Fabulous cafe and cake shop with all the usual Hungarian gooey cakes. Plus prices are half those of the well know cake shops. Always full with locals.
Szent Istvan Korut
(Between Vigszinhaz Theatre and Margit Island)
This is the house where Mozart spent his childhood. I really like it since I have read a lot about Mozart while at school. This is your chance to visit his old house which is now also a museum - and to brush up on your Mozart knowledge.
I've used Excelsior twice in the past and I'm very happy. I thought they were a tad steep but for about $700 in summer 2006, I got a two piece woollen suit, seven all cotton shirts, and five pairs of pants. The work was excellent, the shirts are holding up very well, and everyone loves the suit.
For what it's worth, I wanted a dark pinstriped suit, and they had lots of material to offer. B
115/1 Siamheritage opposite the Le Meridien. I guess they are the first tailor shop on the area and its always best to get suits at business districts.
I have done over 4000 km in Indian trains over the last six weeks. I have not had one single problem with the food bought from the official IRCTC stands or guys going around. Look out for people with uniform shirts.
Some of the food was actually excellent
The best discount card - don't go to Iceland without one. Voyager Card saves you up to 20% off many restaurants, bars, shops and hotels in the centre of Reykjavik. It pays for itself in a few hours or even a few minutes if you use it to book one of the partner hotels.
A great concept: fast soup!
Join the queue and choose from four soups of the day and ask for all the trimmings (cheese, chicken meatballs, herbs) and you get two rolls and an apple on your tray too.
Pull up a stool and warm yourself up - it's cheap too, despite the weak exchange rate.
We took one look at the restaurant prices in central Masaya and were heading back to the hotel when we found Mariskeria, a permanent kiosk in the Parque octobre 17. Their ceviche was A1 and the prawns a plancha were the best we'd eaten since being in Spain in the 70s. The proprietor let us try a concha negra for free as we'd never eaten it before... more like a clam than an oyster, but we'll include them on our menu next time we visit Masaya.
Parque de octobre 17
Boboi Beach are absolutely the best huts on Kartong beach, on the south coast of Gambia. The breakfast (including fresh papaya and natural peanut butter) is served on a long table overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, just from the right angle and in a small elevation. The sound of the waves crashing next to your hut at night is just magic...
The place is rustic and basic, far from the ugly resorts on the north and close to the interesting Kartong village. To complete an amazing stay, it also has tree-huts, where you can jump in for a siesta, and a TV room where no one of the locals and visitors alike miss the premiership.
A great oasis in the busy and fascinating medina, roof terrace with views over Bou Inania, great selection of snacks, meals, teas and coffees, cakes, and excellent lamb patties etc. Cheerful young local staff and an enthusiastic English patron. Restored courtyard house up a tiny alley by the waterclock, close to Bab Bou Jeloud Gate. Given the lack of eating places to occupy the gap between very cheap traditional cafes, and upmarket gourmet restaurants, this is a very welcome place any time of day. But the best thing is that the owner is determined to run a rare local cultural programme of arts and music with something on several evenings a week. And then there are the camel burgers, fresh from the camel butcher over the street...
off Tala Kebira under the water clock opposite the Bou Inania Medersa(a must visit)
I would like to share my best tips for train journeys for people who don't plan ahead. These were shaped from my travel experience riding seat-less in China with three friends as we criss-crossed our way down through the country using the busy train network. We travelled on a shoestring budget, and with no fixed agenda we often arrived at stations with only a loose idea of where we were heading. However, demand for seats and beds on these trains is huge and when there are literally millions of citizens using the network at anyone time, these spaces are booked days in advance... Surprisingly, my tip isn't to plan ahead, be sensible and book in advance - but top tips for surviving and enjoying an overnight train journey with no seat or bed to speak off. Following these tips allows you to get closer to the fascinating Chinese character and fully involve yourself to feel like a true and accepted local which is lost in 1st and 2nd class travel.
