If you want to do something a little different, I suggest you go to Les Vieilles Chaurres. It's a festival in Brittany which combines some of the biggest bands in the world, with traditional Bretagne music and theatre productions. Tickets are a small 60 Euros for a whole weekend of live music.
I have been for the past two years and the atmosphere there is amazing. There isn't really any violence, everything is very peaceful and you can sit down on the grass during the day, sharing your jug of beer and cigarettes with some French youths who will always make an effort speak to you in English. At night, everyone runs between the two main stages to see the delights.
Bands such as Franz Ferdinand, GLC, Buena Vista Social Club, The Streets, New Order, Kings of Leon, Muse and Starsailor have played at this calm and chilled out festival.
This year will see the talents of Tracey Chapman, The pixies and 2 Many Dj's. The two main stages host the big names of the festival whereas the smaller stage hosts DJ's and hip hop groups. In a separate field there are all sorts of amazing food stalls (everything from crepes to pizza and paella to huge baguettes and green tea). There are stages for circus acts, stages for small Bretagne bands and stages for performances of all sorts.
The festival takes place at the end of July normally around the 20th so the weather is warm, however last year I ended up wearing a bin liner when there was a terencial downpour.
This year is my third year of going and I can't wait because I know it promises to be a fantatstic weekend of cheap French rose, an excellent wide range in music and improvement of my French.
My tips are stuff your pockets with toilet paper (there never is any in the toilets), take bottle caps off water bottles before going in otherwise they confiscate them - so hide them in your socks or tuck them into your hair!
Don't go if you have the attitude of a 70 year old(what's the point in hating them because our grandparents do). And finally, enjoy the weather, the friendliness of our neighbours and the delights offered to you.
Take an old hospital spread over a few blocks in the CBD, knock it down and put in its place a completely new shopping and retail precinct and you have QV, which gets its name from the previous Queen Victoria hospital that was on the site. Specialist fashion retailers mix it with coffee shops and there is also a huge food court. Standard supermarket chains (Big W and Safeway) are also there.
Corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets, within easy reach of all city stations and trams;
tel: 9658 0103;
One of Melbourne's best Indian restaurants (and one of our favourites), the Roti Boti (pronounced Roaty Boaty, which means bread and meat) produces superb Indian dishes with a leaning towards those cooked in the tandoor. Great service and a wide choice of meals and courses, from vegetarian dishes to 'make your eyes water' curries. Kid friendly too, somewhere for the whole family. Bookings are essential at weekends, because it’s popular.
513 Hampton St, Hampton, within walking distance from Hampton Station;
tel: (03) 9598 5511;
This is the best pizza place in the inner city. No, I would go as far to say in all of Sydney. Hidden away behind the Star Casino in the revived suburb of Pyrmont, this place never fails. Pizzas are great, pastas excellent, salads fresh and large and it is BYO (bring your own alcohol). Nothing flash, and seating is limited, but Made In Italy always impresses.
This is the best beach taverna on Rhodes, run by Philip (from the island) and his English wife, Barbara. Perfect traditional Greek menu, all freshly cooked, in a drew setting on top of the cliff above the north end of the beach
When in Alice drop into Bojangles for a drink or a bite to eat. Tell the folks back home to watch you on the live webcams. That's why all those other people are waving. And help yourself to the free peanuts (in their shells).
A cafe, bar and restaurant tucked just 50 metres away from the maddening crowd and central city tourist mayhem. It’s a hangout for students, artists and writers... with a sprinkling of business people lunching together.
Read newspapers in any language, or work on your laptop. They have free WLAN, so it's deal for hanging out while working online, just surfing, or even reading the Guardian! The menu is good and reasonably priced. Breakfasts are excellent, however the coffee is the typical German barely-tolerable lukewarm stuff… try to think of it as something else and put up with it. Having said that, it’s still one of the city’s top (secret) locations.
It's between the end of Barfussgässchen (where all the tourists and village Germans go) and the main ring road. Walk towards the Stasi Museum (worth visiting!) and you´ll find Telegraph on the right.
tel: 0341.149 49 90;
Restaurant on Grand Place offering good-value bistro food. The mussels, maroilles tart, and the carbonnade were all very good, as was the service. Dinner for two with drinks costs around 50 euro.
44 Place General de Gaulle
Microbrewery opposite Lille Flanders station. The food here's OK (pub grub - go for the Flammekuche pizza) but the real draw is the beer, brewed on site. Try the tasting menu: four house beers in little sampling glasses. Also sells beer to take home - a three-pack of 75cl bottles is about 10 euro.
22 place de la gare, 59000 Lille;
tel: 03 20 06 4625;
This is the unofficial heart of the pedestrian zone, surrounded by lots of restaurants and street cafés. It is the place where everybody meets, especially in summer. The bandstand has concerts every summer evening by visiting bands. Every second and fourth Saturday, a brocante (antiques/flea) market fills the square.
Place d'Armes is in the centre of Luxembourg City, between Neuve Rue Phillipe & Rue de Cure;
If you want an authentic economic and tourist-free experience, take the catamaran from Cais do Sodre to Seixal on the south bank of the Tejo estuary. It's cheap and fast.
When you get there, walk for about ten minutes past the shipyard and into old Seixal. There are numerous places to eat the little snails (Caracois) or slices of cuttlefish (Chocos) washed down with a couple of glasses of beer. The cheapest and best however, is the headquarters of the local communist party, which is friendly and open to all!
Take in the traditional boats that used to work the river and maybe the old cork factory just up the road. If you are desperate for internet contact there is free broadband and wireless access in the local library.
