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IF THE budget won't stretch to Paris, Barcelona or Rome, head for Lisbon instead, Europe's up-and-coming weekend break and short holiday destination. Not only is it historic and hip with happening bars that seem to stay open all night, but it's cheap and the people are most definitely cheerful, apart from when they're singing Lisbon's trademark fada – heartbreakingly haunting songs of love, loss and nostalgia.
Saturday, 11am Arrive at Liverpool Lime Street station. Take a short taxi ride to the self-catering base2stay hotel at 29 Seel Street.
Friday, 6pm Check into the four-star Flemings (Half Moon Street, 0207 499 0000, www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk) in Mayfair. A Classic double room starts from £295.
NEW YORK is renowned for its contemporary culture and thriving arts scene, so little wonder its streets are peppered with galleries.
Friday, 5pm Check into the Hotel Du Pantheon (01 43 54 32 95, www.hoteldupantheon.com, rooms from E99 per night), opposite the famous Panthéon Building and just a short walk from the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. The rooms are cosy and très chic.
WHAT makes a perfect day's shopping? Good weather? Friendly shop assistants? A mixture of high street, designer boutiques and markets?
TAKE two beaches. One is a perfect crescent in a peaceful bay, where see-and-be-seen Spaniards stroll along the waterline before an easeful afternoon under a blue-and-white-striped sun canopy on the sand.
Wednesday, 5pm Take a taxi from Paphos International airport to the Almyra hotel (a superior sea view room is 110 Euros, www.thanoshotels.com)
TIME spent on the Tube is a waste of valuable shopping time, so choose a hotel in the middle of the action.
Friday, 8pm Touch down at Zurich airport and take the train/bus into the centre of Bern, followed by a taxi to the Hotel Continental, which is located in the heart of the Old Town (www.hotel-continental.ch). Rooms from £110.
TRY some Irish whiskey with your porridge, urged the curlicued text on the silver breakfast platter. I'd already been tempted to sprinkle some brown sugar, a few raisins and a little honey on my morning oats but, ordinarily, I never touch a drop of the hard stuff until at least elevenses. What to do?
Friday, 8pm Check into Hotel Five, a modern and stylish hotel that's close to travel links. Double room from €e70 per night. (Corso Lodi 4 Angolo Via Salmini, www.hotelfive.it)
Friday, 6pm Cross the Firth of Tay via the rail or road bridge into the "City of Discovery" and check in to the 4 star Apex City Quay Hotel, just a ten minute walk from the train station.
ONCE home to the legends that were The Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Echo and the Bunnymen and, um, Atomic Kitten, Liverpool is the perfect destination for music lovers.
FOR Jazz aficionados London is something of a Mecca. A diverse and vibrant scene exists in the city and its live performances are eloquent testimony to the stature of the music and musicians that can be heard here. The genre is tied intrinsically to the London pub-scene, with world-renowned venues regularly hosting unmissable performances in small, smoke-filled rooms full of die-hard fans happy to welcome new visitors. Ronnie Scott's and the 606 are an absolute must.
Friday, 8pm Check in at Budapest Panorama Central (1052 Budapest, Károly Körút 10, www.budapestpanorama.net, double rooms from £40 a night), five minutes from St Stephen's Basilica.
Wednesday, 5pm Arrive at Lyon St Exupery airport.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee, the state's capital and home of country music, is the obvious venue for the music genre's biggest hoe-down, held over four days every June. The Country Music Association takes over downtown Music City and brings together top acts, along with the hungriest wannabes for a huge celebration of all things country that sees the city awash with Stetsons and cowboy boots.