Palmers Lodge is amazing. First of all, it's an old mansion that has been converted into a hostel. They have private rooms available, but I only stayed in the dorm room and it was unlike any dorm room I've been in. The beds were SOLID wood (no creaky metal), and had curtains which was great for privacy. FREE wifi! FREE breakfast! There's a bar and restaurant downstairs and the staff are pretty helpful. By chance I booked into Palmers Lodge on my first trip to London (they were the top rated hostel in my searches), and I've been back six times now in the last two years. I wouldn't want to stay anywhere else in London and I can easily recommend it to anyone looking for a place.
Budget hotel a short stroll from Plaka and Monastiraki metro stop. It's certainly no frills but also clean and friendly. Double rooms start at 57 euros (in season).
29, Eolou Street, Athens
Nearest metro: Monastiraki
A lovely home in Lima where Gloria and Victor host travellers, volunteers and students from all over the world.
This welcoming home is suitable for anyone who wants to live the local experience. By this I mean, being surrounded by locals and paying local prices as if you were a local too. However, assistance with the language and other services are provided such as; airport pick-up, tourist information, Spanish classes etc.
It's also close to all facilities (transport, shops, cafes, restaurants, the Inka market, etc).
The reason I strongly recommend "mi casa en Lima" is because my friends from Australia, Europe and US loved staying there and encouraged me to spread the word.
As a matter of fact, Gloria and Victor have had a great feedback since they opened their home three years ago. They offer nothing but personalised service and make sure you have a great time in Lima.
Best market I've seen, filled with bizarre artefacts, toys and whatnot from the last 100 years. How they ended up in the hands of these humble folk is a mystery, but there they are, for sale and waiting to make the most unusual new addition to your home! Not to be missed. Viva Colombia! "A la Orden!"
On the corner of carrera 7 (septima) with calle 18. (in the carpark behind the Mambo Museum. Sundays.
This one of the best fish and chip, places in London. It has a restaurant as well, cheap and large portions.
Always full in the take-way and the restaurant is a lovely bistro style place, staff a good laugh. The Asian guy who owns it is very funny...
The Patravadi Theatre in Bangkok is renowned, but fewer people know about the free performances that can be seen on weekend nights at the Studio 9 restaurant within the theatre compound. With stunning views across the Chao Phraya River to the illuminated Grand Palace and a good value menu of modern Thai dishes the restaurant is appealing in its own right.
But what really makes it a location for a night to remember are the free displays of contemporary Thai performing arts which are shown on Friday and Saturday evenings. With dining tables set around the performance area this is a unique opportunity to see innovative young artists displaying their skills while tucking in to a delicious meal. On the night of our visit we were mesmerised by lithe acrobats contorting themselves within swinging hoops, and seemingly magically suspended from fluid streams of silk, all to a background of haunting Thai music.
Studio 9, 69/1 Soi Wat Rakang, Arun Amarin Road
A short walk from Wat Rakang Pier. Cross river ferries run every 5 minutes until 10 pm (3 Baht) after which you will need to return by taxi.
During this tour you are being guided around the city and told things by someone who has experienced it. Guides have not just read about whatever they are talking about in a textbook. This results in these tours being really good.
Learn about the history, society, architecture and what Hungarians are actually like.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain)
Daily at 10.30.AM
Guides give frank and honest account of Budapest's history and recent developments (particularly the transition to post-Communism) - it really opens the eyes to the sentiments of the local people.
Sights of this interactive adventure include the 1956 uprising areas, the bronze bullet memorial, the flag with the hole and the eternal flame, the secret entrance of a military bunker, the last Communist memorial in the inner city and other symbols of "Soviet friendship". The most important communist relics will also be presented.
Vörösmarty square M1 metro stop (in front of Gerbeaud café at the fountain)
Every M, W, F at 3.30 PM
The CaixaForum Madrid by architects Herzog and de Meuron, opened in 2008 and is located near the Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
The converted former power station presents itself like a walk-in sculpture, with several exhibitions and events hosted concurrently. The building looks over the Paseo del Prado with a daringly beautiful planted wall and contrasting Cor-ten steel and brick facade.
My family and I went there after a visit to the botanical garden for a 'quick look' - we stayed three hours and hadn't even exhausted the impressive Richard Rogers architects exhibition (until 18 Oct 2009) with dozens of models. Even the younger kids were happy!
A cool cafe and bookshop rounds of this 'must visit' gem.
Paseo del Prado, 36
Tel.: 91 330 73 00
Atocha, línea 1
Set in a gorgeous colonial building next to Granada's market, you will get rooms that may be a bit dark, but in beautiful surroundings. They provide a kitchen, but most of all it is a safe place.
The couple that owns this place, and knows every customer, will be on their rocking chairs, with their radio. Somehow in a city where other places have armed guards, their presence is a better protection.
Calle Atravesada in front of the market.
While you are in Granada and if you are tired of Gallo Pinot, the ever present rice and beans, maybe you should try Pususas from Don Ramon.
It is a typical dish from Salvador that Don Ramon and his wife dish out from a grill located in the main street, Calle Atravesada, one and a half blocks up from the market.
At around 50 pence these pancakes can be served with a traditional filling of cheese, frijoles, or chicharon, or more modern ones such as spinach.
If you ask nicely they will explain to you how to make it, from scratch, and you will make your own one if they don't have many customers waiting.
