Nothing sums up 'Gallus' Glasgow better than a Saturday morning trip to the Barras. Here, Glasgow's answers to Del boy and Rodney make their Southern cousins look like shy introverts, as they sell anything not bolted down, from fur coats to football strips and computers to car parts.
The market has expanded from its humble beginnings to include hundreds of stalls and shops selling everything and anything. Barras are rented out on a daily basis, meaning an ever-changing stock and providing an ad-hoc sales channel for anyone with stuff to shift.
Never one to miss a trick, the Barras has evolved with the times, reflecting the changing needs of a varied clientele. Nowadays, Maggie's original fruit barra has evolved into a farmers' market, which takes place on the last Saturday in every month from 8 am (but get there quick, because stock sells out by lunchtime), and the modern market does a roaring trade in computer software of perhaps dubious origin. Never mind, it's all yours for a tenner.
The Barras was there long before Versace and the Italian Centre, and despite constant raids from overworked and frankly exasperated trading standards officials, it will still be there a long time after they're gone too. Margaret Russell would be proud.
Near Bell Street
A couple of RMB/yuan for entrance to the gallery up the stairs. Art book shop downstairs, and art supplies on sale in the lobby. Occasional visits from international artists/exhibitors.
From TianFu Square, standing at the base of the Mao statue, facing Mao, turn left (west) and after a stroll of just over 500 metres, you will see the gallery on your right.
One of the pleasant surprises about visiting San Francisco is that it has fantastic food. Not indigenous US food, but the food-culture imported by its immigrants from south of the border. Taquerias provides authentic, very tasty, cheap Mexican-style food to locals everywhere - especially in The Mission District. The best one is El Toro Taqueria on Valencia St. It is vegetarian-friendly (ie: it definitely doesn't cook beans in lard).
El Toro Taqueria: 598 Valencia St;
tel: (415) 431-2535;
Here's a photo: www.flickr.com/photos/bryceedwards/134769479/
San Francisco has some fantastic graffiti. The best is possibly found in the Mission District, and is normally quite political. Just wander around and you'll see a fair bit of it.
This is one of the photos I've taken of SF graffiti:
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:
Right beside Powell Station on Market there is a little hut selling tickets for the old cable cars. If you buy a one-day or multi-trip MUNI ticket you can ride on the old trams, buses and new trams operated by MUNI. Saves walking up all those hills! I think it was $11 a day but well worth it if you are on foot.
May also be available in nearby shops.
Walk around the Mission District, the heart of the Latino district. Eat at any place (I miss the food so much), and go into a few supermarkets for special treats. At night there are many good bars (Divas for their mojitos), movie theatres and clubs. Check out the area during the day first to familiar yourself with the streets if you are the easily-scared type. Some people think the area is a bit unsafe. This petite female never had any problems.
Around Valencia, 16th and 24th streets;
Going to SF on a fairly tight budget, you can't beat renting a bike for a day (eg. at Blazing Saddles on Fisherman's Wharf). Very easy ride across the bridge, and down to Sausalito or Tiburon. Amazing views and a sense of achievement, all for $35 each including ferry ride back across the bay.
This is a great place if you want something a little different from the norm. They have done a great job restoring it and the prices won't break the bank. Very old fashioned with lots of plants everywhere! We stopped here for about 6 nights and although it was a little tricksy with a baby, we preferred it to the more upmarket boring places that were available for a dime a dozen. It's nice to experience a bit of history and then sleep in it!
A 1930's themed Hostel on Mazowiecka just off Al. J Slowackiego. The double and dorm rooms are all named after classic actresses, the breakfast is simple, but free, as is the internet. Rooms are also simple, but the bathrooms are impeccable with free laundry facilities.
Not many rooms though, so it's advisable to book ahead in high-season.
Mazowiecka, a 10 minute walk north west of the old town.
Recife's main city centre is a baffling and confusing place but I grew to love it there; it's not a conventional place to hang around but since when did travel always have to be about things that are beautiful in an obvious sense? Olinda and Porto de Galinhas are mainly idyllic, beautiful locations, of which Pernambuco state has no shortage, but Recife's main central islands have a strange charm.
At night, you need to be a bit streetwise, but there are the clubs and bars in the Recife Antigo area and the Patio de Sao Pedro and it's a great night out, but in the daytime, Recife city centre's more mundane sights are something that for some reason captivate me. It's not one thing in particular - it's the whole place. At certain times of the day, you get old men selling decrepit vinyl albums lined on the walls of the square to the side of Avenida Dantas Barreto. Near Igreja do Carmo, you'll find men singing Embolada, a mesmeric poetic duel that'll make you wonder how the hell they can summon the power to make you lose sense of where you are using just their voices and a pair of tambourines. You'll find people barbecuing meats and cheeses in unlikely corners and men fishing for crab off the bridges.
The oldest law faculty in the Americas is here, cheek by jowl with some of the best and cheapest lunch restaurants you may ever find; there are some faded Deco-style buildings and plenty of Portuguese colonial-style architecture too, with wrought iron British-designed bridges connecting the three islands, as well as a former prison that doubles up as a craft centre.