My first tip is to play the Chinese at their own game in order to get the best floor positions for your overnight journey. Your competing 3rd class companions will be travelling with half their kitchen larders strapped to their backs, which can include two or three 'cash and carry' style bags of rice or even sacks of chicken feet! So i would advise teaming up with a friend or fellow westerner, which combined with your likely height advantage and 20kg backpacks, you'll find yourselves with some kind of purchase on the crowds of surging travellers to get to your carriage first.
The second tip is on boarding and locating your floor space. With competition fierce, and the odds stacking against you, you will need to prepare for your mini sprint. Try and establish from platform gates, which end of the train your carriage is in; you don't want to find your self running in the opposite direction as you are then likely to be stood beside the toilet for the next 15 to 20 hours. So, once at the carriage doors, I would recommend boarding at the same time as your friend, guarding yourselves from the beating crowds to give you the opportunity to seek the best position, ideally not near the toilet or wash basin, but next to a guards door, which is likely to leave you some good leg room and uninterrupted sleep from people getting on and off through the night.
The third and final tip is spread yourself out, as selfish as it might sound, conceding early on or showing weakness will leave you sharing your pillow another guy who likes to chain smoke and cough up loosening flem from his lungs. This early initiative also gives you the flexibility of lying down and sitting up to read throughout your journey, as fidgeting to get comfortable will become your new best friend. Once you have your little enclave, you can pick and choose who you share your space with, and observe the fascinating culture and characters on board your train as people pass through and squat to chat to the unlikely westerners slumming it on floor.
These light-hearted tips are really just great memories and a product of clashing national psyches, for which I believe brings so much colour, character and adventure to a train journey and gets you right under the skin of a nation which is quite literally on the move.
Many thanks for reading my top tips for character rich 3rd class train travel in China.
The most scenic train journey ever taken had to be Ploce on the Croatian coast, east to Sarajevo. Riding the dated German train, rolling through tunnels in the mountain side by the river, the mind wanders to the recent scars of war. A magical journey, made all the more special on arriving in Sarajevo to the sights and sounds of the East.
There’s a forgotten train ride through the middle east that no-one mentions or goes on; it lasts from 8am on Sunday to 8pm Sunday and goes through two vast countries. This train departs Istanbul and arrives in Damascus and on-route it meanders its way through the interior of Turkey bordering mountain ranges and plains and going through medieval cities such as Konya and the rarely visited town of Antep. You then you enter Syria and immediately hit the mecca that is Aleppo, with its bustling streets and many souqs and then you travel through Syria and finally end up in the oldest continually habited city on Earth, in one of the greatest cities in the middle east, Damascus… and all of this for £50.
My tip for a great train journey is the Chepe from Los Mochis to Creel in Mexico, commonly known as the Copper Canyon Railroad.
The journey starts at around 06:00 from Los Mochis on the Pacific coast and over the course of the next nine and a half hours travels 300km and winds from sea level to an altitude of around 2400 metres to the old logging town of Creel, Chihuahua.
The journey begins travelling through scrub and desert before moving into lush greenery, mountainous backdrops and eventually, the canyon itself. The Copper Canyon, a huge network of canyons which in total dwarf their more famous neighbour in the USA, the Grand Canyon, (which would fit inside it). The journey crosses over 40 bridges with huge drops on either side and climbs the canyon by traversing the steep sides, the train switching back on itself numerous times to climb to the top. As the altitude changes so does the vegetation, from the tropical plants on the canyon floor to the fir forests at the top.
The highlight of the journey is a brief stop at Divisidero, a spot allowing 100 mile views across the canyon. The canyon can be seen to fall away beneath your feet and the spectacular colours and variety of flora can be appreciated from this spot.
The train does carry on to Chihuahua but the journey demands a stop in Creel, a town that has more than a little of Twin Peaks in the air. While the town itself is unremarkable, the rock formations, waterfalls and hot springs that can be accessed from it, on foot, mountain bike or 4x4 are stunning and it is well worth spending some time here. From Creel a bus can be taken that shadows the train line to Chihuahua city but reaches its destination quicker (5 hours), and has a more regular service.
