A self-service café set in the vaults of University Church of St Mary the Virgin. Inside is all long shared tables and dimly lit café wonderfulness. A leisurely coffee and a good book are perfectly matched to its unpretentious welcome. Its Catte St garden faces the Radcliffe Camera so summer lunching is particularly pleasant. The restaurant itself serves consistently tasty and adventurous locally sourced organic food and cakes and fairly traded teas coffees - we have only ever been for lunch after the storytime session at the central library - needless to say it is kid-friendly and affordable too. One thing to bear in mind is lunch is served from 12pm and is very popular so arrive early to avoid queues and shortages.
Tel. 01865 279112
Radcliffe Square, off High St, Oxford.
Avoid the heaving crowds and pretentions of much of the Italian Riviera and head to the beautiful, and far quieter, little beach town of Camogli. In terms of sheer physical beauty it gives the Cinque Terre a run for their money, and unlike neighbouring Portofino its picturesque setting isn't ruined up-close by crowds of tourists, huge yachts and designer boutiques. It would be untrue to say tourism had completely passed Camogli by but the town still feels like a genuine fishing port and its handful of tourist-orientated shops and eateries don't detract from its considerable charm. Rows of pastel coloured baroque houses line streets cut into the steep hillside above a picturesque little bay, complete with (shingle) beach, azure waters, fishing port and fort. A postcard-designer couldn't dream up anything prettier, and it is a pleasure to simply wander round the town with its sense of history and beauty unspoilt by mass-tourism. If you want more of an escape than swimming in the Mediterranean, then there are plenty of opportunities to walk into the Appenine hinterland of hills cloaked in olive and orange groves - particularly breathtaking is the walk from Camogli along the cliffs of the Portofino peninsula, with stunning views along the whole length of the Ligurian coast from the too-picturesque-to-be-true hamlet of San Rocco. Camogli's further added bonus is that its relative lack of popularity with tourists means restaurant prices are considerably lower than in nearby Santa Margherita and Rappalo.
Camogli is a brief train journey from Santa Margherita Ligure, Genoa, Rappalo or any of the other major settlements along the riviera. It also lies just off the main coastal highway.
I have been reflecting on some of my travel highlights of 2008 and it would be no exaggeration to say that top of the list came my trip to Sri Lanka in late October – and in particular my visit to Mahatenne House on the Ashburnham estate.
The guest house is situated on a working 70 acre tea plantation on the side of a mountain in the Knuckles Range, close to Elkaduwa. It is run by an ex-City whizz highflier type who (ahead of the credit crunch curve) reassessed his priorities in life and stepped off the London treadmill to go and live The Good Life on the other side of the world.
It is futile to try and convey the magic of my experience in words, but I will attempt to paint a picture with a few broad brushstrokes.
The day typically starts with breakfast served on the verandah while the morning mist and clouds unfurl to reveal the breathtaking view of rolling green hills and valleys, carpeted with tea plantations.
You will not be short of things to do during the day (children and adults alike): go for an exploratory wander around the estate – the ultimate Swallows and Amazons fantasy; take a power shower under the most beautiful 60ft waterfall at the bottom of the estate, reached by a 400 step path; anyone for a game of tennis on the newly refurbished court?; go and watch the daily weighing of tea; enjoy a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and lounge by the poolside catching up on all that holiday reading; or just sit on the verandah and breathing in the intoxicating air whilst contemplating life in peace and serenity. For Doctor Doolittle fans there are four resident dogs, a lake full of fish (which also yields some great meals), wild chipmunks that scurry through the trees, an array of beautiful birds and butterflies scattering a kaleidoscope of vivid colour everywhere (as far away as you can get from London’s monotone shades of grey), but most delightfully of all, Menike, a beautiful female elderly elephant, enjoying a peaceful retirement on the estate, her most arduous task these days carrying the occasional bare back passenger down to the waterfall. Sitting out after dark in planters’ chairs listening to the nocturnal chorus of cicadas under a canopy of glittering stars is mesmerising – the perfect lullaby.
