Fantastic little restaurant running since 1860 (the whole time with the same family). We had a delicious meal there (pastas around seven euros, salads four, desserts four) and thoroughly enjoyed both the delicious food and the great service and ambience. Highly reccommended.
43-45 Via Sant'Antonio
Il Ghiro is a wonderful little guesthouse situated very centrally, near the main train station in Florence. It is absolutely fantastic. Reasonably priced, clean, great staff, free web access (and that is a real gift here in Italy) and lots of help available finding anything you want to see, great places to eat etc. Run by Francesco and Paula; we have only met Francesco but he is fantastic (and so is Paula, if the recommendations on the wall are anything to go by). Best place yet. Stay here!
Via Faenza 63, 5013 FIRENZE
A short walk from downtown Berkeley and the famous university campus, Cheeseboard might be a trek from the city but the pizza is justly famous throughout the Bay Area. Only serving one kind of pizza per day (and they're all vegetarian), their offerings range from highest-quality Margherita to more out-there combinations such as Blue Cheese and Pear but the pizza is invariably delicious. Served by the (huge) slice, a slice and a drink can be an inexpensive light lunch, or a whole (giant) pizza could be shared by several for a heartier meal.
1512 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709. Nearest BART: Downtown Berkeley.
There isn’t anything you can’t find at this fantastic bargain store. Shopping for hours feels like minutes. It was the perfect place to update my much needed wardrobe with my wish list items and didn’t blow my budget. I couldn’t believe the amazing selection of designers at such a great price.
Union Square, 4 Union Square South,
40 East 14st, New York, NY 10003
This Harlem hostel is a great place to stay. The subway is close by and must see Central Park only a few minutes walk away. The dining area which connects to the back yard is the best feature; the deck and gardens are lovely. Also a plus is the kitchen and accessing the internet was free and easy. It was also nice to know there was not any curfew. The staff were really helpful and made my stay extra special.
257 West 113th Street,
New York, Morningside Heights,
Open from April to October this impressive baroque garden, which has free admission, is a great escape from the bustle of the city. Situated behind the Wallenstein Palace the garden is comprised of a sala terrena and complete with an artificial grotto, stalagmites and stalactites included. Theatres and concerts are often held here and at the eastern end there is the Wallenstein Riding School which is home to ever-changing exhibitions of modern art, and a wonderful pond of giant carp.
Wallenstein Garden (Valdstejnská zahrada)
Letenská 10, Lesser Town
A true gem in the city, the Kafka museum offers a fresh and meaningful perspective into the life of this famous writer. It contains all first editions of Kafka’s books as well as letters, diary entries, and photographs all of which are of enormous interest to the Kafka fan. There are also some audiovisual works and music that is composed for the exhibition and definitely worth the visit. Admission is a mere 120Kc ($5.70/£2.85) for adults and it is conveniently open everyday.
Cihelná 2, Prague 1
+420 221 451 400
This café is steeped in history and is one of the best coffee houses in Prague. There is a huge breakfast selection and the restaurant serves superb traditional Czech food. The summer terrace is also a really great way to imagine you’re in the company of Kafka, Capek and Einstein who all frequented here. We were staying at the hostel downtown, so it was the perfect place to meet up with friends for a drink as the café is open every evening until 11:30 pm.
Národní 22, Praha 1, 110 00,
tel: +420 224 930 949
Newly opened, this hostel was a great bargain. Right smack in the middle of the city, it was less than a five minute walk to Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The common room was nice because it had a TV and there was a fully equipped kitchen to make snacks. Access to internet was also really easy. Breakfast in the morning was cheap and delicious – you can’t ask for much more from a cheap hostel in Prague!
Národní 19, Praha 2,
120 00, Prague, Czech Republic, 120 00,
Few things about tailors in Thailand.
Tailors in the west will only tailor clothes for you from fabric that you purchased from them. In the east some tailors would accept fabrics. It is recommended you buy the whole suit from your tailor including the fabric.
You must ask them to recommend something that they would say would tailor nicely, not just blindly get the highest count that you can afford.
Get a wool suit while in Bangkok. Wool generally makes a good suit. It drapes nicely, tailors well and looks formal and nice. Contrary to popular belief, light weight wool is even good for the summer and in most cases better than polyester blended fabrics.
In Bangkok the famous among the local expats would be Excelsior tailor.
A must visit shop by the delegates and embassy staff in Bangkok.
115/1 Suriwongse Bangrak Bangkok 10500 Thailand
Texas Tax Back offers foreign shoppers to get back local sales tax. You'll need to do this at their office in the Galleria Mall in downtown Houston. Bring along the merchandise, receipts, passport, and travel details and they'll process the refund to your credit card. Only receipts with a sales tax of over $10 are valid (although you can combine receipts for the same store to get past this limit) and you must pay with a credit card registered to your name. The rate at present is 8% so if you have stocked up on presents the savings can be sizeable. There are also two offices in San Antonio.
I have been reflecting on some of my travel highlights of 2008 and it would be no exaggeration to say that top of the list came my trip to Sri Lanka in late October – and in particular my visit to Mahatenne House on the Ashburnham estate.
The guest house is situated on a working 70 acre tea plantation on the side of a mountain in the Knuckles Range, close to Elkaduwa. It is run by an ex-City whizz highflier type who (ahead of the credit crunch curve) reassessed his priorities in life and stepped off the London treadmill to go and live The Good Life on the other side of the world.
