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Far from the madding crowd...

NATASHA WARCHOLAK reports from Greece in the ‘off’ season…

GREECE certainly appeals as an all-seasons holiday destination, with its azure seas, cloudless skies and whitewashed cottages. When you think of its fresh, locally-grown food and reasonably priced drinks, it appeals even more. And when you know that a number of hotels lower their prices by 50 per cent in the so-called low season, you start wondering why are you not there already.

If you accept that days are shorter, it gets a tad chilly in the evenings, and not all hotels and guesthouses stay open during winter, Greece out of season oozes tremendous charm that can be only felt once the hordes of ‘traditional’ holiday makers have gone back home.

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Former Masonic school earns top pass marks

ANGELA TAGGART recommends a value-for-money base in Dublin’s embassy area…

WELL, it has to be one of our favourite cities in the world. And it’s just 100 miles from Belfast. Delightful Dublin, of course.

We are frequent visitors to the fair city, be it for work or pleasure. We just can’t get enough of it. We’ve stayed in many hotels and there’s quite a choice. But after trying the rest, we’ve now settled for the best – Bewley’s at Ballsbridge. It sounds a bit posh, and it is classy - but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the real value-for-money prices, and with plenty of special offers all year round.

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CRIMEA: TOUCHED BY THE HANDS OF HISTORY

Crimea is back in the news, at the very heart of the current Ukraine crisis. BRIAN OGLE (pictured above in now out-of-bounds Balaclava harbour in Crimea) recently returned from the land once called The Playground of the Tsars, visiting places like Sevastopol, Balaclava, Yalta and the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War.

FOR many travellers and especially those interested in military history, The Crimea has always had a mysterious almost mythical magnetism ... a strange faraway place on the borders of Russia but one which has played a pivotal role in major world conflicts in the last couple of centuries.

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Green fingers of the aristocracy

 

Looking for a spring break in a beautiful and colourful setting not too far from home, leaving behind the gloom of the UK Winter - then ROBIN NOWACKI recommends a visit to the châteaux gardens of France’s Loire Valley...

IN THE centuries before the French Revolution the Loire Valley was where the aristocracy of the day built their châteaux and laid out fabulously ornate gardens - competing with each other in how fine and grand they could possibly make them.

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Palms, pines, and the rich and famous

Regular contributor ANDREA McVEIGH finds sunny Southern California’s Palm Springs full of surprises...

FROM palm trees to pine trees - I hadn’t expected snow in Palm Springs. Yet here we were, more than two miles above street level on a lovely late-January day, surrounded by snow-dusted pine trees and looking down over this glorious part of sunny Southern California. Palm Springs is full of surprises.

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