The host is a very gregarious and generous character, and the staff are incredibly friendly and attentive (but unobtrusive) – you will be left wanting for nothing. The home-cooked meals are delicious and the (few) rooms are clean and quiet – not aiming to be top notch “boutique hotel” but very comfortable, and the rates are a real bargain.
This place really made an indelible impression on me – the memories of my trip will stay with me forever. Whether you are a lone traveller in search of something slightly off the beaten track, or a family looking for a package that will keep the children entertained whilst giving adults a peaceful break, I urge you to seek out this piece of paradise and complete the picture for yourself (apologies for plagiarising the previous submission).
Note: All the clichés contained in this account are statements of fact; all the superlatives are an understatement
Elkaduwa | 40 kilometres North of Kandy, Elkaduwa, Sri Lanka
tel: 0094 (0)66 4920206
The Druid Circle is an ancient, historic site in the Snowdonian Mountains. If you are looking for solitude and tranquility and enjoy a brisk hike, this is the place to visit.
Follow the A55 coastal route, past Conwy and turn off at the village of Penmaenmawr. From here the Mountain Road will lead you right up to the foot of the Snowdonian Mountains from where you may follow the footpath to the Druid Circle. There is no vehicular traffic so a good pair of walking boots is adviseable. Also, there are no refreshments or ameneties along the way. The ideal backpack hike.
There is a train station in Penmaenmawr but trains will only stop on request. Be sure to inform the conductor if you wish to stop at Penmaenmawr station. The village offers a cafe, chip shop, Spar and chemist as well as a wonderful beach at the foot of the Snowdonia National Park.
Please visit: www.north-wales-holiday-cottages.co.uk and take a look at Gwelfor House, the perfect place to stay for a short break, week-end or family holiday, situated in the charming village of Penmaenmawr.
If you're tired of Italian, Indian, and Chinese restaurants, then this might be just up your street.
Eemaan is a Kurdish restaurant in Newcastle,so when I saw it I felt I just had to try it. The food was delicious and the surroundings friendly. I got an even better surprise when I checked out the bill, which was fabulously value-for-money.
Kurdish food, I found out, is mostly rice and delicious casseroles with fresh naan, washed down with loads of mastow. The Kurdish and middle eastern people drink lashings of this yoghurt drink. If you've still got any room left after the huge portions, try a steaming hot Kurdish tea which they brew in a samovar and a selection of pastries.
This restaurant makes cooking rice an art form, and I loved the yummy naan. If you've never tried Kurdish food before, I wholeheartedly recommend that you do, although a word of warning - as a halal restaurant it does not serve alcohol.
Address: 5 Mill Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
Link to review by Evening Chronicle: icnewcastle.icnetwork.co.uk/0300entertainment/nightsout/tm_headline=eemann-newcastle%26method=full%26objectid=19564620%26siteid=50081-name_page.html
It is the undiscovered sister of Ha Long Bay. We sailed through its green waters and looming limestone karsts and saw only a handful of boats - all local fishing boats. If you want to sail on unpolluted waters and avoid touts book a trip through Ethnic Travel. They can arrange a homestay on quiet Van Don island where you cycle from the port. We had a boat between five passengers and was served delicious freshly cooked food on board.
I recently visited Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast as have heard so much about the castle and the sandy beach which was perfect for the kids and our dogs. We stayed in a fantastic cottage on the Main Street in the village called The Grove which was immaculate, had everything we required (and more) and was extremely comfortable and luxurious - an absolute delight, we didn't want to leave.
Make sure you try the legendary Bamburgh bangers and the butchers is situated next door to the cottage!
The Newseum on Pennsylvania avenue is a facinating museum to news and newspapers. We only got there an hour before closing but wished we could have stayed all day - exhibitions on the FBI and the media, political advertising, interactive exhibits, and a tastefully somber area devoted to 9/11. You can even record yourself presenting the news! Totally worth the $20 (or thereabouts) entry fee, even in a city full of free museums.
The flood in Rome was scary and exciting at the same time. (I can say that now the worst is over). We spent it in a rented apartment from Palazzo Olivia for our family Italian break ... they are so nice. I was worried about going out, but received necessary directions and reassurance during our stay. Comfortable accommodation, great service, great location as usual. On this particular occasion, close enough to the river to "monitor" and far enough to feel safe. Worth a visit.