The tickets come in first class and economy. The first class train has comfortable seats, a bar and a dining car, it is also possible to open the windows between carriages to appreciate the scenery first hand. A first class ticket one way train costs around £50, the economy train leaves later and takes longer but is cheaper. Aero California fly to Los Mochis and from Chihuahua from Mexico City, the journey is better taken from the coast as from Chihuahua the best of the scenery may be hidden by darkness. Casa Margerita's Plaza Mexicana offers basic half board accommodation from around £30 per room per night.
Italian chain that allows you to see what dishes are being prepared before you choose food. Always full of locals rather than tourists. Great opportunity to get a hang of Italian food habits. Padua Brek is slightly better if you're travelling.
Main square outside opera amphitheatre
Lovely little place, located between Kaeo and Mangonui. Run by Lyndsey and football fanatic Stefano, on their fifth-generation Northland family farm. Dorms, singles and doubles with a warm homely feel.
After a trek over the farm to historic Kauri dams where you can bathe in natural rockpools or a day at the beach in beautiful and remote Doubtless Bay, treat yourself to one of Stefano's legendary homemade pizzas - yum yum.
A cut above any other hostel I've ever stayed in - a real gem.
Kahoe Farms Hostel, RD 2 Kaeo, New Zealand. Tel: (09) 4051 804
Pronounced "thung-gulie", a 14 acre coral island (off the east coast of mainland) which you can walk around in just 20 minutes. A small selection of beach huts - from around £20pppn - are all a stone's throw from the sea. Perfect location for snorkelling/diving and if you're really lucky (like us!), a Humpback whale or two might just swim past the island.
All meals (incl. in price, plus an afternoon cuppa!) served in the communal dining room - also right by the water's edge.
Island run by members of the Methodist Church of Fiji, some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet.
For more information and bookings:
Tel: (+679) 344 0166,
Caqalai Island, Box 149, Levuka, Fiji Islands
Family run guesthouse, which delivers a lot for very little outlay. We had a double room with en-suite and balcony overlooking the river for about $5/night. We opted for no air con but had overhead fan which was more than enough. White painted walls and dark wood fixtures and fittings, and tiled floors help to keep everything cool. Good comfortable beds and everything was very clean. It's probably a good fifteen minute walk into the centre of Luang Prabang, but it's enjoyable and you get to see things you wouldn't normally!
The bathroom was clean too, although they didn't clean the room or bathroom everyday you only had to ask. However, the shower/water supply was a little tempremental, but with patience and a little tweaking all was fine!
The hosts supplied a free meal once a week, which we managed to have two of! Very friendly atmosphere and the meal gave us the opportunity to meet other travellers who were of all ages and backgrounds. Free fruit and water (safe to drink) for all. Breakfast and evening meals available and there are soft drinks and beer too!
Laundry service available although like any good traveller you can still do a little of your own!
There is a curfew in Luang Prabang which if I remember correctly starts at 11.00pm, so the owners will lock the gates somewhere around then. We were late back one night but they waited up for us.
You get about 4-6 small light planes over everyday, but they don't cause too much disturbance.
Great place to stay, highly recommend it, don't forget to remove your shoes on the way in!
East part of town five minutes walk from Wat Visoun and south from Phousi Hill. Walk down small road/alleyway and Cold River Guesthouse is situated at the bottom on the righthand side. Location is right on the Nam Khan River. Accessible by foot or tuk tuk!
If you are travelling around India, do not book an air con train, they are far too cold. I have done over 2000km on the train system ad I recommend the no air con. Also the in the air con you keep the windows closed, and they are filthy so you don't see anything
In the heart of the home city of pesto lies this delightful, traditional trattoria that gives a truly authentic taste of Italian dining. No private tables, no pretentions, just amazing pasta alla genovese and other mouth-watering delights, particularly the fresh fish.
14 Vico Testadoro
Genoa, 16123, Italy
A cosy little cafe serving all manner of tarts (sweet and savoury), cakes, muffins, scones, and pastries, all home-made. Delicious, filling, and reasonably priced. Great for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.
Dame St, Dublin 2 - or there's another branch round the corner on Cows Lane
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