Everyone wants to complete the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, but at $180 a pop (around £90) each, plus paying for their photographs (you are not allowed to take a camera with you) not everyone can afford it.
An equally good option, but one which is little advertised, is the Sydney Pylon Lookout. This involves climbing the interior of the concrete tower of the Harbour Bridge and is the tower nearest the Opera House.
It has three floors of exhibits and a film show but best of all, the view from the open top is only a few feet below the top of the bridge and is equally as stunning.
You can stay as long as you like and take your own photographs. And it is only $9.50 each - under a fiver!
Use the 'Bridge Stairs' from Cumberland Street in The Rocks for access.
Fantastic hostel in an unbeatable location within a stone's throw of the Kremlin and Red Square. Experience the decidedly un-Chinese Kitay-Gorod (Chinatown) area of Moscow for only 700рб per night. Can issue visa invitations too.
Maliy Zlatoustinskiy, Moscow 101000
A friendly, bohemian cafe-bar in the Gothic quarter, just off Carrer de Ferran. Expect to be sitting alongside writers and artists - writing and drawing, no less - during your stay. Food is reasonably priced (eg soup and a main - the 'combi of the day' - for 6 euros). Plus the staff all seem to know English, but avoid speaking it if possible - usually a good sign.
5 Calle de Arai
Winner of the 2006 Manchester Food and Drink Festival for Best Food Outlet, Bolton Market will blow you away in what it has to offer. Whether it is fresh lobster, rabbit, organic veg, cheeses it is definitely worth a trip.
I go there for the fish. I have never seen so much choice and the quality is superb.
Forget your trendy expensive farmers' markets. I have found Bolton Market to be cheap, friendly, original and without doubt the best place for foodies in Greater Manchester.
Great Moor Street
There aren't too many hostels in China, and you can be sure that this one is going to be fully booked by August. Still, worth a shot. Nestling among the hutongs - the traditional Chinese streets that are now all but gone - the Far East Hostel has some English-speaking staff, a range of facilities and is dirt cheap. What's more, it's within walking distance of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City - and if you venture up Nanxinhua St you'll find a fantastic Peking Duck restaurant that's far less pricey than the overrated Hepingmen.
For great, traditional and some unusual Vietnamese food, try Highway 4. The actual Highway 4 crosses the mountains and hill tribes (and ethnic minorities) of northern Vietnam, and this defines the cuisine (and the great fruit, herbal or medicinal flavored rice wine) of Highway 4 in Hanoi as well. All this can be had at reasonable prices, in a pleasant environment that evokes the highlands.
Recommended dishes: Nem Cá, or famous Highway 4 spring rolls with fried catfish and wasabi soy dipping sauce. But tell them to go light on the mayo inside the rolls.
Grilled chicken with lemon leaves (Gà Nương Lá Chanh) and the Bò Xào Dưa Chua (beef sautéed with local pickled mustard greens—translated as sauerkraut but it’s quite different).
A unique and wonderfully textured green that’s only available seasonally is Hoa Thien Lý Xào (sautéed Thien Ly vegetable/flower).
For seafood, try the soft shell crab roasted with Tamarind or Salt (Cua Dong Rang Me/Muoi) and Ca Kho To (fish simmered in clay pot). Also good: Green mango (Xoài Xanh) marinated with salt and chili; and for the pork lover—Thịt Kho Tộ (pork carmelized in clay pot with coconut—tourist places tend to use lean sliced pork, while more traditional places like Hwy 4 will use pork belly). Try the sampler set of their Son Tinh liquor.
5 Hang Tre, just east of the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake. For more restaurant recommendations (and travel itineraries and other great tips) go to www.savourasia.com - they really throw themselves into eating in Asia, and especially Hanoi!
Huge bookshop with a vast, if slightly populist, selection and decent discounts. Certainly one of the best in town for scale and economy, there's a decent if slightly overpriced second hand section as well.
