A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about restaurants

Brexit

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Escaping

Escaping

Thursday night (30th January) was tough. I had been diverting myself all week by keeping busy at work, and with other stuff at home, but that night the barrier collapsed.

Brexit Blues

Brexit Blues

Yesterday (31st) was better, with more diversion therapy. I took a flight to Copenhagen, and from there took a train to Malmö. I have never been to this part of Sweden before, unless you count passing through on a sleeper train from Stockholm to Copenhagen.

My mood was helped by the hotel - Radisson Blu - upgrading me to a junior suite.

Radisson Blu

Radisson Blu

After settling in I went to find something to eat in the dark, in a strange city, and in drizzling rain. I was half expecting to end up at a fast food place, but only 100m away I found a great wee pizza restaurant.

Pizza Time

Pizza Time

Excellent food and friendly service. My mood lifted even more.

No 25

No 25

Well that’s what I did on 31st January 2020.

Goodbye

Posted by IainT 13:18 Archived in Sweden Tagged planes trains food beer scotland restaurants sweden transport belgium flights ice_hockey brussels denmark copenhagen airlines brexit Comments (0)

Best of 2019 (4)


View Athens & Krefeld & Sheffield & Nottingham & Tbilisi 2 & Belfast & Faroes & Iceland & Orkney & Tbilisi & Sheffield 2 & Sheffield & Dublin & Belfast & Barcelona & Manchester & Dundee & Vilnius 3 on IainT's travel map.

Cafe Leila, Tbilisi

Cafe Leila, Tbilisi

This award category is for restaurants. In this category there are too many places to mention, so only the most memorable ones get a name check.

Where will I start!

One of the best of the year was also the first of the year, on 1st January. At Joanos Carinovos Smuklė in the Belmontas Centras (Vilnius) I had a wonderful lunch in a lovely place. Cobwebs were blown away.

Traditional

Traditional

My short visit to Barcelona produced several successes with restaurant choices. Good judgement or luck? Both, probably.

La Bicicleta

La Bicicleta

My hotel in Kirkwall - The Storehouse - describes itself as a restaurant with rooms, so I gave it a try. It was really good quality.

Restaurant

Restaurant

I also “ate in” when I stayed at Chateau Bruale in Tkhilitstskaro. It gets a lot of points for giving me the chance to try the vineyard’s own Rkatsiteli Mtsvane and because in September it was still warm enough to eat outside. The food was excellent quality - of country style rather than sophisticated.

Dinner Time

Dinner Time

Can in Istanbul is a place I returned to, as I have several times. I love the cafeteria type set up, and the food is always excellent. Dinner there is almost always followed by ice cream and tea at Mado, a few meters along the street.

Baklava & Dondurma

Baklava & Dondurma

I went on walking food tours in Tbilisi and Athens and learned a huge amount about the cuisine of those countries in addition to enjoying great food.

Ariston Pie Shop

Ariston Pie Shop

Street food attracted me in Tòrshavn and Reykjavík - fish and chips being a stand out meal in each city.

In fact Chateau Bruale is this year’s winner.

Top Class

Top Class

Drinking wine which has been produced on the premises from grapes grown in the surrounding fields is an unusual experience, and the wine was sublime.

Posted by IainT 09:18 Archived in Georgia Tagged food barcelona greece restaurants athens turkey istanbul georgia catalunya vilnius lithuania tbilisi reykjavik faroes kakheti torshavn stepansminda tkhilitstskaro Comments (0)

Brussels - Travel Tips

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When in Brussels...

When in Brussels...

I flew to and from Brussels (from Edinburgh) with Brussels Airlines (the successor to Sabena, for those who can remember before 9-11). The cost was £104 return, with hand luggage only. Both flights left a little late, but arrived more or less on time.

Otherwise, they were pretty good. Perhaps I have rose tinted spectacles of course, as Sabena was a favourite.

I used the SNCB airport trains to travel to and from the city centre. It is important to know which station you want to use in the city - Centrale (close to Grand Place), Midi (where many Thalys trains arrive and depart) or Nord. The train costs €8.90 each way to any of those stations, and runs about every 20 minutes with a journey time of about 20 minutes.

SNCB Cool

SNCB Cool

Over the years I have stayed in so many Brussels hotels it makes my head spin, but like most cities, location is important. For this trip I wanted a place in the city centre and close to one of the railway stations. I fixed on something near Gare Centrale as I know there are lots of places to eat around there.

When it came to price and value for money, the Novotel was the one I chose. I am in their loyalty programme, so that usually gives a 10% discount. It was their hotel at rue du Marché Aux Herbes, 100 metres from the Gare Centrale. The room cost me €127, without breakfast.

Novotel

Novotel

Breakfast was going to cost €22. I found it difficult to imagine what kind of breakfast is worth that much, especially as I would be out of the hotel for 8am to catch a train. I opted for 2 croissants from a nearby bakery.

Dinner on the evening I arrived was quick, cheap and easy - a small tray at an Exki close to the hotel.

Posted by IainT 11:18 Archived in Belgium Tagged trains restaurants transport belgium flights brussels airlines brexit Comments (0)

Stepantsminda

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Mt Kazbeg

Mt Kazbeg

The name of the village is also written Stefantsminda, and it is also known as Kazbegi. Stepantsminda is its original name. It was renamed Kazbegi and has since resumed its original name - but is still often called Kazbegi.

