Fantastic restaurant, where we had our best, and possibly priciest, meal ever. The highlight was the Sea Urchin Mille Feuille. Lovely, comfortable rooms with attentive but not intrusive staff. We booked by e-mail from the UK.
42 East 20th Street www.gramercytavern.com (212)477-0777
Devonport is on Auckland's North Shore and is well worth a visit if you don't have time to go to Rangitoto or Waiheke. As well as having a very pleasant main street with cafes (and a good fish and chip shop), there's a good beach and children's playground and there are walks up to the two extinct volcanoes behind the town which offer great views of Auckland and have historical interest provided by 19th century military defences. The ferry ticket also provides free use of the buses for the day.
Ferries to Devonport leave from the main ferry terminal on the waterfront near the Viaduct Harbour (Americas Cup Village area) and Britomart Transport Interchange. Ask for an AucklandPass, which is the same cost as a return but allows free use of Stagecoach buses too.
Go to the Buddhist Stupa in Bodha, northeast from Kathmandu centre. It's a bit difficult to find, due to Nepal's lack of street signs, but once you're there it's a fantastic spot to watch Buddhist monks go about their usual business and just to contemplate life and the world in general. There's also a great restaurant run by an Italian lady where you can get a huge plate of vegetable chowmein for 15 Nepali Rupees, approximately 8 pence.
Northeast of Kathmandu town centre
The delta in Tigre is a unique place, a mix of Venice and Vietnam, only one hour from BA. You can go for the day and have a barbecue (asado) or stay over night in one of the 'recreos'. Don't miss it.
Train to Tigre and then public boat. www.ruta0.com/locs.asp?loc=74
This place is perfect for lunch, and especially breakfast. It's very good vulue for money, with nice and varied set menus, including cooked options. It has great ambience and is in a great location, ideal for starting the day or take a break after strolling around Palermo Viejo. During the evening it gets busier and more expensive but still worth it.
Google map: Armenia 1676
Arguably the best pizzeria in the city and always buzzing with more Romans than tourists. Pizzas are huge, light and fluffier than many in Rome. You usually need to leave your name with Marco and then wait for a table. It's always worth the wait.
Vicolo del Bologna in Trastevere
Make sure you're really hungry before descending on this notable deli. Although the menu is like any other in NYC, the pastrami on rye is the thing to have, but be prepared for what looks like an Empire State Building of delectable beef arriving at your table. Sensible option is to share one, but veggies will need to look elsewhere, I'm afraid. Leo Steiner perfected the pastrami which is still made to the same recipe. Forget those measly strips you buy in UK supermarkets! If you still have room try the cheesecake.
This is the best place to have breakfast in Melbourne, according to me. Take a seat at one of the old tables and choose from coffee, sandwiches or pastries. I spent two weeks in Melbourne and had a breakfast of French toast (brioche dipped in egg and fried), a mocha and fresh apple juice.
23 Degraves Street, opposite Flinders Street station.
Sometimes, when the mercury is nudging 40 degrees and there isn't space on the beach for a German to lay out a handkerchief, let alone a towel, escape from the heat and clamour of Rio can be a welcome relief. The traditional getaway route for Cariocas is to take the Washington Luis highway to the cool mountain cities of Petrópolis, Teresópolis and Nova Friburgo.
Recently though, some of a more enterprising nature have begun to open up the Serra Fluminense above the oil boom town of Macaé in the north of Rio State. The centerpiece of this area is the sleepy hill town of Sana, a bridging point across the crystalline, cascading waters of the Sana River, guarded by the majestic 3,700 foot Pedra do Peito do Pombo (Pigeon Breast Rock).
The best choices for accommodation in Sana are the town’s charming and inexpensive pousadas. Highly recommended is the pretty Repousa da Sana, with its mature gardens, restaurant serving tasty local dishes cooked in a wood burning oven (ask for the baked trout), shop selling local crafts and its comfy, tastefully decorated riverside chalets.
A big bonus here is that the owner, Antenor Sousa, speaks passable English, a rarity in this part of the world. He is a keen photographer and has spent the last 20 years documenting the town and its surroundings so there isn’t a lot he doesn’t know about the place.
For travelers with an eye on their budget, many pousadas also offer a camping option with bathroom and laundry facilities. From your base in town you can take guided walks to the dozens of waterfalls and natural swimming pools that dot the region, trek up some of Sana’s steepling granite peaks or enjoy a very agreeable couple of days’ pony trekking. There’s also enough rock climbing, abseiling, mountain biking, kayaking and white water rafting to keep the adventure sports enthusiast absorbed for days.
