Whilst Goa is beautiful, jump on a train and head south to Fort Cochin in Kerala, with its “truly Indian” feel, unspoilt by ravers, the best food in the country and MUCH cheaper too.
It has an amazing fish market daily and at night the market becomes a series of outdoor restaurants. Watch the fishermen at dawn every day and sink a couple of ice cold beers as the sun sets over this little mini ‘island'.
Take an overnight train from Goa to Kerala.
A really great overnight trip is to the ruined city of Hampi in Karnataca. The highlights include sunrise and sunset over the city's pagoda like temples and drumming on the hollow pillars - they are like stone organ pipes inside the temples and when banged lightly, you can play a rhythm on them. The attached palace is interesting with its geometric buildings and elephant stables.
Hampi is popular as a school visit destination and the children thought my wife was Princess Di (trust me - my wife is lovely but there is no resemblance!) and would creep up to touch shyly as they had never seen a white European! They drove in from India's little tourist visited interior.
We took a taxi to Hampi from Dona Paulo and paid about £70 for the two-day trip. On the way we drove through a chilli farming region and the chillies were laid out on the road for passing cars to thresh.
A fascinating trip all in all - and we had our cheapest meal ever there - £1.80 for a three-course meal for both of us! Just what do you tip when the meal is so cheap?
Palolem in south Goa is a fantastic laid back beach. You can check out how beautiful it is by watching Matt Damon run along it during the opening 10 minutes of the Bourne Supremacy.
There are some great beach huts to rent (average price £7 per day). My favourite has to be Dreamcatcher at the north end run by Jacky and Walter. Jacky is from Liverpool via the asteroid belt while Walter is an ex Kerelan wrestling champion. They make you feel so welcome it feels like home after about 10 minutes.
The food the cook serves up is fresh and tasty (prawns the size of bananas and curries that are far tastier than anything you've had in the UK) while the bar will serve you anything from a lasi to a Kingfisher.
If yoga is your thing, Wayne (yes I know not the most mystical sounding name) does a sunrise (well 9am) class and a sunset one. There's also a variety of massage too.
The place is magical at night as it is lit by candles. You can either sit around the campfire or relax on a daybed by the bar.
If you're going to Goa and want a place that's not commercial, Palolem and Dreamcatcher is where you should head to.
As with other states, the Goan state government runs cheap one-day sight seeing trips for about US$1.00. Well worth the time.
Take a bus trip to north Goa or south Goa. Again, less than one dollar. Since public buses are crowded, go to a terminal and get a seat next to a window, so that one does not have to be put off by crowded passengers shoving.
Old homes. Recommended by government.
Goa state museum in Panjim. Good on history of Goa.
Study Portuguese. School, with short courses,in Porvorim.
Goa State Museum, EDC Complex, Pato, Panaji, Goa - 403001. Tel: 91-0832-2438006/2437306
A donkey trip gives you the best views and is the most fun, slightly ridiculous way to see the valley of the kings. We made the mistake of booking through a hotel, who take massive commissions (up to 80% of fee). The donkey trip guides are VERY poor, so why not book direct and cut out the fat? Then they get a fairer deal and you get a cheaper price. Call Abdl on this number: 095/2060352, or 010 472 9416. He will meet you at your hotel and take you on a great 5-6 hour trip which should cost about £4 sterling each.
Call him on 095/2060352 or 010 472 9416
A fascinating collection of rock-carvings, thought to date from the Upper Palaeolithic or Mesolithic eras (between 20,000 and 30,000 years old, although estimates seem to vary depending on who you ask).
These include an X-Ray style bull, a dancing woman, several maze-like whorls and a mysterious symbol which defies identification.
The site is next to a marvellously tranquil little river. The exposed rock can get very hot, so keep your sandals on!
The site was free when I went, but there's a guide who'll need a tip. Don't forget to sign his visitor's book.
The site is situated in or near an open-cast Iron Ore mine in South Goa. Approx 15km south of Rivona. It isn't easy to find and is a little bit of an adventure.
Find a friendly taxi-driver to take you there - it's about two hours drive from Calangute, and you'll almost certainly need to ask someone for directions in Konkani.
Cheap apartments in Dubrovnik, about 15 minutes walk from the walled city, and a similar distance to the main bus station. There is one triple room and one double room - with balcony overlooking the western part of the city, both sharing the bathroom opposite.
