The Bodegas Castaneda is the most perfect way to experience local life and beautiful tapas. My mum and I found this bar wandering around (in the rain!) on a Tuesday night in February and it was packed to the barrelled rafters! We tried the manzanilla and were given crusty rustic bread topped with a slice of Manchego cheese and some mouth-wateringly good local jamon. Mmm. Another great bar is just around the corner, Bodega la Antigualla, the bartender was really friendly and with two small beers we received a garlic topped toasted roll filled with jamon and cheese with fries. Not thinking we ordered another drink and got the same again! I'm looking forward to my next trip, just writing this is making me hungry.
Bodegas Castaneda is on Almireceros, head to Plaza Nueva and to the left of the square is Calle Elvira. To the right you'll find Bodega la Antigualla and opposite is Almireceros, walk down there and you'll find Bodegas Castaneda.
Athen's Central Market is packed full of stalls selling mouthwatering Greek food - cheeses, olives and dried fruit, but it is essentially a meat market.
If you really want to eat like the locals, and fancy some cheap and filling fare away from the overpriced restaurants in Plaka, brave the tavernas in the centre, feeding hungry workers and hung-over clubbers with steaming bowls of 'Patsas', tripe soup.
Epeiros and Papandreou are the most authentic, with stoves simmering over with huge pots of chickpeas and all manner of tripe soups, which the cooks swear are cholesterol-free and have medicinal properties.
The science behind that may be sketchy, but a bowl of the soup blasts hangovers away after one too many glasses of ouzo, and the restaurants are incredibly atmopsheric, with tables crammed with loudmouth market workers day and night. I opted for the Mayeritsa which is a tripe soup made with an egg-lemon sauce, and after a few nervous spoonfuls, found myself licking the bowl clean.
If you can't face the tripe, pick from plates piled high with lamb so tender it falls off the bone, roasted potatoes and bottles of delicious red wine.
Between Sofokleous & Evripidou, Athinas 42
After a full day soaking up some culture and strolling through the pristine gardens of the Alhambra, what better way to re-energise than indulging in a fine meal at the El Agua Casa De Vinos.
Situated in the heart of the Albaicin, this hidden gem is very popular with the locals. Reserving a table in advance is a must because the terrace, which boasts remarkable views of the Alhambra, is in great demand with alfresco diners.
I’d recommend ordering a quality bottle of Rioja from the extensive wine list while contemplating whether to opt for a three-course meal or indulge in the fine selection of Tapas. It would be easy to spend the evening soaking up the alcohol with the small portions of cheeses, pates and meats on offer at very reasonable prices. The El Agua’s speciality is fondue and they boast a varied selection including veal, chicken, ham and also cheese. Smoked fish and substantial steak fillets are also among the choices for the main courses.
The setting of the restaurant is enough to bring out the romantic side in anybody and what better way to impress your partner than to order a fondue with chocolate, strawberries and other fresh fruit to share as the moon illuminates the Alhambra in the distance.
El Agua Casa De Vinos - Placeta De Algibe De Trillo 718010 Granada, Spain Tel: (34) 958 224 356
This bar and restaurant although named “The Pizzeria” is Spanish run and not to be compared with the typical pizza restaurant nor the typical takeaway!
Although a restaurant offering a good range of meals and great ambience, it is also a bar for local people and visitors alike.
Perched on a stool at the bar, drinking a wine or beer you will be handed a tapas for each drink you order. It is included in the price and you don’t get a choice. The lack of choice turns out to be an advantage; with each round something different, freshly cooked and delicious that you don’t know the name of, is placed before you. This of course is the trick used to impress and interest you into ordering another round, before you leave, just to see what might be the next offering. Eventually falling off the stool or turning to alcoholic-free beer is your choice.
Seated at the bar, you will also be entertained by a confident chef whipping up fresh dishes at an impressive rate. Given the chance he will also want to tell you all about them, their ingredients, from whose garden they came, and when, all while whipping, slicing, ducking and diving.
It’s a great value visit.