And after these strenuous calisthenics, what better way to wind down than in a hammock on your chalet deck, caipirinha strategically placed at arm’s length, with the calls of roosting flocks of parrots and the chattering of the river lulling you to sleep? Keep a weather eye on your drink though, as the local Micou monkeys, emboldened by human contact, are rather partial to those cachaça-impregnated lemons.
I should point out one small inconvenience. The nearest bank is 12 miles away in Casimiro de Abreu and, as telephones are a relatively new phenomenon in Sana, many of the town’s pousadas, bars and restaurants don’t accept credit cards.
However, carrying cash does not present the safety risks that it does in Rio. You are less likely to be mugged than savaged by a member of the town’s bovine community which outnumbers the human population by some distance, in other words, not very likely at all.
There is no direct public transport link between Rio and Sana. Take an air conditioned coach from the Terminal Rodoviaria Novo Rio to the town of Casimiro de Abreu (the journey last about three hours), from whence you can catch one of the large number of VW Combis that shuttle between Casimiro and Sana. Don't worry when you hit a dirt road as you wind your way up into the hills; the district council in Macaé has plans to pave it but it hasn't happened yet. The Repousa da Sana is about two kilometres before the town centre on your left. Ask the driver to drop you there. There are two websites in Portuguese that you will find useful, the general information site, www.portaldosana.com.br, and the Repousa da Sana's homepage, www.repousadasana.com.br.
It's a 24-hour hot dog and fruit juice joint that is something of a legend. It's cheap - the special is one juicy hot dog with a fruit drink for $1.45, or a single frank for 75 cents - and fast making it the ideal fuel during a pit stop while touring the nearby bars.
2090 Broadway at 71st Street
Watch the world go by and, if you have the courage, challenge for a game of chess. It is a chilled out park and people watching is the best pastime here. New Yorkers in a nutshell. After spending hours being nosey head down to John's Pizza on Bleeker Street (five minutes away).
When I went to NY I was visiting my partner and all his colleagues said this was the best pizza to be had. I enjoyed it (held to Sicily making the best pizzas but hey-ho) but definitely was part of the NY experience. Gets very busy so be prepared.
MacDougal Street and then a walk down Bleeker Street for dinner.
Very good steakhouse. Bit pricey, but you get what you pay for. Very generous portions, good waiting staff. I had Steak Wollensky which comes with onions and mushrooms. Beware the size of the steak, they are large! We had the onion rings which were fab. I got my steak cooked exactly how I asked for it - very very well done. My mum had salmon which she said was beautifully cooked. The liquer coffee was not short in liquer and we had to take a cab back to the hotel as we were a bit squiffy!
49th and 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10022 www.smithandwollensky.com
Le Parker Meridien is a hotel, Normas is where we went for breakfast. It is supposed to be one of the best places in NY to have breakfast and I would not disagree. You can have anything from Normas Eggs Benedict to the Zillion Dollar Lobster Fritatta which comes with 10oz of Sevruga caviar at a cost of $1000. Good waiting staff who refill your juice and coffee without asking, plus you normally get a 'free' taster of the smoothie of the day. Superb breakfast for a real treat. I had Eggs Benedict, it was lovely.
www.leparkermeridien.com/geats.htm 118 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019-3318
Simply the best Vietnamese food in London - and I've tried all the other Kingsland Road eateries. This one is next to the Viet Social Club. The char-grilled squid is amazing. The Sea Bass, at 6 quid, delectable! Go eat!
12-14 Englefield Road; te: 020 7249 0877
Tucked away in a square in the Born area (near the seafront) is this wonderful little tapas bar. Expect to queue ... in fact the queue is half the fun as it snakes up and down and around the bar. You can drink while you queue and enjoy the atmosphere. When you come to order, if you don't speak Spanish, just indicate that you want it all. The food will keep coming until you signal you've had enough! All food is cooked fresh in front of you and the staff are a lot of fun.
Plaça les Olles, 8 08003 - Barcelona www.calpep.net
By day, a tapas restaurant; by night, a bar/club. A lively mix of French and Spanish influences in music, food and drink. The young crowd here can be relied upon to dance with a passion and energy that is quite uplifting for a visitor from the UK.
This excitement is partly due to the live trumpet player at weekends, who, to disguise the DJ's average mixing skills, blasts out the south of France fanfare heard at rugby games and all over the region. This works the crowd into a frenzy, tempered only when the trumpeter slows things down for the Spanish national anthem. Then another fanfare, and the crowd go wild again. It's like this every weekend.
1 Rue Gabriel Peri, Toulouse. Nearest station: Gare Matabiau
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