It's a Hotel with spectacular panoramic views over the Kathmandu Valley. I'm recommending it for the views of the sunrise over the Himalayas and Everest. We travelled there during the start of October and it was spectacular. It has a good vibe and if busy is really good fun. If they offer it, take the 5.30am trip to the viewing point on top of the mountain, it's worth it.
Mahankal Temple, Nagarkot, Nepal
Google map: bit.ly/h5z9Tm
0977 - 1- 6680011 (mobile inside Nepal: 016680011)
0977 - 1- 6680109 (mobile inside Nepal: 016680109)
This is a really cool restaurant in Hamburg that's really worth visiting just to see how the food is delivered to your table - it only opened a few months ago and is a good reason to venture over to the other side of the river. You have to order your food through a touchscreen at your table and then all your food is delivered to you spiralled rails, on a small tray with wheels! The food is good and there is plenty of it. We ordered tons of food because the portions looked so small in the pictures when we were ordering but don't be fooled by them.
A bar that sells good cheap food as well.
Pints from £1 and mains from £3-£4, there were no complaints here.
Seen as one of the best hotels in Kaunas. Only just behind the old town square and leading onto the most happening street (Vilniaus) the location is perfect.
Very friendly and we paid 40€ a night when we booked.
Unpretentious bar, popular with students and other 'alternative' 20-somethings.
Pints at about £1.
And one other thing. The name is short for Blue Orange.
9 Muitinės gatvė, Kaunas 44001
Just a stone's throw from old town square.
+370 37 20 65 42
Open: 09.30 - 02.00 (until 3.00 on Fri & Sat). Not surprisingly does not open until 15.00 on Sunday.
Google map: bit.ly/dRhTTQ
Located in the town hall square, this restaurant is seen as one of the better establishments in Kaunas. Yet to UK pockets this is not at all an expensive establishment. We paid 63 Lt for two starters and mains.
The restaurant itself resembles a Medieval manor house.
When we were there in November the menu included roe deer sausage, wild boar as well as game. Fish was also on menu.
Taipei Uncovered is a mobile travel guide to Taipei. I am the author of the guide, and it was created in conjunction with Sutro Media.
Inside the guide you will find over 200 entries listing the best places to visit, eat and drink in and around the city.
With Ryanair setting up a new base in Kaunas, this is very much the cheapest way of getting to Vilnius.
Vilnius is only two hours away from Kaunas by train and costs about £4 each way.
Having said that Kaunas is worth a visit itself for it's old town and Nazi era Ninth Fort concentration camp.
The Caribbean can be done a lot cheaper than people believe.
1) Firstly check out charter flights - for example Monarch at Christmas is almost half the price of BA and Virgin. Also sometimes while longer, flying via Miami or New York can save hundreds.
2) On most Caribbean islands you can buy duty free when arriving which is often cheaper than duty free in England. For example in Trinidad you can get a 1litre bottle of rum arriving for £5 which is a lot cheaper than a £12 bottle of Barcadi in Heathrow.
3) When it comes to accommodation a local bed and breakfast can be substantially cheaper than a hotel. Call the local tourist board who can recommend places to stay and give you a star rating. For example in Tobago there are many places minutes from the beach that are much cheaper than the big hotels. Also don’t be afraid to negotiate as often places will have offers or have low occupancy and are willing to drop below advertised prices. Worth asking what discounts they offer for being a member of an organization. I got 10% off Tobago Hilton a few years ago because I prepaid.
4) The taxis that wait at the airport are often very expensive. It's much cheaper to walk out and go to the information desk and ask them to call one to come the airport. You might have to wait 20 minutes but save yourself 50% on the taxi fare!
5) When in the Caribbean I often try to eat where I see locals going to eat - cheaper and often better food (ask locals where they would go for food otherwise they always recommend places for tourists!)
6) Also when doing excursions or renting things always ask about discounts, last year I asked a jet ski operator about when his quietest time was and asked what was the best price he could do. I paid £11 for 30 minutes when other visitors were paying £20.
7) In the Caribbean the disparity in prices between hotel bars and restaurants and places outside can be huge! So don’t be afraid to sample them and they are often better. In St Maarten you can buy a cooler bag for the beach and a bottle of Vodka for $10 USD in the supermarket whereas one vodka drink from a beach bar will cost about $6/7.