This was a great place to stay; a relaxed surf lodge directly on the beach. Good break right outside on the beach down a small set of steps.
Accommodation is with or without A/C for around $15 a night or less if sharing. The people were great, and Jorge the main man, was really friendly and helpful.
It is possible to hire boards there, and has its own restaurant with good local food.
This is at the town of El Zonte on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, just past the 54km marker on the Carretera del Littoral Highway 2. Go over the river if coming from direction La Libertad and take the first left, then Ola's is one of the last on the right at the end of the road.
I'm kind of a bum when travelling: I like to do all the free things, because they're free. You should spend money on the plane ticket, and that is all. Also, free things are the things the locals do, and so give you more of a feel for the place.
Anyway, the Hugh Lane is awesome, and admission to the gallery is completely free. Some great modern art. It also, amusingly, houses the (reconstructed) studio of Francis Bacon, with all its contents in disarray.
Here's a list of other FREE things/places in Dublin to see:
A brilliant, unpretentious restaurant set in the original Boots shop in the trendy Hockley area of the city centre. Best food in Nottingham, hands down. Awesome meat dishes and vegetarians are exceptionally well catered for as well (starter: wild mushrooms on toast with a two minute poached egg anyone?)
Mains tend to be £10-15, and there is a set menu that offers two courses for £12.95 or 3 for £14.95.
It's a hidden gem in the heart of Bangkok. Tenface is a new boutique hotel with only 88 rooms but it makes me feel very impressed. Their well-trained staffs are perfect! The room is very big and clean, recommended!
One of the top-ten tourist sites in Japan offers a once-yearly evening festival where you can drink unlimited, locally produced sake for around a fiver.
Himeji castle itself was built in 1346 and was the first UNESCO site in Japan. What better way to spend a Saturday night than picknicking in its grounds?
Grab yourself a sake cup and some free senbe (Japanese crackers) and enjoy the Castle, the Moon and the company. Last year, I was told by a seasoned quaffer that the feeling of drinking sake can only be described as... "One, two, ten"... I wasn't sure what this meant, but I think it augured moderation, so take it easy.
Do however make sure that you try all of the sake on offer. It's all locally produced, is delicious and is ladelled out of wooden containers, rather than poured from the bottle.
The party starts when the sun goes down on October 3rd this year.
Travelling from Tokyo is a two-hour, direct Bullet Train ride (Himeji is also a good stop-off on the way to Hiroshima)
After that, it's ten Minutes on foot from Himeji JR Railway Station (central exit)
Bulgaria is rapidly becoming a popular tourist destination and a number of big and small hotels are opening every year. On HotelBeam Bulgaria list there are a number of independent hotels which can be contacted directly which is good because some of these hotels are small and locally managed and are not well connected to travel agencies.
Cusworth Hall is an eighteenth century and grade 1 listed country house and museum with excellent informative exhibitions about the people who lived and worked in the house.
It is without doubt Doncaster's premiere beauty spot with loads of open space for picnics and walks allowing you to enjoy a wonderful view of Doncaster laid out before you
Cusworth Lane, Doncaster, DN5 7TU
Nearest train station is Bentley and the hall is well signposted on the A1(M) and in Doncaster itself
It's a small personal hostel in the middle of the Old Town in Stockholm. You have everything within walking distance, from historical plays to shopping and night life areas.
They offer single, twin, triple and four-bed room. You have free wireless in all rooms and a guest kitchen.
A more central hostel you can't find.
Stora Nygatan 38 11127 Stockholm
+46 (0)8 22 99 40
8 min walk from central station
Corsican wine is rarely encountered outside of Corsica, and when you do it's prohibitively expensive. The Corsicans are an insular lot, and tend to only make enough wine to serve local needs - a little is exported to France and an even smaller amount worldwide. Yet Corsica has the most incredible climate, perfect for wine production. So in itself, the opportunity to sample some of the products of the many small domains is interesting.
Add to this the dramatic Corsican landscape, a temperature which rarely dips below 25 degrees before the winter properly kicks in and the miles of unspoiled beaches where your only companions are a few wandering cows (nice brown and white ones with horns, not fellow tourists) and you've got a very pleasant adventure indeed.
Camping makes the whole thing affordable. Many camp sites have their own beaches for a quick dip before bed. They are littered along the main road that winds its way around Cap Corse and few cost more than 15 euro for the night for a couple with a tent.
There are signs along the roads advertising the different domains - the only choice you face is which one you fancy stopping off at and how much to buy (most don't take cards so you'll need to load up on cash). Each is very different, ranging from the very commercial to the ones where you ring a little bell and someone eventually saunters out and offers you some homegrown olives to go with your taster. An incredible range of wines is produced and every single place will have some unusual speciality to share with you alongside their big earners.
It's all so wonderfully relaxed: plenty of swimming in the remarkably clear sea, a little sunbathing perhaps, lunch from the excellent local market and an afternoon meandering between the domains discovering all of the wonderful wines that the Corsicans are smart enough to keep to themselves. It also makes great economic sense - even buying the wines in a Corsican supermarket will cost you upwards of 40% more than buying direct. Buying them outside Corsica becomes astronomical. At the domains you can expect to pay between 5 and 15 euro a bottle and end up with something really very special to take home with you.
Fly into Bastia (Easyjet flies on a Sunday), hire a car and set off North!
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