Reconstructed using original plans and materials from a pub that was destroyed by the IRA (the pub was originally called 'The Shambles' which is funny because that's pretty much what was left after the IRA were done). This place has nice ale and German lagers (not much for the ladies here though) at very cheap prices. The inside has a very comforting authentic 'ye olde English' atmosphere and the outside (equipped with those head-toaster heaters) is very popular in the summer. The menu also features oysters quite prominently, hence the pub's name.
Exchange Square, in front of selfridges and to the left a bit.
In the late 17th century, when the Portuguese Bandeirantes (literally standard bearers or pioneers) discovered gold and precious stones in Minas Gerais, a safe deep water port was required to ship these riches back to Europe. The calm, sheltered waters of the Baía da Ilha Grande, accessed by the precarious Indian trails that traversed the Serra da Bocaina, were ideally suited for this purpose. Thus, in about 1670, the settlement of Paraty was founded and within 20 years was one of the most prosperous ports in the Iberian Colonies.
Unfortunately for the good burghers of Paraty, but happily for the modern traveller, by 1720 a much shorter trail had been blazed from the prospecting towns of Minas to Rio de Janeiro. Despite a brief disturbance during the coffee and sugar booms of the 19th Century, this historical accident, and the fact that Paraty only became accessible by motor vehicle in the 1950s, left the region in its own development-free time bubble.
Today Paraty is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its former wealth is reflected in some of the most beautiful and assiduously preserved colonial architecture in the whole of Brazil. The Centro Histórico is a masterpiece, with its baroque churches, roughly cobbled streets that flood with the rising tide and graceful merchants’ mansions. Set all this man-made elegance in a heart-stopping setting of rainforest-clad escarpments, the dramatic Costa Verde coastline, dozens of near deserted beaches and the tropical islands of the Baía and you have a combination of sophistication and natural exuberance that is hard to beat anywhere in Brazil.
It has to be said that, as a popular weekend retreat for the well-heeled of São Paulo and Rio, Paraty is not cheap by Brazilian standards but if anywhere around Rio is worth a bit of a splurge, this is it. One lower priced accommodation option is the Cigarras Pouso Familiar near the bus station. It is a popular location for makers of period movies and novellas and has en suite rooms including breakfast at R$100 and small self catering apartments for around R$150. My personal favourite, however, is the gorgeous Mercado de Pouso, Paraty’s former coffee market, on the old quayside beside the Santa Rita church, where a double room with air conditioning, ceiling fan and bathroom with breakfast included will set you back around R$250. The hotel also has its own 80 foot schooner and organises dolphin spotting, diving and beach cruises to the islands. For the truly budget minded, camping is available at the Camping Club do Brasil a short distance out of town beside the Praia do Pontal.
One of the real pleasures of Paraty is its bewildering profusion of excellent restaurants. In a high class field there are two that really stand out. The Restaurante da Matriz is situated in a colonial house on the main square, Praça da Matriz. It is rightly famous throughout Brazil for its deliciously authentic Caiçara dishes, named after the natives of this coastal region. Try the mouthwatering sea bass and shrimp moqueca, a traditional fish stew spiced with ferociously piquant dendê oil, or the prawns fried in batter with ginger and mango sauce.
If that doesn’t take your fancy, on Rua do Comercio you will find Merlin o Mago, an award winning establishment with an idiosyncratic fusion style that incorporates the best of Europe, Asia and Brazil. The restaurant is aptly named as its chef, the German-born former restaurant critic, Hado Steinbrecher, is truly a magician. His onion ice cream (yes, that’s onion ice cream) dumplings on tomato with grilled goat’s cheese are a sensation and you’ll have to go a long way to find anything to beat the lobster in orange sauce.
A good, if expensive, time to visit Paraty is during the low season months of July and August when two events draw visitors from all over the world. Every August since 1972 the town has organised the Festival da Pinga. Time was when the town and surrounding area had over 200 distilleries, or “alambiques”, producing Brazil’s sugar cane spirit, cachaça, the principal ingredient of the ubiquitous caipirinha. Whilst the alambiques are somewhat less numerous today, Paraty is still a major producer and the festival attracts some 20,000 aficionados who take their cachaça as seriously as any single malt whisky drinker.
For those of a less bacchanalian disposition, for four days every July Paraty becomes a sort of tropical Hay-on-Wye as it presents the annual Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty. Run by Bloomsbury Publishing founder, Liz Calder, the festival has played host to the likes of Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie and, after only three years, is already established as one of the world’s premier literary events.
Do bear in mind that accommodation prices can double and even triple during these busy periods and hotel bookings should be made weeks, if not months, in advance.
