Worth the Eurostar journey just on its own, especially in the colder months, is La Charlotte de l'Isle - a tiny but extremely captivating and bewitching 'Salon de The' on the tranquil and beautiful Ile st Louis.
The hot chocolate is to die for, rich and sensuous and almost thick enough to stand your spoon up in!
It is open only Thursdays to Sundays, 2pm until 8pm and is situated on 24, rue St louis-en-l'isle. Metro Pont Marie.
For the height of urban cool visit the Buddha Bar 8-12, rue Boissy d'Anglais.
Subtly lit and lorded over by an enormous buddha, this temple-like establishment stays at the forefront of Parisian cool.
While folks come to indulge in the Asian-inspired cuisine, many take advantage of the ambience at the cocktail bar, checking out the beautiful patrons and their style-conscious activities! Tres Bon!
There are lots of secret gems in Paris, but Chez Paul’s wine bar and brasserie, near the Bastille, is without a doubt the most Parisian.
This enthralling little place is invariably packed with genuine locals of the bizarrely-dressed-cigarette-in-hand variety.
Paul himself is normally there behind the well-stocked bar, in his thick round lunettes. He might serve you a little grudgingly if you aren’t French (something I personally rather treasure), but the food is stunning and you will soak up both the atmosphere and the beautiful wine long into the night.
13, Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris. +33 1 47 00 34 57
The best cocktail bar in the city is between the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens.
Cosy, intimate and friendly this place has it all. The back street location and unassuming frontage makes it a true local hangout – strictly for those in the know.
It opens and shuts late so is perfect for long nights when you don’t want to face a noisy dancefloor.
And with more than three hundred cocktails on the list you’re sure not to get bored.
Best thing to do in Paris: enjoy an evening aperitif in the bar at the top of Tour Montparnase and watch the sun set over the Seine.
Have a second while the city's lights come up - very romantic. Not only that, it's one of the few places in Paris where you're protected from a view of Tour Montparnase.
Afterwards enjoy dinner in one of the several Alsatian bistros in the area.
Forget Atomic Cafe, just a few metres down the road is the uber cool, but totally unpretentious cafe Agnes Curran.
It serves great java and sells art, antiques and homewares making it really classy and very quirky.
There's something really special about Agnes Curran. It is full of character and a real find; not only that but it is renowned for the Kiwi delicacy Lamingtons: a wedge of sponge soaked in dark chocolate, coated in coconut and served with raspberry jam and cream. The staff are lovely too. What's not to love?
181 Ponsonby Road, Auckland. Tel: 464 9 3601551
Like the Anchor down the road, another family run traditional Brummy Irish pub. Nice interior and good, reasonably priced beer.
As with the Anchor, this isn't a cosy gastro pub, but a genuine old fashioned Brummy boozer. In no ways rough, but probably not somewhere to take a date. Authenticity is a real rareity in Brum though, so this place should be appreciated by those who appreciate these kinds of places. If that makes sense.
276, Bradford St, Digbeth, Birmingham, West Midlands, B12 0QY (0121 622 2586)
This is a great little family-run traditional Digbeth Irish pub. They serve a good range of beers. The front bar in particular is notable for its partitioned booths.
This is not some National Trust pub, but a proper old fashioned Brummy boozer. Don't expect to be seduced first time. This is the kind of genuine and authentic pub rarely found in the city. Worth a visit.
Bradford Street, Birmingham
B5 6ET United Kingdom.
Tel: 0121 622 4516
This historic Grade 2-listed building is Birmingham's finest example of Victorian pub architecture, resplendent in decorative tiles and stained glass.
The pub serves Oakham's award-winning real ales, guest ales from the region and across the country and imported bottled beers from around the world. Authentic freshly cooked Thai food is served from 12 noon-2.30pm and 5.30-10pm Tuesday to Sunday.
One of Birmingham's true gems.
144 High Street
0121 333 5988
A great soho bar in Hong Kong that is just enough off of the beaten path of the escalator and hollywood road, but not too far away that you can't get to Lan Kwai Fong in five minutes.
The staff friendly, the nights funky, the drinks cheap, and the atmosphere a little different than most of the surrounding bars/restaurants.
