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/
Without a doubt this is Miami's best laundry-cum-bar. Stuff your mouldy undergarments in the shining washing machines and settle back for a beer. Laundry has never been so much fun.
There's also a games area to while away the time in case your clothes have got particularly stubborn stains.
721 North Lincoln Lane, Miami Beach; tel: 305 531 7700; www.laundrybar.com/
Just off the Fressgass, one of Frankfurt's most expensive shopping streets, is this alternative/politics/poetry club, with daily readings, meetings and - of course - good beer and the traditional Äppler apple wine.
Kleine Hochstrasse 5; www.club-voltaire.de
It's a small pub with the best burgers, chicken wings and the coldest draft beer in town. It also has a pool table. It's not located in the popular tourist areas of Miami, it's south in the suburbs.
10417 South Dixie Highway; tel: 305-284-9296
If you want to see where the locals go, it’s worth a trip to Coral Gables in the week to hang out with the financial boys - Houstons on Miracle Mile is a good bet. Failing that, Coconut Grove is always busy in and around the intersection of Coco Walk. La Bouchon sells lovely French cuisine and the staff are stupidly friendly.
Houstons: 201 Miracle Mile;
La Bouchon: Coconut Grove
If you tire of South Beach bling, the best place to unwind is Lost Weekend on Espanola. It’s essentially a pool hall with lovely staff and a ladies drink (whatever the hell they want) policy each Wednesday.
218 Espanola Way, Miami Beach
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