The Union is a bohemian piratical bar in a bohemian, piratical area (St Gilles). It was originally the home of the Union of St Gilles football club (holders of the longest unbeaten record of any football club in Belgium) and now plays host to punks, hippies, and stoners of every description (although I wouldn't recommend lighting one up there, new Belgian legislation regarding cannabis notwithstanding).
The décor is composed of insane clowns, grinning pirates, a nice poster of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and various other head toys that will both amuse and fascinate the casual observer. Some nice runework in the loos is representative of the anarchistic spirit of this counter-cultural icon.
St Gilles, the 'Parvis'; nearest tram stop: Parvis de St Gilles
After the Chishtiyya Shrine in Ajmer this is the most important Muslim shrine in India, attracting thousands of worshippers (Muslim and Hindu) every day. Nizamudin Auliya, a Sufi shaikh of the Chishtiyya order, lived the latter part of his life during the reign of the brutal Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughluq (1325-1351), whom he infuriated by refusing to acknowledge his authority, using a Persian expression which has become a byword in India "Hanuz Dilli dur ast" (Delhi is yet far away).
The shrine also contains the marble tomb of Amir Khusro, the great Persian poet of Delhi, and a number of fine Mughal buildings. On Thursday evenings Qawal (devotional music) is sung, from about 6.00-7.30pm.
Nizamuddin is a Muslim enclave in south Delhi, near the railway station of the same name. Once you enter its narrow alleys (where you can get superb kebabs and other muslim dishes) just follow the stream of people heading for the shrine, which lies down several long and twisting passage-ways. You don't need to take off your shoes until you get to the entrance, despite what the shopkeepers along the route may say. Just look at what the pilgrims are doing
There are so many places to visit and enjoy but make no mistake, no experience in Moscow is complete without meeting the locals.
Russians are famous for their hospitality and you will not be disappointed, especially if you can learn one or two sentences in Russian and make a speech before a glass of vodka.
It's fascinating to see where the old chap lived - not only do you get to see some of his personal artefacts, but this house does also give you a sense of what it was like living there at the time. Beds, for example, are in what look like cupboards in the walls - they only slept sitting up in those days. You also get to see the top floor studio and, if your imagination's up to it, the painter at work.
Also known as the Catherine Palace, this is the most spectacular of the former royal palaces in the environs of St Petersburg.
The first sight of it will linger always in the memory; the dominant blue, decorated with gold and white trimmings is overwhelming given the scale of the building. It contains the famous amber room, which is panelled entirely with amber taken from the Russian forests. The original is said to have been destroyed or stolen during the second world war, no one knows the truth, but they've just finished restoring it using the same original methods and materials.
Apparently Elton John played in the lavish ballroom not long ago - I'm surprised he hasn't put in an offer yet.
Pushkin, 25 km south of St Petersburg - there's plenty of organised tours; www.alexanderpalace.org/tsarskoe/
This welcoming cafe/restaurant is in the basement of St Andrews in the Square (a renovated 18th-century church, now functioning as a folk club and venue for events such as weddings and conferences). Cafe Source offers value for money - not particularly cheap, but fantastic quality and decent portion sizes (especially the delicious sandwiches).
It's also a good choice for families, as a selection of toys is usually available, and is ideally placed for lunch or dinner following a visit to the People's Palace on Glasgow Green.
The monthly jazz supper club is well worth a visit, but book in advance - it's very popular.
St Andrews Square, just off the Saltmarket, G1
This spectacular covered shopping arcade was one of the first in Europe and is filled with enticing little shops, boutiques, cafés and restaurants. It buzzes with activity until late and is worth visiting for the architecture alone.
Near the Grand Place
The liberation war of 1971 was an extremely painful event in the country’s history, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) rejected the notion of Islamic nationhood and separated from Pakistan (then West Pakistan). The museum is a worthwhile attempt to preserve the memory of that period, and to create awareness in the lives of Bangladeshis today.
The museum also has an inspiring outreach program for school children. Don’t expect swanky displays. Currently the whole place is a bit crude and mouldy. However there are plans to move the museum and upgrade it generally. Books, postcards, posters, tapes, t-shirts on the war are available. There is also a small café.
This rather lovely old building is a former royal palace, and it positively oozes character. If you're planning to see the grand palace, do that first, as you'll then get free entry here (it doesn't work in reverse). Modest dress required and there's a mandatory guided tour, but don't let that put you off. As a bonus there are twice-daily demonstrations of traditional Thai dancing.
Rajavithi Road, Dusit; www.palaces.thai.net/night/index_vm.htm
The land of Hindu animal sacrifices. Nepalis lead their offering to the slaughter tenderly, often whispering prayers in the animal’s ears and sprinkling its heads with water to help it shrug its assent. It is an amazing insight into their culture, if not a bit bloody.
While you are in the area, also visit the Buddhist monastery and Hindu temples. The locals are incredibly friendly. There are also a few hotels, if you stay overnight you can hear the beautiful sounds of chanting and large horns coming from the monastery. It is far more relaxed than Thamel.
You can take the tourist bus or just get a taxi. The action takes place on Saturday mornings from 6am, unless there is a Hindu festival, in which case the sacrifices happen all week.
If you want to get away from tourist zones, take a longtail boat up the canal to Ramkhamhaeng.