The Granada province has long had fame for its free tapas, although it is a matter of judgement for the traveller to choose the right establishment. Some rules of thumb are:
The posher the place, poorer the tapas.
Go for a bar where you have seen lots of locals.
Choose the right time of day (an hour or so before Spanish lunch or dinnertime).
Tapas are not generally offered with spirits.
Also, remember that the tapas, if offered free, is a courtesy given and not a right to demand.
It is opposite the church, in The village of Capileira, 90 minutes drive from the city of Granada, in the area known as La Alpujarra.
One of the best tapas bars in Andalucía, snuggled in a side street near Plaza Nueva not far from the Alhambra palace. Dating from the 1930's this two section bar and restaurant turns out spectacular tapas to locals and visitors alike.
Traditional bull’s heads and pictures of matadors decorate the walls, the floors are awash with paper and sawdust and the crowds pile in ebbing and flowing as the evening progresses.
In Granada most tapas are free with a drink and this can really set you up for the evening. For something more substantial you can order a racion or even a half. This will be on a larger plate with bread and olives. The local Serrano ham and Manchego cheese are delicious and washed down with a tasty rioja you know you are in Spain.
Finally this particular bodega has its own fiery drinks combination called calicasas a mix of several different casks and served in a tall glass. Be aware, this is potent stuff but then so is Granada.
Almireceros 1-3, Granada, near plaza Nueva. Telephone 95-822-32-22
This is a delightful town - one of the original Cinque Ports - which claims to have 'the most timbered framed buildings in one street in England'. Full of charms and interest; take the 'town trail' audio walk.
But be sure to stop at the Fisherman's Wharf pub next to the bridge as you enter Sandwich. Not only is the food and outlook great but you might just get to see the best sight Sandwich has to offer: a bartender/waitress of translucent Pre-Raphaelite beauty who would have had Rosseti et al reaching for their brushes and canvasses
On the river side - just a few minutes from the car park and next to the arched entrance to Sandwich's old town.
If you fancy something a little off the beaten track, then Bar La Pamela, in the entrance to the little fishing village of Punta del Moral, near Ayamonte in the Costa de la Luz has an excellent range of about 20 different tapas. These range from the basic potato or egg salad to classic offerings such as meatballs, tuna or octopus, all in a rich tomatoey sauce. Or go for the pinchitos (mini-kebabs).
If you sit outside you can look across to the marina at Isla Canela, or watch the fishing boats returning followed by screaming seagulls. Always plenty to see.
The restaurant menu is excellent as well.
Bar La Pamela, Avenida La Palmera 4, 21400 Punta del Moral, provincia de Huelva Tel. +34 959 477 211
There are many excellent pubs to use after a walk. The Wasdale Head Inn & Old Dungeon Ghyll in Wasdale and Great Langdale respectively are most appealing after a long day in the Lakeland fells. Equally the Clachaig in Glencoe would a deserving nomination and there will undoubtably be other worthwhile candidates from other locations throughout the British Isles. However for me there’s one place that best fits the accolade, the Old Forge at Inverie, an establishment that had been described as Britain’s most remote pub.
Having carried out extensive research into numerous pubs within the UK the is nowhere quite like the Old Forge. Despite it feeling like its located on a Scottish isle it isn’t, I can assure you its on the mainland though its only accessible either by boat from Mallaig or by foot across tough walking territory known as the bounds of Knoydart. There are many great things about the Old Forge but what makes it better than anywhere else is you really have to make an effort to get there.
We based ourselves at the Foundation Bunkhouse in Inverie and enjoyed four days walking climbing Munro’s and Corbetts. One particularly memorable day involved an arduous eight hour day climbing Ladhar Bheinn, the highest point on Knoydart at 3,346 feet, trudging through snow from 2,500 feet. A magnificent circular walk involving a not too precipitous ridge, which culminated in seeking reward at the splendid Old Forge.
The pub itself is located near the jetty with wonderful views of Loch Nevis and mountains, the sunsets are to die for. On our visit prior to Easter 2008 Deuchars IPA was the sole real ale but in the in the summer months when the trade increases there are usually two real ales available from the likes of Isle of Skye and Glenfinnan Breweries The top shelf contains a decent number of malts and the food is excellent.
