Kazimierz is the old Jewish quarter of Krakow. With its labyrinthine streets and serene synagogues, the area evokes a blend of melancholy and hope - an inspiring literary place. Hidden behind the crumbling facades of pre-war architecture are some of the city's most exquisite bars and restaurants. Of particular note, is the Alef, a kosher restaurant that was regularly frequented by Steven Speilberg during the making of Schindler's List. A traditional band plays Klezmer music whilst Borscht is served piping hot. The decor captures a place and time history has almost forgotten. A place to escape and to reflect, Kazimierz is a truly inspirational place.
A restaurant and a romantic place, nestled among the trees, and creekside, organic foods, half way up Topanga Canyon between Malibu and the San Fernando valley. A place to get away from hectic Los Angeles and enjoy an unforgettable meal
Right in the city centre, it is an unpretentious, affordable pleasant restaurant. It is one of those places where food matches space and space matches food. It is all one single coherent attractive concept. Their lentil sausages are great.
Amedros was quite a haven for us while in Istanbul, since most places seem to be either cheap kebab joints or pricey designer restaurants. Though just off the touristy Divan Yolu, it is a delightful bistro. Very friendly, multilingual and efficient staff, nice modern design and delicious Ottoman influenced food.
These dishes include lamb in a sauce made from pomegranate syrup, chicken served on a bed of rice with almonds, apricots and saffron, courgettes stuffed with minced lamb - yum. There are also various intriguingly cooked steaks, the usual pasta etc, but the Ottoman food is the best. Reasonable prices, considering that wine in Istanbul costs. Two starters, two mains, a beer and two glasses or wine came to about 44 quid. You can spend far more in this touristy area for far less. Next time I'm going to try the Cappadocian stew cooked in a clay pot and brought to the table aflame - it seems a favourite.
Hoca Rüstem Sokak 7 just off the Divan Yolu tourist street in Sultanahmet, and near the Sultanahmet tram stop.
Divanyolu Cad. Hoca Rüstem Sok. No: 7
+90 212 522 83 56
Google map: bit.ly/eRWEJd
This is a really cool restaurant in Hamburg that's really worth visiting just to see how the food is delivered to your table - it only opened a few months ago and is a good reason to venture over to the other side of the river. You have to order your food through a touchscreen at your table and then all your food is delivered to you spiralled rails, on a small tray with wheels! The food is good and there is plenty of it. We ordered tons of food because the portions looked so small in the pictures when we were ordering but don't be fooled by them.
This is a great winter walk with some good food at either end and a bit of optional shopping in the middle. If you start at The Plough on Northfields Avenue they serve a really great cup of coffee. Since a much needed refurbishment a few years ago they have evolved into a warm and welcoming gastro pub with an extensive menu from naughty nibbles to fab desserts. Head down Northfield Avenue where you will find some smaller boutique shops perfect for Christmas gifts and stocking fillers. Turn through Lammas Park and enjoy a little open space, perfect for a frosty day in Autumn or Winter. At this point you can turn off at Beaconsfield Road and then turn right at St Mary's Road for the Red Lion pub. If you want a longer walk then continue through Walpole Park with its beautiful trees and flowers. You may be lucky enough to see a flock of lovebirds that occasionally brighten up the suburban sky, since someone released a pet bird or two many years ago. You can exit the park on St Marys Road, next to Ealing Studios. The Red Lion was very popular in the Fifties and Sixties with Britain's top comedy actors popping in for a pint between 'takes'. It now serves a splendid Sunday roast (pricey but worth it) and a vast array of home cooked British food, fish and chips, pie and mash etc. It also boasts a good range of ales and an enclosed garden.
The Plough: 297 Northfields Avenue Ealing London W5 4XB
+44(0)20 8567 1416
Google map: bit.ly/dS3yhr
The Red Lion: 13 St. Mary's Road, Ealing, London
+44(0)20 8567 2541
The Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater, is tucked away in the West Cumbrian fells and sandwiched between two lakes, which means when it comes to pre- or post-pub lunch walks there are endless choices.
The wellie brigade (young and old) have lots of lakeside rambles to choose from. Loweswater has a lovely old wood on its shore. Awash with bluebells in May, at other times you can potter along the paths looking out for deer and red squirrels and hunting for the hidden waterfall.
Crummock Water is also surrounded by a great mix of old trees and has countless paths to explore. There are becks to guddle in, caves to jump out of, footbridges to run across, a stone boathouse to picnic beside and lots of shingly beaches to swim from.
