On the other side of the Cathedral, down Carrer de Montjuïc del Bisbe, which is to the right of the small square by the cloisters, you’ll find the Plaça Sant Felip Neri, a most beautiful square with trees and a fountain. The pock marks you can see in the stonework of the church were caused by a bomb dropped by the Italian Air force during the Civil War. All the people, mostly children, sheltering in the church crypt were killed by the concussion. The square is mostly made from buildings moved stone by stone when the Vía Laietana was opened. Across the square you’ll see the terrace of the Beautiful Hotel Neri where you can get a bite to eat and a drink from 10.00 till 23.00 and until midnight at weekends. If the square is not too busy, it’s a fine place to sit. Pop inside the hotel and wonder at the proportions of the stonework.
Café Flanders is on the corner of a pleasant square at the farther end of Gràcia, a square retaining much more local flavour than the other, more central ones. An ideal spot for relaxation and a quiet drink to regroup after shopping in Gràcia or visiting the nearby Park Güell. A fine selection of beers and wines. You can find them on Facebook.
As a curiosity, there’s a bronze statue of Rovira i Trias, one of Cerdà’s competitors in the tender for designing Barcelona’s Eixample; his plans, based on concentric developments around the old town, lie discarded at his feet.
Plaça Rovira i Trias, 1 Barcelona, 08024
+34 93 284 3070
Google map: bit.ly/pbXL76
The undisputed classic of the Plaça del Sol, the Café del Sol is a must if you’re in the area. The whole square gets jam-packed with tables and chairs to the point of making hard to tell to which bar is which. It would be a shame to miss it outside peak hours though.
Plaça del Sol 16, 08012 Barcelona
+34 934 155 663
Google map: bit.ly/mXmLRo
Located on the corner of the Plaça de la Virreina, the Bar Virreina has a great terrace with views of a modernist building by Gaudí’s assistant Francesc Berenguer and the church of Sant Joan, burned down during Barcelona’s Tragic Week in 1909. Berenguer who had built it, restored it; it was burned down again in 1936 and restored once more after the Civil War.
Back to business. The Bar Virreina has a good selection of imported beers and does a tasty sandwich.
Exhausted and thirsty after negotiating the crowded Rambles? Tired after traipsing around the shops on Portal del Àngel? Pop into this four-star hotel on the Plaça de Catalunya itself and relax in the shade of the apsis of Romanic Santa Ana Church. (That’s two secrets in one.) Incredible as it may seem, 30 seconds from Plaça de Catalunya is a Romanic church complete with beautiful cloisters; this hotel backs onto it and you can see parts of it from the terrace. Open all day so you can have breakfast, a set lunch and a la carte dinner, as well as drinks. Don’t miss it.
Plaça Catalunya 19, 08002 Barcelona
+34 93 316 87 00
A member of the same group as the Granados 83, the Claris offers cocktails and drinks on their rooftop terrace between 18.00 and 01.00. Lunch and dinner are also available. The Hotel Claris is located on the very busy Carrer Pau Claris and is a very handy refuge if you’re nearby and feeling the heat. Along with classic cocktails, El Terrat del Claris makes fine non-alcoholic cocktails for those who prefer them.
The Hotel Condes de Barcelona occupies two buildings, on both side of Carrer Mallorca on the corner of Passeig de Gràcia. The building on the lower side is home to Alaire, a rooftop terrace serving cocktails, drinks and snacks and open to the public. You get great views over Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) included, and a glimpse of the Sagrada Familia in the background.
It’s a very pleasant place for a snack during the day, though not cheap, and there is live music on Wednesdays and Sundays in summer.
This roof-top retreat is a personal favourite. Relax by the small pool and enjoy a quiet restorative or snack. The bar opens from 18.00 till 01.00 during the week and till 02.00 at the weekends.
This is a modern hotel on Carrer Roselló between Aribau and Enric Granados. To the side of the hotel are gates leading to one of L’Eixample’s interior patios. This little area is known as the Jardins Joan Brossa after the contemporary poet.
Part of the gardens is given over to the hotel restaurant and bar terrace. You can enjoy a meal or drink here in peace and quiet surrounded by greenery and the curious interior architecture of L’Eixample.
If the gates to the jardins happen to be closed –after about eight in the evening– just walk through the hotel and out the back doors onto the terrace.
However, avoid this place at all costs around five in the afternoon in term time. It quickly becomes a hell-hole of screaming brats who, freed from the tyranny of their teachers, burn off their accumulated frustrations and blast your tranquility to jagged bits.
This is a great place to enjoy live music outside. Egle is near the Town Hall square – Rātslaukums – with the famous Backheads houses you see
on almost every postcard from Riga. There is a Christmas tree made from pieces of mirror (because Riga is the birthplace of the tradition to decorate a tree on Christmas), Souvenier shop with a big black cat next to it called 'Riga Cat' and then there is cafe 'Egle' – open air leisure venue with live music every evening from 8PM. Traditional music, classical rock songs, jazz, popular Latvian rock and pop bands – all kinds of music.
This is one of my favourite places. No Problem has a nice atmosphere and good live music –
rock, jazz, sometimes country. And this is the place which with it’s music quite often makes people to move from their chairs and dance. Also the prices here are really reasonable. Sometimes it’s too crowded to find a place to enjoy the music there which is its only downside really.
It’s a perfect place for your evening – right in the heart not only of Riga, but also of the Old Town. For me this is the place to come at the end of working day, this is the place to meet friends and really forget all your problems.
Livu Square (Līvu laukums) close to the Freedom monument (on Kaļķu street) is full of summer cafes. Near the terraces like 'Kaļķu vārti, 'Mad House', 'Blue Cow' and others you will find a place called 'Zelta Fīlings' (Golden Feeling). Taste one of 36 sorts of local and world famous beers they offer and enjoy latino and jazz!
