Escape the hordes who are walking mugging targets on Las Ramblas, by making base camp in the hills of the city.
La Zona Alta refers to an entire neighbourhood in the north of the city and it encompasses the familiar sights (Parc Guell) and new experiences (Calle Verde).
Rub shoulders with students, dissidents and street performers who are as committed to drinking as they are to people watching.
Make Calle Verde your home and venture down the hill to have a drink in Placa de la Vireina - a beautiful and buzzing square perfect for pulling up a chair and admiring the street life
Situated on the top floor of 18-on-the-Bund, Bar Rouge encapsulates contemporary China. The 18th-century casing is starkly contrasted by the ultra stylish interior and views across the Yang Pu River to what is one of the most modern cityscapes in the world. With its velvet red sofas, a glass wall looking out on to a decked veranda, secluded booths and a lighting scheme that contrives to make the ugly look less so, in its year or so of business Bar Rouge has carved a niche for itself at the top of Shanghai’s bar scene.
It has become somewhat of a magnet for the cities well to do, including a scattering of national, and international, celebrities.
However, the bar also typifies China’s almost super human commitment to ignoring any concept of customer services and Bar Rouge takes this attitude to new levels. Many one time punters come away scoffing at paying 80RMB for a drink and not only not getting a smile but more often than not actually being ignored. (This probably stems from the fact that a round of drinks here is roughly equivalent to the waitresses’ nightly earnings.)
So, the services isn’t great, (or down right awful) the drinks are expensive and understatement doesn’t do justice to the word pretentious, but hey, this is Shanghai in 2006 – what was it you expected?
7F, Bund 18, 18 Zhongshan Dong Lu; tel: 633 9119
Once a very popular hangout for foreigners, Voodoo Lounge has seen a recent shift back towards a largely Japanese crowd. A good place to head if you're interested in the local live music scene, as most nights have some form of live entertainment. Thursday night is the Nama Special - beers at 100 yen between 21:09 and 22:09.
The two bars serve a wide range of cocktails at reasonable prices, and the chicken in a basket is surprisingly good.
Third floor, Tenjin Centre Building, 3-2-13 Tenjin; five minutes’ walk from Tenjin subway station
If you're tired of beautiful bodies on the beach and want to check out the alternative scene in Ipanema get yourself down to Dama. Owned by metal-work artist and furniture designer Adriana Lima, (Dama de Ferro = Iron Lady) Dama is a late night electro/house/alternative club with the best local and international DJs, contemporary decor and an up-for-it late night crowd.
Rua Vinicius de Moraes, 288, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro
Legend has it, this was once some sort of illicit opium den. Perhaps an exaggeration, however it certainly feels like you're entering a crack den as you're casting one eye over your shoulder at the dealers on the street corner whilst looking out for the unmarked entrance to this once illegal (inevitably now legit) after hours drinking den in Alphabet City.
Tip: look out for the yellow liquor store sign, enter the apartment block next door and go upstairs. Trust me, you wouldn't happen upon this place by accident! Inside is awash with chandeliers, dim red lighting, and comfy sofas (if you're they're early) an ominous looking mannequin behind the bar and a mischievous atmosphere.
Due to the sheer challenge of finding this place, you're invariably going to find great music, cool bar staff, plus a like-minded, fun-loving, up for it, and good-looking crowd. Open very late and when busy (always) it may feel like you’ve unwittingly forced your way into a random person’s loft party just as things are getting messy.
Avenue B, between 13th and 14th
I am not an opera lover, but this was a fantastic experience. Don't go early. About 10 pm on a Thursday night go two doors along Calle Montcada from the Champagne Bar. Insist on getting past an old bloke who seems to try to prevent people entering! Explain to him that you do not expect to eat there. Pay 20 euros, get a table near the bar and experience real opera singers performing right beside you. It was wonderful.
Calle Montcada, opposite Picasso Museum
If you're in Sao Paulo and prefer an alternative to either the Irish pubs or what the locals refer to as "playboy" bars, try Funhouse, which is a large sprawling rock (of the US/UK indie variety) bar on two levels, occasionally with live bands.
Rua Bela Cintra, 567, São Paulo
This restaurant offers great food and very friendly service for a reasonable price. You can choose from Mediterranean style food, American food or Pacific coast dishes and salad. There is an expansive bar that offers wonderful cocktails. A fantastic location to watch ice-hockey games.
19-4308 Main Street; Whistler Village; tel: 604 938 4648;
If you’re after a lively apres ski then Longhorn is the spot. It’s situated right in between the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas in Whister Village, so you really can’t miss it. It serves up a range of tasty bar snacks as well as drinks – the nachos and chicken wings are worthy of note.
Tel: +1 604 932 5999
If you fancy some (ahem) ‘exotic’ entertainment then pass by The Boot pub (every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) for the infamous ‘Boot Ballet’. It’s legendary in Whistler, and comes highly recommended by the recently visiting British Snowboard team.
