Everyone who goes to Sydney raves about the beaches at Bondi and Manly and rightly so - they are iconic Sydney beaches.
Yet any trip to Sydney would not be complete without a visit to Cronulla Beach in Sydney's south. This is a beach in wide-scape with something for everyone.
The northern part (known locally as Wanda Beach) is a haven for surfers, fishermen, kite-flyers and groups of young lads who simply want to impress the hordes of bikinied blondes who gather there for the sake of being impressed.
The southern part is the elevated end of Cronulla, adjacent to The Royal National Park, and it's a spot where families picnic in the parks high above the beach.
In between these two points is Cronulla central - where the beach meets the restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and cinemas. By day a place for families to enjoy a stroll along the boardwalk and, after dark, a gathering place for the beautiful people of southern Sydney.
Plane-spotters will also enjoy fabulous views of aircraft landing at, and taking off from, Sydney's Mascot Airport from all parts of Cronulla Beach.
Parking can be a problem. Visitors staying in the Central Business District of Sydney are best advised to take the train to Cronulla from Martin Place (platform 2), Town Hall (platform 4) or Sydney Central (platform 25). Trip time about 50 minutes each way for just a few quid return. A taxi will cost about 20 pounds each way.
A landmark since 1885, the Oaks houses four bars and two restaurants. The main draw card is the huge beer garden, sprawled underneath the enormous Oak tree. At night, the garden is illuminated by fairy lights wound around the tree's outstretched branches. The Oaks is perennially popular with locals of all ages.
Food wise, choose from the gourmet pizzeria or the Bistro, offering standard pub fare, vegetarian dishes and the option to cook your own steak on big communal barbecue plates. If you love a barbie, the Oaks is the place for you. Huge steaks and chops, delicious sausages - and even kangaroo if you prefer. Add to that a tasty salad bar and fresh bread rolls. A delicious but reasonably priced meal.
Best of all - you can't blame the cook if you're meat is overdone. You're the chef. Two huge grills (one inside and one out in the beer garden next to the huge oak tree from where the pub gets its name adds to the fun.
Look to pay about $20 all in.
118 Military Road, Neutral Bay, Sydney, NSW 2089
Tel: +61 (0)2 9953 5515 Fax: +61 (0)2 9953 9856
Head out to the Indian Ocean beaches at Cottesloe (15 mins on train from Perth) and go to the Blue Duck overlooking the beach. Time it late afternoon and sit on the outdoor terrace with a mango daiquiri and something simple to eat from the extensive menu (the potato wedges are great!). If you've timed it right you'll be able to watch a stunning sunset over miles of glorious beaches. A second mango daiquiri will prove to you life doesn't get much better than this!
GJ's is a bit of a St Kilda institution. It does great fill you up nosh and one of the best and most sociable horseshoe bars it has ever been my good luck to prop up.
In the winter you can snag a booth near the fire and in the summer there is a seating area outside under the big palm tree, where you can get yourself around the marvellous big brekkie (pig and chicken salad if you will). Get seriously jangled on the coffee and watch the trams and peoples all roll by from beneath the huge table umbrella.
A seriously broad cross section of the community call this their local, from the occasional soap "star" to a couple of the neighbourhood's mentally ill. It is always a treat.
I miss St Kilda, despite the yuppies ruining it.
96 tram from the city and get off when you see a fourty foot maniacal face, that's Luna Park.
Congratulations you are in St Kilda.
Sign in as a guest - you have to live more than 7 miles - and then profit from one of the best views (and cheap prices) in this fashionable swimming club. The attached restaurant is very good but not so cheap.
South end of Bondi Beach
Who says Athenians only go out to see and be seen? This little cafe/bar is a place to find young media types dressed down, listening to The Jam, The Kinks & the Cure, and putting back a few too many Belgian beers. Journalists and web designers abound.
Karytsi 10, just off Stadiou, near Panepistimio or Syntagma metro. Opposite the Mousouri theatre
This karaoke box can be hired by group of friends. There are all sorts of songs here, Japanese, British, American, Korean, Philipino, Chinese! It's only 2,000yen from 11pm until 7am (next day). You can drink as much as you want if you pay 1,000 yen on top. You can order drink by remote control.
shinjuku-ku, Kabuki-cho, 1-3-16
On the east side of Shinjuku station, to the north of the Odakyu department store, look for the alleyways of Shoniben Yokocho - "Piss Alley"!
Don't let the name put you off - this area has loads of small bars selling yakitori. Choose your own kebabs - chicken, tomatoes, fish, pork, etc and have them barbecued as you listen to the banter from the chefs and barmaids to the passing customers. Beer and lemon bitters to drink with the locals, bags of noise and atmosphere and very cheap!
