The perfect place for a late afternoon or evening drink is from one of the terrace cafes by the castle overlooking Zante town. Great view and you can see the lights of the town twinkling and the whole bay stretching before you.
There's a beautiful little church there which isn't always open, but if it is take a look inside at the gilding and chandeliers - it's a favourite for weddings and christenings.
You can also climb the cobbled lane up to visit the stone Venetian fortress perched on the hill. There's a rather trendy nightclub on the way up if you want to mix with the beautiful people.
Take a taxi or drive up the hill at the back of Zante town and follow the signs - there's a big car-park nearby.
If you're interested in more than lying on a beach, Romas Mansion will give you an interesting glimpse into the history and culture of the island.
It's an old mansion built in the 1660s and was used in the 19th century as the seat of government on Zakynthos. It was the home of the aristocratic Romas family and has now been opened to show the interiors and furnishing of the home of a wealthy Zakynthian family in the last century.
You'll find beautiful furniture, family portraits, leatherbound books and furnishings which would not look out of place in a stately home in England.
You can see photos of how the house was damaged and rebuilt after the earthquake in 1953 which destroyed most of Zante town.
Romas Mansion, Louka Carrer 19, Zante town, Zakynthos, 29100
This is a great, well-priced hotel offering a modern boutique look, young and friendly staff and lots of thoughtful little touches, like the loan of i-pods charged with Berlin music. Not to be confused with it's sister the Circus Hostel, just across the road, although it's run by the same team.
The Fabisch restaurant serves modern German cooking with locally sourced ingredients, has comfy leather chairs and a great bar area - we enjoyed the cocktails. Breakfast was included and was excellent - a choice of continental croissants, healthy cereals or Berlin style with cold meats and cheese.
We booked a 2 bedroom apartment which had an up-market Ikea look, well equiped kitchen and two shower rooms, overlooking the inner courtyard. We also had a twin room which was stylish and contemporary with modern shower room.
There was wifi throughout and the staff were exceptionally helpful when I asked for restaurant recommendations and advice.
It's in the central trendy neighbourhood of Mitte, with plenty of restaurants and nightlife nearby, train station right outside and a 15 min walk to Hackesche Höfe, Alexanderplatz and Museum Island.
Definitely a great choice if you're after a boutique hotel on a budget.
Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Strasse 1, 10119, Berlin
If you're travelling through North Devon or staying in the area, the Stag Inn is a great gastropub to stop at for dinner. It's just off the A361 and difficult to miss as it's painted egg yolk yellow with the traditional Devon thatch.
The owners have refurbished it to make it more stylish while keeping the roaring fire and ancient wooden bar and made a new dining area at the back.
The meat and veg comes from the organic farm of the owner's family and the menu is seasonal while offering all the favourites of sausage and mash, steak and chips and fish and chips.
Not the cheapest pub food but very tasty and a cut above in terms of style and atmosphere.
Stag Inn, Rackenford, Devon, EX16 8DT
This hotel started as a co-operative although it is very professionally run. It is located on the side of the mountain with fantastic views over the valley below from all the rooms and terraces.
This is the place to stay if you enjoy climbing, walking and being close to nature and even in the height of summer the air was refreshingly cool. Many different activities can be organised from the hotel to enjoy the mountain scenery and it is also a good base to visit the town of Nuoro and the murals at Orgosolo.
The restaurant is also very popular, especially at the weekends, and serves pizzas and Sardinian specialities. It's a good place to eat even if you're not staying here, although you would need to book at the weekend.
The rooms are clean and comfortable with wooden furniture and some open directly onto a large balcony. We paid around €75 for a double room including breakfast.
Cooperativa Turistica ENIS, Monte Maccione - 08025 Oliena
You can see more photos and read my review on my blog here
Orosei is a pleasant small town on the eastern coast of Sardinia and worth a visit for its shady squares, old churches and winding old town alleyways.
In medieval times it was a prosperous port but over the centuries the river silted up and left it marooned 3km from the sea.
You should definitely take a look at the church of Sant'Antonio off Piazza Sant'Antonio. It dates from the 15th century and is set in a courtyard with a square stone Pisan tower and small dwellings where pilgrims and travellers once stayed.
The church interior has been modernised but there are some colourful medieval frescos on the walls which have been preserved and in front of the altar you can see the old painted tiled floor which is a couple of feet below the current floor level.
