Why, because it has to be done! Camp, funny, beautiful scenery and with a toboggan ride thrown in. You only go into one of the film's locations but visit several others and spend three hours immersed in trivia and SoM songs. Main disapointment for me is that none of the other tourists sang along on the coach!
Before you can feel that you have been properly welcomed into Munich's heart, you have to sit and take in the atmosphere of a genuine Bierhalle. Nestled in among far more modern shops in Munich’s Kaufingerstrasse, leading away from the Marienplatz, is the Augustiner Bierkeller.
The Augustiner is a very large hall, longer than it is wide, on the ground floor of an ancient half-timbered building. (Whether genuinely old or simply rebuilt after the bombings of World War Two, as in many German cities, it is difficult to tell.) It is cosy and snug, relaxing, and, despite the number of customers, not crowded. The atmosphere is friendly and pleasant. Fresh cooking smells pervade the place along with the rich aroma of the beers, and this could easily become your favourite pub.
The enormous floor plan is divided up into numerous sections, each the responsibility of one or a small team of waiters and waitresses. The vaulted ceilings are high, disappearing, church-like into the gloom above. The floors are of red flagstones, and the walls are richly and decoratively panelled up to about shoulder height in wood the colour of ebony, the kind of colour that only comes as a patina.
You sit down on benches at solid, light oak wooden tables. The waiters wear white shirts with black trousers and black waistcoats, some have aprons, and purses bulge from back pockets. They are not all young. If you are lucky you will get a real character, with a sparkle in his eye, who has been here decades, and is almost part of the furniture. The waitresses wear variations on the regional costume, the Dirndlkleid, usually a long, voluminous red or green dress, with a white apron, and a low cut blouse on top, their purses in belts around their waist.
A group of men in their early twenties sits in animated conversation at one table, their vase shaped glasses of beer before them. Middle-aged and well-heeled citizens sit comfortably at other tables reading, with the air of people having no need to hurry. Couples while away lunchtime over two or three courses. An elderly gentleman sits alone in one corner, reading a newspaper and gently puffing on a pipe. The waiting staff buzz around efficiently, unhurriedly and politely, nothing is too much trouble, is the food ok, how about another beer?
This is a meeting place as much as anything, but also somewhere to eat and drink as much or as little as you like. The atmosphere is remarkably hushed for so many people. Business-like, practical and unhurried. The fare is about as traditional as you can get, from powerful soups through an innumerable variety of sausages with sauerkraut and mustard, to pork, veal and beef dishes all with some style of potatoes and vegetables. This is a menu with which to fortify yourself against the cold outside. Not lacking in calories, it is top quality, traditional, basic food.
The beer is also traditional. I order a Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer that retains its yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so that it pours out deliberately cloudy and very aromatic. Nectar. Agreed by most to be among the best beers on the planet. My lunch arrives. Two Weisswurst, white sausage, another speciality of Munich, that come floating in a tureen of boiling water, so that you have to fish them out to put them on your plate. They are delicately flavoured and contain herbs. I am given a choice of mustards.
You ask for the bill. “Ich komme gleich”, the waitress says, “I’ll be right with you”. And disappears for ten minutes. She returns to write out what you’ve had on a small slip of notepad and, as always, you are surprised at how little it costs, just a couple of pounds, and you are sent on your way with another piece of Gemütlichkeit in your back pocket.
In Kaufingerstrasse, just off Marienplatz in central Munich
In Tokyo the vast majority of people live in apartments and pets are not allowed or possible. Nekobukero is a response to this. It's a cat petting "house" where lots of Tokyo families and couples go to stroke and play with lots of lovely cats. The set-up itself is worth looking at with cat-themed decor including a cat-shaped TV and a cat-train where some of the moggies spend little holidays away from visiting hands.
There are plenty of toys to tempt the cats with but they also have the opportunity to jump up onto some high shelves to snooze or just to ignore all comers. It's a lovely way to spend a few hours with plenty of people watching points as well as the obvious joy of stroking cats at the top of a Tokyo highrise.
Nekobukero can be found in the Tokyu Hands department store in Ikebukero. (Ikebukero Station) Everyone knows where Tokyu Hands is so ask at the station. Once you get to Tokyu Hands Nekobukero is on the top floor, you enter through the pet department.