Among the narrow streets, men use makeshift sound systems to promote the clothes or radios or cutlery their shop is trying to sell you. This sort of thing would be considered noise pollution in most developed countries, but it makes for a strange sort of music in Recife; "Clothes shop MC on the M-I-C", said my friend.
Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil.
Mastering the transport system early in a stay is a necessity to avoid too much foot-slogging. The Metro here appears, from the map, to have nearly as many lines and stations as the London underground. As with most cities a Tourist Card can be bought. Five days, about £15 and well worth it as it entitles you to free travel on all transport and discounts for museums etc.
But the Metro here is an aggressive one. Not the smoothness of Paris, nor the quaintness of Prague or Budapest, but instead, a hostile machine that only seconds before the doors close, sounds a peremptory signal. If by chance the safety device is triggered by a late-comer, the doors jerk open again with an angry hiss of hydraulics. There are no straps to hang onto and these trains stop and start violently.
It’s bad enough being in a crowded Metro in temperatures of 30 plus, but it’s your very worst nightmare come true when it grinds to a halt in the tunnel. Not an experience to be repeated. But it could happen in any Metro, London, Glasgow, Paris…
This market just off La Rambla is under an enormous lofty wrought iron roof resembling a Victorian railway station. Here can be bought just about every fruit and vegetable that can be thought of – and more. And everything fresh, every day – and unbelievably cheap. A kilo of tomatoes, ripe and bursting with flavour, for 39 cents.
Being a Mediterranean port, this is where fish reigns supreme. Every sort of fish – whole, gutted, filleted, dried, smoked, cooked, salted. Fresh and glistening in beds of glittering ice. From the lowly mackerel and sardine – unbelievable grilled over a hot barbecue, to octopus and langoustine. There can be no smell that is more evocative of the Mediterranean than that of shells of giant prawns roasting over charcoal. This gigantic market of food covers an area the size of a football pitch and is packed every day with shoppers till early evening.
Wine is so cheap. And not just those Spanish wines that everyone knows. There is a wine shop near the Picasso Museum that sells every conceivable wine up to expensive ones. But best of all is the wine that comes from several huge barrels in the cavern at the back of the shop. Here, Senora Duran, whose grandfather opened the shop after the Spanish Civil War, will fill empty litre bottles that the customer brings in, for a Euro.
Pinecrest offers everything a good diner should: huge breakfasts, endless coffee refills, maple syrup jugs on the tables, gum chewing attentive-but-aloof waitresses, a choice of sitting at the counter or in booths, milkshakes to die for, nutty but extremely friendly clientele, and it's 24 hour - what more could you want?! A classic american experience!
401 Geary St (at the corner of Pine Street), San Francisco, 94102
Tel: 1 415 885 6407
The area around the Rialto is the best place to eat in, away from the menu turistico of the restaurants in the central areas. The most tempting food shops and bars are here. Cantina Do Mori is a city legend, dark and secret. It serves the best cichetti, a bit like Spanish Tapas, and cheap wine that is drunk by the market traders. Eat in this area and it’s unlikely that you will go hungry or be disappointed.
Food of course is the highlight of each day, and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to take an apartment and shop in the market. If eating out, it can be expensive as can everything in Venice. Remember if you want to sit outside to see and be seen, it may cost you twice as much as sitting inside. Order a panini or tramezzini at the bar and either stand while you eat or take it out to eat at the edge of a little canal or on the steps of a bridge, even cheaper still.
This far north, pasta tends to give way to risotto and with so much seafood from the lagoon, the choice is large. Most menus have a zuppa di pesce, or fish soup, again with an infinity of ingredients. Specifically Venetian is carpaccio, thin slices of beef served in mayonnaise, or bigoli in salsa, noodles in an anchovy or sardine sauce.
Cantina Do Mori: San Polo 429, with entrances on Calle Galiazza and Calle Do Mori, In San Polo;
tel: 041 522 5401
Directions: Go to the San Polo side of the Rialto Bridge, walk to the end of the market stalls, turn left, then immediately right, and look for small wooden cantina sign on left.
One of the most interesting places I've visited. Cycling through Bangkok back roads along canals, taking a local train, then continuing into the countryside, where you can visit farmers, villagers, schoolchildren, temples, markets.
People are very friendly. We had lunch in the simple Thai house of a village head. Participating in a local classroom was also fun and lively, with people trying to speak to us, even though they couldn’t speak English. While cycling, you are surrounded by rice fields everywhere you look. I was blown away.
You can see pictures of our tour here: www.absoluteexplorer.com/share/dailypic.php?year=2006&month=6&day=22
A superb 'genuine' Italian coffee shop - in Melbourne – where you can get homemade biscuits, cakes, sweets and confectionery to go with your coffee, and for the kids - gelati. This little cafè has become a fave with the local Hamptonites. The name Amaretto? From the Italian liqueur.
565 Hampton St, Hampton, Victoria 3188;
Excellent street food - lamb and chicken kebabs with assorted accompaniments - harissa, mint and yoghurt, salad, grilled aubergine and fresh flat bread. All washed down with freshly squeezed orange or sweet lime juice. The friendly owner speaks eight different languages. Very affordable prices and friendly service despite being in tourist infested Sultanahmet.
Yerebatan Caddessi No 54, 34410
tel: (0212) 526 5231
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