Chiesa Sant'Antonio, Piazza Sant'Antonio, Orosei
You can see my photos and description of the church on
If you're visiting the eastern coast of Sardinia and fancy a change from the crowded beaches of the coast in high season, swimming in river pools is a tranquil alternative.
We found a wonderful cool pool to swim in on the way to the well known gorge of Gola di Gorroppu.
You drive from Dorgali towards Gola di Gorroppu and park the car when the track runs out, then cross the footbridge and walk on the right of the river in the direction of the gorge.
After about 15 minutes, the path forks - the right fork will lead you past a barrier into the national park and on towards the gorge, the left fork leads you downhill towards the river, where you can find big boulders and deep river pools to swim in.
After fighting our way through the crowded beaches in August it made a refreshing change, but sadly we didn't quite make the gorge which is a sight in itself.
On the way back, just short of the Dorgali road, you might like to stop for a drink or meal at the hotel Sant'Elene which serves Sardinian specialities and has a terrace with an amazing view over the valley.
The town of Nuoro is in eastern Sardinia's mountainous province of Barbagia.
It's not on the tourist trail but worth visiting for a half day, especially for the Museum of Costume which is small but outstanding. There you find many beautiful traditional costumes and textiles, roomsets showing objects from daily life and spooky sheepskin outfits and masks worn at the local festivals.
Unfortunately the Museo d'Arte is closed on Mondays, when we visited but it houses modern art and sculpture from Sardinia's best known artists. You can get a taste by looking at the outdoor sculptures in Piazza Satta which commemorate the life of local poet Sebasiano Satta.
Stop for a coffee nearby at Caffe Tettamanzi on Corso Garibaldi and admire the mirrored interior painted with cherubs, where struggling local artists would meet in the past.
The Ceramics museum is housed in the Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas. The exterior is covered with ornate marble decoration and the huge carved alabaster entrance was designed by Hipólito Rovira and alludes to the two rivers (Turia and Júcar) of the Marques' title. There's even a painted-gilt Cinderella coach to greet you in the entrance and the marble decoration continues inside as you walk up the stairs.
On the first floor of the Palacio you pass through room after room smothered with colourful plasterwork and marble decoration with enormous chandeliers sparkling in the gilded mirrors. The Palacio dates back to the 15th century but the exterior was remodelled in the 1740s and and the interiors redecorated in the rococco style in the 1850s. When you've progressed through the many delightful rooms and admired the beautiful paintings and decorations, you reach the ceramics collections themselves. The highlights for me were the colourful painted Spanish tiles and ceramics, including the replica of a tiled Spanish kitchen on the top floor, and there are also some plates decorated by Picasso.
The museum is free on Saturday morning and Sunday but otherwise it costs €2.40
You can see my review and photos on my blog;
Palacio de Marques de Dos Aguas, Poeta Querol, 2, 46002 - Valencia
The most upmarket of the Hôme group in Valencia (not to be confused with the other Hôme Deluxe Hostel in the centre). Each of the rooms is created by an artist with a different theme. The place has a modern, stylish feel and the other guests were couples of all ages and families with older children. There are several restaurants, cafes and small shops in the neighbourhood, and a shopping mall 5 walk minutes away. The City of Arts and Sciences is on your doorstep, and you need to take a 15 min bus journey into the older heart of Valencia, but it’s an easy and cheap journey.
There was a bright red self-catering kitchen where breakfast was served and a sitting area with large TV and 2 free internet stations. There is 24-hour reception and internet facilities as well as underground parking which would be useful if you were driving through Spain. The multi-lingual staff were efficient and helpful. We paid €70 for a double and €100 for a triple room for a mid-week stay - it's slightly more at weekends.
You can see my review and photos on my blog
Hôme Rooms Deluxe Hostel, Instituto Obrero, 20, (46013) Valencia
This is the cheapest of the Hôme group of hostels in Valencia. The hostel is in an old building tacked on to a church and overlooking a square. Our room was brightly coloured but otherwise simple with large lockers, sleeping six people in three sets of bunk beds. On the ground floor there was a sitting area with several internet stations and free wi-fi, and on the third floor a large kitchen which was equally bright and modern. There was an open terrace on the same floor and on the roof was a much larger roof terrace where they hold paella demonstrations at the weekend. The multi-lingual staff on reception was friendly and helpful. The Barrio del Carmen is the place to be for nightlife in Valencia and around 10pm it starts buzzing with bars and nightclubs going on until dawn. We had the full benefit as we tried to get to sleep and at 1am the party was still going strong in the square below our window.
