Perfect for Guardian readers, the Los Angeles Conservancy organises regular walking tours of the city's architectural delights and curiosities. Tours generally cost about $10, last for a couple of hours, and are informal affairs led by helpful and knowledgeable folk who don't press their obsessions too hard.
The downtown art deco and Broadway theater tours get you exclusive access into now privately owned and/or disused beacons of the city's gloriously ostentatious 1920s, 30s and 40s.
The Angeleno Heights tour is a relaxed stroll around the city's first middle class suburb, several streets of charming Victorian wood-framed houses perched above the freeways and steel monoliths of downtown. Other tours take in San Pedro, USC, and downtown at night. Book via the conservancy's website at www.laconservancy.org
A fabulous Mexican restaurant just off Santa Monica Boulevard. Mariachi waiters and fantastic (and reasonably priced) food. Recommended to us by a Swedish woman who ran a clog shop on La Cienega....
1113 N.Harper Ave
Tel: 213 654 1746
The best place for local specialities, and true old school service, really the most delightful staff. It's in a residential part of the city - I think we were the only tourists both times we went.
The price was very reasonable.
On Saturdays, Brazilians eat feijoada, the most delicious pork dish you will ever eat. I don't really like pork and it blew my mind. Botequim make feijoada to die for. I am salivating writing this.
Rua Visconde de Caravelas 184, Botafogo
The Minara Hotel is a well-managed and reasonably priced modern boutique hotel adjacent to the magnificent Bopath Ella Waterfall. No doubt it gets busy in the season but when we stayed in June 06 we had the place to ourselves.
I would recommend this place to any traveller (particularly those looking for a break from the grubby bed sheet circuit).
A small modern, professionally run place with air conditioned rooms, a good restaurant and unrivalled views of the falls.
Near Ratnapura, a few kilometres off the A4 at Kurawita. Ask for Bopath Ella.
A small independent hotel, restaurant and bar (open to non-residents). Wunderbar is a real gem of a place. The accommodation and food really is first rate and the bar is the best in the area. There is not much night life in Bentota but Wunderbar is my favourite bar in the whole of Sri Lanka. It can be lively when the boys play the drums but it is always friendly and is a safe environment to drink with a minimum of hassle. Like the hotel, the bar is well managed (not over-managed) drinks are cheap and it's locally owned so your cash goes into the local economy.
Walk along the beach, the bar is less than 1km to the south of the main resort, of an evening take a three wheeler from the railroad crossing.
A great people watching location and fine food recommend this Santa Monica restaurant (it's not a Deli in the old New York tradition) among their American classics is one of the best tuna melts you'll ever have the pleasure of eating.
Lovely own brew ale as well as great prices and very efficient service, but gets busy on weekends.
Corner of Broadway and 3rd St,Sant Monica,CA.
Very close to Chongwenmen tube stop, easy walk to Tianenmen square and Forbidden City, clean and comfortable and about £30 a double ensuite in high season. Nice staff, speak English.
Close to Chongwenmen tube stop, www.asiarooms.com
The frendliest, tastiest, cheapest sushi in montreal, it looks a bit dodgy from the outside, with odd Chistmas lights and palm trees in the window, but the sushi and service are amazing, we never spent more than $40 for two, and we eat a LOT. And everytime we went they gave us a few free samples and a delicious tempura banana for pudding.
On the corner of Mackay and Sherbrooke, in the Concordia ghetto, opposite 2150 Mackay - underneath a bookshop.
I can't remember the name but it's easy to find - opposite the main Brahma Temple on the edge of the town, this is where all the pilgrims stop to refuel. We were in Pushkar for a week and ate here for every meal. The food is fresh, delicious and cheap, on the hot side of spicy, but not unbearable, there are tables outside and inside, very few tourists here, so the service can be brusque, but the food more than makes up for it.
Opposite Brahma Temple, (not on the corner, the next one up).
A huge, excellent, cheap cafeteria-type restaurant on the fourth floor of Vroom & Dreesman's department store where fresh food is cooked in front of you. In the summer you can eat outside at the roof-restaurant with great views of Utrecht.
