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?
This is one of my compulsory stops in LA especially late nights. I understand that the breakfast is legendary - perhaps next trip - but this is one place where the t-bone is large and the coleslaw legendary. It claims that it has never shut since it opened its doors in 1924. Open 24 hours a day all year round.
Old fashioned cafe with minimal decor that looks like a cinema set for a b-grade movie. Even the cashier is behind a wired cage! Be warned - no credit cards.
Corner of 9th and Figueroa, in downtown L.A. (next to LA Convention Centre)
For $3 an MTA daily travel pass allows you to range as far and wide as you like via bus and metrorail train. Riding the bus is not only by far the cheapest way to get around (and out of) LA, it's also the best way to experience the city's fantastically complex social, racial and cultural mix. Passes can be bought from bus drivers or at Metrorail stations. Journeys can be planned in detail ahead of time by using the MTA's excellent website (www.mta.net).
Kabana is a simple curry house very clean situated near the Northern Quarter. It is only open Monday-Friday from 12pm till 5pm but serves some amazing cheap food mainly for nearby workers and it's always full of Asian people which is the best sign of good authentic food. The Channa Dhall was wonderful, you get free jugs of water and you can't spend more than £6 a head. I believe their tandoori chicken and shish kebab are very tasty as there were many people eating these (can't comment because I'm vegetarian!) - also their chapatis are huge and made freshly all the time, yoghurt suce wonderful - this is a great bargain and superb value, the staff are friendly. I've tried a few places around this area of Manchester but for me its the best because they just focus on the food which is what counts.
Back Turner Street, Manchester M4 1FP
Destan is one of the very best restaurants in an area with plenty of them. It's just a few doors away from the better known Mangal, but better value. It specialises in lamb, chicken and fish grilled on the ocakbasi charcoal grill. Along with your main course you will be served delicious freshly prepared salads, grilled onions with parsley and pomegranate syrup and warm Turkish bread. Free tea and coffee is always offered by the owner Hassan and his friendly staff. An added bonus is that you can bring your own wine.
14 Stoke Newington Road, London N16 7XN
Tel: 020 7275 0109
A great place to get a cheap bite to eat. With a great selection of montaditos and a fair selection of cold tapas as well, it's a lively venue that always reminds me of an old municipal swimming pool. The main seating area is a series of tiled banks beyond the bar. It's very noisy but that's half the fun. If you're feeling greedy head down the road a few doors to the bar with the Chocolate y Churros sign hanging outside. The churros there are as good as you'll get in Seville and the background din of gossiping local senoras is the perfect accompaniment to the stodgy churros and thick, rich chocolate.
c/ San Eloy 9;
9 San Eloy
These museums are worth a visit. Really enjoyed both and best of all - they are free entry!
Brighton Museum: Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, BN1 1EE
tel: + 44 (0)1273 290900;
Hove Museum: 19 New Church Road, Hove, BN3 4AB;
tel: 01273 290200;
Yesterday I took my family to Southsea for the day. The weather was glorious and the people so friendly. The highlight of our visit though, was the couple of hours we spent at Clarence Pier. It has a Wimpy, penny arcades, an indoor kiddie play area but best of all about a dozen amusement rides. We bought a family bag of tokens for twenty pounds and were given another five pounds free. It was a great afternoon and money well spent. I would recommend it to anyone.
Clarence Pier, Southsea
The Sushi Depanneur has got to be unique among sushi restaurants, not only in Montreal. Only here will you get to eat delicious fresh sushi at affordable prices in the shop window of a corner store! It perfectly captures the beauty of unpretentious Montreal.
The restaurant is on Rue Mont Royal, and the street in itself is worth a visit: little shops jostle for space with a multitude of bars and restaurants, all in the middle of one of Montreal's oldest quartiers, the Plateau Mont Royal - which incidentally is the neighbourhood with the highest population density in all of North America. Look out for the colourfully painted houses with winding outdoors staircases.
You'll find the Sushi Depanneur as you head east along Rue Mont Royal, just before Rue Papineu (take the metro to Mont Royal).
The best place to try real Lao food: you get platters of interesting things to try. Fish barbeque Lao style is great fun and they had lovely gifts of food. Super friendly, not expensive and great drinks! Only open daytimes, but worth a visit.