Because of its position in the heart of this area, it's a great place if you're in your 20s, on a tight budget and value a great nightlife over an early night.
You can see my review and photos on my blog:
Hôme Backpacker's Hostel, Plaza Vincente Iborra, Barrio del Carmen, Valencia.
If you enjoy street art, then take a walk around the area of the old town known as Barrio del Carmen.
The area is a well lived in and slightly scruffy old quarter of the city and the centre of the nightlife in Valencia. There is a lot of development going on and round each building plot you find cement walls, usually covered by some great street art. Take your time to wander round the area in the day, you'll find some nice street art round every corner.
You can see my review and photos on my blog;
There are lots of photos of Valencia street art on the Flickr Valencia graffiti pool.
This restaurant was recommended by a Valencian friend and it is a great place to go for traditional Spanish home cooking and great value.
Inside it's decorated with painted Spanish tiles and you can see the food being prepared in the open kitchen. There's a range of typical tapas, seafood and meat dishes - it was good for children as they had some plain dishes like steak, grilled chicken or fish and also some more adventurous things including Paella.
It's tucked down a small street behind the ceramics museum in the Palacio Marques de Dos Aguas but is worth hunting out.
You can see my review and photos on my blog; heatheronhertravels.blogspot.com/2008/04/evening-out-with-angel-in-valencia.html
Restaurante La Utielana, Plaza Picadero de Dos Aguas, San Andres 4, Valencia, Tel 963529414 (The road is just behind Palacio Marques de Dos Aguas)
La Beneficencia is a free museum, and if you walk through the shady inner courtyard, you'll find the restaurant for a great value set lunch at €9.
Service starts at 2pm although I'd arrive a little earlier and have a drink as it is very popular with the locals.
For €9 you get three courses of excellent modern cooking and there are three choices per course. To give you an example of what we ate: salad of salt cod, chicken in a curried sauce with wild rice (or Valencian paella), coconut cream with pineapple and lemon sorbet. It was all delicious.
Museo de Prehistoria y de la Culturas de Valencia (La Beneficencia)
Calle Corona 36. You'll find it in all the guidebooks - it's next to the Institito Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM).
Up and down Stokes Croft, near the centre of Bristol, there's an explosion of street art. On Jamaica Street there's an outdoor art gallery organised by the People's Republic of Stokes Croft. There are plenty of hoardings up and down Stokes Croft with interesting street-art and you can see the Banksy piece, The Mild Mild West. The shops and clubs are picking up the theme too. Don't forget to take your camera.
Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1
Jamaica St, Bristol, BS2 8JP
People's Republic of Stokes Croft www.prsc.org.uk/
You can see my article about Stokes Croft Graffiti on my blog
This beautiful little chapel is well worth a visit as part of a coastal walk. You can approach it from Daymer Bay, or as we did take the ferry across from Padstow to Rock, walk along the beach and through the sand dunes and golf course, to reach it.
The chapel dates back to the 12th century but until 1864 it was virtually buried by the dunes that surrounded it, and to hold a service the vicar and parishioners had to descend into the sanctuary through a hole in the roof. In the 19th century it was finally unearthed and the church restored.
Today you can find everything you might hope for in an old Cornish church but in miniature; the cut-down medieval rood screen, the mellow wooden pews and the memorials to those who died at sea.
The former poet laureate John Betjeman lived locally and is buried here - he wrote a poem about the church 'Sunday Afternoon Service in St. Enodoc Church'
You can read my account of the walk to the church on my blog"
St Enodoc's church, south of the village of Trebetherick, Cornwall.
England grid reference SW931772
This youth hostel occupies a fantastic position on the cliff above Treyarnon beach, which is only one in a string of perfect beaches nearby.
The hostel is open all year round and especially popular in the summer, but also great for an out-of- season break.
They have a cafe and a bar where you can sample Cornish real ales, or you can self-cater in traditional hostel style. The sitting and dining areas have trendy orange and blue walls, surf boards hanging from every surface and the work of local artists on the walls.
The rooms sleep from 3 to 6 people and are all kitted out with pine bunk beds and cheerful curtains - some even have en-suite bathrooms. It's ideally suited to families, out-door types and surfers.
You can read my review on my blog
Tregonnan, Treyarnon, nr Padstow, Cornwall, PL28 8JR, Tel: 0870 770 6076, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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