It has a population of less than 2,000. It is 12 km (7.5 miles) south of of the border with the Russian Federation, and only 28 miles (45 km) south of Vladikavkaz - a city of 300,000. It is 96 miles (153 km) north of Tbilisi.

It lies at a height of 1,797m (5,895 ft).

Hiking Up

Hiking Up

I had a rented car to get me from the capital to Kazbegi. The Tbilisi road is slow. It is all 2 lane from the time you turn north off the Gori/Kutaisi/Batumi road, and then when you reach the mountains it twists and turns all the way. Close to the Kazbegi end, you cross the Jvaris pass at 2,379m (7,805 ft). That section is very slow.

The border crossing is the only one open between Georgia and Russia, which is reason enough for it the road to be busy. You have to add in that it is in effect the only border crossing between Armenia and Russia, because Armenia’s borders with neighbouring Azerbaijan are closed. A lot of the super slow trucks on the road have Armenian plates.

You will see a lot of lunatic driving by Russians and Georgians to get past the slow traffic.

Morning Visitors

Morning Visitors

During the day you will find an hourly marshrutka (minibus) service from/to Tbilisi. The marshrutka drivers are among the crazy gang, but I guess they know the road and the limits of their own skills.

I stayed at the Hotel Vache. It is a 4 room family business which is a 10-15 minutes walk from the village centre. It is modern and the room was top class. So was breakfast. I did not eat lunch on any of my days there - just coffee and cake mid-afternoon.

Hotel Vache

Hotel Vache

All the rooms have a fantastic view of the mountains.

Mt Kazbeg

Mt Kazbeg

Some building work was under way but they made sure it did not start early. It did not disturb me. Owner Tamo is friendly and very helpful. I booked through booking.com. It cost 170 lari (£46 or €52) per night, inclusive of the breakfast.

I ate dinner at Shorena’s twice and at Khevi once. In both cases the food was good and so was the service. Khevi is a bit soul-less inside, but lots of people choose it to eat outside on the terrace. Shorena’s has much more ambiance, even if it is of the backpacker/outdoor type variety.

My favourite place was the Avtobus coffee shop. A real bus, converted. Good coffee and home baked cakes, plus friendly service.

Avtobus

Avtobus

I hiked up to Gergeti Trinity Church from the village, and also hiked up the Khdi Gorge - the latter being just at the Georgian customs and immigration post north of the village. In terms of hiking, I could easily have spent another 2 or 3 days in the area.

Khdi Gorge

Khdi Gorge

The mountain scenery is amazing, although driving meant I had to try to keep one eye on the road.

My car - rented from JeepRent in Tbilisi - cost 123 lari (€38 or £34) per day. It turned out to be a Toyota Camry with 160,000 miles (yes miles - I guess it is from the USA or Canada) on the odo. On those mountain roads I would have preferred a new car with new brakes.

On the other hand, it was automatic and that saved me a million gear changes.

Posted by IainT 13:33 Archived in Georgia Tagged landscapes mountains restaurants georgia tbilisi stepansminda Comments (0)

Orkney - Basics

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Stromness Sunday

Stromness Sunday

Time for a summary of the nuts and bolts of my visit to Orkney in July 2019.

I flew from Aberdeen to Kirkwall (and vice versa) with Loganair. Aberdeen is not the closest airport to home (it is Edinburgh) and whilst Loganair does fly between Edinburgh and Kirkwall, the flight times from Aberdeen suited me better.

Loganair's Saab 2000

Loganair's Saab 2000

The flights cost £146 return, and that ticket class includes a checked in bag.

Kirkwall Airport Terminal

Kirkwall Airport Terminal

It is possible to drive to Orkney obviously, with several ferry options from the north coast. However, it is a journey of close to 7 hours each way and for a short weekend break, that makes no sense.

I stayed overnight at Aberdeen Airport on the outward trip, at the Moxy Hotel. It cost £51, with breakfast (£12) and parking (£5) extra.

Moxy Decor

Moxy Decor

I arranged parking at Aberdeen Airport with Park and Depart whilst I was in Orkney. It cost £20 from first thing Friday until Sunday evening.

Moxy Lounge

Moxy Lounge

In Kirkwall I stayed two nights at the Storehouse, which I did a stand alone review of.

Location, Location, Location

Location, Location, Location

I took the public bus between the airport and the town centre. It runs every 30 minutes most of the time - less on Sunday. The journey takes less than 15 minutes.

Kirkwall Airport

Kirkwall Airport

I also used the public bus to visit Stromness - a 30 minute trip each way. I am the proud owner of a Scottish Government bus pass (free to all over 60s), so I paid nothing.

I had booked flights to and from North Ronaldsay for the Saturday. It is the most northerly of the islands, with Loganair’s Inter Island service being the alternative to the twice weekly ferry. It cost £18 each way. Sadly, they could not fly that day due to mist and low cloud on North Ronaldsay.

Posted by IainT 02:25 Archived in Scotland Tagged planes food scotland restaurants flights aberdeen airlines orkney kirkwall islandlife Comments (0)

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