Vroom & Dreesman in Hoog Catherijne shopping mall, adjacent to Utrecht Central Station.
Imagine a converted Labour Exchange which brews its own multi-award winning beer on site, with a devoted all-age clientele in spacious, comfortable surroundings and place a wonderful Thai kitchen upstairs in its heart (you can see the chefs working as you savour a pint at the bar) - sounds almost too good to be true. It's very good value too and the service is excellent.
Immaculate set of three rented flats in quiet town centre, 20 mins walk from the lake (setting for the Elinor M Brent-Dyer Chalet School stories) and just off both the Munich - Innsbruck cycle path and a steam track railway. A week in August was £290 which was a bargin for what we had.
Surrounding area is good for hikers, mountaineers and cyclists or simply those who like mountains and fresh air.
Local buses are free to you as part of the holiday and there is an excellent weekly season on the steam trains, lake steamers and cable cars for about the same costs as a round trip on three of them.
Mr./Mrs. Alfred Baumann
6212 Maurach, Austria
Tel.: +43 (664)5103693
Nearest station: Jenbach (hourly fast trains to Munich, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Vienna).
Note: Free bus travel from Jenbach to Maurach - just show your web booking!
Walking tours (lasting about three hours) around certain districts in Brussels. The tours give a fascinating insight into the city's distinctive wealth of art nouveau architecture, led by knowledgable and friendly guides. Lovely!
Visit www.arau.org/ct_home.php or get info from the tourist centre in the Grand Place
This is the best place to eat lunch in Florence. It's tiny, but they can squeeze you in. It's popular with the locals and the odd tourist. There is one hand written menu (changes daily) on the wall. We had simple but incredibly delicious pasta dishes to start (which cost about €3), followed by wonderful roast pork and tumblers of great local red wine. It was so good we went back for bistecca fiorentina later in the week.
Via Rosina 2, near the food market and S. Lorenzo. Open for lunch only;
tel: 055 218 550
Osteria Policarpo, an intimate spot (about 20 seats), with excellent appetizers, pasta courses, main courses, and desserts, and reasonable prices. If I remember correctly the owner is Venetian. Close to Cobal, an open-air gathering place to drink and socialise into the early hours of the morning.
Il Nonno, slightly larger (80 seats), and easy walking distance from the north end of the main metro line in Saens Pena. Pasta in various flavours (our last outing was squash and spinach). They also specialise in galeto (small chickens).
Largo dos Leões, 35 - Humaitá (this is the continuation of R. São Clemente in Botafogo)
Rua Conde de Bonfim, 601, Tijuca
Hawaii Hostels Guide, is a website for people travelling to Hawaii on a budget. The main focus of the site is hostels, but they also have info about tours, bars, restaurants, activities and transportation. Each place they list has a photo and description and reviews posted by visitors. you can also add a new place to the site if it is not already listed. I also like this site because unlike most travel sites it is non-commercial, they dont have any affilite links or paid ads, just straight forward information and direct links to the places they list.
The Relais dell’ Ussero at the Villa della Seta di Corliano is on the road which runs along the foot of the hills from Pisa to Lucca, passing through the small town of San Giuliano Terme. The Villa is a historical fifteenth century mansion surrounded by a centuries-old park. It is a property of great charm in which the owners offer, in 12 rooms, a relaxing stay immersed in the beauties of the local countryside.
The Villa della Seta is very conveniently located near the village of Corliano only 2km along the road from the health spa of San Giuliano Terme, and halfway between the historical cities of Pisa and Lucca (a 15 minute drive to both). Florence is only an hour away and Siena an hour and a half.
An excellent and inexpensive place to eat - panini stuffed with meat or veg. "Panini are sandwiches, Jim, but not as we know them!"
Volta di San Piero 6/r, the covered passage at the Santa Croce end of Borgo degli Albizzi;
tel: 055 234 0838
This clever card ("Friends of the Uffizi") gets you into all the state galleries for free - Uffizi, Accademia, many more. Plus - and this is the best thing - you get to jump all of the massive queues! It lasts for a year and it's genius.
25 euro for the under-26s, 60 euro for those above, and a family deal for 100 euro.
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