Parnell Street, North of the river
Nearest town to the ruins, stay the night (very cheap and one nice restaurant) and walk into the ruins in the morning - be the only people there for a few hours before hundreds of coaches arrive (get amazing photos not covered in people!) Get there by bus instead of paying top dollar for a tour.
Big Sky offers the best, least crowded skiing in North America. On December 26th, the longest we waited for a high-speed quad chair was three chairs.
This resort is built like Breckenridge years ago, there are runs and lifts across the face of three mountains and on the backside of one, without any of the crowds.
Base lifts are a five-minute shuttle ride from the condo, a private hot tub with views of the ski area is super great! Which you'll need because you skied so much and waited so little.
It's very cold but if you love to ski and hate crowds this is the place. $369 a night, over the holidays.
Cedar Creek Condos
13 Moose Ridge Road
Big Sky, Montana 59716
Another nice little find in my local neighbourhood... Sarands presents a Mediterranean-based menu of seafood or meat dishes. The restaurant itself is light and airy (with an upstairs private dining area for functions), service is pleasant, the wine list small but well chosen and the (mains) servings huge. The prices are reasonable too. Coffee is excellent.
532 Hampton St, Hampton
3188 Vic (200m south of South Rd)
Ph 9598 8944
Google map: tinyurl.com/rxul2v
The places by the lake are backpackery, obsessed with drugs and Angkor beer. OK for a chilled-out day drinking and watching the lake, but paper-thin walls and minimal security did not make me feel safe.
I certainly wouldn't recommend it to lone women. If anything goes wrong (and it did with me) you will have absolutely no help whatsoever.
Capitol Guesthouse looks awful from the outside but on the inside it's scrupulously clean, has cable TV, private bathroom, air conditioning, good security (proper walls!) and all for about $8-10.
It also runs buses to Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap etc so it's very well located. You'll get off the backpackers trail just that little bit and experience much better levels of comfort, security and hygiene. And it's just round the corner from possibly one of the best and friendliest restaurants in Cambodia - Mama's.
Several locations across Phnom Penh. Well known - ask any moto driver. If you get the bus from HCMC or Siem Reap, chances are you'll be dropped off right outside!
The Ski resorts of Sassotetto, Maddalena and Bolognola are small scale but a great place to learn or get a long weekend fix and give visitors the opportunity to combine skiing or boarding with a bit of culture and touring the beautiful area of Le Marche.
Prices are also very reasonable; passes and ski/boot hire are both about £12 a day. The resorts have just invested in four new lifts, artificial snow canons and a new trattoria.
The town of Sarnano is a top base for a white week in the Sibillini mountains, it has over 20 restaurants, a late music bar and even has a funky nightclub.
There's plenty to see and do locally, the area is full of wonderful medieval villages and fantastic for walking below the snowline.
There are many hotels locally or maybe you would prefer a cosy apartment with woodburning stove and free wood, in the old Sarnano Farm Villa San Raffaello.
The resort is easily reached on cheap flights into Ancona, Pescara, Perugia and even Rome and Bologna.
Ski resort piste map: www.scuolasci-montisibillini.it/pagine/cartina.htm
This little communal cafe has a nice variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic cocktails and a very alternative, lefty and studenty atmosphere; it doubles up as a little bit as a community centre, arthouse cinema, theatre and concert hall and event space.
The group associated with it also organises some of the best fun events of the city: the bathtub regatta, the soapbox derby, the naTo-cup (football), Bollywood in Leipzig and has also been caring for the restoration of the historic GDR advert 'Löffelfamilie'; which shows a family eating soup (donations urgently needed).
It's a fantastic little venue with cult status and as one of my favourite places only suitable for nice, friendly, open-minded, easy-going and in general just lovely people.
telephone: 0049/0 341 3014398
Several trams are just stopping in front of it. Can't remember which ones, but all which go to "Connewitzer Kreuz".
The best Mexican food I have eaten outside the States. The interior is bright and used authentic Mexican colours and the food is fab. I especially loved the carnitas which took me back home to Santa Fe. Worth a visit.
