An eclectic mix of sights and smells that is lively and gives great views across to the Vancouver skyline. The market is full of great stalls and colours and is a dream for fruit and vegetables. The varied eating places in the market allow all members of the group to eat what appeals at the time. Take a trip down the harbour in the little tug boats to see the diversity of Vancouver. A great place to spend up to three hours.
Located five minute's walk away from the main square (Praça da Liberdade)is this Porto institution (which is due to celebrate its 50th anniversary this November).
The speciality of the house is BBQ food – meat, fish and the star of the show as the name of the restaurant insinuates is the chicken (frango being the Portuguese for chicken). The food is delicious, the standard portions are really meant for two, but many a hearty diner seemed to be giving it a go. For the not so hungry, there are half portions.
It’s a pretty simple place full of locals (which is always a good sign). Downstairs you will find a bar filled mostly with local gentlemen at the counter socializing while having their meal and upstairs a simply decorated dining room filled mainly with families and couples.
The service from the waiters is professional, efficient and friendly.
Also worth a mention is the local beer, the refreshingly crisp and fizzy Super bock.
Upon leaving, the smile on your face will not only be from the delicious meal you just ate, but also from the reasonable price you just paid.
Rua Bonjardim 223, Porto 4000-124, Portugal
+351 222 008 522
Google map: bit.ly/qslqxR
Wherever you go in the world on your gap year, my advice would be to not just flit from place to place but to stay in the places you enjoy the most for as long as you can to really get a sense of the people and place - you'll appreciate it way more. You can do this by finding a job in the local community that can fund your stay and future travels. If you speak English, then teaching is the obvious option, or work on a farm or whatever you like (see organizations like WWOOF, or meet locals by coach surfing). Also, take one set of smart clothes for when you're away, you never know what you might be invited to (I was invited to a wedding in India by the headmaster at the school I was working in). Finally, avoid the agencies if you can, organizing it independently is cheaper and gives far more options and freedom.
Shane Henwood and his beautiful family run the local YHA hostel in this little hidden gem of a fishing town. Shane runs a super cheap tour which includes surfing with his surf champ brother in law, cliff jumping, bush walking and sailing- finishing up with a proper Aussie barbie of course. Total highlight of my gap year in Oz - Yamba is not very well known, but all the better for it!
26 Coldstream Street, Yamba, NSW Australia 2464
(+612) 6646 3997
Google map: bit.ly/o15yJp
This is the 'remotest bunkhouse' on the west coast of Scotland situated in a beautiful bay at Ardintigh on the south shore of Loch Nevis with a fantastic view over the sea to the Cuillin mountains and across to the remote peninsula of Knoydart. It is only accessible by walking or by sea and our party arrived by various methods including walking, boat taxi and canoeing via Loch Morar (deepest loch on the UK mainland). It is a wonderful place for adventure or just chilling out. We spent a long weekend canoeing and walking and thinking about swimming! The accommodation is in small wooden bunkhouses scattered around the bay with plenty space for campers too. We cooked in the large bunkhouse by the beach (showers and toilet block under the kitchen and dining room) We went as a small party of 11 but the site sleeps up to 24 (plus extras camping). You can go as a group or as individual at £15 per night for the bunkbed (take your own sleeping bag).
The sunsets are wonderful and the last night we watched the sun go down not long before midnight after a beach barbecue. I almost forgot to mention the whale ...
Skye is renowned for its wacky geology, and the northern peninsula of Trotternish boasts an array of bewildering natural weirdness; from a massive rock needle to an enchanting 'Faerie Glen'. The most bizarre place, however, must be inside the mind of the eccentric curator of this one-roomed 'exhibition' tucked away on the peninsula's west coast. Upon entering, the first impression is of nothing more than a collection of junk recovered from the beach, but a closer look reveals a surreal and often very humorous story or proverb attached to each artifact ("Life is like the wind- it's not there when there isn't any" is a personal favourite.)
Just outside of the village of Kilmuir on the A885 road north-west of Portree. The exhibition is signposted, but the road itself has no name (towards Bornesketaig on some maps). The exhibition is in a green-roofed shack about half a mile down the road towards the small bay.
Google map: bit.ly/qtW7ab
Samoa maybe little known as a tourist destination, at least in comparison to its neighbour Fiji, but it has stunning scenery and prices are some of the lowest in the South Pacific making it perfect for anyone on their gap year. Taufua Beach Fales is as close to paradise as you can get on a gap year budget. Sleeping in traditional open Samoan fales (wooden platforms on the beach) you wake up to the turqoise sea lapping metres from your fale. Food at Taufua is excellent with meals varying daily and including some excellent fresh fish. Don't forget to sample the excellent cocktails during happy hour! The vibe here is really relaxed and everyone is friendly. It is full of backpackers from all parts of the world and everyone is here to relax, do some snorkelling and have a good time.
