There’s no better way to explore the hidden wonders of a city than to do it on foot. We lead you on three city walks that run from the cultural and scenic, to the unexpected.
The Walk: Singapore Green Corridor (Bukit Timah Greenway)
Time: 2 to 2.5 hours
Once a 23km-long railway line and arterial link between Singapore and Malaysia, this uninterrupted stretch of ecological and culturally significant land was repurposed in 2011 to allow the community to use it as a park.
The most charming leg of the Corridor is the Bukit Timah Greenway, which extends from the rail Mall to the Bukit Timah railway station. It not only runs parallel with the Bukit Timah Nature reserve and offers a respite from the maddening crowds; it also transports visitors back in time – thanks to historical remnants.
Enter the track via a slope south of the Mall at Upper Bukit Timah road, near the first of two black truss bridges on the Corridor. The steel structure is about 30 metres long and spans Upper Bukit Timah road. About 50 metres into the route and you will realise that you can’t spy any buildings or hear the roar of traffic.
Travel further south and you will enter a little ‘valley’. Be struck by the symphony of crickets chirping and if you’re lucky, spot the Black Baza and Oriental Honey Buzzard during the birds’ migratory season from October to March. One of the first historical buildings you will come upon is the Old ford Motor factory, ford’s first assembly plant in Southeast Asia and the site of the British surrender to the Japanese during WWII. Nearby is the former Bukit Timah fire station, a building with flatted quarters for firemen and their families – a style typical of ’60s fire stations found in rural Singapore and Malaysia.
You’ll know Bukit Timah railway station when you see it. Originally part of three smaller stations that served suburban Singapore, it is a quaint, single-storey brick building with an open platform on the main railway line. To exit, double back and look for the access points at the second truss bridge across Dunearn/Bukit Timah road.
Where to stay: Fraser Residence Orchard
The Walk: Cultural Trail in Budapest, Hungary
Distance: about 2km
Time: 2 to 3 hours
To take in Budapest’s culture, start at the inner end of Andrássy Avenue, a long boulevard which runs from the heart of pest to Heroes’ square and City Park. Walk away from the city centre to find the state Opera House, built in neo-renaissance style with elements of the Baroque.
Carry on to grab a quick bite and people-watch at Liszt square, filled with al fresco cafes, bars and restaurants. Up ahead at Heroes’ square is a glorious monument depicting Arpad, the ‘father’ of Hungary. Flanking it are two noteworthy museums – Museum of fine Arts, a grand neo-Classical building housing more than 100,000 European artworks, and palace of Art, a contemporary art museum.
Just beyond, enter City Park and cross a man-made pond popular with ice-skaters in winter. To the right is Vajdahunyad Castle (or ‘Dracula’ castle), featuring a curious pastiche of Romanesque, Gothic, renaissance and Baroque architectural styles. Your last stop is 15 minutes away at Szechenyi’s famous co-ed thermal bath complex with 18 pools, plunge pools and steam rooms, where massages, pedicures, facials and more can be had.
Where to stay: Fraser Residence Budapest
The Walk: Literary Tour of Edinburgh, Scotland
Distance: about 2km
Time: 2 to 2.5 hours
Home to some of the world’s most prolific modern writers and literary legends, and named the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, the Scottish capital hosts more than 100 literary events a year, including the annual Edinburgh international Book festival in August.
Your literary journey starts at No. 7 George square, the psychology faculty at the University of Edinburgh (famous alumni include sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sir Walter Scott, J.M. Barrie and Robert Louis Stevenson). Outside No. 7, you’ll see a plaque for poet and novelist Stevenson. Right across is George square Gardens, a well-known venue for the edinburgh Arts festival during the summer months.
From George square Lane, turn left onto Charles Street and right onto Bristo Square. Continue onto Marshall Street and head to Nicolson Street. You can’t miss the royal College of Photos: Shutterstock, Inmagine, Corbis surgeons of Edinburgh, a stately building inspired by classical Greek temple architecture with impressive Doric columns. Check out its chilling historical collection of surgical instruments and gruesome specimens of human anatomy; the section on Sherlock Holmes (based on a real surgeon) is fascinating.
Continue on Nicolson Street heading towards Nicolson Square and turn left onto Chambers street, where you’ll find a plaque commemorating the birthplace of Sir Walter Scott in 1771. Scott, who wrote Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, spent much of his childhood just a few blocks south of here at 25 George Square, and then went to the University of Edinburgh. Finally, head towards George IV Bridge to find the National Library of Scotland, a treasure trove of Scottish literature – early books written by scots, about Scottish topics, in Scottish languages, or published in Scotland.
Where to stay: Fraser Suites Edinburgh