Hope this helps to make the Caribbean more affordable!
It's only a tiny place near the Thistle Barbican among a row of small shops.
Me and a few friends used to come here on a Friday night after a few of pints in the white lion round the corner.
The staff don't know too much English but it's a pleasure watching them cooking the food on the gas rings in the back.
The food is always good with a wide selection.
For a takeaway its one of the best.
105-107 Lever St, City of London, EC1V 3RQ
+44(0)20 7490 8225
Google map: bit.ly/dKNhE8
This is one of the most beautiful national parks in the Caribbean, with coastal forests running down to untouched white beaches and a warm sea. Ok, so the travel there is not the 'budget' part, but all of the rest is! Fly to Santa Marta via Bogota, then get a cheap local bus (or taxi, for a bit more) to the main gates of Parque Tayrona at El Zaino. Walk, thumb a lift, or wait for a local bus from the entrance to the sea. Once there, you will need to be prepared to walk for 45 minutes along the most wonderful forest and coastal path, where you can hear howler monkeys, see bright blue morpho butterflies fluttering in the rays of sunlight, maybe even encounter an agouti. As you emerge on the beach at San Juan del Cabo, you will find a simple beach restaurant and some huts with hammocks for a pound a night, and toilet blocks too. You can also hire tents and lockers to lock up your valuables. You can spend days and days here, lying on the beach, snorkelling, hiking into the forest to visit indigenous communities, watching the formation squadrons of pelicans fly past, talking to the fishermen who will cook a delicious fish and potato soup on the beach and perhaps offer you a bowl, and, most importantly, walking along the beach in the morning to the local bakery serving cheese and chocolate bread, which has to be tried to be believed. Stand on the beach with your back to the sea, and you can look up into the Sierra de Santa Marta mountains, and see the snow-topped peaks.
Fly into Santa Marta with Avianca, the Colombian national airline, from Bogota www.avianca.com
Google map: bit.ly/hwnqHm
Catch a bus/taxi from Santa Marta to the Park's main entrance.
This beautiful urban 'casa' is situated right in the heart of Santa Clara - serious Che country - which is right in the heart of Cuba. Carlos and his family will look after you superbly and he enjoys speaking English. A little over 20 CuCs will buy you a fabulous room and great facilities and food. You're within easy, cheap and fast coach travel to both north and south coast beaches.
Quite close to the university. The Kashmir is not the most attractive of curry houses. However they do serve an excellent curry at a price that even a student can afford. You have a choice of two doors. One to the slightly more presentable ground floor, the other to the larger and more basic basement restaurant.
There may be better Indian restaurants in Bradford, but when it comes to quality, quantity and value for money this place is hard to beat.
25-27 Morley St, Bradford, West Yorkshire
+44(0)1274 726 513
Google map: bit.ly/f4ATy7
A hidden gem of an island in the Caribbean, in a place you were least expecting it: Nicaragua.
If you're looking for an island paradise but don't have a huge budget or want to get away from the crowds, Little Corn is your answer. The island has no cars, no chain hotels, no swimming pools - all transport is by foot (or helped by a wheelbarrow), accommodation consists of eco-lodges ($20-50) and beach side cabanas ($15-50), and there's plenty of room on the beach as well.
The island has been saved from mass tourism due to its small size and limited fresh water resources, which restrains the number of hotels you can build on the island. The island's character is also shaped by the complete absence of night clubs (and the crowds that flock there), but the flipside is a uniquely relaxed and peaceful atmosphere - you'll feel like you're on another planet.
The island is a haven for divers and snorkellers in particular, with over twenty dive sites within 15mins by boat and two dive shops with three to four dives every day. The diving is also among the most affordable in the Caribbean with 'fun dives' costing $35 (and multiple dive discounts available).
You'll need a flash light to walk home at night, as there are few street lights as you walk home through the jungle (don't worry - the creature you're most likely come across there is a hermit crab!), but when you get there, the night sky seems limitless because of the lack of artificial light on the island.
To get there, fly to Managua and catch either the morning or afternoon flight with La Costena, the Nicaraguan airline, to Big Corn Island (flight prices are fixed - return costs $164), and catch a 45min water taxi ride from the municipal port to Little Corn ($6). It may sound complicated, but once you arrive on Little Corn, you won't want to leave.
