Greece is a wonderful place to visit over the Easter weekend - more specifically, Athens. Orthodox Easter is celebrated in Greece, meaning that shops and restaurants aren't closed in observance of western Easter. Athens is a surprising vibrant and cosmopolitan city. The seaside area of Glyfada is filled with fantastic cafes, bars, shops, restaurants and beach clubs. Psirri, an area in the center of Athens, has a booming nightlife and is full of a bohemian young crowd. There is, of course, also a wealth of historical and archeological sites to visit.
The average high temperature in April is 20.2 C/68.4 F and many locals swim in the sea year-round. There are low-cost flights available from the UK. It's a great place for a long weekend in Europe.
Every time we go to London we love to visit the science museum (South Kensington) and have such a special time walking among space ships, planes and many more; will not miss the basement area where there is a lot to do like experiments with water, foam house building etc.
If we can we will treat ourselves and book the IMAX tickets. Then we walk through Hyde Park heading to Selfridges on Oxford street where the top restaurant (Food Garden Café) has a range of yummy stalls like pancakes, Lebanese, Japanese, Chinese, baked potatoes and fresh fruit juices and smoothies. It's real treat, and kids love to choose their food.
After food we'll go to the floor with children's clothes and toys, which is really unique. Around Christmas they display a lot of pedal cars and other traditional toys for children to try and it's very special.
Brasil & Cia is a store specialising in popular arts and crafts, located in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro.
Me and my wife went for a walk in the neighborhood and we found the shop. We bought crafts made with fibres, and others made with wood. Our house is prettier now!
Rua Maria Quitéria, 27, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro.
The Emporium hotel (opened Jun07) is to be highly recommended. Super service with fantastic luxurious rooms makes it a great place to stay. The hotel is located in the Emporium Food and fashion precinct in the 'Valley.
Cheap it is not, but it's worth the stay. I also have to mention that the entrance to the hotel is... amazing!
An icon for Singapore is the ultra-hygienic eating stalls. Nowhere else in the world do they have such hawker food stalls with freshly cooked foods of all kinds - for example, chilli crabs, shark's fin soup, mee goreng, fish head curry and many more. You can even get a fantastically cooked steak to your liking, or oysters with eggs all cooked in front of you within minutes. All ingredients are fresh and very hygienic - carefully and strictly monitored by the Singapore government.
The best place for lunch or dinner with an exotic feel is Newton Place Hawker Centre, where it's easy to park and even easier to get a cab. It is only a stone's throw from Orchard Road (Singapore's famous shopping street). If you are feeling a bit peckish at 1am Newton is the place to go for some Taiwan porridge which is served from 9pm till 3am at their Coffee Lounge. The Goodwood Park hotel is one of the oldest on the islandand is considered a national monument to the British colonisation of Singapore dating back to 1900. It is splendid for business and families alike. If you would like something to do, go to East Coast beach where you will see a number of seafood restaurants on the beach - about eight of them side by side to choose from.
If you are feeling more adventurous go on a boat ride to the Indonesian Island of Batan for the day from the Pier - right in the financial district. You can obtain the timetable of departure times from the tourist board - it is pretty reasonable. Serangoon (Singapore's little India), where you can find lots of Indian cafes and restaurants, has excellent Indian food where you can also find the famous 'teh tarik' (literal meaning is 'tea pulled'). It is sweet milky tea that is cooled down by pouring tea from one glass to another from about two or three feet apart depending on the skills of each waiter.
Whilst at Serangoon go to MUSTAFA's shopping centre. It is the Indian version of Debenhams but you will find almost everything exotic there and pretty reasonably priced. Whilst there also visit Tekka Market. It is the first wet market in Singapore where you will find more hawkers' stalls, shopping and local restaurants. It really is fascinating.
It is very very safe as crime is low and the people are very sophisticated and highly educated. You can find almost anything in Singapore. It is a multicultural country and more and more westerners are opting to live and work there, and they are well catered for.
If you fancy a bit of waterskiing go to Ponggol (along the coast) and hire out a boat - they will offer an instructor/driver with the hire of the boat with the gear (at a fee of course). You certainly do not have to worry about the weather. Fancy some original Malay satay - then the Esplanade is the place to go to. Depending on the time of the year you may even be lucky enough to get some Malay entertainment along the way. Want to hit the nightclubs but don't know which ones? There are about 20 nightclubs from samba to R&B, disco, blues, jazz, Chinese etc. all side by side at the World Trade Centre (or rather right next to it). They are open seven nights a week and some close at 5am. If you fancy a blues night out then try The Crazy Elephant at Clarke Quay, where you can sample a lychee martini. How exotic is that! I could go on - just do a bit of research or ask around at your hotel concierge and they will tell you. I am sure you will be spoilt...
