It costs 1.3 lira (50p) for one journey on the modern funicular between Taksim Square and Kabatas and it is much better than taking a taxi. The trams and the ferry costs the same amount and the ferry, crossing from Europe to Asia, is a must.
Taksim Square, Istanbul.
Just off Fisherman's Wharf there are a couple of platoons that've been taken over by basking seals. They sunbath, swim, fight and generally provide a surprisingly entertaining show.
I took this photo:
The best £2.50 you can spend in Brighton. This is the ride at the end of the pier, and it's hilarious and scary all at once. You sit in a giant, lurid coloured mouse, and it feels like you're about to fly off into the sea at any moment. Then it whips and spins you around endlessly; hence the 'crazy' I suppose. Wicked fun.
The Occupation Museum is a captivating collection of memorabilia depicting the struggle of Latvian independence. Displayed in an easy-to-absorb manner, you can stroll through and take in as much or as little as you can. To then walk around the old town of Riga and appreciate its beauty and modern cafe culture is a stark contrast to its history. It is a delight to see how Riga has progressed and you'll find it to be a hospitable, inspiring place to visit.
Strçlnieku laukums 1, Rîga LV-1050;
Admission: voluntary donation
tel: (+371) 7 212 715;
A beautiful complex designed by Moshe Safdi (he designed Habitat in Montreal). The courtyard is a great place to grab a snack and sit. There is a calendar of readings/performances, etc.
350 West Georgia Street;
tel: 604 331 3603;
White maize (called elotes) is one of the best steet foods you can buy in Mexico City.
The ears are boiled, then impaled on a wooden stick, and smeared with salt, lime juice, mayonnaise, a parmesan-like cheese and chili powder. It's unbelievably tasty, and a boon for vegetarians who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the volume of meat on display. a good elote shouldn't set you back more than six or seven pesos.
The same corn, but in kernel form, is cooked into pozole, an amazing everything-soup that you eat with shredded lettuce leaves and raw chopped onion.
On just about any street corner, often from vendors who push steaming urns of corn and call 'elooootes'.
II found renting an apartment is a good-value option for a Barcelona city break. You pay about the same per night as for a standard double room in the cheaper hotels and get the benefits of self-catering facilities and more space. We rented a self-contained apartment just off the marina through Freestanza: clean, designer chic and about 70 euros per night. The beach, Gothic quarter, Ramblas and Borne all walkable. We felt we were living in Barcelona.
Take two to three days to travel the Great Ocean Road - turn off the beaten track and find wild koalas in the trees. Also, head the opposite direction out of Melbourne and drive down the Mornington Peninsula then across to Wilson’s Promontory for some spectacular camping, bush walks and beaches. At the main campsite on Wilson’s Promontory you will have wombats snuffling around your tent at night. It's one of the most beautiful and unknown places in Australia.
The Boddhi Tree is a stylish, cosy guesthouse located opposite the Tuol Sleng genocide museum. Despite the location, it is a haven of peace with friendly staff and great food. The menu is unbeatable in Phnom Penh - breakfast, lunch and dinner are cooked fresh from local ingredients, all with a healthy, wholefood twist.
The rooms are all good value, and individually designed. Well worth the prices.
The small atmospheric terrace garden is good in the evenings for a drink or two.
Opposite the Tuol Sleng genocide museum
The Al Faisal Tandoori is one of the best places for a no frills Indian meal in Manchester. It's a tiny and basic place with fixed Formica topped tables and bright green chairs, each table adorned with a plastic jug of water. There's a menu handwritten on a white board, not a huge choice, but everything there is freshly cooked and delicious.
I would say that the Chicken Tikka is one of my favourite dishes at any restaurant anywhere (and I’ve been to a few), it’s nicely charcoaled on the outside, and tender and softly chickeny on the inside and served with a wedge of lemon, salad, rice and chickpeas. It’s about the best inter-shopping lunch you could hope to have.
I must also add that it’s as cheap as chapattis, we’re greedy and struggle to spend more than £15 for two. Also brilliant lamb curry, lamb tikka, soft and slightly brioche like naans and great daily specials. Don't be put off by the outside.
58 Thomas Street, Manchester, Lancashire M4 1EG; tel:
0161 834 3266
A Sydney icon. Harry's Cafe de Wheels has long been held in high esteem as the premium pie-lovers late night eatery. Open late into the night, the vaudeville-style caravan offers drinker, thinkers, and tinkers the best in baked and savoury goods.
Try the Tiger, the café’s house special. There’s a hearty serving of gravy in both layers, all served up with mash and mushy peas. Dynamite.
Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomooloo, Sydney
Looking a bit like the Arndale Centre circa the mid-eighties, MBK (Mah Boon Krong) is basically a huge covered market spread over five floors also incorporating a cinema and food court. Need a new watch? Choose from fake Rolex, D&G, Guess and any number of other names. Always wanted a Thai football shirt? You’ll find one here. Run out of credit on your mobile phone? Just buy another one. If you want plenty – and I mean plenty – of choice in you fake goods/souvenir/gift shopping then this is the place. Be prepared to bargain, be prepared to spend and be prepared to buy yourself that Louis Vuitton handbag you always knew you really wanted.