It's opposite a temple called Wat Nong, lovely location actually, we listened to chanting monks while we ate.
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/
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.
Head to Samothraki if you are tired of overdeveloped resorts, filled with drunken revellers, and you'd rather spend your time in peace while enjoying the mediterranean climate.
Samothraki offers you a quiet stay, a beautiful natural environment and some good local cuisine. Since the only tourists who visit with any regularity are Greeks, prices are low too. The hotels are generally cheap, clean and well-kept with no frills.
For many tourists, the way to see the West Bank temples and tombs appears to be the highly priced offerings from their tour company.
Typical costs are £39 per person for a visit to the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepshut's temple and the Valley of the Queens. Included in this price are the ticket prices (approximately £9.50 per person).
To hire an air-conditioned minibus and a guide, and to visit temples and tombs that you wish to see, will cost at most 200LE (£20) for up to six people (total price), so adding the cost of the tickets, the trip will probably cost an individual in this situation about £12.
The other plus of this is that you can actually spend as long as you wish at a site, and not have to rush back to take in the obligatory visit to an alabaster or papyrus shop, for which the tour leader on the coach can make up to 50% of your purchase price in commission.
Main Street south of 49th avenue to about 55th is lined with shops selling wonderful Indian fabrics, foods and jewelery. Fabrics are beautiful, authentic and extremely reasonably priced, and the clothes are unique and beautiful.
Farther north on Main is also lovely, but quite different. Between about 33rd and 16th it has plenty of antique shops, second hand stores and cute little stores selling home furnishings and accessories (no chain stores). Between 16th and Seventh it's more eclectic, with some very good second-hand stores (the Salvation Army is on 12th just east of Main) and cafes. Urban Source, at 16th and Main, is a fantastic resource for craft supplies: they recycle industrial leftovers, and the results and the offerings are irresistable.
The strange triangle between Fraser, Main and Broadway is known as Dysfunction Junction, and hosts 2 outstanding second-hand bookstores, literary cafe Our Town, a pool hall, a neon art cafe, and several hole-in-the-wall galleries and restaurants. The Jem gallery is a particular gem; a recent exhibit featured the work of I.Braineater, an outstanding local artist.
Farther north again, Loomis arts and crafts superstore is an awesome place for paper junkies. Just to the west is the Seawall; you can go on the south side all the way to Kitsilano, or you can take the north side and go up to Yaletown, English Bay, and Stanley Park. If you know some tricks you can connect with Portside Road and skate all the way from Science World (near Loomis) to Stanley Park and back to the foot of Main street, a loop of about ten miles if you don't also skate around the park itself. And it's all on the Seawall, away from traffic, except for a mile along Portside Road.
North along Main is Chinatown, and then at the very foot of Main street is the Viaduct which will give you a fantastic view of the mountains, North Vancouver, and Downtown. It will also take you to Crab Park (closed after 10pm) which is the only beach on the Downtown Eastside, and features nesting eagles and hawks, seals in the water, and a marvelous break from city noise.
Nearby, on Alexander just west of Main is the Alibi Room, a very arty place with a very hot crowd, very good food, and very original (and tasty) cocktails. Open late, and for great Saturday brunch, but the DJ might be a bit loud if you're hungover. Not that I would know what that's like.
A real gem of a hotel with diamond staff too. Beautifully finished rooms offer an inviting and intimate experience. It's incredible value: a boutique hotel yet budget price.
15 rue le grimaldi, nice
Seven traghetto (ferry) points between the railway station and San Marco allow you to cross the Grand Canal without having to squeeze over the bridges. These decommissioned gondolas ply back and forth until dusk for 60c a trip. Venetians make the crossing standing up. Tourists sit down and worry about the rocking motion.
Look out for small yellow signs pointing down alleys leading to the Canal.
There are actually two parts to this outfit. The first, on ul. sw Anny 13, is the more formal, and serves Polish food in a cosy cellar. The second is a salad bar, and is located nearby, off a passage and also in a cellar. And in summer the courtyard at the back is a salad bar too, serving great veggie food at very reasonable prices. The smoothies are good too.
ul. sw. Anny 3, Old Town (Stare Miasto)
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org