Information on the islands: www.bigcornisland.com/
Wikipedia page for Little Corn Island:
Little Corn Beach & Bungalow:
Good bar in the old town in Kaunas. Seems to be very popular with students. Locally brewed pints come in around £1, with Guiness at £1.50
Vilniaus street - on the left hand side as you come from old town square.
Google map: bit.ly/e5yRbS
Nice accommodation in one of the fisherman villages, St Luce, in the south of Martinique. It is 15 minutes from the beach, has a swimming pool, air conditioning and a wonderful view of the sea and the island St Lucia.
+596 (596) 50 78 40
38 bis Acajou lot. Les Horizons 97232 Lamentin
Its totally free you just have to register. You can search through listings of people heading up to the hill and find a cheap lift. Alternatively you can post when you are driving up there and get other people to share the petrol costs.
The deserts of Egypt are on the doorstep of Europe. Egypt is just a five hour flight from London and you can do it on the cheap with budget airlines from most regional airports. The Sinai is the best known desert in Egypt and it's getting much more popular. Mount Sinai is the 'feather in the cap' for most tourists, travellers and trekkers, but it's not the best peak going - not by a long shot. Give the jaded sunrise itinerary a miss and head for Jebel Banet, near St. Katherine's. Jebel Banet means 'Mountain of the Girls' and it is said that two Bedouin sisters tied their hair together here and threw themselves off the sheer north face. They were distraught at their father refusing to let them marry the men they loved. The peak itself stands on the perimeter of the High Mountain Region: you can look right out to the Wilderness of the Wanderings from here, where the Israelites are said to have spent forty aimless years (the modern day Et Tih Plateau). From Jebel Banet you can go down past the dripping waterfall of Sida Nugra to the El Karm Ecolodge in Wadi Gharba. This uses solar power to heat the showers, and it uses candles for night lights. The furniture is all made from oversized blocks of stone and wood that make it look like a slightly bizarre insertion of Flintstone graphics into real life. It's well worth staying the night and you can pitch a tent for LE15. Rooms are LE65. The next day I'd recommend you hire a camel to get back to St. Katherine's. Go via Naqb el Hawa or 'Pass of the Winds': this is the old pilgrim route to the Monastery of St. Katherine, and it's the time honoured way to approach it. You have to experience the long, loping stride of the camel and it's far better here than at the pyramids. This is camel trekking at its best. You need a guide to go trekking in St. Katherine's as part of tribal law and they're super easy to find. My tip is to go to the Desert Fox Camp - it's owner is a Bedouin man called Faraj and the guides he employs have the edge over ones elsewhere.
After Sinai I discovered the other deserts of Egypt. Everyone knows about Siwa and Bahariya in the Western Desert and it's a wonderful place to go: 100% recommended. But all the same it's old news and the real buzz frontier at the moment is the Gilf Kebir National Park. This is way down in the vast, empty south west of Egypt. You'll find a Great Sand Sea and the world's biggest meteor crater here. You'll also find an abundance of cave paintings from the neolithic era. These are one of the earliest sources anywhere in the world for the human experience in the desert. They're one of Africa's great cultural treasures. They depict trees, water and large animals, quite at odds with the surrounding environment. They gave rise to a myth of a lost oasis amongst locals, known as Zarzara: lush trees, waterfalls and birds of paradise were believed to be here, and many went looking. You can still see the whitewashed skeletons of people and camels who died in the hunt. Another thing to check out is Jebel Uweinat, a free-standing sandstone massif on the borders of Egypt, Sudan and Libya. This is topped by smooth, rounded peaks and it's dissected by deep, winding wadis. A 360 degree horizon opens up from the high points, with the silence unlike anywhere in the world: it's easy to feel something of the transcendental here. Coming to the Gilf isn't easy: this is real trailblazing adventure travel at the mo. You need permits to get here, and there's a mountain of bureaucracy to climb. But you won't have to have anything to do with it, fixers will sort it for you. If you're in Egypt get to Bahariya - you can get here by public bus in four hours from the Turgoman bus terminal in downtown Cairo (finding this needs a new post tip in itself!). In Bahariya you'll find people who know people. It can be pricey, up to $100-150/ day all inc. Before you go make absolutely sure your jeep is a good, modern one with no deficiencies. Gilf Kebir isn't the sort of place the AA visit. Also make sure you have enough supplies, mostly water. GPS is essential too and your guide MUST know how to work it. You'll have a police guard ride in the front of the jeep when you go: this is necessary as there have been reports of robberies from Sudanese groups in the area. If you're abroad you can try organising a safari through the following companies: www.zarzura.com/ or email Badawiya Safari at email@example.com. You can also try www.geographic-adventures.com and make sure you get this small pocket guide by Alberto Siliotti: //www.amazon.co.uk/Gilf-Kebir-National-Park-Pocket/dp/8887177848liotti:
