Yourtime 12 Friday, 2 October 2009 London Lite T unisia has long existed in the shadow of Morocco and Egypt as a travel destination, but with a fresh crop of boutique hotels and traditional dars (guest- houses), it is fast coming into its own. Boasting fine weather, great food and wonderful shopping, it is the best of north africa with a healthy dose of Gallic style (and everything sounds more chic with a French accent, non?) Just two and a half hours from Heathrow, it seemed an impossibly easy journey to the pretty coastal town of sidi Bou said, 40 minutes from the capital, Tunis. With its blue-and-white buildings and cobbled streets it could have been plucked from a Greek village, but indoors, it is distinctly Tunisian -- Dar said, a tradi- tional mansion converted into a boutique hotel, a perfect example. Typical of the local style, Dar said has a central courtyard draped with vibrant pink bougainvillea flowers and surrounded by suites, each with dome-shaped ceilings and ornate mosaic walls. and with a sun- drenched swimming pool and hammam (traditional steam room), it would be easy to stay put. But theres plenty to be done, not least, shopping. Though sidi Bou said has its own clus- ter of souvenir stalls, we headed to Tunis for the real shopping. Here, the narrow streets of the medina -- old quarter -- take you back to a time before cars and credit cards, where the dinar is king and haggling skills essential. and haggle we did, for the souk was like an aladdins cave of tempting treasures. Colourful coral necklaces, statement earrings and chunky bangles were cheap and cheerful gifts for girls (from 2), and far prettier than anything youd find at home, while tooled leather satchels (from 10) were bang on for this seasons back- to-school cool. Ethnic woven rugs (from 80) were everywhere, and so were shisha pipes in every colour and shape imaginable (from 15). But i especially loved the hand- painted plates and tagines on the pottery stalls (20 for a serving dish), as well as the coloured glass tea sets (25) and metal Just two hours from London by Tamara abraham Celebrityhotspot Boston WHO Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes go for a jog in the United States most historic city. WHY GO To explore Harvard and to taste the best clam chowder of your life. THE VIBE Progressive, hip and a little bit European. BEST FOR The food and the cultural scene. WHERE TO STAY Architecturally speaking it doesnt get any better than The Copley Square Hotel (copleysquarehotel.com). Premier doubles from 224 a night. WHERE TO EAT Henriettas Table (henriettastable.com) serves fresh chopped salads with Massachusetts blue cheese vinaigrette. Mains from 9. WHAT TO DO Try your hand at fishing for striped bass with Boston Sportfishing (boston sportfishing.com). A half-day trip costs 340. SOMETHING DIFFERENT Celebrate paganism and witches with hauntedhappenings.org, a festival in Salem. TOp TIp Walk the Freedom Trail (thefreedomtrail.org). HOW TO GET THERE bmi flies from Heathrow to Boston for 390 return, see opodo.co.uk FOR MORE DETAILS bostonusa.com JEnnIfEr BArton VAN GOGH WALK, ARLES, FRANCE THE Dutch artist was drawn to Provence for its light, and arles was a huge inspiration to him. none of his work remains in the city, but art lovers can follow in Van Goghs footsteps by taking in the sights he painted. Download the map from arlestourisme.com GAUDIS BARCELONA AUDIOGUIDE, SpAIN GET the lowdown on Gaudi by downloading an audioguide to your MP3. it covers the 11 buildings designed by the architect, and theres also a pdf map you can download. Download from barcelonaturisme.com for 4.60. COMIC STRIp TRAIL, BRUSSELS, BELGIUM BrussEls has more than 30 walls decorated with comic strip characters, including Tintin. Hunt down asterix and Obelix or contemplate the couple painted in the gay party area. Follow the trail from brusselsinternational. be or book a tour via comicscenter.net MONETS GARDEN, GIVERNY, FRANCE THE original waterlily pond, in so many of Monets paintings, is in the garden of his normandy home. You can also explore the artists house, open from 1 april to 1 november. Entry is 5.50. For guided tours see giverny.org MISSION TRAIL MURAL WALK, SAN FRANCISCO, US THEsE colourful murals reflect the citys vibrancy. Head to The Missions Balmy alley for street art, or marvel at the MaestraPeace mural, on the Womens Building on 18th street. 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