13 Old Bailey Street, Soho, Hong Kong.
Central Otago has more than its fair share of wineries where you can enjoy tastings and/or a great meal among some of New Zealand’s finest scenery.
One of my favourites is the Amisfield Winery which is halfway between Queenstown and Arrowtown on the shores of Lake Hayes. It’s a fantastic place for a relaxed lunch or dinner with a great outdoor terrace (weather permitting). If they’ve got any left, try their rose but I’m afraid I may have drunk it all on my last visit.
10 Lake Hayes Road, RD 1, Queenstown
Golden Bay is a unique and gorgeous area hidden away right at the northwestern tip of the South Island, and could just be the country's most complete destination.
It is sandwiched between two national parks (Abel Tasman and Kahurangi - lots of walking and adventure options) and stretches back toward the mountains from a strip of coast with loads of different beaches: from golden sands and perfect swimming (e.g. Tata Beach, Paton's Rock) to the vast, wild, and often deserted west coast ones, such as the unmissable Wharariki. There are also mountains, rivers, springs, forests, caves, limestone cliffs etc.
Yet, not only is the scenery totally stunning and worth a visit for its own sake, but the various little settlements of the Bay (Takaka is the main town) feature a wonderfully characterful jumble of shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation ranging from old school rural to laid-back contemporary, via quirky hippie/traveller (the place has long been a magnet for alternative lifestylers).
You will be spoiled for choice for food and drink whether you want to chill out with a perfect coffee and cake and watch the world go by (or the sea - there's even a cafe based on an old (moored) boat of Jaques Cousteau's, scoff fish and chips by the water (Golden Fries in Takaka is tops, and the sea a five-minute drive away), drink a nice cold pint of award-winning beer brewed onsite at the Mussel Inn, or savour the delicious nightly set-menu at the Sans Souci Inn.
There are plenty of cheap camping and backpacking options to be had and a good selection of mid-range, although if you want to splash some cash there are also some seriously luxurious places to stay. Just make sure you book accommodation ahead during high season (December-February), as the most popular places fill up fast.
And finally, make sure you save some time (and money) for dropping into the legions of home-based studios and galleries dotted all over the area, as the natural beauty of the area has long made it irresistible to artists and craftspeople.
Listing all this, I just can't wait to go back myself!
From Nelson head to Richmond and take State Highway 60, through Motueka and then over the Takaka Hill. Follow the signs for Takaka and/or Collingwood - there is a well-stocked information centre on the left just as you arrive into Takaka which can sort you out with maps, brochures, bookings and knowledgeable advice.
Some really good bars, especially the Alice May, and restaurants and the perfect place to set off and climb a glacier - save the carbon footprint by not using the chopper - it's much more satisfying to get to the top by your own power, helped of course by very good guides. Don't forget to buy the T-shirt.
A really good buzzing little town on the West coast of S.Island.
The best eggs benedict on Ponsonby Rd, cheap and set in rather odd surroundings at the Freeman's Bay end of the street. A great place to laugh at the Sunday Star Times of an afternoon. Flat whites are excellent too.
Ponsonby Road, Auckland
A great place to sit and watch the world float by. Fantastic fresh fruit shakes at 50p a pint and good cheap food. Try your hand at Boa and if you are feeling confident take on "Papa" Hapa Hapa the cafe owner. He claims never to have been beaten, but I know different!
Lamu Town Waterfront
Aghia Fotia is a nice and organised beach, not far from Chios town, easily reachable also by bus. It has small pebbles and clear blue waters, and you can find also cafes and taverns nearby. For people who like crowded places.
Check pics here
Do you expect from every trip a small miracle? Walk down the Petite Rue des Bouchers in Brussels and follow the Schuddeveldegang until you find yourself in a dark cosy little pub.
As you start sipping your Kwak, the gods of travel will start their magic. A barrel organ will be playing, and six puppeteers will entertain you with Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac or traditional Belgian mystery plays. Eric Satie was among the fans.
Come to Brussels to discover the tiny Théâtre Royal de Toone, a family-run marionette theatre that has continued its tradition since the early 19th century.
Impasse Ste Pétronille (66 Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes)
Close to the Grand Place
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