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When in South Italy’s storied Campania region, where would you rather stay:A) a mega-chain hotel?B) a restored monastery, palace or manor? If you answered “A,” no need to read on. But for travelers who yearn to be lord of a castle -- even for only a night -- can discover top heritage properties in the Campania capital of Naples, in nearby Sorrento and on the island of Capri across the bay.
And what getaway to these mainland cities is complete without a boat ride to Capri? Here are several vintage offerings to bring history to your bedside after visiting the Greek temples at Paestum, the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum or the resorts Tiberius left behind on the “Blue Island” of Capri.
Read more: Historic Hotels in and Around Capri
Cherry brandy, fado music and hand-painted tiles make for three perfectly sound reasons to visit Lisbon, Portugal, any time of the year. Two more are its international documentary showcase, Doclisboa (in October) and festival of independent world cinema called Indie Lisboa (in April).
If you're attending either, or both, of these emerging festivals, you'll want a fabulous place to repair to after hectic days of screenings, panels and parties. One solution to consider is the Heritage Hotels of Lisbon, a boutique chain of luxury boutique hotels that arguably rivals cinema in providing period stories and fantasy escape.
Read more: The Heritage Hotels of Lisbon
Český Krumlov, the Czech Republic's answer to Camelot, is so fairy-tale perfect you half expect mini-chiclets to rain down on its cobbled streets. Marionettes deck the panes of its gingerbread shops. Bears roam a castle moat. And the town's very name describes the bend in the Vltava River that rings this UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 13th century.It's no wonder Hollywood came here to shoot The Adventures of Pinocchio and opening frames of The Illusionist. All that's missing in the medieval fantasy set is a green ogre. Český Krumlov's mediating role between filmed artifice and real world makes it an ideal junction after summer's cinema rites in another corner of Bohemia, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Yet unlike the spa town of Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), this South Bohemia destination lacks thermal waters to drink in or splash about. The closest thing is the indoor pool, sauna and solarium of its five-star Hotel Růže, housed in a 16th-century Jesuit monastery and university.
Read more: Doing it The Czech Way--The...
Connery & Andress trying to get away from it all
Watching a James Bond film can make you want a lot of different things: fancy cars, secret agent training, the company of a beautiful woman or handsome man, or even a new wardrobe full of sharp formalwear. The films are designed as much to be eye candy as anything else. Above all else, however, many of them can make you want to tour the world and see some of the incredible cities and gorgeous getaways that Bond and the surrounding characters tend to wind up in. It’s a sprawling franchise full of incredible destinations. Fortunately for us, the idea of visiting these destinations is more attainable than most of those other things mentioned above!Generally speaking, Bond movies make use of real places rather than making them up, which means filming spots are perfectly accessible to anyone with a dose of wanderlust and a bit of initiative. To prove the point, here’s a look at five legendary locations from the films that you can actually visit in real life.
Dunn’s River Falls – Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Fans will remember a scene in Dr. No when Sean Connery (Bond) and UrsulaAndress (Honey Ryder) ducked under a surreal waterfall in order to avoid capture, using bamboo shafts like snorkels. In the film, this happens in a fictional location. But the actual setting was the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This location is among the most popular tourist destinations associated with an exotic Bond scene.Indeed, travelers insist you allot a couple of hours to climb the Falls if you happen to be visiting the Ocho Rios area.
Glen Etive – Glencoe, Scotland
This is the setting of one of the most recent Bond films: Skyfall. It was an unusual location in the franchise in that it represented not some far reach of the film where a villain lurked or a mission was necessary, but rather a chapter of Bond’s past. Glen Etive is an area in the Scottish Highlands that was used as the backdrop for “Skyfall,” where the country house from Bond’s childhood was. This is where the film reached its climax, and where Daniel Craig’s Bond had his final showdown with Silva (Javier Bardem). It’s a gorgeous place for a hike, as well as some general sightseeing.
Himeji Castle – Hyogo, Japan
You Only Live Twice, a 1967 Bond film, saw Sean Connery making his way to Japan, where he ultimately visited a sort of traditional ninja academy run by Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tanba). The academy itself doesn’t exist, but if you’ve ever been intrigued by the setting you’ll be interested to know it was created within Himeji Castle – a very real building in the Hyogo Prefecture of Japan. It’s a postcard-perfect ancient sight that has been called the finest surviving example of 17th century Japanese castle architecture, and you can’t help but absorb a sense of adventure from seeing it in person.
Karlovy Vary Spa – Karlovy Vary, Czech RepublicDaniel Craig’s first turn as Bond, in Casino Royale, involved casino venues arguably more intimately than any previous Bond film. Yet many are under the mistaken impression that the fictional “Casino Royale” was the Monte Carlo Casino. While there are some similarities, this isn’t accurate. The inspiration for the casino came from Ian Fleming’s time at the Casino Estoril in Lisbon – and the actual casino, or at least its beautiful exterior, was filmed at the Karlovy Vary Spa in the Czech Republic. It’s a renowned spa, and in fact the whole town of Karlovy Vary is known as a relaxing and attractive retreat well worth visiting.
James Bond Island – Phang Nga Bay, ThailandIt may surprise you to learn that there’s actually an island in Thailand that has taken on the name of James Bond. Such is the case, however, at TapuIsland, a pristine getaway that was used as the hideout for Christopher Lee’s famous Francisco Scaramanga villain. Scaramanga and Bond (RogerMoore) famously dueled on this very beach in The Man With The Golden Gun - but you can have a far more relaxing time if you manage to visit!
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