Please be aware that no chewing of gum is allowed in Singapore and travellers are not allowed to bring in more than a cigarette packet of 20s into Singapore or there is a hefty fine.
Great food (lentil soup is amazing!) and incredibly friendly staff. Ask to meet Nemo, the owner - he can also arrange all your trips for you and if you need any shopping done, he's your man! A visit to Luxor without a visit to Smileys simply wouldn't be right!
Passport Street, Opposite Nile Palace Hotel
If staying on Kowloon and arriving later in the evening, or feeling a bit thrown by jet lag and fancy something to do late at night, a walk around Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, the commercial heart of Kowloon is an absoloute must! An amazingly vibrant neon street spectacle as people shop and socialise amongst street stalls and sprawling maze-like malls. Although it is bustling and chaotic it never feels claustrophobic due to the polite and leisurely pace - people stroll around soaking up the atmosphere. The area remains busy sometimes until 2am so it's a must see for any traveller.
Nathan Road - TsimShaTsui, Kowloon
Take the MTR to TsimShaTsui Station - take the Nathan Road exit
'Ley ho ma?' (That's 'How are you?' in Cantonese) and welcome to Hong Kong. You'll be arriving at Hong Kong International Airport (www.hongkongairport.com), just 25 minutes away from the Hong Kong Island and regular winner of the Best International Airport award. Hong Kong International Airport (IATA Code: HKG) serves as the gateway to this buzzing city or as a hub to further connections to the rest of Asia. Terminal 1 serves as the low-cost terminal and features a full sized cinema as well as the Hong Kong essential - shops. Yes, shopping (along with eating) is the national pastime in Hong Kong with shops staying open until late. Service is generally good (as long as you are spending money) and best of all - Hong Kong is has no sales tax.
Tip 1: Forget the 'duty-free shops' at the airport. The whole of Hong Kong is duty-free so the airport is often the most expensive places to buy your souvenirs. The Hong Kong Airport Express train offers an efficient way straight to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. Note that Kowloon station is not very well connected to the MTR (the distances are quite large - if carrying a suitcase, you may want to take a taxi from the station).
Practicalities and getting around
As a former British Colony, Hong Kong is a breeze to navigate even for the most novice business traveller. Signs and announcements are typically in three languages (Mandarin, Cantonese and English, although written Mandarin is the same as Cantonese) so as long as you can read English you shouldn't have a problem getting around. Most people in the main business areas also speak English but it's always worthwhile having the address of where you want to go to written down in Chinese, just in case your taxi driver doesn't know the English name for the destination (street names have both English and Chinese names - sometimes they don't correlate and they certainly aren't pronounced the same). The Hong Kong Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar so this is the most common currency of exchange.
Tip 2: If you have spare US Dollars on you, it may be more cost efficient to change USD into HKD as the exchange rate will be fixed. However, given the current weakness of the USD vs GBP, you might want to capture a good rate now. (www.hsbc.com.hk)
Tip 3: Get yourself an Octopus card - accepted as payment on the MTR and public transport systems - buy one with an Airport Express ticket included at the airport (www.octopuscards.com).
Where to stay
Hong Kong benefits from a strong portfolio of hotels which can cater for all tastes and budgets - ranging from the surprising and excellently located YMCA to the pinnacle of luxury - the Peninsula Hong Kong. However, one common denominator can be found across most hotels - service is generally outstanding and standards are higher than those found in North America and Europe. Hong Kong is split across three key areas - New Territories, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. New Territories is the area that borders China and is not usually frequented by business travellers and tourists alike. Given the lack of business or tourist interests in this area, I would not recommend staying here. Kowloon is connected to the mainline and features shopping (the national pastime), food (the other national pastime) and business. This area tends to be slightly older than Hong Kong Island but it does benefit from slightly more space (which is hard to come by in Hong Kong) and offers greater value for money.
Tip 4: Always ask the hotel if offers special corporate rates. Most tend to do and you may be able to benefit from a complimentary upgrade or better price.
Kowloon hotel recommendations
YMCA - USD120 per night
Located on Waterloo road right by the Peninsula hotel, this YMCA is unlike any other YMCA in the world. Despite the name, it functions more as a main stream hotel rather than a hostel, offering clean and modern rooms are at great prices. Staff are friendly and down to earth. Location is perfect for exploring all that Kowloon has to offer.
Tip 5: If you want a taste of luxury - why not upgrade to a suite at the YMCA. This could at a cost similar to that of a normal luxury hotel room.
