Things To Do Between Business Meetings
Those spare hours between meetings don’t need to be spent watching rolling news channels in your hotel. Europe’s key business cities have one thing in common: a giddying choice of diversions once you step outside the conference room. With this in mind, here are some ideas on how to fill those all-important windows in your trip itinerary.
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Two hours: Steer clear of the time-consuming queues at the big art galleries and head to Musée Jacquemart-André in the 8th arrondissement. The 19th century mansion showcases a world-class collection of paintings and sculptures in what were once private apartments. Conveniently, it’s also home to one of the best tea rooms in Paris.
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Something more: It’s a short walk from the Musée Jacquemart-André to the Place Charles de Gaulle, where a few euros will allow you to climb the 284 stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. From here, a dozen avenues fan out across the city, among them the Champs-Elysées (home to a very fancy Citroën showroom, should you still have time).
Two hours: Business trips don’t always allow for free evenings, so make up for it with a daytime backstage tour of one of London’s grandest nightlife venues, the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. You’ll visit the auditorium, see behind the scenes and may even catch the Royal Ballet in rehearsal – all in 75 minutes. Once you’re done, head to nearby Nordic bakery Bageriet for hand-crafted pastries and biscuits.
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Something more: London is vast, but some the city centre’s best kept secrets are anything but. Have an artisan coffee underground at The Attendant – a former Victorian public convenience recently given a beautiful restoration – then move into more established territory by browsing for gifts at Liberty, still one of London’s most characterful department stores 140 years after opening.
Two hours: Nothing to see in Frankfurt? Hardly, but the statement holds true at the remarkable Dialogmuseum, where visitors are led through pitch darkness by blind guides. Over the course of an hour-long tour, you’ll take in six different “experience rooms”. English guides are available on request. From here, it’s a short walk to Frankfurter Küche, a lunch spot serving authentic regional food.
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Something more: Frankfurt may be an old city but it’s defined today by its sleek steel-and-glass towers, making a visit to the nearby Museum of Modern Art an apt one. The collection includes works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, and you’ll be able to cover plenty in an hour. Still at a loose end? The Zeil, Frankfurt’s main shopping street, is temptingly close.
Two hours: Among Barcelona’s famous adopted sons (Picasso, Messi and the like), none are so emblematic of the city as architect Antoni Gaudí. La Sagrada Família may be his best known work, but there’s arguably more reward to be had at Casa Batlló, a townhouse remodelled in his distinctive organic style. What’s more, tickets can be purchased that allow you to jump the queue – a perk if you’re time-poor.
Something more: If the weather’s kind, which it frequently is, wander down Las Ramblas and along to the beach neighbourhood of Barceloneta. As well as wide sands and some striking public art, you’ll also find Can Solé, a restaurant serving up fresh Catalan seafood since 1903. And if you’ve got the time, wander inland through the streets of Old Barceloneta – one of the few parts of the neighbourhood not to be revamped for the 1992 Olympics.