Fresh seafood is plentiful, Langoustines, Scallops, Mussels, Smoked salmon, Lobsters, Oysters, and Sea Bass regularly make an appearance while Venison burgers are very popular.
Live music is a regular feature, often a punter playing his own (or someone else’s) musical instrument.
The Old Forge has won many accolades including being featured as one of only 3 of “Scotland’s bloody good pubs” by Peter Irvine and in The Guardian Guide to Gastropubs. It’s a truly magic place and a perfect place to spend an evening especially after a day’s walking in Knoydart.
Possibly the best Tapas Resturant in Andalucia!
If you want a 'real' local tapas experience look no further than Los Diamantes in Granada. Standing room only, this gem is packed to the rafters with locals who come in their droves for great value seafood, a sure sign of a good thing! An assault on your senses that's too good to miss! Order a 'cana' (small beer) from the super efficient bar staff to top of your meal.
Calle Navas 26, (nr Plaza del Carmen), Central Granada
Some great places are to be found on/just off this street. For food you have the Maison des Gourmets and the Bistro, both in Castle Market, as well as the Port House for tapas.
For a good pint in a unique pub, check out Grogan's. An arty, down-at-heel pub frequented by those in the 25 - 85 age group, good conversation and a nice pint are guaranteed. If you're feeling peckish, they do ham and cheese toasties.
Another great pub is Peter's pub at the end of the road. Recently refurbished but thankfully left looking the same as always, only better! Great barmen.
For something a little more modern, try the South William. Three floors, funky music, cool people, great pies! It's a late bar too which means you can drink away until 2am or so.
From Dame Street, head up Georges Street and turn left just before Dunnes Stores. Then take the right at Butler's Chocolate Cafe.
From Grafton Street, go down Wicklow Street, at the side of Brown Thomas and turn left at Butlers Chocolate Cafe.
In general the Temple Bar area is to be avoided but there are a few exceptions:
The Larder on Parliament Street - good food, reasonably priced, nice atmosphere.
Gruel, Dame Street - laid back place with very tasty hearty food.
Pintxo's, Eustace Street - good value tapas bar, right in the centre of Temple Bar.
Boccaccios ice-cream parlour - authentic Italian gelato. Not cheap but delicious.
There are a number of decent places very near the Temple Bar area:
Byblos, Andrew Street - delicious Lebanese food at good prices.
Havana Tapas, Georges Street - great value, good mojitos.
Yamamori Sushi, Ha'penny Bridge - huge portions of good Japanese food.
SoHo, Georges Street - good selection of classic dishes at reasonable prices. Good for a group as there is something to suit everyone.
The Port House, South William Street: Dark, intimate, romantic tapas spot. No reservations taken. Put your name down and head to Grogan's across the way for a pint.
Fallon and Byrne: Those on a budget should forget the (very good) expensive restaurant upstairs, grab what you want at the hot counter in the food hall and bring it downstairs to the wine cellar where they have lots of wines by the glass. Alternatively, order the fish stew from the wine cellar menu.
Cafe Odessa, Dame Lane - my fave spot for brunch in the city.
Queen of tarts, Cows Lane - have the potato and red onion tart. Yum. Try to resist the cakes and pastries.
Avoca food hall, Suffolk Street - go down to the basement where they have a great selection of Irish food to eat in and take away.
Nude, Suffolk Street - owned by Bonos brother, good spot for a pit stop.
Dunne & Crescenzi, South Frederick Street - authentic Italian food and great capuccinos which are strangely hard to find in the city.
La Maison des Gourmets, Castle Market: cute French cafe tucked away in a side street between the Powerscourt Centre and Georges Arcade. Great croissants.
The Cheese Pantry, Upper Drumcondra Road: If you are staying in the area, pop in here for a pie.
Anderson's Creperie, Carlingford Rd, Drumcondra: All day breakfast crepe. Just what the doctor ordered.