Marco Polo Prince - USD180 per night
Located as part of the huge waterfront (Harbour Plaza) shopping complex, you will never be short of all things to do in this classic Hong Kong institution. This hotel forms part of the Marco Polo chain and you will find other Marco Polo hotels adjacent to this hotel. Well located for shopping and perfect for journeys on the star ferry. Traffic in this area can sometimes be bad which means travelling by car is not ideal.
Peninsula - USD450 per night
Look up luxury in the dictionary and you may find the Peninsula Hong Kong listed. Every whim and care is catered for in this five-star complex. Famed for its old colonial style, high tea still features strongly on the tourist trail. As a guest, you will benefit from access to the first class spa and pool facilities. Try whiling away the day and escaping the rush of the city as you sip cocktails by the pool. Rooms are luxurious as expected and even the smallest detail is catered for.
Hong Kong Island recommendation
Lang Kwai Fong Hotel - USD200 per night
Small but well formed, the Lang Kwai Fong Hotel is actually located about a 10 minute walk from its expat haven namesake but the hotel is close enough to wonder back to after a night out. It is also five minutes away from Hong Kong's Soho district which is famed for its al fresco dining and the outdoor escalator which claims to be the world's only outdoor escalator. Rooms are small but the location is excellent for anyone wanting to stay centrally without the cost.
Lanson Place - USD250 per night
This boutique hotel is the real gem of Hong Kong. Set back from the hub of Causeway Bay, shopping and dining are just moments away. Rooms are well decorated and feature small kitchenettes. Breakfast is generally included in room rates and the hotel staff are very helpful. Rooms feature flat screen TVs and DVD players. The hotel lends out DVDs and books as part of its library. The gym is well equipped and modern.
Four Seasons - USD450 per night
Perfectly located on top of Hong Kong Station (connected to the Airport Express), this bastion of luxury does not disappoint. The rooms are bright and well appointed and can overlook the harbour. Conveniently located by the International Finance Tower, the Four Seasons hotel boasts one of the most convenient locations for business meetings. As a business traveller, you may find it very convenient for your trips in and out of the airport and to meetings.
Where to eat
Hong Kong's streets are filled with places to eat. Depending on how adventurous you are, you can eat for as little as a couple of USD and be very satisfied with the fresh and delightful food. Food halls also offer a convenient and accessible way of finding a quick lunch. Recommended food halls include Pacific Place and the shopping centre attached to Kowloon Tong. Try market stalls (they have been cleaned up post-SARs) for a true experience of local Hong Kong. The one over the road from Soho, Causeway Bay, is the most accessible (although apparently the most expensive according to locals).
What to do
Top ten Hong Kong attractions that won't take too much out time out of your schedule. Estimated time for each is included so that you can squeeze it into your busy schedule.
1. Peak tram - great views of the city travelling up the Peak Tram.
Time required - 2 hours
2. Star ferry - cross the harbour with classic style on board the famous (and fantastically cheap) Star Ferry.
Time required - 20 mins
3. Shopping - shop till you drop at huge shopping malls. Try Pacific Place, Hong Kong Island and Harbour City, Kowloon
Time required - 2 hours
4. Ladies market (Tung Choi Street) - better to browse rather than buy, this market features cheap goods and 'almost authentic' goods.
Time required - 1 hour
5. Stanley market - step away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy this small former fishing town and its market.
Time required - 2 hours
6. Ocean Park - if family are accompanying you, then take them to Ocean Park for some marine-themed fun.
Time required - 5 hours
7. Causeway Bay - best seen at dusk - watch the hip and trendy come out to meet for movies, karaoke and of course food and shopping. Check out the Times Square shopping centre and restaurant complex.
Time required - 2 hours
8. Happy Valley racecourse - check online to see the race timetable. Get yourself a general admission ticket or arrange a box for an experience you can bet on. www.happyvalleyracecourse.com
Time required - 3.5 hours
9. Ride a tram - be taken back to Hong Kong's colonial past whilst riding on these trams that run through Hong Kong island's central district.
Time required - 20 mins
10. High team at the Peninsula - OK, not so much Hong Kong but luxury at its finest. Enjoy fresh pastries in a delightful setting. Reservations recommended.
Time required - 2 hours
RePOP is a treasure trove/vintage museum chock full of everything from mid-century modern furniture at cutting edge prices to marvelous curiosities like cast iron doll molds and retro figurine lamps.
Fabulous local artisan jewels line the walls as does the work of up and coming artists Ellie Balk and Dominic Albo. Before or after heading over to the much buzzed about Brooklyn Flea, located five blocks away, this well hidden boutique (with new merchandise arriving weekly) bears all the rarities and designer goods you ever needed to make your day of vintage/antique scavenging a success. Open six days a week and well worth the trip.