For the walking-boot band there are fells all around. One of my favourites is Melbreak (1,670ft, grid reference NY 14306 19471), bang in front of The Kirkstile’s beer garden, it challenges you to give it a go as you tuck into your slow-cooked Lakeland lamb. A short, sharp, and in parts slightly scrambly, ascent up the front takes you to the summit from where you can check out the rest of the Lake District before heading down a more gentle path off the side and along a track which delivers you back to the pub. Done and dusted within an hour, a friend and I once did this between our main course and pudding at the pub.
But it’s not all location, location, location when it comes to The Kirkstile: it has its own brewery (check out The Kirkstile Gold) and the food’s fantastic.
Located in the town hall square, this restaurant is seen as one of the better establishments in Kaunas. Yet to UK pockets this is not at all an expensive establishment. We paid 63 Lt for two starters and mains.
The restaurant itself resembles a Medieval manor house.
When we were there in November the menu included roe deer sausage, wild boar as well as game. Fish was also on menu.
It's only a tiny place near the Thistle Barbican among a row of small shops.
Me and a few friends used to come here on a Friday night after a few of pints in the white lion round the corner.
The staff don't know too much English but it's a pleasure watching them cooking the food on the gas rings in the back.
The food is always good with a wide selection.
For a takeaway its one of the best.
105-107 Lever St, City of London, EC1V 3RQ
+44(0)20 7490 8225
Google map: bit.ly/dKNhE8
Quite close to the university. The Kashmir is not the most attractive of curry houses. However they do serve an excellent curry at a price that even a student can afford. You have a choice of two doors. One to the slightly more presentable ground floor, the other to the larger and more basic basement restaurant.
There may be better Indian restaurants in Bradford, but when it comes to quality, quantity and value for money this place is hard to beat.
25-27 Morley St, Bradford, West Yorkshire
+44(0)1274 726 513
Google map: bit.ly/f4ATy7
This 'gastronomic space' is in fact on the tiny side - only 12 people can squeezed in to sit on high chairs round the narrow and high table. The sense of exclusivity is quickly confirmed when food and wine arrives. The tasting menu has so many small courses that I lost count, the wines are from small producers and excellent matches for the food. Courses are 'announced' on the discreet flat screens at either end of the table. The price is around €40 per person all included, which must count as one of the great bargains in this city.
It is tucked behind the main market of the old city on a back street. The market itself is closed at night.
Mercado de Santiago de Compostela
Rua de Ameas
+33 981 576 145
Google map: bit.ly/bOOjp8
I was in Edinburgh for the festival, and oh boy was this place full of fun and all free. I stayed for two weeks and almost every night would end up there. They have live music and very delicious food ... but I think what made this place shine for me was the friendly staff. It is an Irish bar and you sense that throughout - be it the traditional design of the place, or Irish bar staff, or the fresh soda bread that you can have for lunch.
Morocco as a country is the most culturally rich place I've ever visited and more specifically Marrakech. Both Ryan Air and Easy Jet fly direct from many UK airports and flights are very reasonably priced.
I'd recommend staying a week or more here and checking in to one of the many Riad's within the Medina. By doing this you will almost immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and way of life; it never ceases to amaze me. I'd start by exploring your neighbourhood and meeting some of the locals. Hello (Salam), Goodbye (Beslama), Please (Afak) and Thank You (Shukran) will always go a long way as many people only speak the local dialect, not English or French. Ask the owner or manager of your Riad where the local Hammam baths are; they are well worth a visit! Some may offer a massage for en extra few Dirham.
Before starting to haggle in the Souks it may be worth talking to other tourists and staff at the Riad about prices to expect to pay for goods. Shopkeepers will always try to take you for a ride - don't give in too easily - if the price is too high for you, walk away, they'll soon run after you. Be sure to spend plenty of time in the Souks, especially in the evening as everything lights up - it almost seems magical. Don't forget to enjoy a freshly prepared meal in the stalls at Djemaa el Fna and to take in the various forms of street entertainment. Djemaa el Fna transforms into a vibrant hub at night for both local people and tourists.
As for things to do, I personally recommend visiting the El Badi Palace and the Saadien Tombs - all for a bit of local history. The Majorelle Gardens are also well worth a visit, I'd go in the morning when it's slightly quieter. There is a cafe there, but prices are rather steep, so take water and a snack. If you have the time to explore outside of Marrakech, take a Taxi (approx 1 hr) to the waterfalls at Ourika Valley. Wear sensible shoes and hire a guide when you get there.
