This transformed warehouse is a hidden haven for anyone trying to avoid the obvious crowds in Dalston. They serve hearty British food, sourced locally, seasonal and fresh. The eating area is warm, friendly and relaxed, and the kitchen in plain view, which is always a good sign when they have nothing to hide! A perfect place to come for a quiet read or to go with friends for a sensibly priced dinner. It also hosts exhibitions and live music events.
Wherever you are in London the Regents Canal is never too far. On a crisp autumn day, especially in the morning when the water is so calm there is no nicer way to travel then a walk along here. The east side is my favourite with many snack bars and coffee hubs where you can sit and watch the Hackney posse rock about. Better yet are the charming houseboats that are docked up, especially towards trendy Broadway market which have taken to selling goods and sometimes even having live music. Take bread to feed the ducks and enjoy a piece of real London living.
The best place to start is the opening near Angel tube and the Canal can take you all the way to Victoria park.
I wasn't really left with much choice as I was pushed into taking part by my casa's cousin/farmer/cowboy/salsa instructor. He insured me it was a must while in Vinales however I was still quite reluctant to give it a try. I was led in near silence by my semi-automatic horse through the backs of farmer’s fields, besides prying wild life and had the chance to pick exotic wild fruits which were the most delicious I had yet had in Cuba. The Avatar style mountains closed in on us as we wandered through the valley's rising floor. We dismounted and explored the dips and creeks, into the caves and cooled by the plunge pool with the plumpest (wild) pigs I had ever seen. I was also promised a trip to a cigar factory which was delightful! We smoked handmade cigars for about an hour washed down with an ‘authentic’ rum, lemon and coconut water concoction. It may seem touristy but it was a worthwhile experience, being able to speak to the locals and explore a tourist excursion that the Cuban government isn’t controlling.
It's best to just ask someone at your casa for details.
While staying on the nearby island of Krk, just off the mainland, we decided to explore the less obvious island of Cres. We rose early, rented a moped (which is the cheapest and quickest way of getting around) and caught the morning ferry across. Within the one day we spent there we stumbled upon historic sea side towns, quaint fishing villages, farmers selling produce roadside and deserted tranquil beaches. The most memorable part was sunset. We were somehow at a very high point on the main high road and we watched as the sun withdrew its light from the entire island. Ditch the guide book, avoid the tourists and explore with your eyes, rent a moped and go where the wind takes you on this glorious, happy truly Croatian island.
Daily ferries from Valbiska port on Krk island. Follow signs for towns on the coast and see where you end up.
Google map: bit.ly/KWQols
After visiting Dubrovnik it was hard to remember we were in a foreign country, that was until we reached the seaside town of Omis, not somewhere popularized in the guide books just yet but a hidden gem on the road to Zadar.We were dropped off in the middle of the night and were lucky enough to find a tourist office still open and a euro campsite right where the bus dropped us. We explored the 'open till late' town which was swarming with locals, pubs and youngsters. A vibrant town buzzing with youth and laughter not loud American accents and the pitta patter of Birkenstocks. We had been offered to do white water rafting which was an activity neither of us had considered before and I wasn't to keen especially with the early morning start. We started our journey through the mountains to reach a decent point to start our decline. We were welcomed by the organizers and were made to instantly feel safe and part of the team (no patronizing talks or telling off). We got put into a team with two others and a guide, a well spoken Croatian who was also part of the Olympic rafting team. On my whole journey I had never felt so content and at one with nature as we weaved down the Centina river through waterfalls, trees, lagoons, fish and caves. Of course there was the thrilling rapids in between all of this which resulted in the entire boat laughing with joy after the thrill. We were closely followed by other teams who had plenty of banter and splash fights to give (you're never too old). The best experience of this was our trip into the caves when on the command of 'go English' I was told to follow the torch light in to a dark pit of a below zero water across to slippery rocks and led up barefoot following the sunlight out through the mouth of a waterfall. The shrill squeak of my boyfriend closely following me is what kept me laughing the whole way. Afterwards we got to chill in the river, jump off rocks and free float (no boat) down a rapid. After I felt exhilarated and free. An experience of mixed emotions I will never forget and recommend all to do, if not even the town alone is worth a visit for a real taste of Croatia.
Omis is a town on the coastal rad between Dubrovnik and Zadar which is reachable by bus.
Google map: bit.ly/IVco9F
Tomaso restaurant is by far the best place we ate in the whole of Croatia. It's situated in the lovely historic town of Pula on the Istrian coast. It was recommended to us by the tourist office but only after we begged the woman to tell us somewhere where we could get real,wholesome, traditional Croatian food. Situated on one of the main roads leading out of the city, Tomaso is small and easy to miss so keep an eye out. This locals hangout is unlike many of the other restaurants in town without a pestering maitre'd or menu catered to tourists. It dished up fresh homemade meats,oven baked vegetables and creamy pasta style dishes but in a way like I have never tasted before. My boyfriend was a vegetarian but things changed after our first visit here. However they do vegetable options too. Avoid the expensive pizza places on the strip in the main town and head here for a real, authentic taste of Croatian food and culture. Every time I come back to Pula, Tomaso is the first place I hit up, knowing it will be my best meal in the country. (£3-£10 per person)
11 Zagrebačka, 52100, Pula, Croatia
+385 (052) 216027
Google map: bit.ly/Ii7t6U
Unfortunately there is a lack of beaches in the area of Sorrento, along with a vast English crowd that do take up what is available. When travelling there last year I was in desperate need of a good beach after spending a week in the rural dry lands of Puglia and the best way to go about finding something secret is by befriending a local. An old restaurant manager recommended a beach about 30 minutes walk outside the main town of Sorrento, a place he said was so discreet he used to go down there with his wife years ago to make love. I later also found out it was where Queen Giovanna, who it is named after, used to go to sunbathe naked without prying eyes. I arrived first thing in the morning to deserted rocks and rugged plateaus just asking for a towel to be thrown on. It’s really like no beach I had been to before. Dark caves and washed up boulders, blue lagoons and secret rock pools, only reached through wild paths and risky climbs, a true gangster’s paradise of the south.
Follow the road south of Sorrento towards Amalfi, by car if possible as the road isn't made for walkers, until you reach a sign for Regina Giovanna beach on your right hand side. Brace yourselves for the steep trip down, only accessible by bikes or Piaggios and try to keep to the bare minimum with luggage.
Google map: bit.ly/I4xv9Q
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