensive place and the five-star indulgences are many, but it’s still possible to enjoy its unique pleasures without draining the kids’ college funds. Stop number one? Notre Dame, the spiritual and symbolic heart of France.
Explore Shanghai’s historic waterfront, the Bund, with this great new audio walking tour. The tour covers the recently restored “Back Bund” area, as well as providing in-depth background on iconic sights such as the Customs House and Peace Hotel. Make sure to upload it to your mp3 player (it’s free) before your next visit to Shanghai.
A note on the map – use this one and not the one on the BBC website, which is incorrect.
There are lots of opportunities to go hiking in China, but what if you won’t be straying far from Shanghai and need a little downtime after the push and pull of the city’s megacrowds? Well, if you can pencil in two free days, hiking the rolling countryside around Wuyuan County is doable. Here’s how.
With a catchy name like Dragon-Tiger Mountain (龙虎山), you would expect the historical Daoist site Longhu Shan to be pretty popular. This is, after all, where the nonbeliever Marshal Hong (“you Daoists are always inventing stories to make a penny off the common folk”) accidentally set free 108 demons in the classicThe Water Margin. This is also where the founder of religious Daoism (Zhang Daoling) is said to have attained the Dao in the 2nd century CE. Those are pretty major cultural markers, even if you don’t care a whit about Chinese history.
When I first visited Shanghai 15 years ago, I was not impressed. It was, in fact, my least favorite part of China. As one friend said, aptly summing up the sentiments of many foreign students at the time, “Shanghai can eat my shorts.”
But since then, things have improved exponentially. I sympathize with those who protest the destruction of many old neighborhoods in China, although the loss of old buildings is not nearly as tragic as the loss of a community way of life. But when you compare Shanghai in the mid-1990s – a soulless, gray industrial town – with what it has become today – a city with a heartbeat and a future – there is little doubt that it’s headed in the right direction. That said, as a guidebook author, I can never get over how fast things change…
Thinking about heading to the Expo? You’ve probably heard by now that some of the lines are really, really long. If you want to make the most of your time and avoid the waits, here are ten pavilions you shouldn’t miss. (Sampled on a Wednesday afternoon and Sunday night.) For more Expo tips, click here.
1. Most Monumental In terms of sheer size and grandiosity, China can’t be beat. The building is stunning from any angle, though don’t get your hopes up if you want to go inside. Entry is by special invitation only, handed out to the first couple thousand visitors daily. I was advised to start queuing at 6am if I wanted to get a ticket. Admire it from the outside.