Jo Burger, Rathmines: Delicious giant sized burgers.
Outside the city:
Johnnie Foxes, Dublin Mountains: Yes, it's touristy but you'll hear plenty of Dublin accents. A perfect place for a pint on your way back from a Wicklow hike. To stick to the budget, have the seafood chowder and a bowl of mussels to share.
Lebanese restaurant in Dublin city centre. For the best value, choose a selection of starters to create your own mezze. Everything is tasty but especially the hummus and falafel and anything with lamb.
Andrew Street, Dublin 2
1. A Vietnamese place opposite Cafe 69 on Ma May. Staff wear pink shirts and it's full of locals. Really great food and very cheap. Spanish people we met in Halong Bay had been there too, and they loved it as well.
2. I couldn't find Baguette and Chocolat. I think it may be closed and replaced by a clothes retail outlet. But Golden Land (No. 15 Cha Ca) was a good afternoon coffee stop on the same street.
3. Apsara in Danang (recommended in LP) was very disappointing! It's expensive and food was average at best.
4. However, Cafe 43 on Van Cam in HoiAn (also in LP) was the best food we had in Vietnam. Absolutely excellent. Can't rave enough about it - we even took photos of the food and went there for dinner and lunch, despite only being in Hoian for two days.
1. In Hue, Mr. Pho from Pho's Cafe, one of the little shops and cafe's opposite the train station exit was a God-send. He sorted out taxis and tours for us despite the heavy rain. He speaks good English and was reasonable in his price. (USD$25 for a private car to take us to Hue's main tombs and pagodas - Tu Duc, Thien Mu, the Purple Citadel...etc) for an entire afternoon.
2. HoiAn - If you are planning on visiting My Son, stop off at the Cham Museum in Danang first. Many of the best sculptures and statues from My Son are now kept here, and visiting both will give you a much better understanding of the Cham culture.
3. Go to My Son early (leave before 7am). You'll need an hour to get there and 2 hours to soak up everything, and the tour buses arrive at 9.30am. It's worth the effort! (USD$16-$20 return by private car).
travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-6916783-vietnam_restaurants-i - restaurant reviews
www.vietnamtravelguide.com/ - food and drink guide
www.vietnam-hotels.net/ - restaurant list
Tapas bar in Andalucia. Locals loiter in the street outside waiting for it to open (12-4 and 8-12 every day except Sunday), with good reason. It's an old bar, dating from 1870, in a narrow street in the old part of town. Marble bar, big jars, range of bottles, obligatory dripping hams, azulejos tiles, some comic, one proclaiming(in Spanish) "Neither the best French pate, nor the Belugar caviar from Iran, can be compared to the unrivalled tapas offered in Casa Puga.". Slight exaggeration, but the huge variety of good quality, generous tapas makes a great effort. With your glass of Rioja or Ribera or cold beer comes a free tapas which only tempts you to try something else - perhaps fried fresh fish, kidneys, mushrooms, tuna, prawns, squid, beans or ham, or visit the adjoining dining room. Attentive friendly service.
Casa Puga, calle Jovellanos 7, Almeria. In the centre of the historic quarter, near the cathedral.
Tapas bar in Andalucia. It's not much to look at from the outside and you always have to fight to get to and from the bar inside or to find a seat outside on the pleasant terrace in the square and many people are put off. Don't be, because the huge range of high quality, affordable tapas, listed on blackboards inside and in menus outside, are the reason for the crowds. Tortillas de camarones, berenjenas rellenas, salmorejo are the pick, taken with, naturally, a glass of cold manzanilla, but there is something wonderful for everyone. Amidst the mayhem the bar staff and the waiters are attentive, friendly and eager to please.
Casa Balbino, Plaza de Cabildo, in the very centre of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Andalucia, away from the port and the river/beach
By no means the only good places of course, but I enjoyed these cafes and restaurants in Leh:
Summer Harvest (Fort Road) - highly recommended in the guide books, and for good reason. Loads of locals eating there means it's bound to be good.