Finally, there is Egypt's Red Sea Coast. At the moment, most folks go for Hurghada and other big resort towns, but the real thing to see is the Red Sea Mountains. This is a slice of Sinai from Sinai. The rock here is identical to the Sinai; both areas were part of the same crust until the Red Sea split them. You'll notice the same smooth domed red granite peaks and fertile green wadis. The area was explored briefly by the Royal Geographical Society explorer GW Murray in the 19th century but since then it's remained essentially untouched. This could be trekking heaven in the future and there are a number of peaks well worth a try: Jebel Gharib, Jebel Qattar and Jebel Shayib are amongst the best and their summits offer views across to the Sinai's main peaks, including Mount Katherina, Jebel Thebt and Jebel Sabbagh. You can even see the Hejaz of Saudi Arabia on a clear day (at night you'll see the Saudi coast in any weather, as the lights twinkle through the darkness). Aside from the scenery, you'll find giant leopard traps big enough to sleep in and isolated old hermit cells used by early Christians fleeing the persecutions. You'll find mysterious writing on the rocks and old tombs dotted on high west facing slopes. Bedouin tribes here include the Ma'aza, the Rashayed and the Ababda. All over the Middle East traditional Bedouin knowledge is being lost as it becomes less relevant to modern life, but here it is very much a survival necessity. They have no option but to maintain it. You'll see Bedouin hunting gazelles on the plains and digging down into the sand for water and of course you'll get the legendary hospitality for three and a third days in the remote areas. Culture here is much like it was hundreds of years ago. The downside of the Red Sea Mountains is access, and the police oscillate between saying you can have a permit and saying you can't go at all. It really depends on when you're there and how the situation is. Rely on unreliability. Check the situation out before you go with Hany Amr at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ahmed Musa at email@example.com. If you do manage to get into the mountains, they'll be able to help you sort guides too. Of course, you have the option of flaunting local law entirely and finding Bedouin who will take you into the desert hush hush, cloak and dagger: just remember you're taking a risk, for you and the Bedouin (and his tribe - the Egyptian police can be disproportionate when they want to be, especially to the Bedouin). For now, it's probably best to stick to other areas until the permit situation eases up, but just check if you're there. You might get lucky and the desert jewels here are fit to shine the finest crown of them all.
As a final few words I'd just say if you're going to the deserts of Egypt, do it in the transition from spring to summer. Summer is a bad time: you'll often be in the sun, so it won't be 'shade hot' it'll be serious blistering heat that'll feel over 50 degrees. Winter is cold - especially in Sinai and the Red Sea Mountains. Autumn can be lovely and it's the safest bet. Early spring is when the Khamaseen winds blow half of North Africa up into the sky: 'sandstorm season'. Around May is when the desert bloom comes out and a beautiful floral carpet spreads out over the sands. Hopefully, hopefully the Khamaseen will have died down. If so, it'll be perfect!
Some people I know recommend a pair of goggles if you're going in sandstorm season. In terms of equipment, the only thing I'd recommend 100% is a keffeyeh (the traditional Bedouin headscarf). You can use this for all manner of things - from a bivvy, to an arm sling and you can pull it over your head in a sandstorm.
Hope you enjoy the deserts as much as I did - good luck!
For the Sinai: www.desertfoxcamp.com/
For Gilf Kebir: www.zarzura.com/ and Badawiya Safari at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.geographic-adventures.com
For The Red Sea Mountains: Hany Amr at email@example.com and Ahmed Musa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com