My favourite cafe in Vienna. For all who appreciate comfortable, well-used, elegantly scruffy interiors, in which a lot of the fittings are probably from the 50s or 60s.
The service is perfect Viennese tradition: efficient and quick (when the waiter isn’t on a cigarette break), skilled (the coffee is fine - rough and strong; the little trays fly around on improbable trajectories, but without spilling a drop) and with just that hint that you’re really bloody lucky to be getting served at all.
Have a grosser brauner: it'll set you up for the day (or night). The large mound of newspapers also meets the requirement of tradition, as does the classic Viennese breakfast of a couple of semmel and perhaps a boiled egg. Perfect for arriving in Vienna from a night train.
It’s opposite Westbahnhof train station, on the corner of Mariahilfer Straße and the Gürtel. When you come out of the main entrance of the station, head straight across the big road, crossing all the tramlines, going past the U-bahn hall, and then its just 10 yards to the right after you get across the last bit of pedestrian crossing. If you’re coming from the underground, there’s an exit right next to the door of the cafe; if memory serves, it’s labelled "innere mariahilferstr".
Mariahilfer Straße 128;
tel: 01 5233183
Having just scored the grand slam of culinary awards, newcomer Nu's awards are richly deserved. The wine list is phenomenal, and it is fast gaining a reputation for its excellent cocktails (Jay Jones is the resident mixologist). The service is second to none and the food a dream. The only downside is the eclectic interior, thankfully there is a patio with an amazing view. Order a Windsor and watch the sun set. Pure bliss.
1661 Granville St, Vancouver;
tel: 604 646-4668
This has been Luxembourg City's favourite bar for more than two decades. The Interview has outlived many trends and though the years may go by, it hasn't lost any of its attraction. Customers vary according to the moment you get there, from busy bankers in the morning having an espresso and a croissant before work, students hanging out after school to a cosier nocturnal crowd of artists, bonvivants and intellectuals. Excellent Italian coffee prepared for you by Yannis, the friendly Greek owner. Occasional art shows and live gigs. Access to the Upstairs Restaurant, which specialises in Asian and vegetarian cuisine (1st floor).
Rue Aldringen, next to the Central Post Office and the bus station
A classic Portuguese restaurant in the Bairro Alto with friendly, efficient staff, a great atmosphere and good food. An excellent place to start a night out in the Bairro Alto.
Travessa da Queimada 37;
tel: 21 342 7959
A semi-underground bar/cafe/venue/club with plenty going on from lunchtime until the early hours. It’s built from an old fortress on the south-east corner of the city centre. During Euro '96 the Leipzig Brits always watched the big screen TV there. Southgate broke our hearts...
Get the tram to Augustusplatz or Leuschnerplatz, or walk 10 mins south and then east from Marktplatz. Lots of steps - so access may be a problem;
tel: 341 702590;
The heart of Tallinn's Old Town is the Raekoja plats, or Old Town Square. Surrounded by elegant pastel hued buildings and the creamy limestone facade of the Town Hall, the square has been used as a marketplace, meeting place and also a place of execution.
It is still somewhere to meet up, perhaps in one of the restaurants that overlook it or, during the warmer months, one of the outdoor cafes that are set up on its cobblestones. There is also a reminder of its commercial past with handicraft stalls during summer and its Christmas Market. Indeed you get the sense that this is not a square that has been frozen in aspic - beautiful but untouchable - but a place that is still much in use by locals and visitors alike. There is also an intimate feel about the square, but without it seeming small, and an openness about it without it feeling bare and exposed.
As an introduction to Tallinn's Old Town you can't do worse, and as a place to visit in and for itself you can't do worse either.
In a lovely cellar entered from Raekoja plats is Troika, one of Tallinn's Russian restaurants.
The setting is great, like a recreation of an Imperial Russian dining room, and the service excellent. The menu runs through Russian staples such as blinis, dumplings, stroganoff and pancakes. There is a good selection of fish and vegetarian options and, for meat lovers, plenty of choice, including bear! And as an accompaniment? What else but vodka! Though there are plenty of other alcoholic and non-alcoholic options for those who want a clearer head the next morning!
It's a lively, popular and busy place, underscored when we were there by live Russian folk music, so booking is advisable.
One word of warning though, it is not an overly expensive restaurant (we paid about £55.00, £60.00 with a tip, for both of us and there was more than we could really eat, even with trying) and indeed very good value for the quality of both the food and the whole experience, however, it is easy to rack up the price. For instance, as we sat down and before we were given the menu we were asked if we wanted to start our meal in true Russian style with vodka, pickles, honey and sour cream. Who could say no! It was a fantastic way to open the meal, and the evening, but was also one of the most expensive items on our bill and as we hadn't seen a menu at that point we weren't aware of how much it cost. Now we would probably have still gone ahead and ordered this anyway, it was fun to see the vodka being poured from a height of two or three feet into the glasses and the combination of all the tastes was great, but for anyone on a budget or watching what they spend the cost may have come as a nasty shock.
That is only a minor criticism, however, as we had such a good evening at Troika, excellent food, excellent atmosphere and great fun. And I didn't even mind the vodka hangover the next day!
Raekoja plats 15;
tel: 372 627 6245;
A fabulous restaurant situated in the very vibrant and lively Piazza Navona. The food is delicious: 'crazy butterflies' - Farfalle in a rich creamy sauce, and you can't miss out on the taste of the Tartuffo - chocolate heaven. You can sit, eat and soak in the atmosphere and be spoilt by the wonderful waiters, for whom nothing is too much trouble.
Piazza Navona, 30
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