Nishi-Shinjuku, east of Shinjuku station
Named after the former patriotic Finnish president, U Kaleva is a bar my friend and I stumbled upon on our first trip to Helsinki. Melancholy strains of Finnish tango drew us in off the chilly street; the babble of laughter and strange consonants sucking us into a steaming crush which hushed as we entered. They were all regulars.
A girl wearing a "Mean people SUCK" badge eyed us up, and I wondered out loud what the red drink was they were all sipping."I don't know the name in English," she replied, after quick consulation of her card-playing chums. "Just ask the barman for the red drink everyone is drinking." The ice in the vodka and cloudberry juice began to melt as we squeezed our way through the throng.
Lots of folk were wearing leather and there were men in make-up. A boxer on a barstool asked me how we'd found this place for Finnish intellectuals before quizzing me on Dostoyesvsky. A blonde ice-maiden asked my friend "Why have you come to Finland? We are such uncomfortable people." Contrary to popular opinion, the Finns are anything but reticent, as we discussed poetry, Arsenal's performance that day, the unmerited prevalence of the Swedish language and the prevailing merits of a range of strange vodkas (including liquorice).
Many Scandinavian shots later we joined in a game of dancing to Suomi humppa around the bar and hugging new-found Lapp friends before rolling off like snowflakes into the Helsinki night.
(09) 680 1372
It is a cafe where they do brilliant cocktails or pints of beer for 4.50 euros from 7pm til 9pm. The waiters are charming and friendly and with each drink you order they bring a dish of delicious olives and another of peanuts. Whisky Dewalis were especially good, with a whole fruit salad balanced on top!
We were particularly grateful after the appallingly rude behaviour of the staff at Brasserie Lipp, down the road, our original intended destination.
164 Boulevard St Germain
A tiny marbled and mirrored jewel of a bar designed by Adolf Loos in 1907. Only seats about 12 people with maybe standing room for another 5 or 6. Stop in at about 5pm for cocktails or Austrian wine, or if your German is good enough reserve a table for the evening. Lovely staff.
Karntner Durchgang 10
The Golden Gai is one city block near Shinjuku station, made up of tiny alleyways. This block has around 250 teensy bars, all of which are unique. There are ground floor ones, 1st floor ones, film ones, literary ones, ones that look like a living room or kitchen, very welcoming ones and one or two that don't really like foreigners. They pretty much all have a seating charge of around 500 yen.
Go and walk around and choose your bar. You might get the one where film directors have their own bottles displayed around the bar.
1-1-8 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku. Closest station: Shinjuku, east exit. It's next to Hanaono Shrine.
Everything a great pub should be - including an outstanding view across the harbour. With a range of finely brewed beers - from the Cascadia Cream Ale to the Ipanema Summer White and the delicious Coal Porter - you'll find a brew that will match your taste. And watch out especially for the seasonal ales - they may sound a bit weird - Great Pumpkin Ale anyone - but boy are they good.
375 Water Street, Gastown;
The Office is a fantastic bar and restaurant next to the town hall in Argentiere. It has a warm and friendly atmosphere and serves great steaks and a delicious sticky toffee pudding. My family ate there four times during our stay and the service and food was consistently superb. They do lots of tasty vegetarian food as well.
A small, "independent" cinema just up the road from the larger and more obvious Odeon and Filmhouse. It has an old-fashioned entrance, with the films and times chalked up on a blackboard on the way in. Shows a mix of independent, art-house and cultish mainstream films, with midnight specials and Sunday double-bill matinees. Friendly young staff (apparently there's a waiting list to work there), old-fashioned foyet snack shop, and a small bar/cafe in the back. A really nice cinema experience.
Home Street (top end of Lothian Road).
0131 228 4141
Served by buses: 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 23, 27, 37 to Tollcross
or the 23, 27 to Lauriston Place.
100% real Greek food, they say. Well, even if that's not strictly true, it's pretty damn good. Order some mezedes (small dishes) to start - gigandes beans, aubergine dip, tzatziki, houmos, octopus, etc - with some pitta bread to share.
Then, as the name suggests, you have to tuck into a souvlaki, be it lamb, pork or chicken, and wash it down with a Mythos beer. And, of course, you can't leave without having some loukoumia (otherwise known as Turkish delight) and a piece of baklava or two.
It's not the cheapest place in the world, which is why I recommend getting your boss to take you there for lunch. As often as possible. Even if you are just about to go to Athens, where they really do have 100% Greek food.
140-142 St John Street, EC1V 4UA
Nearest tube: Farringdon or Barbican
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