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).
Akbil is a prepaid travel token for use on buses, trams and ferries within Istanbul. An excellent idea if you plan to travel around the city. You can buy the Akbil at many places round the city and recharge it as necessary. It saves you having to keep on buying tickets or individual tokens to travel, and travel costs are slightly lower.
The best thing about Akbil is you can use one for the whole family/group. All you need do is bleep each person through the turnstile, or onto the bus.
All over the city at Akbil sales points (usually news kiosks as well as at bus and ferry terminals)
When I tell friends I know of a haven of peace and tranquility in Peckham I am often met with raised eyebrows, but it does exist! Peckham Rye Park is a beautiful oasis located to the south of the bustling, noisy streets.
Peckham was mentioned in 1087 in the Doomsday Book, when it was called Pecheha, an Anglo Saxon word meaning 'village among the hills'.
During the reign of Henry 1, Peckham was a farming village and the land was used for growing crops and fruit. By the 18th century it was famous for its melons, figs and grapes.
In 1767, William Blake visited Peckham Rye and had a vision of angels in an oak tree. The ''Angel Oak', as it was later called, has since disappeared
The park's original layout opened to the public in 1894. There is a large lake and several smaller ponds alive with noisy ducks and geese, a Japanese garden, arboretum, bowling green and woodland walks. My favourite spot is in the Sexby Gardens where plots of lavender give off a wonderfully soporific, mid-summer ambience.
During the Second World War, temporary huts were erected to detain Italian prisoners of war. One still remains, located next to the café.
Peckham Rye Park
Peckham, London SE22 0LR, +44(0)20 7525 1052
Open until 20.30 during the summer
Bus 12 to Peckham Rye
Google map: bit.ly/nBHHNT
Cheap and tasty Mexcian fast food on Botanic Avenue. With excellent vegetarian and meat burritos, tacos (hard and soft) and salad bowls, nothing costs over £5 and is extremely filling and tasty. Be aware it can be very popular with the local students at peak times!
73 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, County Antrim
+44 (0)28 9031 5334
A super cool, hip hostel designed especially for skateboarders. I really loved the cleanliness and social atmosphere, and the bed was super comfortable also. They have a little something for everyone: huge common room, outdoor patio, guest kitchen, free internet, organized parties and more. The design of the hostel is oriented around the skateboarding scene of Barcelona and they have a cool display of vintage skateboards and even a real skate ramp. When I arrived, the staff, super nice, international travelers, gave me an explanation of the city map pointing out cool sites to check out in the city. The map was made by the hostel and even had all the best skate spots in Barcelona marked in cool letters. The staff also helped me several times with directions to bars and even how to get to places outside of the city. Great hostel.
Awesome hostel located in central Berlin. Recently renovated and the rooms are decorated very cool and artsy. The hostel is very unique in that each room has a different theme which sets it apart from many other hostels.
The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly and ready to help you navigate your way through Berlin's many museums, parks, nightlife, etc. There's also an internet cafe inside so no need to worry about internet! The atmosphere of the hostel is very relaxed and the bar is a great place to hang out and meet other people staying in the hostel. It is also very centrally located and all of Berlin's major sights are very easily accessible from the hostel.
You can also rent bikes from the hostel for a very reasonable price. I really enjoyed staying here and would recommend it to any fellow traveler coming to Berlin! Also, no curfew! :)
Sweet Mothers is a larger cafe about 20m from Deluxe. It's got (retro/quirk) style, good food, good ambience and does do dinner - and, unlike much of the Courtenay Place area, does it well and affordably.
Thoroughly good eatery in the elegant Vinohrady district, not far from Jiřího z Poděbrad. Eat well for under a tenner: excellent salads and crisp Müller Thurgau.
I saw this bistrot recommended in a 2008 Guardian article as one of the 'Top 10 Paris bistrots on a budget'. I can gladly say that it continues to please. We were superbly attended to from start to finish by the friendly owner/ waiter making us feel very welcome. We ordered the three course menu (€18.50-very reasonable for an evening meal in Paris) and let the owner suggest a wine, which went perfectly with the fish we ordered. A constant supply of chilled water was brought to the table and baskets of wonderful fresh bread. The chocolate pudding and the tiramisu were delicious. As a digestif we had the excellent homemade Vanilla rum (€4.50).
30 Rue Pierre Leroux, 75007 Paris
+33 (0)1 42 73 28 34
Google map: bit.ly/l0TGpp
Head for the hills, and the charming village of Saturnia in the Maremma district of southern Tuscany. Drive past chi-chi spa hotels and end up in a field. Slip into your costume beside your car - don't worry, everyone does - then step into the shallow pools, baths and waterfalls of the beautifully named Le Cascate del Mulino and Le Cascate del Gorillo. Fed from springs 200 metres below the earth, the stunning blue/white water is a constant temperature of 37.5° C.
