Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, was born in Leiden during 1606, and recorded some of the most vibrant decades of what is now termed the Dutch Golden Age. He created his first works in the city of his birth — the location of the oldest university in the Netherlands — then moved to Amsterdam. He lived and worked in the capital of a flourishing maritime empire. The Rijksmuseum, which conveys the history of the Netherlands and displays artworks from the Dutch Golden Age and beyond, is also located in Amsterdam. The grand building was designed by Pierre Cuypers, who was also the architect of the Dutch capital’s central railway station. Bas relief figures adorn the façade of the Rijksmuseum, whose Gallery of Honour was built to give pride of place to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.
Waterways once provided the most convenient means of transporting goods, so following the Leeds Waterfront Heritage Trail is a way of learning about industrialisation and urban growth in this part of Yorkshire. The four-kilometre trail runs along the River Aire between Granary Wharf, behind the railway station in the city centre, to Thwaites Mills Watermill, which is still operational.
“The Battle of the Atlantic was controlled from here. The Western Approaches was originally based in Plymouth but with the fall of France and fact that the channel was so dangerous that’s why it moved here to Liverpool in ’41,” says Carmel, who is wearing a navy blue costume and tie, similar to wartime uniforms worn by members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS). “400 personnel would have been working here at any one time, but it would have been a slightly bigger facility. We've been told that the overriding smell was of perspiration and cigarette smoke," she adds.
“We have a couple bears that are repeat offenders, every year. They're coming into the community doing the same thing; most of those bears are habituated to garbage or food conditioned to garbage. They're older bears that were around during the time when an open dump was in operation here. They were introduced to garbage from their mother, so that's a habit that's almost impossible to break for a bear,” says Brett Whitlock, the man who manages the Polar Bear Alert Program in Churchill, Manitoba.
“There’s going to be 12 carvings placed around the city…We're also doing a live carving while we're there. We've got a place where people can have a go themselves…We've also got a sweetie block where the kids and try and get sweets out of the ice,” explained the Mr Chaloner as he carved a Minotaur, the mythical creature with the body of a man and bull's head, from a block of ice. “Heroes and Villains is a good theme. We've got a Transformer, a bumblebee, a Wonder Woman and there's a Lego Batman. They're all really nice sculptures to do. We've got a fireman with a hose spurting water. It was a bit of a challenge to incorporate the prop inside so it'll actually squirt water out. They're all quite diverse,” he explained.
In woodland close to Rainau, a small town a little over 80 kilometres eastwards of Stuttgart, I saw one of the tallest remaining sections of the stone wall that was a key element of the Upper German-Rhaetian Limes. Crunching across pine cones and bouncing over sun-dappled ground springy with fallen pine needles, I visited a remnant of the stonework accompanied by Dr Stefan Bender, an archaeologist working at Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Limes information centre in Aalen. “It was known as the Devil’s Wall,” said Dr Bender as we approached the stonework. “People thought in former centuries that the devil had constructed the wall.”
For a romantic view of sundown over the city take a taxi up to the Miradoura da Senhora do Monte, a scenic lookout named after the site’s hilltop chapel. Alternatively, enter São Jorge Castle, shortly before closing time, to enjoy panoramas of the city from battlements over which cannons protrude, then meander through the Alfama district. Visiting the Carris Museum, which tells the story of public transport in Lisbon, is an ideal precursor to a ride on the famous Number 28 tram, whose route passes several of city’s A-list attractions, including the fortress-like Sé Cathedral and São Bento Palace (the meeting place of the Portuguese parliament). Disembarking at the vast Prazeres cemetery means an opportunity to stroll in quietude between mausoleums.
“For me, Arras is one of the most beautiful cities in France, maybe in Europe. It’s very nice to work here, with good people and good conditions. For the business it’s a very good place for us. Belgian chocolate is very appreciated here in France they don’t have the same one — we have Belgian chocolate!” said Thomas Laforge at the Doctor Steam Bar, as, instead of trying his hot chocolate, I sipped a cup of his mulled wine fortified with a shot of rum.
Over centuries the Mi’kmaw people, one of Canada’s First Nations, have navigated routes in the region. The Mi’kmaw would paddle along waterways then disembark their birch bark canoes to carry them on portages of up to two kilometres at a time. Cody explains that Todd Labrador, a Mi’kmaw craftsman, operates workshops in which he demonstrates how to strip bark from birch trees and make traditional canoes. Interpretative tours also provide insights to other aspects of Mi’kmaw heritage, including the medicinal use of plants.
Yesterday I took a leisurely boat ride in the Red Sea: a day trip to experience snorkelling with turtles at Ras Mohammed National Park, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. The mountains of the arid South Sinai region were visible inland but most of my fellow travellers were lying on the backs, facing upwards at the cloudless sky, relaxing on towels spread out on the deck. There was a flurry of activity as we pulled on our flippers and masks then splashed into the water to view the marine life.