Look for the starship that appears to have landed next to the sumo stadium, and ascend the umbilical escalator into the belly. The next thing you know you're crossing a wooden bridge and a couple of centuries back to old Edo within this fascinating museum that brings the history of Tokyo to life. The displays range from entire city districts with thousands of miniature city-dwellers that you can examine through bincoluars, to a life-size kabuki theatre to be explored. Witness the changes in the life of the city brought on by increased contact with the world outside Japan, and finally by war.
Ryogoku on the Oedo or Sobu lines.
Last season, we found some superb family friendly accommodation in Les Houches, a village just a short drive from Chamonix centre. There is a great garden for sledging and snowman building, the children loved the ski school and Helen (the owner) was very helpful in organising lessons,ski passes etc. They supply everything from baby alarms, cots, high-chairs even toys (which anyone with any experience of packing with little ones will know these things are priceless) and what's more they didnt cost extra! We had such a great time we already booked again for this winter.
A small, "independent" cinema just up the road from the larger and more obvious Odeon and Filmhouse. It has an old-fashioned entrance, with the films and times chalked up on a blackboard on the way in. Shows a mix of independent, art-house and cultish mainstream films, with midnight specials and Sunday double-bill matinees. Friendly young staff (apparently there's a waiting list to work there), old-fashioned foyet snack shop, and a small bar/cafe in the back. A really nice cinema experience.
Home Street (top end of Lothian Road).
0131 228 4141
Served by buses: 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 23, 27, 37 to Tollcross
or the 23, 27 to Lauriston Place.
The island in the middle of the Lake of Ioannina used to be home to the monastery of Agios Pantelaemon until 17 January 1822, when it gained a permanent place in Greek history and legend.
On that day, Ali Pasha, the legendary Ottoman ruler of Albanian descent was executed, at the monastery, by troops sent by the Sultan, from Constantinople, for the crime of insubordination. Ali Pasha had fled to the island after the defence of Ioannina to the 2-year siege by the Sultan's troops had laid on the city started collapsing.
The Turks promised Ali Pasha amnesty, arrived at the island supposedly to hand him the pardon papers that had arrived from the capital, and killed him. His body was decapitated and later buried next to the Fetihie Mosque, up on the castle of Ioannina. His head was taken to Constantinople, shown to the Sultan and then buried in a local cemetery.
Today, the monastery is a museum that tells the story of that day and of Ali Pasha's Ioannina.
You will also find a restaurant that serves local food, including lake seafood and frog's legs, and various gift shops. Boats leave from the quay in front of the castle every 10 minutes.
The castle of Ioannina was built in its present state by the legendary Ali Pasha, the Albanian-born, Ottoman governor of Epirus in the early 19th century, on the foundations of the old Byzantine fortifications of Ioannina.
The northeast end of the castle includes the madrassa, or islamic religious school, which today houses a lovely Museum of Weaponry, and the Mosque of Aslan Pasha, which today houses the Museum of the City of Ioannina.
The southeast end is the Its Kale, or Inner Castle, and was the main compound of the Ali Pasha administration and living quarters.
The castle of Ioannina is the core from which the city expanded to its present size, and included all the major civic monument and sites of the city, including the synagogue of the once mighty local Jewish community.
There's a certain formula to most of the treks and tours available from Chiang Mai travel agents: drive to the jungle; do a bit of walking; visit a couple of tribal villages; do a little bamboo rafting; ride an elephant.
All well and good, but for something a bit different, try the Elephant Nature Park. This is one of the few (if only) camps where the elephants run the show and are treated with the care they deserve - some of the others leave a lot to be desired. And it's also a great place to get up close and personal with the elephants themselves, all of which were rescued from far less salubrious conditions.
From $68 for a day trip to $260 for a week - not cheap, but consider that all the money goes towards looking after the elephants.
Addresses and telephone numbers at www.elephantnaturepark.org/office.htm
Very good, well-kept, secure, cheap campsite. Well serviced by a regular bus service to the nearest metro, which itself is only a 15-minute walk from the centre of Paris.
Much cheaper than any hotel. The only drawback is the poorly stocked shop so do your food shopping before you arrive.
Good website, reservations can be made online. If you haven't got a tent there are also self-catering cabins to rent.
Les Campings d'Île de France
Camping du Bois de Boulogne,
Allée du Bord de l'Eau 75016 PARIS
Tel : 33(0)1 45 24 30 00 Fax : 33(0)1 42 24 42 95
All but a luxury hotel for all but a backpacker's price. The Lai Thai has a great location, minutes from the night market; the air-con rooms are clean and beautifully decorated with teak and bamboo; there's even a swimming pool.