It's a major university and the streets around it are thronged with market stalls for great food and 'alternative' goodies.
There are a few cafe/bars with live music and the students will be keen to practise their English on you!
A lot of people spend their time on Khao San road but it is not a true representation of Bangkok. Pick up a local free listings magazine and try some of the bars the Thais go to. There are plenty of nice restaurants and bars around Silom and Sukhumvit roads.
BTS Saladeng for Silom or BTS Nana, Asok or Phrom Phong for Sukhumvit.
The street in question is Andreyevsky Spusk (Andrew’s descent) which connects the upper and lower parts of the city and is one of the oldest in Kiev.
The museum was only opened in 1991, but the idea was to gather together as many items as possible from the houses in the street through the ages and to build displays from the past, ranging from writing desks to complete room interiors and shop fronts.
It’s a small, but fascinating museum, which is certainly very popular with tourists. The staff also conduct walking tours of Kiev, so it’s a good place to start if you’re in need of a little guidance.
Andreyevsky Spusk 2b; www.artukraine.com/sites_museums/street_1.htm
The Melbourne Motorcycle Toy Run has become a Christmas institution in Melbourne. Upwards of 10,000 bikers, their bikes decorated with tinsel and baubles, get together across the suburbs and head into the middle of the city, before heading off to Williamstown. Once there, the bikers hand over toys and food they have collected to various charities.
It's a big event with whole blocks of the city cordoned off and accessible only to those on two wheels. Those joining in get dressed up as Santa or elves.
Toy Run is a great day out for bikers helping the needy at Christmas.
A beautiful example of a traditional Thai teakwood house, brought down from the north of the country and rebuilt in the grounds of the Siam Society.
Unlike Jim Thompson's House, this museum is concerned with everyday life, and has plenty of exhibits to give you a feel of rural Thailand 100 years ago. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm, entry is 100 baht.
Just off the Sukhumvit Road on Soi 21 - a short walk from Asok Skytrain station and right next to the Sukhumvit metro stop.
For a truly exceptional night in Bangkok try Lumphini stadium for some Muay Thai (Tuesday is the best night). Don't pay the tourist rate, the 600 baht seats are the best in the house - you're right among the locals rather than a couple from Blackpool.
Lumphini stadium, Rama IV Road www.muaythaionline.net/features/thaistadiums.html
This outdoor museum, about 30 minutes drive south of Kiev near the village of Pirogov, is a delight that you could easily spend the whole day exploring. They’ve gathered original houses, farm buildings and a church – among other structures - from all over the country and constructed a small village for each of the traditional regions of Ukraine. Obviously this covers quite a large area and it’s fun wandering from village to village – in between there are picnic areas and places to buy drinks and snacks.The insides of the buildings are the way they would have looked when in use. There are often people wandering around in period clothing, which helps to add to the authenticity of the experience. Organised trips are available.
Near Pirogov - take the 27 bus from Libidska metro.
Set aside plenty of time to visit the Royal palace and Wat Phra Kaew, it’s not just that this is one of the city's major tourist attractions and therefore full of visitors, but that there is just so much detail to take in.Your senses will be crowded with the vivid flood of colour from the fantastically decorated buildings and statues, the sound of bells along the rooflines and the smell of incense.The Emerald Buddha - a figure of great reverence in Thailand – dressed in one of his gold costumes (they are changed dependent on the season) is housed in a wonderfully decorated royal chapel.The palace, by contrast to the classical Thai architecture of Wat Phra Kaew, is almost a Western looking pavilion (it was designed by a British architect) topped with Thai spires. It is currently being renovated so any photo opportunities are rather scuppered by scaffolding.There is a very strict dress code for the Wat and palace complex. You should wear long trousers or skirts that are below the knee and shirts with sleeves (a shawl/wrap over a sleeveless top will not do). If you don’t adhere to the dress code you can borrow suitable wear from an office near the entrance.
Entrance off Thanon Na Phra Lan. Nearest Boat Stop: Tha Change. Open: 8.30pm-3.30pm. Entry Fee: 250 baht.
In a nondescript inner suburb of north Dublin, this is a truly amazing example of late Georgian architecture.It's not an exaggeration to call this one of the finest examples of late classical architecture in Europe. The casino, was in effect a private pleasure house for men only (the wife had the main house!) within a larger estate, which has now entirely disappeared. It looks small close up, a deliberate optical illusion. Inside is a stunning array of perfectly designed rooms.
Malahide Road, about 3km from the city centre.
This new development officially called Quartier Bloom, but universally called the Italian Quarter is a great little slice of modern urban development. It's a private laneway built by a developer called Wallace with an obsession with all things Italian - so he has stuffed it with some great little Italian shops, wine bars and restaurants. The Enecotta della Langhe is particularly popular for its wines and anti-pasta. It's not generic Italian, most of the units are run by people from one village in the Lombardy region, so the food and wines are all from that area. The giant mural along one side is now a favoured landmark in Dublin - it's a reproduction of da Vinci's Last Supper, but featuring people taken at random off the streets of Dublin - Jesus is an Indian student in Trinity.You can amuse yourself by looking for the secret code in the picture revealing the artist's favourite football team.
Just north of the Millennium Bridge on the quays. Close to the Jervis Luas stop.
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