As far as activities are concerned, clearly the sea plays a major role. A number of companies offer skippered sailing and motor yacht charters in modern, well equipped boats and Paraty is also one of Brazil’s scuba diving meccas with a host of companies to choose from. On the other hand, if just lazing on a palm-fringed beach is your thing, the boat ride to Praia do Sono is an absolute must. Quite simply, they don’t make beaches any lovelier. Praia do Sono and the larger, busier beach at Trindade can also be reached by bus.
Paraty’s other major attraction is the Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaina, which straddles the border of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and is home to endangered species such as spider and howler monkeys, harpy eagles, tree porcupines and giant anteaters. Four wheel drive and horseback tours of the Park and the Trilha de Ouro (gold trail), with English speaking guides, can be arranged at the Centro de Informações Turisticas on Avenida Roberto Silveira.
Paraty is a magical, almost unreal place with a delight round every corner. From the moment you arrive your senses will be overwhelmed by a heady confection of sights, sounds, smells and tastes that few places in the world can equal. Don’t take my word for it, though. While anchored in the Baía da Ilha Grande during his second South American voyage of 1501, Amerigo Vespucci wrote in a letter home, “Oh God! If there was a paradise on earth, it would not be very far from here!” He was not wrong.
To reach Paraty from Rio, take an air conditioned coach from the Rodoviária Novo Rio bus station. The journey time is about four hours. Here are some useful websites: Paraty, www.paraty.com.br/iindex.asp. Mercado de Pouso, www.mercadodepouso.com.br/. Cigarras Pouso Familiar, www.paraty.com.br/cigarras/ICIGARRA.HTM. Merlin o Mago, www.paraty.com.br/merlin. Restaurante da Matriz, www.paraty.com.br/matriz/index.asp. For yacht charters, Coconut Yacht Adventures (www.geocities.com/bra1868/) is a reliable German run company and for diving, Mr. Big Paraty (tel. 024/3371-1327) has a good reputation.
Dubrovnik, it's a unique city in the whole world. I traveled there in September 2006. I think Croatia is a great country, it has the whole package; history; cultural richness; beautiful places to visit, and great weather.
Pile Bay-Old Town is very romantic. We stayed there at apartments near Fort Lovrijenac. The price was OK and location perfect (only 70 m from magnificent Placa-Stradun). Nevertheless, the location was quiet.
The staff were obliging and rooms clean. Another hot tip is the wonderful fish restaurant Orhan near apartments at small idilic Pile harbour.
I recommend visiting Dubrovnik a thousand times!
od tabakarije 19,fon:+385(0)917397545
Legal Seafoods is a great seafood restaurant which has several around the city. Delicious, fresh food and knowledgeable, charming staff. All round a winner. Try the lobster.
Park Plaza, in the Prudential centre and next to the New England Aquarium
An old theatre converted to a bohemian style cafe, this South-Peninsula haunt is well-known to locals. The atmosphere is lively, friendly and irreverent, but the real treat is the food. Sumptuous cooked breakfasts, delicious baked breads and pastries, as well as fresh Cape seafoods from the harbour across the road and beyond.
Main Road, Kalk Bay Phone: +27 (21) 788-6396
The port area, about ten minutes' walk from the foot of the Ramblas.
Stroll around and go into any one of the specialist seafood restaurants there. You will be blown away by the fresh taste, generous portions and choice. Seafood in the UK will never be the same after this.
This restaurant is really special. For 15 euros you are served a huge platter of assorted coquillages straight from the market stalls outside: oysters, mussels, crevettes, crab, langoustes and clams are all affordable for those on even the tightest budget.
The prices start from about 15 euros for a huge platter and go up according to the quantity of raw shellfish you feel like eating. For fans of coquillages this prize-winning restaurant is surely a must, but even for those Brits like me who are terrified of eating something so weird (let’s face it…), the lively atmosphere, the friendly staff and the sight of so many people enjoying delicious food is enough to make you try your first oyster.
It is child-friendly, unpretentious and welcoming, and the wine is good too. Forget Bouillabaisse unless you can get a real Marseillais to make it for you for a tenth of the price and go ‘Chez Toinou’. It is a Marseille institution.
3, cours Saint Louis - 13001 Marseille
Konoba Dundo Maroje is a tiny restaurant down one of the narrow streets leading north from the main street, Placa. Virtually every restaurant in the old town claims to specialise in fish, but as a seafood fanatic who's travelled to Dubrovnik on a budget in both 2002 and just this summer, Dundo Maroje really made an impression on my tastebuds - four times now.
The grilled squid seem to be twice the size of anywhere else and unbelievably succulent, all beautifully presented and dripping in garlic-infused olive oil. The lobster carpaccio is an unusual dish worth trying there too. What the restaurant lacks in views it certainly makes up for in atmosphere. Sippng an ice-cold Istra bitter (like Campari), your bare feet cooled by the marble pavement, watching people file past is a nice way to start your evening.