Some people on their gap year come to the Lalomanu area to help reconstruct it after the devastating tsunami in 2009. The whole of Taufua Beach Fales was wiped out. Construction work continues and people wishing to give something back to the community are most welcome there.
Take the public bus (around £1) for the three hour trip from the airport to the beach fales. These buses are old Bedford trucks with no windows and wooden benches. It is definitely an experience and really get's you settled in to 'Samoan Time'.
Granville Arcade, the covered part of Brixton's amazing market, used to be a forgotten, dowdy spinster aunt of the younger, more vibrant Electric Avenue section. That all changed a few years ago and now you can't move on a Saturday morning without tripping over yet another new cafe, restaurant or retro clothing stall, jostling for space with the remaining grocers, fishmongers and haberdashers.
La Cabaña is a modest Colombian-Venezuelan eaterie near the Coldharbour Lane entrance. Snacks sell for £3, main dishes for £8-13 and there's a huge selection of interesting fruit juices; lulo, guanabana and the unusual Pony Malta.
1 Granville Arcade, Brixton Village, London SW9 8PR
+44 207 924 0992
Open Sun-Wed 09.00-18.00, Thur-Sat 09.00-21.00
Nearest tube; Victoria Line to Brixton, buses 3, 35, 133, 159
Google map: bit.ly/nkW5Dn
LIDO restaurants and bistros you will find also at the airport, shopping centres and other places, but in the centre of Riga I would advice bistro Vērmanītis located next to the Vermann’s garden. Vegetables, meat, fish, salad, desserts – always fresh food, wooden interior, Latvian music and bellyfull just for around 2 – 4Ls. Vērmanītis is one of these places budget travellers are choosing and enjoying for their Latvian meals.
For those who are not used to hearty Latvian food and who do not want to make
their wallet empty because of it, there is affordable vegetarian food at Indian bistro Rāma. The whole place where you will find Rāma is called the Hare Krishna centre – there is an
Indian shop in cellar with incense sticks, cosmetics, food, pictures of deities, jewelry
etc. There is also vedic yoga centre, the girls working there are wearing saris and the
place is filled with Indian chants. The vegetarian food is light and tasty – rice, cutlets, salad, buns, snacks, vegetarian pizza, lassi, fresh juice
and a big variety of teas with a special accent on yoga teas. Happy hour if from 18.30 – 19.30 during which time you get hot dishes with a 25% discount and if buying yoga tea you can get any of their Eastern sweets for free.
Even without these discounts you will pay around 2 -3Ls (£2.50-£3.50) for a good meal. Sounds good, no? This place invites you to get your inner balance while eating.
This bistro is a number one choice for students and budget travellers in Riga, and also for
people returning home from a night in the Old Town – one of their bistros at the
Old Town works till 4am!
Here you can get two types of cold dishes, two types of soup and six types of dumplings (‘pelmeņi’ is Latvian word for dumplings) - with different types of meat, with cheese and vegetables. For 1-3Ls (£1.20-£3.50) you get an entire meal, and then you're ready to enjoy the city. One of XL Pelmeņi bistros is located right in the heart of the Old Town, another one at the shopping centre 'Galerija Centrs' and another at
shopping centre 'Origo' (Central Train Station). Oh, and they have even happy hours
there: at the shopping centres from 2pm – 10pm, but at the heart of the Old Town (Kaļķu
Street 7) 12pm – 4am(!), that’s when you can get all kinds of dumplings and salads for just for 0.69Ls (£0.85).
Old Town: Vecrīgā, Kalķu 7, Rīga
+371 7 222728
Google map: bit.ly/rpFWNT
Audēju 16, Galerija centrs, Teātra iela 16
Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
Google map: bit.ly/qGEySa
Stacijas laukums 2, Origo Centrs, LV1050
Google map: bit.ly/osyJLB
Beas-Dhaba at Vladislavova offers great quality, freshly cooked vegetarian curry daily. Offering a north Indian menu, this brightly coloured restaurant is a weekday favourite for locals working nearby. The self-service style and metal trays give it a definite school cafeteria feel - if only school dinners had tasted this good! Beas-Dhaba offers two vegetable curries, two dhals, two types of rice, salads and a dessert each day, as well as samosas and pakoras, and Indian sweets. Soft drinks are available - their freshly made fruit and vegetable juices are highly recommended.
Food is priced by weight - lunch will set you back around 160 CZK/ £6.
