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Bubble wrap: inside the accommodation, the aerial display can be watched in warmth and comfort

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Slip sliding away: James Stewart with a bobsleigh

An Olympic holiday: learning to bobsleigh

On a new holiday in the Norwegian resort of Lillehammer, James Stewart feels the G-force as he tries out the terrifying Winter Olympic sports of bobsleigh and skeleton

'At -26C you don't have time to wait for a steak to be done': Meet the Swedish chef who insists on al-fresco dining, whatever the weather

Ever come across the phrase barbecue winter? No, me neither – or at least I hadn't until I heard the Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt talking on the radio about grilling meat in the snow at -20C and making it sound like the most normal thing in the world. Swedes, you see, have no qualms about the temperature, and they take their outdoor living seriously.

Square root: the Piazza Maggiore

48 Hours In: Bologna

The medieval arcades of this northern Italian city make it a good bet in winter – and a blockbuster exhibition bolsters the appeal, says Julia Buckley

On track: Trying out a velogemel on the slopes near the Swiss resort of Grindelwald

Switzerland: Try the sledge that thinks it’s a bicycle

Caroline Bishop hits the slopes of Grindelwald to test her balance on the pleasingly odd velogemel

Classic Italian style: One of the suites

B&B and Beyond: Pianaura Suites, Italy

You may never want to leave this rural hideaway set amid the vineyards of Valpolicella

Passengers dine in the restaurant car of the Red Arrow to St Petersburg

Travel special 2014: A Tale of two cities on the Moscow-St Petersburg railway

For 150 years the railway line between Moscow and St Petersburg ran as straight as an arrow for 403 miles. Straight, but for one big bend near Novgorod. The story goes that Tsar Nicholas was so fed up of officials dithering over the route that he plonked a ruler on the map and drew a straight line between the two cities, accidentally drawing around his finger in the process. Too terrified to point out his error, the builders constructed the railway with the Tsar's bump in place.

Travel special 2014: Recalling murderous fun on the Orient Express

Ah, the Orient Express! What images she conjures in our minds... The gorgeous old carriages, brown-and-cream in their English incarnation, blue-and-gold for the trans-European hurtle to Venice, the train on which Hercules Poirot solves the most, shall we say, all-inclusive murder plot in all Agatha Christie's books, the setting for Graham Greene's sinister Mitteleuropean wheeler-dealers in Stamboul Train, the carriages in which James Bond wrestles to the death with his Soviet nemesis in From Russia with Love, the enduring dream of interwar, travel-bound intrigue, where romantic British chaps could find mysterious women in torn veils rapping on their couchette door at midnight, and find heftily-moustached Turkish spies passing them secret documents in the dining car...

Forge ahead: The dining room; the chic interiors are a labour of love

B&B and Beyond: La Forge d'Hauterives, France

With views of the Côte d'Azur, this graceful guesthouse offers an intimate retreat in any season, says Lucy Gillmore

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