If you're still not satisfied, the hotel has its own foot masseur and fortune teller too. Doubles from 600 Baht (about £8)
111/4-5 Kotchasarn Road, Tel: +66 5327 1725 or 5320 6438
Many of the suggestions on this page are child-friendly. Nevertheless it’s worth mentioning that Copenhagen has more than 60 museums. Everything from the National Museum to smaller-scale ventures like the Danish School Museum and the Museum of Customs and Taxes.
If I mine the pits of my personal experience I’ll always recommend the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum. Soldiers and sailors, cannons and guns. They put a lot of effort into events that kids love. Demonstrating how cannons work or jousting knights or naval fighting techniques. Very child-friendly.
Called Tøjhusmuseet in Danish, the museum is located on Tøjhusgade, which is right next to Christiansborg castle, which houses the Danish parliament.
Tel: (+45) 33 11 60 37
Price: Adults 40 kroner. Kids 0-15 get in free.
Walt Disney was so fond of Tivoli Gardens that he was inspired to build Disneyland. That’s where the similarities end. Tivoli is a must see, if not for the modern rides then for an understanding of the down-to-earth Danish mentality. Don’t expect an amusement park experience. Get ready to wander lazily about soaking up the quaintness of it all and it's simple pleasures: a cold glass of beer; feeding the fish in the lake; a bite to eat.
Sure, have a go on the gut-wrenching Demon rollercoaster or one of the other new rides, but remember to take a spin on the rickety old Odin Express rollercoaster or the little Ferris wheel.
All within earshot of the bells from the town hall. It’s a quintessential Danish experience.
Located between the Central Station and the Town Hall Square.
Barranco is the artists’ quarter of Lima, made up of narrow cobbled streets under the shade of some of the oldest residents of Lima. Most of the backpacker bars can be found in and around the Parque Central. The Boulevar' is lined with small pubs and bars where you can enjoy a beer and listen to some live music.
There is also beautiful cathedral and countless art galleries.
Go for a walk and catch a glimpse of a Lima long gone, but still alive.
Barranco is to the south of Miraflores and north of Chorrillos. Get there via el Zanjon or head south through via Larco Mar or the coast highway. It's lively any time of day, but don't miss it on a Saturday night.
La costa Verde (the Green Coast) is the name given to the clifts and beaches from La Punta to the North and la Herradura to the South of the Bay of Lima.
Most people come to Peru thinking about the Andes and forget that the country has a large coast-line. Most of Lima is, in fact, made up of small sea-side towns that were incorporated to the metropolis as it grew (visit Miraflores, Barranco, Chorrillos, Magdalena del Mar, La Punta).
La Costa Verde is full of beaches for everyone in any group. There is excellent Surfing on the Miraflores part of the coast! Or just spend a few minutes or hours every day watching the sun set in the Pacific Ocean, behind the San Lorenzo Island.
Just head West on Salaverry, Larco, or Arequipa Avenues; or look at the map -you wont miss it: its the big Ocean to the left.
Molos means lake front where there is a variety of restaurants and sophisticated bars to choose from. I had enjoyed my first meal there and I kept going back again and again for more of that fresh trout and frog's legs that are delicious but they don't cost the earth! It's a must to visit any of the restaurants along the lake, freshness of ingredients and quality is guaranteed, plus there is a real buzz of Greek life at its best! I love going there in the summer afternoons when the city centre is quiet and all the Greeks go down molos for a long long lunch...
At the bottom end of Molos along the lake.
Prices from €6-€30
Open all day
A wonderful vegetarian cafe in the Northern Quarter with excellent coffee, imaginative and tasty food and friendly staff. There is a quirky shop at the back and a collection of excellent DVDs which you can borrow.
Across the road from the famous Earth Cafe
It is a museum about the Greek history and especially the one of the years Greece was in the othoman empire. The magnificent idea is that all the exhibits are waxworks of Greek heroes that reconstruct moments of Greek history! An enjoybale and educational experience for kids. The museum is housed in a 18th century style building that is a masterpiece of arcitecture. It is south of the city, approximately 10 minutes drive from the city centre.
12th klm of National Road of
Tel: +30 26510 92128
A visit to the Musee d'Art et d'Histoire Du Judaisme is an excellent way to spend a couple of hours, the museum has a wide variety of exhibitions and you needn't worry about your rubbish French as everything is multi -lingual.
Nearest Metro; Rambuteau or Hotel De Ville.
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