64 Thistle Street Edinburgh, eh2 1en
0131 260 9699
Pedestrians don't respect way directions (right side), that's why authorities should place direction signs. For people, during the rush hours, it would be easier to pass without collisions.
Especially during rush hours on WTC Path station and in the area.
I stayed in an artist's studio in Tribeca last year. I found it on craigslist under short term rentals.
People who have vacant apartments rent them by the night through craigslist. I also got a 3 month sublet a few years back through the same site.
The best time to visit is between November and March as the temperature will be between 27* - 35* and sunny so it’s the perfect winter sun destination. What also makes it so worthwhile is that it’s incredibly cheap; you can go there for as little as £250 and the most you’re going to pay is £350/400.
You can either stay in the tourist resorts along the coast or the capital, Banjul, but either way, as the country is so small, to get to either place shouldn’t take any more than 20 minutes to get to by taxi. They have specific tourist taxis, which the tour operators recommend, however I caught numerous ‘normal’ taxis and these are completely fine (and cheaper).
The tour operators also recommend that you do all of their activities through them, and while I would certainly recommend some of these, especially the roots tour, which travels up the Gambia river by boat and goes to where the slaves were captured and held before being shipped of to the Americas - I would befriend the locals and get them to take you out; this is what my friends and I did, as there are licensed juice sellers on the beach by the hotel.
After buying juice from them we decided the best way to get to know the Gambia is by letting people that live there show us so we arranged for two locals to take four of us out to dinner in a place they recommended. We also wanted to go on a safari so we got them to organise a Jeep trip to a safari park. We obviously paid for transportation and food and anything else but this would still be cheaper than doing it through the tour operator and it is helping out the local economy.
People in the Gambia are some of the friendliest you would ever meet, in fact an expression I often heard was ‘it’s nice to be nice’, and at no point did I ever feel remotely threatened, even at police stops everyone was extremely courteous.
As an example of how safe it is my friends and I decided to go to a bar about three miles away from our hotel so we decided to go there by foot alone along the beach, by the time we got there it was pitch black so walking along the beach was quite an adventure and when we got to the bar the owner gave us a free lift home.
When you go to the markets you would obviously have to haggle with the price but this is to be expected and is part of the experience but the market sellers are never overly forceful or aggressive.
I had the lucky experience of being on the beach on my last night when the president threw a party to celebrate him being re-elected, so there were local tribes dancing and playing music with lasers and fireworks, it was such a great parting experience. To sum up my experience and the Gambia itself, in order to go into the cordoned-off arena where the President and performers were, I merely asked a soldier if I could go into the area and the solider allowed me to, that is how nice and friendly the people of the Gambia are.
The Café is the best in Calais for lunch or for a wee drink. The staff are friendly and professional - it is not sloppy student service. Okay, Calais is definitely not the most beautiful place in the world but this place makes you really feel that you are in old France. It is simple and unpretentious.
Fantastic mussels and chips (and the chips are hand cut, none of the frozen crap), excellent steak tartare and plat de jour/ grillade.
The square in front of the café was partly destroyed twice in the two world wars and they threw up bits of concrete, but the café is an original - benches and wood panelling. We go every time we visit our journalist friend who works for the local tele.
The staff try their best to speak English, although a svp and a merci goes a long way.
They have a simple kids' menu but I really advise mussels. They might find it strange, but they will always remember it. My kids eat anything, at least once without force - then it gets more complicated.
I'm sort of regretting this as it has almost been an English free zone.
Watch out for the lovely old girl who drinks a coffee and then sings a chanson or two on Sundays - she loves Scots.
All in all, if you have an afternoon or a booze cruise - this is the best of Calais. And you can walk along the front after and see the White Cliffs of Dover on most days. Go up to the lighthouse!
Place Armes. Walk down from the station towards the sea and after the "grey" tower (not the townhall)on your left.
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