Good hearty food to be found here. Not high end dining but authentic wholesome food. Food could be described as Kosher Turkish/Kurdish, with Iraqi and Syrian influences. This restaurant has been serving food for decades, where the food is slowly cooked in huge pots over traditional oil burners called ptelias. This authentic place is extremely popular with locals which might mean a little wait during busy times.
We had two hearty mains and soft drinks for 110 NIS.
HaEshkol 4, Jerusalem, 94322, Israel
+972 2 623 5204
Google map: bit.ly/VUHabx
This museum is probably one of the smallest you will see as it has only one room containing 17th century paintings of Madrid and two large wooden models showing how Madrid would have looked in the 17th century (you will have to use your imagination and geographical knowledge to recognise buildings such as the royal palace and the cathedral as they are not indicated on the models). A video screen taking you on imaginary walks through 17th century Madrid is interesting as it shows you which buildings of 17th century Madrid still exist today and which ones have disappeared over the centuries as Madrid has got ever bigger. Entry is free .
calle Fuencarral, 78
Nearest metro station: Tribunal
Google map: bit.ly/UCsTlX
The Spanish have their own version of the tooth fairy albeit in mouse form and he is known to Spanish children as Ratóncito Pérez. Hidden away in a tiny shopping centre in central Madrid is a cute tiny golden statue of this famous Ratóncito Pérez. Upstairs on the first floor of the shopping centre is a small museum dedicated to the history behind this mouse.
This park is in my opinion better than the
El Retiro park in central Madrid. It is more geared towards children and families. Children will love it as there is lots to discover such as ... I am not going to tell you. Go to the park, ignore the plan of the park, lose yourself and discover the many buildings within it for yourself.
I assure you that around every corner you will discover something new. It will feel like you are nowhere near Madrid at all (El Capricho park is in fact right on the very edge of the Madrid) as it is small and showy with colourful roses and sunflowers all year round. The sun brings out the autumnal colours. Take food and drink with you though as unlike El Retiro park there are no food or drink shops within the park itself. Although there is a free tap providing free drinking water within the grounds near El Capricho palace. My favourite spot to stop and sit was on the seat by the artificial lake opposite the waterfall on the manmade island in the middle of the lake. Sadly this park which was previously unknown to many tourists and Madrileños has been discovered and is now very popular and can be busy which is why they have a daily limit of 1,000 people in the park at any one time. This has spoiled the serenity of the park somewhat but there are still some secluded spots left within the park to escape the crowds which is good. If you are lucky like I was you will be treated to some free dancing and acting outside the dance hall in the park (usually between 12.00am and 13.00pm). Entry is free but the park is only open Saturday and Sundays from 9.00am to 21.00pm.
Calle de la Galera, 0, 28042 Madrid, Spain
+34 917 42 97 87
Nearest metro station: El Capricho
The long 45 - 60 min metro journey from central Madrid is worth it I promise you!
Exit El Capricho metro station (there is only one exit) and follow the brown signs which say Parque El Capricho which will lead you across scrubland and past some flats to the park entrance on the opposite side of the zebra crossing.
Google map: bit.ly/TpdqoR
If money is tight and you cannot afford to eat out than Lidl on the Plaza Tirso de Molina is cheap and not much different to Lidl in the UK or anywhere else in Europe as the produce offered is cheap, similar to what you get at a Lidl in the UK and you know what you are getting for your euros. If you have a rucksack ensure that you have a one euro coin with you so you can put your rucksack in the lockers beside the store entrance. But the security guards did not stop me for having a small backpack on my back when I went in on three separate occasions but it is better not to take the chance.
Plaza Tirso de Molina 16, Madrid
Google map: bit.ly/UsEQFh
Everybody notices the statue of Felipe III on his horse in the centre of the Plaza Mayor. But take a closer look at the horse and you will notice that it's mouth has been soldered closed. There is a sad story behind the reason for this. In 1931 a bomb was thrown into the horse's mouth thus busting open its belly. To surprise of everybody tiny bird bones filled the air. Before this happened nobody realised that sparrows had flown into the horses mouth and down its neck in search of food or shelter. Because their wings are too big to enable them to fly back up out of the statue they panicked and were unable to fly out of the horse; and so it was that they became trapped inside it and they slowly died inside the statue. To avoid any more birds being trapped inside the statue and facing a slow and painful death the horse's mouth was soldered shut shortly after this discovery. Another story of the hidden Madrid which tourists do not see.
Nearest metro station: Sol
This is just one of many of the departments of the university of Alcalá. It has its own tower and baroque façade which is quite impressive and worthy of a photo. It is similar in style to the faculty on plaza San Diego.
On the south side of Plaza Cervantes opposite the Santa María tower.
Google map: bit.ly/UCkmyh
Like me you will almost go past this building as you head from the train station in Alcalá de Henares to the city centre and not give it a second thought. But just walk slowly from the train station (on the left hand side of paseo de la estación) and the Moorish towers and windows will catch your attention (as they did mine) and beg to be photographed. Inside the building there is a Cistercian museum.
Paseo de la Estación, nº 10, 28801 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid)
Google map: bit.ly/NOoisJ
Bar Avesta is one of the few Zoroastrian themed bars you'll find the world. It's got a great medieval, cozy type feel to it, with its low wooden beamed ceiling and rustic wooden benches. It is located in a converted wine cellar and as well as serving some of the most delicious tapas in Barcelona, it also serves some of the cheapest shots. The bar also serves the famous drink, leche de pantera, a kind of pink alcoholic milk that is pretty delicious.
There are many hostels all over the continent, each with its own character.
