Best bars in Sydney

Opera Bar - Sydney

Best bars in Sydney

December 6, 2010  |  Australia  |  No Comments
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Following my article about the best restaurants in Sydney and the best places to visit in Sydney, in this post I want to share with you the best places in Sydney to have a drink and listen to good music. I would like to thank again my good friends Lucía, Gonzalo and Sue for their great tips.

  • Kings Cross: An eastern suburb of Sydney plenty of cafes and bars. Good for a backpacker, sydneysiders or someone wanting to go out to clubs for an all-nighter.
    I recommend having dinner at Hugo’s Pizza Bar and then cross to “The World’s bar“, where you will enjoy the first cocktail of the night served in a “teapot” while you listen to the best indie bands and club jams. One of the best daytime in Darlinghurst (5 minutes walk from Kings Cross) is upstairs at the Darlo Bar, a community lounge room perfect to relax and have a beer. Also in Darlinghurst you will find a great selection of Australian and International Beers at The Local Taphouse.
  • Newtown: Newtown is the real thing -bohemian without pretentiousness and the edge- anything goes. Great night and daytime pubs. For a great beer garden go to The Courthouse. Also visit Corridor, that recently won best small bar in Sydney.
  • The Rocks: In Sydney’s historic old town you will find some of the best pubs:
    Lord Nelson, the oldest pub in Sydney, they brew their own beer: “Three Sheets”, hoppy & spicy. It has won many awards.
    – Also visit Opera Bar (next to the Opera House), a must-do on sunny weekend afternoons.
    – For a special celebration: cocktails at the the Horizon Bar (Shangri-La Hotel), where you will enjoy a view over the whole city. Very expensive but very tasty cocktails.
    – If you are looking for an open air disco in Darling Harbour, go to Cargo Bar. It has an upstairs balcony overlooking the harbour and a terrace. You can enjoy the dancefloor with the best live DJ’s in Sydney, mixing House music with live violonists’ or percussionists’ sounds. It opens every day and until late night.
    – If you like Salsa, visit La Cita: A Salsa Club visited by the Latin immigrants in Sydney. It also runs salsa lessons during some afternoons.
    – For live music, visit The Basement. Other live music bars but not in The Rocks: The Vanguard, Annandale Hotel, Oxford Arts Factory.

Your opinion about this list of the best bars in Sydney

Is there a place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment

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Ksar Massa, a paradise of peace and serenity

Ksar Massa's beach. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Ksar Massa, a paradise of peace and serenity

November 23, 2010  |  Africa  |  1 Comment
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In 2006 I was invited to a wedding in Morocco. We stayed for four nights in a paradise called “Ksar Massa“, in the heart of the National Park Souss Massa, forty kilometers south of Agadir (Morocco). The hotel has a sandy beach of nearly 7 km that is a paradise for walkers, bird watchers and surfers.

My experience at the hotel was great: the service, the food, the rooms (they all look different to each other)… but before organizing your trip, take a look a Trip Advisor’s reviews. Many people say it offers a low value for money and a disappointing experience. Some of my friends repeat year after year. They simply love the place. The hotel has an average price of 180$/night. Don’t expect it to be as luxurious as a “Four Seasons”. It has nothing to do with that. Ksar Massa is an attractive place full of peace and serenity, in the middle of the nature and with an amazing beach just for yourself.

Click on images to enlarge[nggallery id=”31″]
Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés. I am not very proud of these pictures. I think they were taken with a mobile phone… 🙂

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Udaipur: the city of lakes, palaces and love

Lake Palace. Udaipur. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Udaipur: the city of lakes, palaces and love

November 18, 2010  |  India  |  4 Comments
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I have just arrived from Udaipur, a captivating city in the heart of the Rajasthan -India- (“Land of Kings” in Hindi). Named in 2008 as the No.1 city to visit in the World’s best awards by Travel + Leisure magazine. Udaipur is often called the “White City” (getting its name from the hue of the buildings) or the “Venice of the east” for its romantic lakes and palaces that create a sense of aestheticism with their spiritual ecstasy. The city was founded and named in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II (Udaipur, means “City of Udai”).

In my opinion, the best places to visit in Udaipur are:

City Palace: Located on the banks of Lake Pichola and built entirely in granite and marble, this palace is the second largest in India (600m from side to side). It is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. The balconies of the palace provide panoramic views of both, the lake and the old city. The palace attracts thousands of visitors every day that also enjoy its Hindu architecture, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils, with no Muslim influence as it has never been conquered.

Boat ride on Lake Pichola:
Take a boat and get a close look at Lake Pichola’s wonderful palaces and havelis (rich merchant families’ private houses), many of which have been converted into hotels. I recommend taking the sunset boat that has an extra touch of romanticism. From time to time, during drought conditions because of lower rainfall and degradation of the catchment, the lake becomes dry.