Desert Rain Cafe (off a side road from the Main Bazzar - about half way down, in the direction of north). Don't come here for true Ladakhi atmosphere, but if you're wanting some decent coffee, and other western reminders, Desert Rain has a relaxed atmosphere, has film nights, and talks from interesting people. No outside seating, but a good place to relax whilst you acclimatise. Good cakes.
My favourite Ladakhi/Tibetan eats were the Wok Tibetan Kitchen and Amdo Cafe (both on the Main Bazaar) - not widely mentioned in the big guide books, but decent food with a mix of tourists and locals.
The Penguin restaurant (Old Fort road, near the bottom) was one of my favourite places to chill outside in, the food is fine, but not the best. The garden kept me returning though.
There's no shortage of restaurants to explore in Leh - and there's a massive amount of decent pizzas and other western food everywhere.
Dzomsa (Old Fort Road, near the top) has good juice, good food supplies to take trekking, and importantly offers cheap safe drinking water - the influx of tourists seriously threaten many beautiful things about Leh - please use filtered water instead of plastic throwaway bottles.
All of these places serve cheap meals, but beer (if available) will be expensive anywhere in Leh.
Be aware that there can be occasional strikes which close everything down - your best bet is to head to the more upmarket hotels for food, or to look carefully around for signs of activity - some places are open despite locked doors.
We definitely experienced the real Gambia in our tremendous three week stay in February-March 2009. We were based in Brikama, a medium-sized town about 20 kms inland from the Atlantic and an hour south of the capital Banjul. It’s a fascinating town with a vibrant feel but none of the tourist-area trappings and hassles.
People are very hospitable and very warm to strangers – especially those who are respectful and show a genuine interest in life there.
Our host, Abdoulie Sarr, was a young entrepreneur whose aims are to create a range of locally-based enterprises to enable visitors to genuinely engage in the life of an area: get to know local people in depth; learn something of a local language; be part of local events; explore the beautiful country areas, learn about a different culture and exchange experiences; and to spend their money in ways that benefit local people rather than international tour operators.
He provided excellent quality accommodation and three substantial meals a day while we were in Brikama. Breakfast consisted of a choice of very tasty rice porridge or omelette delivered to our accommodation every morning and we had the option of having the other meals brought to us or of eating with his family. My travelling companion is vegetarian and we thought this could be a bit of a problem; nothing could be further from the truth. He was served excellent food with his ‘not even fish’ requirements fully respected and catered for.
Eating with the family was much more fun and gave us the opportunity of spending time talking with people and playing with the children. In fact, we spent a lot of time just talking and debating a wide range of subjects and laughing a lot– a real exchange!
Brikama is a fascinating town to explore and Abdoulie’s relaxed but efficient style meant we could go it alone or have him take us to specific locations of interest.
We wanted to see the country and Abdoulie organised a three-day trip into the interior travelling by local transport and combining road and river journeys. We enjoyed travelling in the normal vehicles that Gambians used and not in luxury coaches or 4X4s – much more real.
Our trip took in the Wassu Stone Circles (evidence of ancient civilisation here); the wonderful Janjanbureh Camp with its perfect location on the River Gambia and good quality accommodation and food; the historic towns of Janjanbureh and Kuntaur, the bustling ‘crossroad’ town of Farafenni, the riverside Tendaba camp and the rural villages along the country’s South road.
Abdoulie was an excellent guide with a wealth of local knowledge and contacts which made the trip run smoothly and tailored to what we wanted to see we never felt we were being herded along on a package tour.
Back in Brikama we became familiar with the local music scene seeing a number of bands and talking with the musicians. Brikama is major centre for music using the Kora.
The trip was a mind-altering experience into the way of life of a country with wonderful people and beautiful scenery in which the hospitality was outstanding and where we felt welcome and safe at all times.
At the end we felt we had had a real experience and had got to know a place and some of its people in depth – a place that is now very special.
Abdoulie Sarr provides a range of tailor-made options for accommodation, travel and local experiences across The Gambia and we highly recommend his professional yet personal approach.