You'll get lots of information and support from hostelers and the staff, and usually access to a kitchen to cook your own meals. You can be any age and many hostels have private doubles, twins, triples etc - some even ensuite!
PS In Patagonia don't miss the Perito Moreno Glacier - the boat goes dramtically close to the edge which is crumbling into the lake.
On a searingly hot day in the Argentina summer we turned up in town and staggered into the Adventure Hostel. Rooms are simple but clean, with air-con (essential in this climate.) It has a well equipped kitchen, and a great breakfast by Argentine standards with home made potato cake. However the main draw are the family-friendly facilities, with lots of games, play area, plenty of outdoor space, barbeque pits, hammocks, and excellent cooling swimming pool. Great place for chilling, watching the jungle wildlife, or exploring the nearby Jesuit ruins and surrounding area. You could, and will, get stuck here ...
Calle Independencia 469, San Ignacio - www.hihostels.com/dba/hostels-San-Ignacio----Adventure-Hostel-002122.en.htm
Independencia 469, San Ignacio, Misiones
+54 376 4470955
Google map: bit.ly/QvMDBe
This voluntary organisation runs projects in Ecuador and Colombia to help poor children to break the poverty circle and to find real opportunities in life. It also offers low cost ($5 a night) accommodation to non-volunteers. But i'd recommend you find a few weeks in your schedule to stop and get to know the country and its people properly. I spent just six weeks there over 10 years ago and I remember it just like yesterday. Amazing experience. Plus you've got Banos thermal baths, Tungurahua volcano and Riobamba market all nearby.
Madrid's main cathedral built to honour Madrid's patroness - the Almudena Virgin.
Please respect those in the cathedral who are praying in this glorious building by keeping as quiet as you can. Look up and marvel at the beautifully coloured ceilings (the dome is particularly beautiful). Entry is free but a donation of one to two euros is suggested
Monday afternoon between noon and 2pm is the best time to sit in the shade by the mermaid sat on her fish by the lake in El Retiro park. The monument to Alfonso XII provides a suitable backdrop to watch people messing about on boats in the lake next to the monument. It is funny to watch them trying to row their boats as there are the occasional crashes between boats. Don't forget to smack the mermaid's bottom for good luck before you reluctantly leave the lakeside!
The most famous cycling race in Spain which easily rivals the more famous Tour de France. The 9th September is usually when the race finishes in Madrid. It is free to stand behind the barriers by the road and cheer the cyclists on as they race past you at an alarming pace (be quick to rein in your camera after taking your photo otherwise it will be shot out of your hand and broken by passing cyclists). I managed to get some brilliant photos of the riders and of the prize giving ceremony after the race. Don't be discouraged if the police move you on from some of the barriers by the finish line as they actually did me a favour as I got to be right next to the barrier and could practically touch the cylists. It was one of the best experiences of my life as it was exciting to actually be there in Madrid instead of watching it on the TV. Top tip - find a barrier on the right side of the track (where you will get the best photos) at 12.00pm and keep your spot. Arrive later than 12.00pm and you will loose your spot!
The atmopshere is fantastic and exhilirating. It is not intimidating at all even for children so it is perfect for families. There are police everywhere to protect spectators and cyclists so don't worry about safety but do as I did and keep your rucksack on your front and NOT on your back to avoid things being stolen from it without you noticing. There will be lots of people around you but unlike the Tour de France you wont be jostled about and knocked all over the place - everybody looks after each other (even if your not supporting the same rider!)
The Vuelta de España follows this route into Madrid city centre: c/Princesa,
Plaza de España, Gran Vía, c/Alcalá,
Plaza de Cibeles, then passing the Thyssen museum, Fuente de Neptuno, Paseo de Prado, Gta de Emperador Carlos V and back up to Plaza de Cibeles then down again to
Gta de Emperador Carlos V (10 times) before the cyclists cross the finishing line
(la meta) for the final time near Plaza de Cibeles. The exact route is usually announced on the website of the
Vuelta de España and in the local and national newspapers every year
Google map: bit.ly/Ph2plP
Bed and breakfast accommodation. Hospitable, excellent local information, exotic surroundings. Will arrange airport pick-up and taxi tours to both sides of the Iguazu falls and the bird park on the Brazilian side.
For a lighter meal (on the pocket too) this establishment serves up foccacia - large sandwiches. I think I would have been a bit daunted to enter alone, as it was packed to the rafters. You had to make your order first and then queue to collect it. For just 2.50 you can bag a large square with a variety of fillings, but the Milese house special was sliced fresh tomatoes, a layer of tuna, some hard-boiled eggs chopped into pieces, a few anchovies, a layer of rocket salad, a layer of thinly sliced onions and, last but by no means least, a layer of pancetta. All of these layers are seasoned with a special sauce created by Signora Maria, which is top secret!
Via Garibaldi, 11
Google map: bit.ly/TcFNDB
* BecomingSevillana is our Been there local for Seville. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/seville-local-kim.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/BecomingSevillana.jsp
She also has her own blog: becomingsevillana.blogspot.com/
It is a really nice boutique hostel, in a tastefully renovated old mansion with a lot of handmade details. It also has a nice terrace facing the big garden from which you can help yourself with seasonal fruits and vegetables or where you can have a barbeque. It is located in a quite residential area on the river bank, very close to the centre of the city.
The hillwalking in the Cantal is blissful. You are unlikely to see many people on your way up or down through wooded hillsides on waymarked paths, until you break out on spectacular ridges rising to 1700m.
The reason I recommend this is that it enabled me to take advantage of the seniors' reductions in the museums and places of interest. This saved me some money in what is quite an expensive city. I also did not have to take my passport out with me.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org