Kaļķu iela 17, Riga, Latvia LV-1050
+371 26 656 368
Google map: bit.ly/oRHvQX
Last night I finally made it up to the 10th floor of Peckham's multi-storey carpark, after several failed attempts, to discover another world ... hundreds of art students milling around, drinking pale ale and cocktails, munching on scrummy nibbles, flirting, discussing the art installations, but most of all, gazing in wonder at the magnificent view: all of London laid out in 360-degree spleandor, shimmering in the sunset, from the O2 arena, past the Shard, St Pauls, the London Eye, the Post Office Tower, before spinning around to catch the Crystal Palace tower in the corner of the eye. Frank's Bar is part of the Bold Tendencies art project and 15 artists have been commissioned to produce and show work in 2011. The bar stays open throughout the summer.
Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar
10th floor, Peckham Multi-storey carpark,
95a Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
+44 758 288 4574
Open July 1 to Sept 30, Tues-Sun 11.00-22.00
Food served 12.00-14.30 & 18.00-22.00
Bus 12 to Rye Lane
Google map: bit.ly/n7IQZY
Sauda is a floating swimming pool in the middle of the Bosphorus lined with huge beds and including a host of bars and restaurants that provide essential sustenance to guests. It's unmissable for its unique location and innate sense of calm.
Galatasaray Adası, Kuruçeşme, Istanbul
+90 212 263 7300
DiVino is Budapest's latest uber-cool wine bar, found on the swanky, renovated square in front of the mighty Szent Istvan Basilika (Saint Stephen's Basilica).
It's connected to the fashionable Tigris restaurant and the class just oozes from every angle: from the sleek, chic, minimalist decor that lets full attention focus on the beautiful young things posing elegantly on low pinewood stools, to the endless list of wines and tasty, but pricey, nibbles, chalked up on the large blackboards above the bar.
The borbar (winebar) highlights 26 talented young Hungarian winemakers and a different winemaker is featured every week.
When I visited on opening night at the end of May, the winemaker to watch out for was Csaba Miklos and the coolest drink was a sparkling rose called Frici from the Gere vineyards. Refreshing, innovative and very, very hip. Just like DiVino.
This bar doesn't have the best location, perched on the corner of a busy road, but it is perfect for a quick bite and beer. It offers cheap, cold beer and a selection of fish-based montaditos at €1.50. Thick, white bread filled with your choice of filling: melva (frigate mackerel), achoas (achoivies), mejillones (mussels), caballa (Atlantic mackerel), or queso en aceite (cheese in oil).
Cardenal Ilundain s/n (corner of Manuel Suirot)
Bing map: binged.it/obLg2c
Slip inside past the stuffed fox to be met by a dim interior crammed full of books, portraits, records – and the mischievous smile of le Patron. Among the memorabilia and random junk only the various female nudes on the wall hint at a more exotic past. Tuck yourself away at one of the candlelit tables or sneak upstairs to sink into one of the aging couches that seep memories and cigarette smoke. Stay for a late-night philosophical discussion, kisses in the dark – or just the chance to close your eyes. With any luck Edith Piaf will be playing on the colourful jukebox and someone will be round shortly to take your order. A place to linger for hours over a drink or two (although I’m
not fond of the sweet fruit wines).
rue de la Violette 22/Violetstraat 22, 1000 Brussels
+32(0)2 511 13 96
Google map: bit.ly/oyPdgT
Independent wine importers and retailers Vera and Robert certainly know their stuff when it comes to vino, and when it comes to entertaining their guests. During the week this wonderfully cosy yet very modern wine bar is frequented by office workers (Karlin, where Roberts is situated is a burgeoning business district). However, on Friday evenings and weekends Roberts is also open to locals seeking (high) quality wine at affordable prices. Roberts offers a very wide range of wines, really tasty nibbles to accompanying them (the best pecorino romano I've had in Prague, or elsewhere), friendly and knowledgeable service and an in-bar wine shop. Oh, and very comfy sofas that make a quick visit utterly impossible.
Book a table ahead as Roberts often closes at the weekend (but is very happy to stay open for small groups).
A visit to Letná Park (Letenské sady) will help you work off all the dumplings and also reward you with a phenomenal view of Prague. Letna Park has space to run, walk skateboard and in-line skate, if you can still move after climbing the several hundred steps to get to the top! If you can't - it is also a lovely place to simply relax. The park includes several places to eat and drink including the small restaurant in the Hanavsky Pavilion. As you walk up to the top of the steps (directly above the north bank of Pa_í_ská Bridge and marked by the massive metronome that over looks the city), turn left and walk for about three minutes. You will come to a beautiful neo-baroque building with cast-iron detail. This building, the Hanavsky Pavilion, was originally created as a ceremonial hall for the Prague National Exhibition in 1891, and today is a bar and restaurant. Good prices, indifferent service, but a beautiful view over the southern side of the city, which makes the climb worthwhile.
Letenské sady 173, 170 00 Praha 7
+420 233 323 641
It's a pop-up Bombay beach bar located right in front of the Hayward Gallery - and the huge cuddly toy fox! - so if you are emotionally exhausted after Tracey Emin's exhibition, you can gather your strength with an exotic cocktail, some naan bread rolls stuffed with tasty things, and a loud blast of Bollywood and Bangra tunes, all right by the Thames. A fun venue.
Dishoom Chowpatty Beach Bar
Pops up from 13 May to 4 October
Queen Elizabeth Hall Terrace
Belvedere Road, London Se1
Nearest tube: Waterloo or Embankment
Open Mon-Fri noon until late, Sat-Sun 10am until late
Google map: bit.ly/kyKaPS
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