The market for peace and tranquillity in Vilcabamba is somewhat crowded, with spa treatments rural settings seemingly obligatory. But Izhcayluma stands out above its immediate competitors due in part to its impressive setting, at the end of the valley overlooking the village and its surroundings. And then there is the consistently high quality of its facilities for what you are paying: cabins, food, treatments, and a nice little bar to retire to at the end of a hard day’s relaxation.
The place to be in laidback Vilcabamba for a walk on the wild side – thanks mainly to its insanely welcoming and engaging owners, the eponymous Shanta and wife Lola. This saloon-style restaurant (Shanta himself is a Cuenca cowboy, complete with hat and moustache) serves up the best steak and pizza in southern Ecuador. But it’s the aperitif, in the shape of a liquor called “the serpent,” that will really set you up for the night. Make no plans for the next day…
Location: Calle Diego de Vaca Vega (across the bridge and up the hill on the left).
This superb celebration of food and drink has become an annual event in the run-up to Christmas and is the perfect place for presents for the food-lover in your life. Or just a great place to hang out, stuff your face and get in the festive spirit. The stalls set up in front of the City Hall offer a huge variety of fresh and cooked produce: Indian, Thai, kangaroo burgers, paella, all kinds of salamis and cheeses … the list goes on. A personal favourite are the huge bratwurst sausages washed down with an even bigger stein of German lager. The market, including the bar, stay open late every weekend in December, and the atmosphere is as worth sampling as the food.
Location: Outside the City Hall.
Means “that’s it” in Irish, and, like the name suggests, it’s a no-frills pub that lets the atmosphere do the talking. Usually packed with a good mix of ages and nationalities, with music and comedy gigs, it’s a buzzing place. And that’s it.
Address: Coburg Street, Cork.
A good, reasonably priced and atmospheric restaurant with a great location: at the top of the steps (go figure) just off Via Veneto. Get a seat outside, get your order in, sit back and take it all in.
Location: Via San Isidoro 5 (Top of the steps at the end of Via Veneto).
Telephone: (39-6) 4819264.
Cramped, noisy, with a seat resembling the proverbial gold-dust most evenings, this is where literary hardmen like Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh came to nurse a pint and their talents. Not to be entered lightly, although you’ll probably leave that way.
Address: 3 Harry Street, Dublin 2.
Telephone: (353-1) 6794395
This bar is an air conditioned oasis on hot and sultry nights on Symi. Jean your hostess is welcoming and chatty and knows pretty much everyone on the island. She has contacts for any situation and also manages some rather splendid accommodation. Oh and the bar stays open as long as you are drinking... I don't know where she finds her energy!
Chorio, Symi. Near Square
Santorini has some excellent wines, especially its Vin Santo, a sweet wine. I would recommend visiting one of the many vineyards and trying the various wines, quite an experience - but take a taxi! You can also buy the wines from the vineyards for a very good price as well.
A truly brilliant little bar at the top of the Kali Strata in Chorio (the old town). It is nothing remarkable to look at but sitting under the giant vine watching the world go by whilst Yanni (the landlord's son) brings you beers and snacks is just like heaven. I don't think I have been happier in any other bar.
Top of the Kali Strata, Chorio. Next to the square.
The Windsor (Melbourne's elegant 1883 magnificent gothic hotel) has a public bar - The Cricketers Bar. The bar is full of cricketing memorabilia including photos of Australian and English teams from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Don Bradman fans will not be disappointed either. The bar is just across the road from the victorian houses of parliament, so watch for you favourite political or sports people. The cricket, of course, is televised on 2 large screen TVs.
103 Spring St
The best place to meet before and after a test match or one-day international. An institution with the die hard fans of any sport played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG or "the G").
Punt Road, Richmond, next to the Richmond train station and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Live music - usually Thursdays + Fridays. DJs, electronica and local indie musicans in a relaxed and unpretentious location. Slightly hard to find but this doesn't mean it's exclusive by any means.
219 London Cct Civic
Google map: tinyurl.com/nakzsk
A small and intimate cocktail bar overlooking Garema Place in the City.
A good selection of drinks, music, people and kitsch decor! Jazz on Wednesday nights.
ANU Bar is the University Bar close to the City centre.
A friendly crowd and even better if you happen upon a great show. Check gig guides for event info or
ANU - Australian National University, Acton.
I liked it. It’s just a dark bar with a pool table and a half decent jukebox. Nothing more, nothing less. The private booths are showing their age but a lick of paint and a spruce up wouldn’t do it any favours.
79 East 7th between Avenue A and 1st Avenue
There are so many hidden treasures that are a world apart from the big casinos on the strip. The Doubledown is one of them. A dive bar with live music that is always filled with a huge mix of people from local Bukowski type drinkers to LA hipsters. Last time I was there I asked the owner what time they closed. His reply was they had never ever closed, and he meant it. Try the Ass Juice.
4640 Paradise Rd
Las Vegas (5mins walk from Hard Rock Hotel)
I had an image in my mind of the quintessential Roman pizzeria: a narrow side street, tables packed with locals, buzzing with conversation, great pizza and pasta at a reasonable price. And then, walking along Via Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle, I glanced left and there it was. Service was fast and unforgiving – you threw that order at a flying waiter and hoped it stuck – the decor simple and the demand huge, as locals lined up three-deep along the wall, looking enviously on as we lucky ones tucked into wood-oven pizzas and cheap beers. All the while the owner – only slightly less intimidating than Tony Soprano – directed the chaos like a cigar-chewing maestro. Great food, drink, company and entertainment. When in Rome...
Address: Vicolo Savelli 13, Rome.
Tel: (39-6) 6861877
Only in Rome does service barely above curt and drinks for a single-figure amount cause an enthusiastic stir. But Enoteca Antica gives both, and much more besides. Reasonable and tasty food, great Erdinger beers for 5 Euros, and – hang on to your seats – service that is genuinely friendly. And then there’s the location – a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps, in an old wine cavern so atmospheric you can smell the Chianti in the air.
Address: Via della Croce, 76/b, 00187 Rome
Telephone: (39-6) 6790896
Fax: (39-6) 6797544
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