A beautiful Victorian garden in the middle of Streatham Common. Queen Victoria visited for the now gone spa waters (is there a way they can be brought back?). Tranquil even at the height of summer, an oasis in the middle of south London. Plus, there is a lovely old-fashioned cafe run by quirky Italian old women.
Streatham Common - the nearest train station is Streatham.
One of the highest buildings in the skyscraper district of Shinjuku, where you can see views of Tokyo and the area around it, including Mount Fuji (only on clear days in late winter/early spring). The plus point is that this is one of the only things you can do in Tokyo for free. The viewing area opens about 10am and closes about 10pm.
The nearest train station is Tocho mae.
Sausages filled with molten cheese. Best bought from one of the many Würschtlstände (sausage stands) dotted around the city. Ask for a Käsekrainer hotdog and they take a mini baguette, hollow out the centre, fill it with ketchup and mustard and stuff the cheese-filled sausage in. They're probably heart attacks waiting to happen, the dripping ketchup and mustard are guaranteed to make a mess of your shoes / clothes but they taste amazing, especially late at night
all over the city
Fasinating Byzantine/Genoese structure. For a small entrance fee you can take the lift to the top and enjoy panoramic views of Istanbul from the balcony. You can continue to gaze at the view while sipping Turkish coffee in the cafe.
This interesting and thought-provoking museum chronicles how the occupation of the Netherlands affected the populace and the different ways the population resisted this occupation.
Many of the exhibits take the form of personal testimony, written and verbal. There is a fascinating display of the ingenuity of people who hid radio transmitters in matchboxes or Vim containers and microfilm in a shaving razor.
The museum does not shy away from the difficult choices people had to, and did, make. Some chose to be actively involved, others helped when asked but didn’t volunteer their services, others refused. The museum makes no judgement on these decisions, rather it puts you in the position of thinking “what would I do were I in that situation” and asks you to imagine what it must have been like to try and carry on with a ‘normal’ life under an occupying force.
For a long time the question “What would I do?” stays in your thoughts.
Most of the exhibits have explanations in Dutch and English though some on the poster displays have not been translated from Dutch.
Entrance Fee: 4.50 euros
Open: 10.00am-5.00pm Tues-Fri
Plantage kerklaan 61 a
620 25 35
This looked a good thing, but we found that by walking and judicious visits to attractions, it was not cost effective. I can appreciate families may have youngsters, but we oldies can walk and we spent far less than the card in our week in Madrid.
Fusion food, without the pretension or price, from the La Finca de Susana group. Beautifully decorated in white and cream, Bazaar has an intimate atmosphere with friendly and attentive, yet never overbearing, staff. Best of all, it has the most amazing desserts. Try the chocolatissimo - you'll think you're eating the food of gods even if you're not a chocoholic.
Expect to pay about £20 for two courses for two with bread, water and wine. And get there early (8.30pm).
Calle Libertad 21, close to Chueca metro station. Telephone 91-523-3905.
This is possibly my favourite pub/beer hall in Prague. It’s situated very near the Loreto and a short walk from the Castle.
You can’t really see into the pub from the outside so it doesn’t always look like it is open (above the door is a trio of figures in stucco on the façade of the building) but don't be put off as inside is a small traditional beer hall, with long wooden tables and benches lining the walls, serving fantastic Velkopopovicky Kozel beer.
The clientele seems mainly to be locals with a smattering of tourists. It can get quite busy but still retain the sort of relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where at one table someone may be sitting quietly reading the paper while at another a group of colleagues or friends indulge in a lively discussion all seemingly happy and all accompanied, of course, by the wonderful beer.
The pub also serves snack type food such as sausage and mustard, scrambled egg with onion, salted fish, pickled cheese.
Large beers are 21 kr (approx. 0.45 sterling each) food ranges from about 20kr-40kr (0.43 to 0.87 sterling) each
In winter it’s a great place to escape from the cold, in summer a lovely place to rest your feet while exploring Hradcany. Highly recommended.
Loretanske namesti 1, Hradcany
About 30 seconds from the Loreta, 5 to 7 minutes from the Strahov Monastry and 7 to 8 minutes from the gates of Prague Castle
Your first impression of Ljubljana Castle will probably be from below staring up at it, standing like a sentinel, on the top of the hill overlooking the city. You are aware of its presence in the background well before you visit it.
Climbing up to the castle you meander on curving streets past beautiful cottages, views of the city and, in our case, under the watchful gaze of a number of neighbourhood cats! Once at the top you are rewarded with more fantastic views over the city from the 19th Century Belvedere Tower (there has been a settlement on the site since Celtic times but much of the castle is now based around 16th Century and after rebuilding) and a chance to look round St. George’s Chapel and the Castle itself.