Admire the view, sitting or lying in one of the many scalloped pools created by countless bottoms since Neolithic, Etruscan and Roman times. Bliss, and it is free! You will emerge smiling and relaxed though smelling somewhat of sulphur. Remember to remove silver jewellery!
Google map: bit.ly/ityUec
This cosy restaurant with a clear and varied menu serves up delicious Tibetan and Chinese food.
I went for the Thenthuk veg soup with flat noodles for 65 Rs (95p) and fried vegetable momos (Chinese dumplings), which were the nicest I'd had anywhere. The soup was warming and extremely satisfying - ideal if you're finding Darjeeling a little chilly.
Other options are Bhagthuk soup, which as far as I can tell is the same as Thenthuk but with round noodles, spring rolls, plus lots of other noodle dishes like chop suey and chow mein.
The fresh mango juice I had was mouth-wateringly tasty.
Kunga also does breakfasts, including Tibetan bread for 60 Rs (90p) which is made with eggs and fried, resulting in a texture a bit like doughnuts but less sweet.
One curious item on the menu was 'Tibetan tea (salt and butter)' - but since I didn't order it you'll have to discover it for yourselves!
51 Gandhi Road, Darjeeling
This cheerful eatery in the heart of Kolkata serves delicious dosas and other South Indian specialities for extremely good prices. I knew it was going to be good because it passed the two recommended tests of a) being busy and b) attracting lots of families. I was so impressed that I ended up going almost every day during my week-long stay in Kolkata.
The dosa is a kind of pancake made of fermented rice, stuffed with a spicy potato filling and served with coconut chutney and sambar, a tasty vegetable sauce. At Sarang, the dosa list takes up half the menu, and each costs 30-50 rupees (about 50-70p – normal for India). The price depends on which filling you choose. I particularly liked the ones with green peppers (capsicum) and onion.
Sarang’s chana bhatura (chickpeas served with Indian breads) is also particularly good and the puffed breads they serve with it are very fresh. I’d also recommend their lassis (the Sarang version is flavoured with rose water) and freshly squeezed juices. Lip-smacking stuff!
15/A Jl Nehru Road, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
(opposite KFC and Domino's Pizza)
+91 98 31 936175
Google map: bit.ly/mMrsX1
If you fancy a break from Austrian cuisine, or even if you don't, go here - it's fantastic. There's a huge enclosed garden which is lovely and shady on a sunny day. There's Austrian and Turkish beer. And there's a huge menu with a staggering range of Turkish food. As an added bonus (well, I thought so) all the dishes which are usually made with lamb - koftes, shish kebabs etc - were veal-based instead. The prices are excellent too. And everything comes with mountains of bread.
The ultimate lodge/hostel/posh backpackers, in the ultimate year round surf capital for all levels from beginner to expert: sea view, free pool, free internet, sunset views, amazing vibe, indo board etc ... The local area is almost as amazing, from Obidos to Peniche to Berlenga island etc
After spending two weeks in arty, alternative Gràcia it’s now my favourite Barcelona barrio. Predominantly a working class area, its residents are largely university students, artists, musicians, and designers, which explains the abundance of art galleries, boutiques, ateliers, and music stores that line the narrow lanes. It’s a living breathing neighbourhood with plenty to do if you like eating, drinking, shopping, and hanging out in cafés, bars, and sunny squares. It’s a good fifteen-minute walk to Plaça de Catalunya, although you can catch the underground train and it’s faster, but this means you’ll rarely see a tourist in Gràcia, which is what I like most about it. It’s not far from posh L’Eixample, where there are chic shops and some of Barcelona’s best restaurants, and it’s close to Park Güell, which is a short hike (or bus ride) up the hill.
Google map: bit.ly/jjAPGY
Most guidebooks will tell you to avoid certain parts of Barcelona during afternoon siesta when everything is closed, but for me this is the best time to wander around the neighbourhoods of Ribera-El Born, Barrio Gótico (Gothic Quarter), Raval, and Gràcia, when the shops and bars are closed and their shutters have been pulled down, because many are decorated with striking street art. While some view street art as graffiti, it’s actually not at all in this case – the owners of the stores actually commission Barcelona’s street artists to paint their shutters and garage doors. If you like what you see, head to the Montana Gallery and shop to learn more about the scene.
This is a great restaurant on the Asia side of Istanbul. The servers are nice and the food is moderately priced. Hands down the best food I had in Turkey. When you've had too many donners go here for dinner. There is a nice market down the street too.
Guneslibahce Sokak 43, KADIKOY, Istanbul, Turkey
Google map: bit.ly/mt0VBA
There aren't that many nice campsites in the Champagne region (seems most visitors have a bigger budget than us!), but Campsite Sous le Clocher is a lovely peaceful spot by the river overlooking the town of Dormans. Just 5 minutes walk from the Boulangerie, lovely restaurants and a Saturday market in town.
D1 / rte de Vincelles, 51700 Dormans France
Google map: bit.ly/iqxVeG
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