Tel: +1 604 932 3338
Whistler has plenty of good night spots, but Garfunkels is one of the better ones. It’s pretty popular and is regularly packed. It puts on quality music acts including big name DJs from Vancouver, which is a refreshing change for a ski resort. Also check out Buffalo Bills.
Tel: +1 604 932 2323
Tel: +1 604 932 6613
Elvis may have left the building some time ago, but his hometown is alive and well and enjoying life in Fukuoka City. Though the owner confesses to being more of an Eagles fan, Tupelo is a country and western theme bar that takes its name from the King's birthplace.
This fifth floor bar is decorated in classic country album sleeves, with a corner of the room given over to a first-class live band setup. Bend the owner's ear a little, buy him a glass of shochu or two, and you could find yourself standing in for the house
An extensive range of hard liquor and bottled beer is supplemented by the most delicious jambalaya this side of the Mississippi. Stays open til late, with sinful jam sessions a regular feature past your bedtime.
Take the train to Tenjin and head past the ACROSS building, turning right before the Nakasu Bridge. Tupelo is on the left after the Family Mart
Running from the Saddle on Whistler Mountain at the top, to Creekside at the bottom the series of connected runs known locally as Peak to Creek is a wonderful experience. Start with a challenging leap off the Saddle and finish with the Dave Murray Downhill (the run chosen as the men's downhill for the Whistler Winter Olympics in 2010), it has a huge range of fun and exciting ski conditions in between.
Take it at your own pace and time it for late morning or early afternoon so that you can reward yourself with lunch on the sun deck at Dusty's Bar. From here you can look back up the mountain and see the Saddle again - some 5,000 ft above you and over four miles away.
Only two stops by metro from downtown (a 0.07 euro ride) is Hydropark island with miles and miles of clean beaches. Yes, you can swim in the river's water and if you think it is too cold, cool down with a beer.
It also has a huge open air gym, dozens of food and drink outlets, a bungee jump thing, beach volley courts, you can waterski, wakeboard and there are lots of old skool playground rides and two swanky clubs that don't close until early morning.
Once the home of expat boho types, Lamma Island has gone upmarket since the handover and the advent of fast ferries, and is now home to expat architects, designers and journalists: it even sports a sushi restaurant now. Still, it preserves its rural Chinese flavour, with chicken coops, banana plants and paddy fields dotted about the paths forking off the main thoroughfare, which is full of chain smoking old fishermen playing mah jong.
Dubbed the "Idylic Island Shangri-La" because the ugly power station destroyed what once resembled a Greek fishing village. There are no cars allowed, so watch out for the hilarious toy fire engines and ambulances straight out of Postman Pat. Arts and crafts and expat drinkers fill up Main Street (it's basically just a path) at weekends). There’s plenty of great seafood restaurants and western-style bars in Yung Shue Wan. The island also boasts great beaches and a breathtaking, albeit light walk, five miles over the hills to its sister fishing village - also linked to Central.
Great seafood restaurants at both villages. Ask for the Pigeon, one of Chris Patten's favourite haunts, high on a hill overlooking a sandy bay, a 10-15 minute walk from Main Street. Serves gorgeous fried and roasted pigeon.
About 25-50 minutess by ferry from Central's outlying islands ferry pier. Fast hoverferries now operate until 2.30am
Ensure you get on the Yung Shue Wan ferry; the other Lamma island village is five miles away, with fewer return sailings and no hotels shoudl you get stranded.
At the edge of Victoria Park, near the harbour and the highway, lies a little known but huge open-air swimming pool complex, with kiddies' pool, diving boards, licensed bar and restaurant. Certainly helps you cool off in the HK humidity, if your hotel is the run-of-the-mill shoebox without a pool. Entrance is about HK$19 for adults. There is also a public pool at Sai Ying Poon, aka Western district or Kennedy Town, but it's far less exotic and much less central, although it's just as cheap.
Hing Fat Street, Causeway Bay; tel: 2570 4682; nearest station: Tin Hau MTR; open: late March to November (it's too cold otherwise, apparently)
With 420 different cachacas to choose from, this bar/restaurant is able to satisfy the most demanding of students of Brazil’s national spirit. And for neophytes, the knowledgeable bar staff will happily design a program that takes you from the mildest to the strongest cachaca in four increasingly drunken steps. Passing that exam was a pleasure, although my memories of the graduation ceremony are a little hazy.
Rua Iaiá, 83 – Itaim, São Paulo – SP; tel: 11 3167 0461; www.sergioarno.com.br
Escape from the tourist Ocean Drive/Collins Avenue scene and go to where real Miami folk like to hang out. A bustling, ambient bar where you swing your hips and play a spot of pool.
1811 Purdy Avenue, South Beach; www.purdylounge.com
This bar sits on top of the Townhouse hotel and is open to non-residents from Wednesday to Saturday. You can laze about on the king-sized waterbeds. Perfect for a relaxing evening sipping cocktails.
150 20th Street, Miami Beach; tel: 305 534 3800; www.townhousehotel.com/
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