Corner of Tha Phra Ram 1 and Th PhayathaiNearest Skytrain station: National StadiumOpen: 10am-10pm
We got a very romantic apartment perched above the gossipy little streets of Trastevere with this company, and for only 75 euro a night. It was cheaper than a hotel and much better, because there are no hotels to speak of in this fabulously relaxed district. Frescoes on the ceiling, a great rooftop balcony and all the pavement restaurants below a short stumble away. It absolutely made the holiday.
Part of a pub/bar chain run by Pilsner Urquell. I believe there are three or four situated throughout Prague, the best in my opinion being Celnice (near the Obneci Dum) and Olympia (on the other side of the river). Though they look very plush, the food is great value and delicious. The beer, naturally is divine and very reasonable considering the location of the pubs.
V kolkovnì 8, 110 00 Praha 1; Tel: +420 224 819 701
Plovdiv, 120km out of Sofia - on the airport side, is the place to go to experience the "true" Bulgaria. Or should that be Macedonia? The people here will talk to you for hours about their ancestry, so you may end up slightly confused!
However, confusion is all part of the fun – for example when your table begins to fill up with a lot of the world’s most tantalizing white wines, you are, of course, at first confused at why the Bulgarians export such cheap rubbish while keeping these liquid treasures for themselves, and when lots more start to arrive, you reach the section in your guidebook which reminds you that nodding horizontally is affirmative, so each time you thought you were saying “no”, it was “yes” - you’ll work it out eventually!
So why else Plovdiv?
In the first instance it’s not Sofia – which most locals will lecture you about; “Sofiacentrismus” is a political disease which has caught on since the fall of communism, giving rise to a huge hate and jealousy of the capital which seems is the magnet for FDI, tourism, etc as the government seems to ignore all other areas of the country (apart from the Black Sea resorts).
Secondly, you will get to Plovdiv in a luxury hire car for about $35 per day, faster and more comfortable than to anywhere in the traffic-snarled smog of Sofia, via a rolling carpet of comfortable uncrowded motorway. That should take about 1 hour – no more no less, as speed cops are everywhere pulling the faster cars, but also the slower ones!
Thirdly – it’s cheap! Amazingly cheap! One “Lev” is 50 euro cents, so it’s easy to calculate exchange rates on the go, but when you eat and drink like Donald Trump, do lots of tipping, and count in the accidentally-ordered extras from the nodding errors, and find yourself paying a bill of say 15 LEV (EUR 7.50), your mind is going to reevaluate exactly why you do that commute every day back home!
Fourthly, the people are wonderful, happy and very proficient in English! There is no misery here, so you don’t have to feel like Kofi Annan listening to woes of hard lives, gypsy issues, “fall of the wall”, etc; they are happy – as have been the people here for 3000 years, as would you if you lived in this little part of heaven with beautiful weather all year around, fresh produce abundant in fields and gardens, etc.
Fifthly, the standards here will shock you! As in they are so high! Your ROI brain will wonder how every restaurant and bar can be more stylish than any in Manhattan, and the service more friendly (genuinely as tipping doesn’t feature) and professional at these prices. It’s like Terence Conran was let loose here with one of the Roux brothers as part of a community service operation.
Sixth! There are lots more reasons to visit Plovdiv, lots more reasons to rush there before the Eurocrats get there to impose lots of regulations, and we hope to continue - especially when we start to talk about skiing opportunities here! Meanwhile check the links!
Dispenses with the usual k-tel classics you get in curry houses, and opts instead for an altogether cooler soundtrack, as well as fabulous live jazz nights on Wednesdays.
107 Alcester Road, Birmingham, B13 8DD; Tel:0121 449 3883
Barranco is the artists’ quarter of Lima, made up of narrow cobbled streets under the shade of some of the oldest residents of Lima. Most of the backpacker bars can be found in and around the Parque Central. The Boulevar' is lined with small pubs and bars where you can enjoy a beer and listen to some live music.
There is also beautiful cathedral and countless art galleries.
Go for a walk and catch a glimpse of a Lima long gone, but still alive.
Barranco is to the south of Miraflores and north of Chorrillos. Get there via el Zanjon or head south through via Larco Mar or the coast highway. It's lively any time of day, but don't miss it on a Saturday night.
Small wooden hut selling genuinely fresh fish at good (but not great) prices. Not just a salesman, his knifework was exemplary. The two fillets extracted from an enormous seabass were absolutely delicious later that evening.
Far better to give your custom here than at the Tesco megabore on Church Road. And there is no chance of getting fish that fresh from the supermarkets.
Literally on the beachside directly behind the Bowls club at Hove. About 100 yards west of the King Alfred Sports Centre. A small wooden sign points the way down the footpath from Kingsway, between 2 of the bowling greens
Lovely restaurant right in the centre of town, perfect for mid-shopping dinner, a first date (especially downstairs) or going out pre-club.
Fab decor and fantastically friendly staff, the service is fast and the food is great (the garlic bread with hummous is lush) and good value for money.
Oh, and they also have a cheap cocktail menu
7 Chapel Walks, Manchester. M2 1HN
Mr Bartley's is a Boston institution, he has been serving great burgers for four decades now. It does fantastic burgers all named after different celebrities and politicians, one example being the Bill Gates - the best of everything! When you arrive at the restaurant Mr Bartley himself shows you to your table. The restaurant is a bit of squash but that just adds to the character of the place. Be warned they only take cash!
1246 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, MA 02138-3820 (617) 354-6559 Nearest Station - Harvard Square
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