Contact: Abdoulie Sarr Tel 00220-7722099/6720999;
Classic Andalucian tapas bar with a great atmosphere, Ochoa serves great rustic plates of food, local wine and draft beer. A plate of tapas is free with every drink you order. In the summer the tables spill out into the narrow street and in the winter they close the big wooden doors and place trays of burning olive wood (Braseros) under your table to keep you warm. Try a media plate of the Setas (fleshy mushrooms) and the calamari plancha (grilled squid) - both incredible. In summer the tinto verano (red wine and lemonade cooler) hits the spot. In winter the local full bodied red wine is ideal.
Independence plaza, Alhama de Granada, Andalucia, Spain
A yoga retreat on a cocoa plantation, next to a small chocolate factory. Run by a Californian Venezuelan, you can practice yoga and meditation, have a massage, wander through the plantation, swim in the splash pool, and relax watching the humming birds.
Food is excellent and imaginative, while chocolate is not obligatory, but recommended. Outings can be arranged to palm-shaded sandy coves or hot springs.
Just four self contained rooms at a very reasonable all-in price, especially if you make sure to take dollar or euro cash, rather than credit or debit cards to Venezuela.
Formerly known as Hacienda Bukare, PariaShakti is five miles from Rio Caribe, a pretty fishing village you can reach in half an hour by communal taxi or bus from Carupano on the north east coast.
or write to Greta Sanchez at email@example.com.
Tel: 0058 0426 8196035
or 0058 0294 4163678
It is said that New Yorkers are a driven lot, but a large percentage of us are driven because we do not know how to drive. There is no need in this city to operate a car - there is excellent public transport at half the price of London. And yet New Yorkers are among the best-travelled people in the world. Sometimes we hire a car and driver, but our independent and sociable natures often inspire us to do what the locals do.
I am a regular visitor to Los Angeles and have figured out how to enjoy much of the area without a car. For a first-time or repeat visitor, my advice is to base yourself in Santa Monica. It has much of the iconic LA topography: sunsets on the Pacific Ocean; a sandy beach full of people who are in much too good condition; wandering “street” characters of every stripe; the occasional movie star sighting; one of the best outdoor food markets in America; superb restaurants; and, above all, the sense that this could not be anywhere else in the world but the LA we envision. All that is missing is Disneyland and that can be reached if one must.
My hotel of choice is the Georgian. It dates back to the 1930s and was preferred by more than a few movie stars for a romantic getaway. The building retains its elegant old bones but has been smartly updated. There are delicious breakfasts based on local ingredients, bracing ocean air, and those sunsets. The elegant Merigot hotel is another choice and its Cezanne restaurant offers many dishes based on local ingredients. I love the fish dishes there. Within three blocks of the Georgian Hotel are at least 50 restaurants, cinemas with 12 screens showing the latest hits and important independent films, and even a pub popular with British ex-pats. It is right across the street from the ocean and I would try to get in a swim every day.
You can rent a bicycle and cover a lot of local terrain. Santa Monica also has a superb local bus system as well as limited-stop long distance buses that go to Beverly Hills and downtown LA. Selective use of taxis can take you places where buses do not reach. The two I would recommend are both part of the J. Paul Getty Museum (www.getty.edu/museum), for which reservations are required to attend. The Getty Villa, straight up the Pacific Coast Highway, holds a superb collection of Greco-Roman art in an idyllic setting. It is a short trip from the Georgian Hotel. A bit further, and probably the most expensive transport (about $40) you will incur, is the Getty Museum, an omnium gatherum of paintings, sculpture, drawings and photographs. The Getty has one of the best educational initiatives of any museum in America. It also has good eating facilities, so I tend to make the visit a full day.
And what do I do if I need or want to go further afield? New Yorkers are resourceful and also friendly. I tend to befriend residents of LA, almost all of whom own a car and are willing to give me a lift. In exchange, I invite them for drinks on the terrace of the Georgian just in time for sunset over the Pacific.
Georgian Hotel: 1415 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401 Tel: 1-310/395-9945 Fax: 1-310/451-3374
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