Konoba Dundo Maroje - Kovacka, 00 385 20 321 445 (Dinner for 3 with drinks £30)
To avoid the crowds in Brighton, head further west along the coast to Shoreham-by-Sea. Shoreham beach is lovely and rarely crowded. The Seafood Experience, just back from the beach, is great for tapas and seafood platters.
Regular buses and trains from Brighton to Shoreham-by-Sea. Journey time is around 10 minutes;
The Seafood Experience: 29 Ferry Road, Shoreham Beach;
tel: 01273 464768;
On the top of the grand department store Kaufhaus des Westens, aka KaDeWe, there is the most fantastic set of food halls I have ever been to. Even more vast and wondrous than Harrods. The fish halls are spectacular and the range of international food unbelievable. A foodie paradise! The rest of the store isn't too shabby, either.
Kaufhaus des Westens
Three great restaurants. Relaxed and friendly atmosphere; superb fish with stunning desserts - the trio of creme brulee was superb and enough to share.
Not cheap but worth every penny. Don't miss it - the two TV chefs borrowed the name, with permission. Named after the first to open at 88 Dumbarton Road.
118a Blythswood St G2 - close to Sauchiehall St
88 Dumbarton Road G11
and a new one in Argyle St.
Fish restaurant with informal, friendly vibe. Choose you fish(es) and the cooking method and sit back with a chilled sauvignon blanc and wait. The calamari are apparently from Patagonia and are the best I have ever tasted.
This restaurant is located in a very traditional quarter in Rio de Janeiro. I liked it a lot, mainly because of the fresh fish that goes to the restaurant right after being caught. The music was nice too. When I was there they played some popular Brazilian music.
Rua Almirante Alexandrino 432, St. Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Leave Nice and travel east five kilometres to the delightful town of Villefranche-sur-Mer with its deep natural harbour and wonderful selection of seafood restaurants.
Note the splendid Baroque church at the top of the hill and wind your way down the medieval streets to the amazing chapel by the sea, lavishly decorated by Jean Cocteau and dedicated to fishermen in the area who initially refused to enter because of the flamboyant naked male angels painted on the walls.
If you like Cocteau's work, travel onwards to Menton to a very camply decorated registry office and a wonderful museum, containing a huge Cocteau collection.
I challenge anyone not to relax in Collioure, an historic coastal town just south of Perpignan and sandwiched between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
You can wander the narrow streets, ponder the meaning of life in a seafront café or march into the rugged hills and vineyards behind, where you’ll get a great panoramic view of the town below.
Seafood lovers should sample the famous Collioure anchovies. For foodies generally, Café le Vauban serves a never-ending platter of regional delicacies that redefines the term "bargain".
Collioure can be a great base to explore up and down the coast too. A train line runs through several towns, but be aware that all trains cease between around 1pm and 3pm, as is the Mediterranean way.
Where to stay: a good value hotel is Le Triton. Breakfast by the sea …
30mins on train from Perpignan.
Does the most fantastic pepper crab. Most taxi drivers will have heard of the place or take the MRT to the nearest stop, Aljunied, it's a three minute walk from the station.
50 Stadium Blvd Singapore 397796,
near Aljunied MRT Station
Cascais, about 50 minutes by train from Lisbon, has fine sandy beaches - where men in wet suits dive for octopus - and an impressive fish market, where all the fish-sellers are elderly women.
There are frequent trains from Lisbon's Estação Cais do Sodre;
Turismo de Cascais: Rua Visconde da Luz, 2750 Cascais;
tel: 21 486 82 04
Howth is 25 minutes on the DART from the City. It is a working fishing harbour, and on the (wet) Sunday we visited, had a farmers' market, as well as two fishmongers and an awful lot of boats. Of the pubs, I'd recommend the Bloody Stream for its fantastic local seafood - try the chowder - and a great pint. Despite the good food, it isn't expensive or pretentious. Just good beer, and good food in nice surroundings. Best of all, it is underneath the DART station, so you can keep checking when the next one's due. We prolonged our stay by about 2 hours this way, in twenty minute intervals. Howth is a good option for a Sunday afternoon, if you want a break from the City. (Try The Abbot as well)
14 West Pier (just below the DART station), Howth;
tel: 01 839 5076;
For some unfathomable reason, the frutos do mar (seafood) restaurant, Marius, at the Leme end of Avenida Atlántica is praised to the skies in certain quarters. Frankly, an evening spent drilling holes in your kneecaps would be a more agreeable experience. Its over aggressive staff are clearly trained to push drinks, t-shirts and anything else on unsuspecting diners. The food is bland and overpriced, and the horribly twee Barnacle Bill ambience make this a place to avoid like the plague.
There are plenty of less touristy seafood options in Rio. For a vastly superior product, at the same price and without the hard sell, go to Satyricon on Rua Barão da Torre in Ipanema. You won’t regret it.
Satyricon is at Rua Barão da Torre, 192, Ipanema, tel. 2521-0627, www.satyricon.com.br. Marius could be on Venus for all I care.
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