Sun, sea, sand… and steam: Rediscovering Cyprus’ lost railways

Cyprus Railways Museum sheds light on the Mediterranean island’s little-known former rail network

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Cyprus is known for lots of things; gorgeous beaches, meze or even that it was the first place in the world to domesticate cats (nearly 6,000 years before the Egyptians, no less).

However, rail travel is certainly something rarely associated with the Mediterranean island. Yet, between 1905 and 1951 the narrow gauge (2ft 6in or 762mm) Cyprus Government Railway (CGR) carried more than seven million passengers and in excess of three million tons of goods across the country.

Locomotive No. 1
Locomotive No. 1

Today, there is little evidence to suggest that this railway existed at all, but thanks to the opening of a new museum in the Republic of Cyprus and a personal preservation project in Northern Cyprus, during a recent visit to the island, I was able to discover how this former railway was crucial to the development of the country in the first half of the 20th century.

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Top 10 Toulouse

Get ready for take-off on an eclectic city break in France’s aviation powerhouse

While ‘la Ville Rose’ (the Pink City) may not enjoy the same international status as Paris or evoke the glamour of the French Riviera, Toulouse actually gives both a run for their money in the bucket load. Plus, when we spotted flights from London Stansted on Ryanair for less than a meal out, it seemed rude not to give France’s fourth-largest city a whirl.

Toulouse really does have something for everyone, which made narrowing down a ‘top 10’ list really difficult. However, after careful deliberation, below are my favourite places, attractions and places to eat and drink in Toulouse.

1. Place du Capitole

Instantly recognisable from its pink brickwork, the grandiose Place du Capitole makes for an obvious location to start exploring Toulouse. With its eight rosy marble columns, the square is dominated by the Capitole, named after the 12th century administration of the city and remains as the home of its local government.  From just one glimpse of its impressive 135 metre-long neoclassical façade, it is easy to see how Toulouse became the official capital of France’s Languedoc region in the 16th century and has maintained that status under today’s newly-formed Occitanie super region.

Capitole, Place du Capitole
Capitole, Place du Capitole

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The ‘gayest’ city in the world?

Skopje’s classical makeover may be both controversial and kitsch, but we couldn’t get enough of it!

Imagine if Mariah Carey decided to rebuild Ancient Rome… Thankfully, one doesn’t have to conjure up depictions of glitzy statues and wedding-cake style buildings, as such a place exists and it is called Skopje.

From faux neoclassical façades to willow trees plonked in the middle of the river, every nook and cranny of the city centre is an Instagramable dream.

For us gay travellers, it was Warrior on a Horse that did it.

Warrior on a Horse
Warrior on a Horse

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Fairy Tale Museum

A magical museum of fairy tale treasures near Cyprus’ buffer zone.

In Nicosia, Cyprus, there’s a museum that brings a touch of whimsical delight to a street just outside the city’s grim demilitarized zone along the Green Line.

Opened in February 2017, the Fairy Tale Museum is the perfect place to explore the magical world of fairy tales. Located in a renovated Grade II listed building, the museum aims to preserve and promote fairy stories, legends, myths, and traditions from Cyprus, Greece, and other places around the world.

Fairy Tale Museum
Fairy Tale Museum

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Watering hole in one

X-rated crazy golf comes to Birmingham

I’ve tried to like golf, I really have. Despite evenings spent at the driving range swinging until I am dripping with sweat and it being a hobby with one of the best wardrobes going, I’ve just never been able to grasp its appeal. However, when you throw a cocktail bar, scrummy street food and a fistful of dildos into the mix, then suddenly, I am interested.

After being a success in Liverpool, Ghetto Golf has recently made its Birmingham debut at the Custard Factory in Digbeth and is creating quite the buzz. It was only fair then that my fiancé, one of our close friends and myself met for a post-work game and gossip in this adults-only venue to see what all the fuss was about.

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Pristina, Prishtina, Priština

Exploring Europe’s youngest capital city

Pristina in Kosovo is a moderately-sized capital city that makes for a great base to explore the wider country. Having said that, it’s worth spending a day or two here to soak up a number of important sites that really help you better understand the unique culture and recent history of Europe’s youngest capital city.

Known as ‘Pristina’ (English), ‘Prishtina’ (from the Albanian ‘Prishtinë’) or ‘Priština’/‘Приштина’ (Serbian); the very fact it goes by several names clearly alludes to it being the largest city in a disputed territory. However, we felt nothing but safe here and were met by warm locals eager to put the past behind them and leave us with fond memories of a city with a bright future.

Staying in the basic-but-fine-for-the-price Hotel Kika, we started our tour of Pristina proper by passing alongside the Brotherhood and Unity monument. A memorial for all fallen fighters and victims of the Second World War, this gigantic concrete clothes peg was inaugurated in 1961 under the authority of Josip Broz Tito, President of Yugoslavia, with Kosovo being one of the communist country’s two Socialist Autonomous Provinces.

Brotherhood and Unity monument
Brotherhood and Unity monument

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Joyride

So, baby, pull me closer. In the backseat of your – clay – Rover

What happens when you release a life-size clay replica of a Rover 75 down a 10-metre ramp?

Well, this…

However, the real question here should be ‘why?’

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