Cafe/bar/restaurant - a well known Copenhagen hangout off the main drag for brunch and at any time - not posh, reasonably priced, with decent food, good beers, great bohemian crowd and atmosphere (always great looking crowd!! - but you are in Scandinavia!) so, students, old folk, artists, trendy types - usually all locals etc.
1359 Copenhagen K
Nearest station: Noerreport
La Chene is the gite we stayed in this summer - it's FAB! (and suprisingly affordable). Big and spacious even with two families in it. Lovely back terrace with views across the field and great sunsets. The kids loved the upstairs rooms and the 'wet room' almost as much as the heated pool and bike rides.
Although the area and the Deux Sèvres region isn't all that touristy there's no shortage of things to do. We enjoyed days out at the Trogldyte village (caves that were used as houses up to 40 years ago), in the pretty town of Montreuil Bellay, and at the amazing Futuroscope in Poitiers.
We're hoping to go back early next year with some friends on a 'grown-up' break as the owners offer a local 'degustation' wine tasting tour.
Driving there was easier than we expected - ferry to Caen then 4.5 hrs on the autoroutes ending up in peaceful french countryside. If we come for a long weekend we'll fly to Angers and hire a car as that's cheap and easy.
Top tip: If you do stay here, eat out at least once at the Logis de Pompois - AMAZING 4* gormet food (and not too painful on the chequebook).
La Chene is around an hour or so from Tours.
www.gites-en-france.info or call the owners: 00335 49 80 26 58
Nearest airports are Angers or Poitiers, or ferry to Le Harve or Caen and drive...
Le Logis de Pompois, BP86 Sainte Verge 79102 Thouars
Tel: (0)5 49 96 27 84
I happened upon a place called The 50s American Diner which is an amazing, original 1951 stainless steel American diner from Massachusetts in the National Forest, Derbyshire.
The portions are huge just as you would imagine it to be. The decor is perfect with chrome bar stools and four-seater booths, a jukebox and waitresses in period outfits. There's a friendly atmosphere and great music.
My children loved it - great food on a budget!
John Street, Church Gresley, Swadlincote, South Derbyshire DE11 8EJ
Tel: 01283 220050
10 minutes from junction 11 of the M42
Trattoria Anita is a great but cheap restaurant. We went for lunch and dinner. Two course lunch for two including wine came to 20 Euros. It has a cosy wooden interior and very friendly staff. Food was delicious and certainly good value. Added bonus is it is near Gelateria dei Neri so you can pop for icecream afterwards!
Via del Parlascio 2/r
Tel: 055 218 698
If Slavia are Liverpool and Sparta are Everton, Viktoria are Tranmere Rovers. This 2nd division football side play in the Prague 3 district of Žižkov. Games kick off on a Sunday morning and are friendly, intimate affairs with beer and sausages on sale at 10am.
Allegedly with the highest number of pubs per capita of any city district in Europe, Žižkov is a working-class area of Prague, a world away from the gaudy delights of Wenceslas Square. It is home to the television tower visible from all over the city, and can be reached by Metro to Florenc (line B & C) or by tram to Husinecká.
Metro to Florenc (line B & C) or by tram to Husinecká.
A waterfall which you can swim in with rope swings to swing and jump off. It's great fun and the water is cool and so a lovely break from the heat.
I hired a scooter from Negril and went on my own. I had a small tourist map, it's easy to find as it's well signposted. Also the journey from Negril is great with a good opportunity to see towns and countryside away from the tourist areas. Leave jewellery at home and take just money for they day. Alternatively most hotels will do coach trips there.
Lovely coastal village in beautiful Portland Parish. Take the coast road out of Kingston and drive the long way round. Just a couple of beach bars and B&Bs (ask at the Chill Out bar for recommendations) and absolutely no all inclusive resorts. Just locals and the odd incomer (hippies who drifted in 30 years ago and never left...) Nearby is the great small town of Port Antonio with a thriving market. From there you can book river cruises and boat trips etc.
This is a guesthouse in the Malay Quarter that is incredibly cheap yet has rooms that would not look out of place in a top 4 or 5 star boutique hotel.
The owner, Bruce, is a very interesting man and could not have been more helpful during our stay. The guesthouse is perfectly located for exploring central Cape Town, De Waterkant and the waterfront area. It is also just round the corner from Ginga, one of the top restaurants in Cape Town.
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