RePOP 68 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205 www.repopny.com.
Located near the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Clinton Hill/Fort Greene. The nearest train is the G or C at Clinton/Washington.
A great café chock-full of some of the best cakes and sweets in Bruges according to the locals who go there – and in a city famed for its deserts, that’s saying something!
The hot chocolate was literally hot milk with pieces of chocolate for you to melt in yourself. Sickly, maybe, but definitely delicious – you’ll find it hard to go back to instant stuff when you return…
Charming little bookshop filled to the ceiling with hard to find scores and music books. Don't be fooled by its size, they even host a grand piano. The back room is both a cafè serving gourmet coffee drinks and wine, and a miniature concert hall displaying the work of local artists. Also noticed for their one-of-a-kind recycled and handpainted furnitures and off-beat concerts with a cult following. Concerts draw the attraction of hundreds including famous personalities from the neighbourhood, despite the shop seating about 50 people. Located in Trastevere and not hard to find, just look for the crowd gathering on the doorsteps and listening to live music from street at night.
Via di San Francesco a Ripa, 60
It is a big shop with very pleasant feel to it, and has a very large stock of high quality fabrics for suits and shirts. He does original tailoring in his own workshop on the second floor.
I have had a bad experience with other tailors and this is the only place I can recommend.
Just under the Asok sky train station, on Sukhumvit road.
check out his web page www.moonriverbyvj.com, it will give you all the details.
This is probably the biggest tourist trap here into which many have fallen. Many of the shops on Nathan Road in Kowloon selling electronic products don't display the prices on the items. Many tourists have been scammed or cheated. One ploy is to give you an unbelievably good price, then after they have your money, they say they are out of stock, offering you another item but at an outrageous price. Some tourists have said that even calling the police did not help.
The Henry Art Gallery, Woodland Park Zoo, Western Bridge, Brasa, Snoqualmie Pass, a ferry ride to Vashon Island, the salt water pool at Lincoln Park, the statue of Lenin in Fremont, the top of the Space Needle, How To Cook A Wolf, a walk around Greenlake, Matt's in the Market, Platform Gallery, Bumbershoot, the rain.
A shoe store with the trendiest and best made shoes I've ever worn! Models designed after 50s sport shoes. Great colour combinations, and made by hand! The owner told me he sells most of the shoes and sneakers in Denmark and Japan. They have a museum with tons of 40s and 50s sport shoes.
Gurruchaga y Gorriti
Palermo, Buenos Aires
Les Paquis is one of the smartest parts of Geneva as it's right next to Lake Geneva and has some trendy (ie expensive) shops as well as some cheaper souvenir shops.
There are shady little squares and swish mansions and is a good part of the city to see on your way back to Cornavin train station.
Beware of pickpockets though!
Les Paquis is on the Rive Droite side of Lake Geneva and is west of Quai Wilson
The combined streets of Rue de la Conféderation, Rue du Rhône and Rue de la Croix d'or are lined with some of the most expensive shops in Switzerland (the others being in Zurich) so if you have serious Swiss francs to burn than this area is the place to go, otherwise it's great just to look at those watches and clothes which you can't have. Even the brand name stores of H&M and C&A are not as cheap as you may think they are.
There are numerous undercover shopping malls just off each street too which are great places to escape from the summer heat.
The Rue de la Conféderation is a 20 min walk from Cornavin train station, just follow Rue du Mont Blanc, cross the Rhône river via the Pont Mont Blanc and turn into Rue de la Conféderation which becomes the Rue de la Croix d'or and then becomes the Rue du Rhône
Right opposite the excellent Café Gollem (a lovely, cosy little bar where you can sample up to 200 Belgian beers) is one of the best beer shops in Holland. Selling about 500 beers from all over the world and specialising in beers from small independent brewers, it's an absolute treasure trove for the beer lover. You can buy Westvleteren there (which is reputedly the best beer in the world and extremely hard to come by), as well as some truly stunning Scandinavian and American beers. Try the Norwegian Porters and Imperial Stouts. Highly recommended.
And once you've bought some for later, why not pop into Café Gollem to try a couple on tap and maybe a Kaasplank (literally a plank with cheese & bread on it). Very satisfying. There's also a second branch of Café Gollem right by the Albert Cuyp Market in the Pijp district.
Both The Cracked Kettle and Café Gollem are on Raamsteeg, a small alley between Spuistraat and the Singel canal. The other Gollem is on Daniel Stalpertstraat, round the corner from the Albert Cuyp Market and the Heineken brewery
About 45 kms from Amsterdam, Aalsmeer is the "Wall Street of flower trade". It has an average daily turnover of 6.6 million Euros, with about 60,000 clock transactions every morning.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com