Lovely warming food in winter. A cool oasis (with garden) in the summer. Beas-Dhaba does get busy but offers a very quick turn around time - great for lunch in a hurry!
Beas-Dhaba has four restaurnat in Prague. See the website for more details.
When strolling around Amsterdam, one is amazed at the sheer number of sandwich shops. From gourmet to barely OK, the "broodje" is as ubiquitous here as raindrops and smelly cheese. It's fine - for the first few weeks - but you soon begin to dread the bread.
Enter Tomatillo. Their slogan is "Beyond the Broodje", and they couldn't have done a better job of adding something to the Dutch lunch (and dinner) table. Their Tex-Mex menu offers everything from burritos to tacos to tostadas, washed down with a cool Dos Equis or Negro Modelo and followed up with a amazing brownie or rhubarb crumble. All entrees are under 10 Euros, which helps the digestive system too.
It's all made fresh, tastes great, and friends from the UK and the States who know about such things claim it is one of the best places they've been to in town. I'll second that - I've tried everything on the menu.
You can sit down here, order a delivery, or just as easily take it away and turn the corner and park yourself on the grass in Vondelpark, not more than 200m away.
After traveling all over South America, I finally got down to the southernmost city in the world and found the best hostel yet on the continent. I was met by friendly staff at this spiffy clean hostel which has stunning views of the Beagle Channel and the mountains surrounding Ushuaia. The staff helped me get to the National Park immediately upon arrival and even paired me up with other solo travelers for the day's hiking! The hostel fosters a real bond among travelers, from making meals together in the kitchen to venturing out to explore nearby bars. The staff are knowledgeable about the city and surrounding areas and love to help travelers plan their days. I had a great stay, and I'd recommend this hostel to anyone.
You might think there's nothing more to Lucas Gardens than an elegant, Zen-like, ornamental garden and a few straggly weeds. However, venture into the Victorian park, past the strategically-arranged boulders and you'll discover that Lucas Gardens stretches back as far as the eye can see. It contains vast areas of grassland, where locals spread out and sunbathe, kick a football about or have a picnic, and finishes up in an elaborate children's playground. All that's missing is a ping pong table, so come on Boris, where are you with your Wiff-Waff project?!
Peckham Road, Camberwell, SE5
Buses: 12, 36, 171, 436 to Southwark Town Hall
Google map: bit.ly/nLjSgd
For a hearty yet oh-so-simple meal with a French twist try La Creperie.
Slightly off the beaten track in Prague 7, this French-Czech owned cafe-restaurant does what is says on the tin. Crepes - lovely big ones with interesting fillings. Savoury crepes for lunch or dinner. Prices range from 70 CZK for a galette with egg and ham, to 125 CZK for the works - Galette Campagnarde (smoked ham, egg, potatoes, cheese and butter). Decedent sweet crepes follow (if you have any room left). Quiches and pastries are also available. Brittan cider is the drink of choice here, served in traditional earthenware.
The modest, low lit interior adds to the atmosphere and the staff are very friendly.
A stone's throw from the city centre and a very short walk from the National Gallery at Veletrzni Palac, this is my favourite post-gallery pick-me-up.
Janovského 1298/4 170 00 Prague 7-Holešovice, Czech Republic
+420 220 878 040
Google map: bit.ly/ofAMMm
Nearest tram: Strossmayerovo Namesti (1, 12, 14, 17, 25, 26 or 91)
Nearest metro: Vltavska (C line)
Open 0900 to 2300 every day
For the end of your stay in Prague when money is getting tight. Budget but very well prepared Czech cuisine (try the Old Prague Duck with white and red cabbage). Themed art nouveau restaurant centred on the life of painter Alphonse Mucha, The restaurant staff take a real pride in giving good service and you can enjoy local dishes here without breaking the bank.
I never thought a pub in St John's Wood could be such good value, but it is connected to a Sam Smith's brewery and when I ordered a pint of bitter and the charming landlord said '£2.11', I nearly fainted and had to be revived with a stiff drink. Situated in the leafy, upmarket suburbs, not far from the Beatles' Abbey Road pedestrian crossing, this pub is a little run-down, with frayed carpets and not much in the way of decoration. Sam Smiths' pubs also have a 'no music' policy, which is a refreshing change. There's a good selection of pub food and it's a good old unpretentious boozer, packed out on a Friday with locals and office workers, even a soldier came in dressed in full uniform with medals gleaming, to complete the military motif.
An outdoor cinema (most films are in Spanish though). The hot days are here, and nothing beats being outside in the evenings when the temperatures have dropped. The film list is quite complete with some of the biggies in this year's Oscars. Entry is €3, and there is a bar with cheap drinks and snacks (bottle of beer €1, and big bag of crisps €1).
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