This tour will take you down paths less trodden and provide you with a different outlook on Rome and its superb landmarks. The tour is taken at night and, as mystery and your imagination take over, the guide will provide an entertaining side to the capital that you are not likely to get during the day. Particular landmarks explored include the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the beautiful Campo de Fiori. This is a really cool way to explore this magnificent city, especially if you have children.
Sant'Andrea Della Valle Church - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
If a few days in the capital city start to take their toll, then escape to the beach and rest your tired feet. Ostia beach is situated around 30-40 minutes outside of Rome and gives you the opportunity to wind down with a cold drink or ice cream while you laze on the beach and soak up the sun.
A great benefit of this beach is that you have the chance to buy your souvenirs and gifts while you relax, as the majority of vendors will approach you and offer their goods without you having to move an inch. If this doesn’t sound like your idea of relaxation then there are also quieter sections of the beach.
Lido di Ostia, Rome, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/nUl0Vi
With credits crunching and economies sliding get on down to the north coast of Cornwall, arguably England's best slice of coast. I based myself at Newquay from where there is any number of adrenalin sports waiting to be experienced. I cantered on a horse across the Gannel estuary and beach Saturday morning, coasteered and zipwired along Lusty Glaze beach Saturday afternoon while Sunday wasn't lazy at all, being spent on fabulous Watergate Bay kitesurfing and bodyboarding. Superb!
You could try, as I did, www.visitnewquay.org, a great little site with all the info you need for a trip.
It is beautifully decorated, well run, warm (I went in December) and you get a ticket for all public transport thrown in. My husband and I chose a room for two but dormitories are available too ...
You leave Basel train station through the back entrance and walk ten minutes. Clear direction on the hotel's site. You can also take a tram to get there.
Friendly square in the port end of town with some good cafés which serve tapas and do lunchtime menus. Try "La Rosa" or "El Santo".
Calle Grau Bassas and Calle Fernando Guanarteme between Las Canteras beach and El Corte Inglés
In among the hive of sushi and Japanese eateries that litter the area, there is a little gem that stands out from the rest. The food here is probably of the cheapest and most generous in Christchurch - that alone is enough to make it a joy for any traveler, but in our eyes only acts as a bonus, as the quality and authentic taste of it is truly wonderful. Miss this delight at your peril and don't forget to pick up a portion of their legendary goyza!!
Having never been to the south west of Ireland, we decided to stay in Kenmare, Co. Kerry right on the famous Ring of Kerry drive. We had the three kids and our dog with us so opted for the self-catering option. We stayed at gorgeous holiday homes in the town with Dream Ireland Holiday Homes. They seem to have loads of houses all over the town and they all looked equally nice. Ideal for our gang!
Tel: 064 66 41170 (+353 64 66 41170 from overseas)
I booked an apartment through New York Habitat in New York for a week and I recommend their site. It is user-friendly and the booking process was straight forward. Their agent gave me all the info I needed and the apartment was exactly as shown on their website, clean and comfortable, ideally located. Still, the best of all was the owner of the apartment who was really nice and helpful. I really enjoyed my stay there and it was much better than staying at a hotel, and cheaper, too
The ice rink at Somerset House is surely the most romantic place to go on a winter's night. Enjoy the mulled wine and the good music in a twinkling winter wonderland. Don't bother with the skating unless you've been practising. Spectating is much warmer.
The Strand, nr Waterloo Bridge nearest station Covent Garden, Charing Cross, Waterloo.
For more travel tips and holiday advice visit www.bitesandblisters.co.uk
This is a little island with a small eco-lodge. There are only sex tents each with ensuite 'compost' loo and bucket shower looking over the lake. There is no one else living on the island except the birds... kayaking, strolling, sun bathing and generally doing very little is what it's all about. If you are looking for a totally un-commercialized beach holiday somewhere different - this is it.
Mumbo Island (all meals and accommodation) or Domwe Island (if you want to go camping and do your own thing).
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