Walk through the market:
You discover the “real” India when you meet people in the streets, buy at the local markets, get your hand henna-painted while to chat with the artist or enjoy a tea at the multiple tea shops… If you want to feel this, Delhi Gate area is the place to go.

Hotels: There are multiple amazing palaces converted into hotels.

  • The most renowned is the Lake Palace, built in 1743 by Maharana Jagat Singh II as his royal summer palace, it is made of marble and is situated on Jag Niwas island in Lake Pichola. The palace is now a luxury 5 Star hotel (listed in the top 10 best hotels in Asia) and was a central feature in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy. The views from the hotel are amazing, especially from the restaurant at the roof. Only guests are allowed in the hotel.
  • A more affordable option is the Jaiwana Haveli, a small hotel located in the old city that offers great views of Lake Pichola. It’s clean and has very nice bathrooms.

Restaurants: I would suggest three restaurants:

  • Rajbagh: Good international/Indian buffet, great views of the lake and low price
  • Jag Mandir Island: Located in an 18th century palace, the restaurant serves good Indian food for 2500rp/pax (55$) while you enjoy great views of the City Palace and the Lake Palace Hotel
  • Sashi’s Cooking Classes: I haven’t been there but it has awesome reviews in Trip Advisor. It seems to be a fun evening with Sashi.

Shopping: The specialties in Udaipur are textiles, silver and paintings.

  • Textiles: I recommend visiting Royal Arts & Crafts, a warehouse full of beautiful textile. Located at Hathipole Gate
  • Silver: In multiple markets and stores you will find lots of artcraphs. The best knowned shops are Gem Arts Emporium and Silver Art Palace.
  • Miniature paintings: Brahma Arts, at the Lake Palace Road.

If you need a guide, contact Bholendra Singh. Great knowledge and excellent client service. Email: bholendrasingh (at) hotmail.com

Am I missing anything in this list of the “Best places in Udaipur”:

If so, please let me know. I’ll be happy to update my post.

Click on images to enlarge[nggallery id=”30″]
Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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Best restaurants in Sydney

Australian Heritage Hotel

Best restaurants in Sydney

October 29, 2010  |  Australia  |  21 Comments
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After graduating from Law School in Madrid I spent a week in Sydney after visiting Australia for 3 weeks. I had the chance to eat in great restaurants, most of them recommended by my local friends.

My idea with this blog is to recommend the places that I’ve been to. However, in this case I’ve done an exception asking my friends Lucía (who lived there for 9 months) and Gonzalo and Sue, who both live in Sydney and whose opinion I totally trust, to help me prepare this list of the most recommended restaurants in Sydney. For further information, visit my article of the best bars in Sydney and the best places to visit in Sydney:

  • Italian: Pendolino or go to Bill & Toni’s, (a Sydney institution) for classic and affordable schnitzel.
  • Thai: For the best Thai food go to Thairrific
  • Ribs: Hurricane’s in Darling Harbour or Bondi Beach
  • Pizza: The Australian Heritage Hotel in the Rocks. They have kangaroo, crocodile and emu pizza, and over 100 beers. Another recommended Pizza place is Hugo’s Bar Pizza, considered in 2006 the best pizza in Australia. It is located in King Cross. An elegant setting for a perfect dinner. Normal prices of pizzas are $18, quite expensive. However, Sundays and Thursdays, you can take advantage of the $5 pizzas deal!
  • BrasilianBraza, the best Brazilian churrasqueria in the antipodes
  • IndianDarbar in Glebe Point Road, in an converted church, old bricks and windows still there, amazing food and quiet intimate atmosphere
  • Egyptian: Radio Cairo in Cremorne
  • Mexican: Baja Cantina or Flying Fajita Sistas in Glebe
  • Vegetarian: Govinda’s in Darlinghurst, have a meal and then go upstairs for a movie on beanbags!
  • Degustation: Tetsuya’s in the city, one of the best (and most expensive) restaurants in the world; more affordable options: Oscillate Wildly in Newtown or Atelier in Glebe
  • Lebanese: Arabella. Lebanese cuisine in Newtown. There is a cushion room for those who really want to live a Lebanese experience. With belly dancers on weekends. Amazing dips, falafel, tabouli and very recommended the kafta skewers (lamb).

Your opinion about this list of the best restaurants in Sydney

Is there a place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment

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Best restaurants in San Sebastian

Restaurante Branka. San Sebastian. Photo: www.promowebsite.net

Best restaurants in San Sebastian

October 16, 2010  |  Spain  |  10 Comments
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This is the second part of my previous post about the best Pintxos in San Sebastian. As I said, San Sebastian has multiple Michelin Star Restaurants: Arzak, Akelarre, Martín Berasategui and Mugaritz (all with 3 stars)…. Besides these restaurants, in this post I want to talk about those that haven’t got a Michelin star but are still amazing restaurants… and not that expensive.