During its lifetime the Castle has been used as a garrison, seat of provincial government and a prison. Now it is used for weddings, concerts and art exhibitions. While we were there was a fascinating exhibition of iron/metal work sculpture by Aleksander Arhar.
Castle Hill. Either take the Tourist Train from Prešeren Square or Walk up from Ciril-Metodov Trg or via Gornji trg and Ulica na Grad
Fort Mason is the location of one of the great accommodation bargains. It's a hostel located on a hill nor far from Fisherman's Wharf and has wonderful views out over Golden Gate, Sausaulito and Alcatraz. Accommodation is in shared bunk rooms but it's clean and cheap. Internet access and breakfast included.
Fort Mason, San Francisco
This is the best kebab shop I have ever been too. It is always packed even at four in the morning and you often have to wait a while, but it's worth it. The shish kebabs and koftes are amazing and are served at decent prices. It is also a mini restaurant, serving up tasty caserole dishes. Even the doners are reasonably wholesome and soak up alcohol wonderfully after a hard night on the lash.
Holloway Road, 3 mins north of Seven Sisters Road.
Take the tram to Santa Tereza, travelling over the aquaduct. Fantastic experience and gives a great (and safer) view point of Santa Tereza district. Take the tram at around midday and watch all the school kids clambering on around you (it's a free ride if you hang off the side!) Fantastic but watch your wallet.
Near to the modern cathedral
The Viennese Opera House is justly world famous, but costs a bomb and you must book some time in advance. Instead, do the student thing and queue for a Stehplatz, but you need good legs. Standing for 3 hours is good fun, but tiring.
In the 1st district, on the Ringstrasse (Ring Road), with a metro station of the same name.
Rather than pay expensive taxi or bus fares from the airport, simply get the free shuttle bus from outside the terminal to Howard Beach JKF Airport station on the 'A' line subway train. Then take the subway straight to Manhattan. Cost? $2.
A place to go and dance tango or just to look at people dancing 'for real'. Unlike most of other tango places, that do shows 'for export', it is rough and ready (in a barely-converted warehouse) and full of young people. Lessons also available, including some for same sex couples.
Sarmiento 4006. Tel 15 5325-1630. Buses: 168-92-151-160-36 Subte A estación Castro Barros y Subte B estación Medrano.
Google map: tinyurl.com/n89zo5
A fab, simple tapas bar at the lower end of the Barri Gotic quarter. It has a horseshoe-shaped bar, on top of which is displayed a wide array of tapas. If you're uncertain in the Spanish language you can easily just point. Very friendly owners and frequented mainly by locals. They serve cava by the glass or why not try the white wine served in the strange little ceramic dishes? There are tables but it's much more fun to perch high on stools around the bar. From here you can listen to the chat and watch the fun. Try it and I bet it will become a firm favourite.
c/de la Mercè 16. Lower end of the Barri Gotic. If you're at the bottom end of the Ramblas, strike off right from the Statue of Christopher Columbus as you look up the Ramblas.
Cheap and cheerful accommodation in central location, with English-speaking staff and a lively basement bar mainly filled with backpacking tourists. The rooms range from cheap-as-chips shared dormitories to affordable, stylish apartments with roof terrace
Run by the same chef as the more upmarket Chez Michel almost next door, this is the bare-table, stripped-down, half-price and totally delicious Paris bistro par excellence.
6 rue de Belzunce, a few 100 yards from the Gare du Nord; Tel: 01 48 78 28 80
I am amazed that nobody has mentioned the outdoor activities in HK. 40% of Hong Kong's territory has been set aside for parkland, and although the highest point is only 900m above sea level, the terrain is amazing. There are several hundred trails available to the public, covering every part of the territory.
We lived on Lamma Island, and walked the length and breadth of the island. The hiking on Lantau Island is also very good (you can also mountain bike on all the hiking trails). The hike from the back of Lantau from near the airport, up over Lantau peak and then down to the big Buddha at Po Lin is amazing. Such an incredible contrast, seeing the new airport below you in the beginning, then down to a statue that attracts Buddhists from all over Asia.
There is also great hiking/mountain biking in the New Territories, the MacLehose Trail in particular (100km from Sai Kung in the east to Tsuen Mun in the west). This is the same trail where they have the endurance race every year (in the middle of summer), which was traditionally won by the Gurkhas, but they have been overtaken by professional race teams, (who complete it in about 20 hours - it is normally a hard four days’ walk.
Speaking of summer - it gets very hot and humid, so start early and bring plenty of water and sunblock. Winter (October through to April) is perfect for hiking and biking in HK as the weather is cooler and it rains less.
And the best thing about hiking in HK - finishing at an amazing sea food restaurant like the ones mentioned at Sok Kwu Wan on Lamma Island.
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