As for Cafes, Restaurants and Bar's here are my top 3: Cafe Bourgainvillea - situated within the souks, perfect for afternoon tea and very reasonably priced. Cafe Arabe, is a restaurant just a bit further on and serves delicious food. After your meal, sit up on the rooftop terrace and enjoy views across the city. Expect to pay prices similar to those in the UK. African Chic, is cocktail and lounge bar in the Gueliz - the new part of the city. Most evenings they have a great live band playing, it's perfect to enjoy a classy evening.
All that's left to say is to enjoy it. You won't forget the Marrakech experience in a hurry!!
Cafe Bourgainvillea: 33 Rue de Moussaine, Medina, Marrakech
Cafe Arabe: 184 Rue de Moussaine, Medina, Marrakech
African Chic: 6 Rue Oum Errabia, Gueliz, Marrakech (0524) 431 424 www.african-chic.com/
The photos in this blog simply make your mouth water.
What's more, the information is incredibly detailed and the guy is really helpful whenever anyone posts a question. The same applies to other parts of his blog which focus on West-Central Japan as well as Italy, Central Europe and Canada.
Cafe Jospehine is a very restful bar-cum-restaurant next to the water and only 15 mins by metro from the city centre. It is full of books and has one room that is decked out like a library. Very ornate and luxurious, yet less expensive than most bars in the city centre, good bar staff who serve coffee the traditional Dutch way with a glass of water with ice and a shot of rum with cream. My local in Rotterdam and former favourite student haunt
Oostplein, metro Oostplein.
Google map: bit.ly/aNGSCl
It's a restaurant with creative and modern Mediterranean cuisine, with weekly fresh and seasonal menu. The wine list is interesting and un-expensive, and the non-pasteurized fresh Svijany beer from a small brewery in Czech Republic is simply fantastic. It's definitely worth trying it!
+49 30 53156662
Open daily from 18h
Google map: bit.ly/917Wqk
A friendly restaurant and bar, Moby's overlooks Ganges Harbour and serves fresh seafood, and other delights, entertainment most nights and a great place to try BC's best Ceasar (the cocktail) or the salad, I will always remember the view and a plate of steamed mussels.
Take the TGV from Paris (or hop on less green but slightly quicker flight from Gatwick) to the capital of Languedoc-Roussillon - a city where eating well, drinking local wine and relaxing seem to take priority.
You'll want a good day or two to explore the dizzying warren of medieval streets, mostly car-free, in the miraculously preserved old town (known as 'l'Ecusson').
I lost count of the hidden squares complete with fountains, cafés, quirky boutiques and restaurants; you could spend hours just watching the world go by - or a small fortune on chic Christmas presents.
If you're after culture, there are plenty of churches to discover and the impressive and recently renovated Musée Fabre, as well as regular festivals (and Christmas market) in the nearby Place de la Comédie, the heart of the city that constantly teems with life.
For tea, the prettiest spots are around the Eglise Saint-Roch (pronounced "Saaa-Rock"), or the Place de La Canourgue, where a café/restaurant called Le Comptoir de l'Arc was peopled by the fashionable but (relatively) unpretentious.
For dinner, a great little Japanese restaurant called Mayumi Izakaya is tricky to find, but well worth it for simple, fresh sushi.
Best of all is the twice-weekly organic market (Marhcé des Arceaux), where the finest breads, cheeses, honey and other local produce made me wish for a portable fridge and a larger luggage allowance.
Few small cities have perfected the art of living quite like Montpellier: the inhabitants seem to know instinctively what's worth hanging on to, and yet nothing's preserved in aspic. An ancient town full of young, open-minded people, new shops, fast trams and that indefinable French knack of making everything look effortless.
Accommodation: Hôtel Le Guilhem
18 Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau
34000 Montpellier, France
+33(0)4 67 52 90 90
Google map: bit.ly/b3WOl4
Dinner: Mayumi Izakaya, 26 Rue Terral
+33(0)4 67 63 12 25
Google map: bit.ly/cdGZbY
Bar: Le Comptoir de l'Arc, 2 Rue Hôtel de Ville
Market: Tues & Sat 7am - 1pm, Place des Arceaux
In the heart of the trendy neighbourhood of El Born just minutes away from the chaos of Las Ramblas you will find this gem of a pizzeria run by a group of young friendly Argentinians.
The offering consists of a wide variety of delicious crusty deep base pizza by the slice made with quality ingredients. I recommend the pineapple and bacon and anchovy and tomato. They also have savoury tarts and empanadas. Each item costs a very reasonable €1.80.
If you feel like something sweet they have a range of typical Argentinian desserts that are worth a try.
The place is quite small, catering mainly to the locals and is usually always packed- a good thing since pizza is always fresh.
If the weather is obliging you can get take away and have it on one of stone benches outside.
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