  • UROLA: Traditional food since 1948. 45 € avg. price. c/Fermín Calbetón, 20. +34 943 423 424
  • BETI – JAI: Means “Always party” in Basque. Specialty in sea food. Avg price: 40 €. c/ Fermín Calbetón, 22. 943 427 737
  • EGOSARI: Bar and restaurant with good food. Avg price: 35 €. c/Fermín Calbetón, 15. 943 428 210
  • ALDANONDO: Great meat (“chuletón” in Spanish). Avg price: 40 €. Daily menu: 28€. c/Euskal herria, 6. 943 422 852
  • ASTELENA: Excellent food, specially the foie. Avg. price: 40 €. Daily menu: 22€. c/Euskalherria, 3. 943 425 867
  • GANDARIAS: Excellent food and wine list. Definitely a top restaurant in Donosti (San Sebastian in Basque). Great pintxos aswell. c/31 de agosto, 23. 943-426362
  • UREPEL: Great food but quite expensive. Avg price: 70 €. Menu: 50€. Pº Salamanca, 3, 943 424 040
  • BRANKA: A classic with nice views of the bay (check the webcam). Avg. price: 50€. It’s a nice walk to get there. c/Eduardo Chillida, 11. +34 943 317 096
  • BERNARDO: Excellent sea food. c/Puerto, 7, 943 422 055

Update: Lucía, a reader of this blog, suggests two more places. THANK YOU Lucía!!:

  • ZUBEROA: Located in Oiartzun, 10 km away from San Sebastian. In my opinion it’s one of the best restaurants to eat good modern basque food
  • ASADOR PORTUETXE: a much more traditional restaurant than the previous one. Awesome fish and meat. It is usually overcrowded so it’s recommended to book a table in advance

Did I miss any special place?

Is there any place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment 🙂

Map with the best restaurants in San Sebastian

View Best restaurants in San Sebastian (Spain) in a bigger map

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Best

Pintxos in San Sebastian. Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/

Best “Pintxos” (tapas) in San Sebastian

October 8, 2010  |  Spain  |  8 Comments
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San Sebastian is the jewel of the Spanish Basque Country. A small, cozy and elegant city that features one of the most beautiful in-city beaches and bays in the world. San Sebastian is famous for its internationally renowned cuisine. Besides its multiple Michelin Stars Restaurants, there are hundreds of taverns that offer the famous “Pintxos” (the Basque version of tapas), snack that consist of a small mixture of ingredients usually placed on top of a slice of bread and fastened with a toothpick.

I was born in the Basque Country, and part of my family lives there. When I have the chance to visit San Sebastian, my uncle Miguel takes me to the places with the best “pintxos”. This is a selection of those I like the most:

Best Pintxos in San Sebastian’s Old District (“Parte vieja” in Spanish):

  • PACO BUENO: c/ Mayor, 6. Specialty in Butterfly Shrimps (in Spanish “Gambas rebozadas”).
  • GAMBARA: c/ San Jerónimo, 21. Also great food. You can either eat at the bar or at the dining room.
  • A FUEGO NEGRO: c/ 31 de agosto, 31. More sophisticated pintxos, great music and drinks.
  • MARTÍNEZ: c/ 31 de agosto, nº 13. Everything is simple, tasty and authentic.
  • LA VIÑA: c/ 31 de agosto, 3. Tasty scramble eggs with mushrooms (in Spanish “Revuelto de hongos”).
  • TXEPETXA: c/ Pescadería, 5. Close to the “Plaza de la Constitución” (worth a visit to this square). Specialty in anchovies (“antxoas”). Don’t miss them with spider crab (“antxoas con centolla”).
  • TAMBORIL: c/ Pescadería, 2. Good food in general. Smoking is not permitted.

Best Pintxos 5 minutes walk from San Sebastian’s Old District:

  • BASQUE: c/ Miramar, 5
  • HIKA MIKA: c/ Echaide, 4: Try the “pintxos de pastel de pescado”, “pintxos de ropa vieja”, “croquetas”, mmm…!!
  • MESÓN MARTÍN: c/ Elcano, 7: Good food in general. Dining room at the end of the bar.
  • ITURRIOZ: c/ San Martín, 30. In front of the cathedral. Good food in general.
  • BODEGA DONOSTIARRA: c/ Peña y Goñi, 22. Placed at the other side of the river but close to the old district: healthy, simple and well prepared.

Did I miss any special place?

Is there any place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment 🙂

Update: The people from http://www.todopintxos.com (a website specialized in Pintxos) suggested “Gros”, on the other side of the river, as an area with a good choice of pintxos bars. Guys, thanks for the tip!

Map of the best Pintxos in San Sebastian

View “Best Pintxos in San Sebastian (Spain)” in a bigger map.

Photos: These photos were taken by other photographers. I usually don’t bring the camera with me when I go for pintxos 🙂

Click on images to enlarge[nggallery id=”29″]

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