There are a few gems from medieval Berlin if you're up to searching for them. Not much is left after the bombs and the DDR but enough for the city to be taken very seriously. This is old Berlin - the two settlements of Berlin and Colln.
Go west and south of the Fernsehturm, across the busy Muhlendamm/Grunerstrasse road from Nikolaivertel's reconstructed old squares (and the magnificent Nikolaikirsche, the oldest church in the city), you seem to be in a characterless quarter with nothing to recommend it. But search out Klostersrasse, then Waisenstrasse and you find Zur Letzen Instanz, an old, much repaired bar/eatery in a narrow leafy street, built in 1621 and with a fine reputation for German cuisine and a history of serving Napoleon and Beethoven among many others. Some say it's the oldest restaurant in Berlin. There's a small beer garden to the side and just beyond that a genuine stretch of old Berlin wall from the 13th Century. A bit further past two bronze sculptures to the left there's the magnificent Gothic ruin of a Francescan monastery from the 14th century set in trees, but not far from the roaring traffic where you'll find a number of circular exhibition spots celebrating the city's 775th anniversary, with detailed info on the Berlin beneath your feet (English translation). Great to find such quiet gems amid so much noise and ugliness, just across a six lane highway from Alexanderplatz.
Two superb places to eat and drink. Wood throughout and lots of brewing equipment on display. Lively atmosphere, very friendly staff, great range of German food at different prices (good quantities) and they brew some of their many beers (the 'Natural' is a really tasty semi-dark one) while having different guest beers each month. They had tasty Oktoberfest brews from Munich in October.
There are two of these in Berlin. We enjoyed one so much we searched out the other which was almost better than the first. One is just off Hackesher Markt up Dirksenstrasse under the S-Bahn. The other is opposite Schloss Charlottenburgh (side on in Luisenplatz)with a superb view. Strongly recommended.
This is the real tapas experience and tremendous fun. Great atmosphere and very friendly guys behind the bar and cooking the tapas. Each time you order a beer (a cana of approx 33cl draught Alhambra poured expertly) a shout goes up and a few minutes later a hot tapa plate will appear from the kitchen (the more beers ordered the larger the plate, a shared experience). A new one comes every 10-15 minutes and as long as you order every now and then you seem to get more plates than glasses, though by that stage you don't care. The food is really good - great seafood cooked beautifully and in huge variety, with occasional extras.
We loved the place: it's friendly, efficient and high quality. There's more room at lunchtime and seats outside.
Calle Navas, 28, 18009 Granada, Spain
+34 958 22 70 70
Google map: bit.ly/NXQ4T6
Friendly small restaurant specializing in traditional Cordoban and Argentinian dishes.
In the old quarter within walking distance of the Mesquita but excellent food, and good prices. Welcoming, proud of their food and very friendly. Tables outside too.
This is a great deal if you want to see a fair number of museums and places of interest in your stay. 24 of them are free with the card and others are discounted. That's a fee boat trip, free Belfry and Dali Exhibition, free Brewery Tour (de Halve Maan), and so many free museums from the Memling (fantastic medieval hospital to the Groeninge (all flemish art) to the Choco-Story and the Friet(chips) museum. Every major museum is included so you can dip in without taking any risks. There are discounts off cycling, ballooning, buses and much more. It costs €33 for 48 hrs and €39 for 72 hrs.
We just enjoyed ourselves walking the canals, eating and drinking and seeing whatever we fancied - and somehow we saved €30 each on two days of entertainment, without really trying. The Belfy & Dali exhibition are €18 together to start with - so you can see how the savings add up quickly.
You may be given a card if you're in a grand hotel but the rest of us end up buying one - and it's great value!
You get a visitors' guide with it too.
Buy the card at the Concertgbouw Information Centre (on T-Zand) and at the Station Information Office. Details on www.bruggecitycard.be
This is a great little brewery, the only one left in Bruges. Our tour guide was entertaining with a really dry sense of humour as she took us ever upwards demonstrating the malt and hops process as it was (historic machinery) and is now (very modern). From the roof terrace there's a panoramic view over a good section of Bruges, more interesting and detailed than that from the Belfort. The ticket (€5.50 1hr tour) includes a glass of Brugse Zot (Bruges Jester) blond beer and there are two other excellent brews to sample. We had a snack lunch in their cafe too.
Good beer and an excellent tour.
This character pub in darkest Devon has been officially inspected: it’s one of the 8 most haunted pubs in the UK. The spook certificate is in the bar. The landlady retells some good stories: at the last inspection people in the bar asked the child spirit to appear and everyone saw a coat being pulled strongly - and someone trying to touch it put her hand into an area that was icy cold. When the spirit left the curtains moved and the door closed without any wind assistance!
When my sister-in-law lost a necklace down a tiny gap between the floorboards it looked as if there might have been some supernatural assistance. Then we couldn’t find our keys… Across the square is the devil’s stone, ready for its annual turning by local heavies on All Saints day with the church bells ringing to keep the devil away!
The pub food is good, there are 4 real ales in a friendly bar much used by locals, and the refurbished bedrooms have managed to combine history with some modern amenities. The owners couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful - and they let the dog stay free. So the appalling bangs and clatters in the morning after the clocks went back were quite unexplainable, until we found a very loud Chinese couple who knew nothing of our time change and were determined to wake everyone up for an early breakfast!
Very friendly restaurant in Patershol designed on a wacky clock theme. Good food at reasonable prices.
Ghent specialisms including waterzooi, eels and a magnificent beef in beer stew. A good range of others too, including a delicious fish soup and a rather special pork, bacon and sausage dish served with sorrel mash.
The waiters were good fun and 'very good' in Flemish turned out to be 'veer lekken' with a bit of Welsh (as in coch) on the double kk.
Corduwainers 65. Just off Kranlei on the edge of Patershol. Tel 32(0)9 223 42 41.
Google map: tinyurl.com/lkxa7l
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