It is futile to try and convey the magic of my experience in words, but I will attempt to paint a picture with a few broad brushstrokes.
The day typically starts with breakfast served on the verandah while the morning mist and clouds unfurl to reveal the breathtaking view of rolling green hills and valleys, carpeted with tea plantations.
You will not be short of things to do during the day (children and adults alike): go for an exploratory wander around the estate – the ultimate Swallows and Amazons fantasy; take a power shower under the most beautiful 60ft waterfall at the bottom of the estate, reached by a 400 step path; anyone for a game of tennis on the newly refurbished court?; go and watch the daily weighing of tea; enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and lounge by the poolside catching up on all that holiday reading; or just sit on the verandah and breathing in the intoxicating air whilst contemplating life in peace and serenity. For Doctor Doolittle fans there are four resident dogs, a lake full of fish (which also yields some great meals), wild chipmunks that scurry through the trees, an array of beautiful birds and butterflies scattering a kaleidoscope of vivid colour everywhere (as far away as you can get from London’s monotone shades of grey), but most delightfully of all, Menike, a beautiful female elderly elephant, enjoying a peaceful retirement on the estate, her most arduous task these days carrying the occasional bare back passenger down to the waterfall. Sitting out after dark in planters’ chairs listening to the nocturnal chorus of cicadas under a canopy of glittering stars is mesmerising – the perfect lullaby.
The host is a very gregarious and generous character, and the staff are incredibly friendly and attentive (but unobtrusive) – you will be left wanting for nothing. The home-cooked meals are delicious and the (few) rooms are clean and quiet – not aiming to be top notch “boutique hotel” but very comfortable, and the rates are a real bargain.
This place really made an indelible impression on me – the memories of my trip will stay with me forever. Whether you are a lone traveller in search of something slightly off the beaten track, or a family looking for a package that will keep the children entertained whilst giving adults a peaceful break, I urge you to seek out this piece of paradise and complete the picture for yourself (apologies for plagiarising the previous submission).
Note: All the clichés contained in this account are statements of fact; all the superlatives are an understatement
Elkaduwa | 40 kilometres North of Kandy, Elkaduwa, Sri Lanka
tel: 0094 (0)66 4920206
Free bus sevrice (route 555) operates a continuous loop between Central Station and Circular Quay along George St & Elizabeth St in both directions.
Approx. every 10 mins.
Mon - Fri 09:30-15:30 (extends to 21:00 on Thurs)
Sat, Sun & public hols (excl Christmas Day) 09:30-18:00
Map of route & stops at url below
If you fly into Narita, go to the JR ticket office (on the lowest floor where the trains leave from) and there they have a combo offer allowing you to buy a Narita Express ticket (the train to get you into Tokyo) and get a Suica card (the Japanese Oyster card equivalent) at the same time. The best bit is that the combined cost is little more than the cost of the Narita Express ticket on its own and the Suica card comes with 1500yen preloaded on it and you don't have to pay the usual 500yen deposit. You need your passport to be able to take up the offer..
Miss Sophies is a clean, modern hotel/hostel on a quiet side street a short walk from Wenceslas Square. No breakfast, but the rooms are excellent and the price for its location is hard to beat.
Address: Melounova 3, 120 00 Prague 2.
Telephone: (420) 296303530.
A superb hiking track, historic buildings and battlements, natural forest and amazing views, and all right in the centre of the city. The Monschberg track runs around the waist of the eponymous mountain, taking in the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the Museum of Modern Art.
Getting there: There are various points at which to join the track, including the steps from the old town and the elevator from below the museum.
Salzburg is a city of many virtues, but you are unlikely to feel them in your wallet. Which is why finding a spot that is economical while serving up great portions of good food in a central location is a true discovery. Humboldt Stubn is a traditional bar/restaurant just off the main street that offers excellent fare you can wash down with a large glass of beer. The steaktoast is recommended.
Address: Gstattengasse 4-6 (
Telephone: (43) 662 84 31 71
If you're tired of Italian, Indian, and Chinese restaurants, then this might be just up your street.
Eemaan is a Kurdish restaurant in Newcastle,so when I saw it I felt I just had to try it. The food was delicious and the surroundings friendly. I got an even better surprise when I checked out the bill, which was fabulously value-for-money.
Kurdish food, I found out, is mostly rice and delicious casseroles with fresh naan, washed down with loads of mastow. The Kurdish and middle eastern people drink lashings of this yoghurt drink. If you've still got any room left after the huge portions, try a steaming hot Kurdish tea which they brew in a samovar and a selection of pastries.
This restaurant makes cooking rice an art form, and I loved the yummy naan. If you've never tried Kurdish food before, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do, although a word of warning - as a halal restaurant it does not serve alcohol.
Address: 5 Mill Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Link to review by Evening Chronicle: icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/0300entertainment/nightsout/tm_headline=eemann-newcastle%26method=full%26objectid=19564620%26siteid=50081-name_page.html
This YHA hostel may be a little outside the city centre and a tad severe, but it provides clean, modern rooms at a reasonable price, and that is not to be sniffed at in Salzburg.
Address: Aigner Strasse 34.
Telephone: (43) 662623248.
Getting there: A 20-minute walk along the river or a No. 7 bus from the centre.
Google map: tinyurl.com/md8gc8
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