Monday, 27 March 2017

A guide to Seville

How to get there
You can fly directly into Seville airport although it can be difficult to find departing airports that fly this route. Alternatively you can fly into Malaga airport then catch the train from Estacion de Malaga Maria Zambrano to Seville, Santa Justa station. The train journey takes around 2 and a half hours which goes through scenic Spanish countryside, before reaching Seville it stops in Cordoba so if you wish you could spend the day here before travelling to Seville.

Where to stay
We stayed in a fantastic city centre penthouse apartment which was a great sunspot.
The apartment had all the essentials plus little luxuries like a wide screen TV and an espresso coffee machine. The apartment is owned by a company called 'AT Sevilla Centro' who own several apartments around Seville. The apartment we stayed in was called the 'Deluxe Two Bedroom attic with Terrace- Plaza Magdalena, 3' which was located at the top of a residential building. On arrival a rep from AT Sevilla Centro greeted us with the keys and showed us around, he also gave us some great tips on things to do during our stay in Seville.

The apartment sleeps 4 and worked out at £114 per night.

You can get in touch and book via their website, http://apartamentosevillacentro.com

Food
There are lots of options in Seville, you can traditional Spanish restaurants, tapas bars (on almost every street), Italian restaurants and indian curry houses too. 
Top Recommendations for traditional Spanish food and tapas are:

Antigua AbacerĂ­a de San Lorenzo 
Charming, tasty tapas and good value for money
Tapas here start at €2.00 they have fresh meats, cheeses and much more. Read the full menu for Antigua AbacerĂ­a de San Lorenzo Seville here: http://antiguaabaceriadesanlorenzo.com/carta/ 

El Rinconcillo 
A must visit when in Seville.
This restaurant was founded in 1670 but still manages to bring in the crowds every day which says a lot. This restaurant is popular with Families, groups and couples too. You can sit indoors or outside on the square. 
It is the perfect place to try real traditional Spanish cuisine, they have a fantastic selection of main dishes and tapas.
Read the full menu for El Rinconcillo Seville and book online here: http://www.elrinconcillo.es/carta-menus/
Picture @TA
Looking for something a little different? For a unique dining experience try La Terrazzo Restaurante Panoramico de EME. They offer  fantastic taster menus which give you the opportunity to taste a variety of gastronomic delights!
Read the La Terrazzo Restaurant Seville menu and book your visit here: http://restaurantepanoramicolaterraza.com/en/vanguardian-tasting-menu/ 

Things to do
Taking time to wander around the old cobble streets is a must. You will come across little wonders that maps just don't mark out. The must-see places include:
  • Plaza de Espana, Seville (A huge park located outside of the city centre, which includes a boating lake, cafes,beautiful buildings and gardens).
  • Seville's Gothic cathedral (located in the city centre, you can go on a full tour of the inside. It can get very busy so it is best to go early in the morning) 
  • Gerald Bell Tower (located in the city centre)
Andalusian cooking class Seville

If you want to learn to cook some of the local classics there is no better place than 'Taller andaluz de cocina' - cooking school. The class is located in the Triana food market (just over the Triana bridge).

I would recommend arriving early to explore the fresh food stalls and bars in the Triana market for some tapas, pinchos and live music. The stall at the Triana food market offer great local produce for a fraction of the price you would pay in the UK or US such as serrano ham and sherry vinegar.

'Taller andaluz de cocina' offer several different types of classes and tours to suit everyones tastes and timescales. View all of the classes on offer and price here

We took part in in the Spanish Evening cooking class. The class itself takes around 3.5 hours and is very relaxed, Victor is a skilled chef who leads the class. He takes great attention to detail and explains each ingredient and recipe plus gives fantastic tips.

The class teaches you how to make a 4 course menu, on our visit we made:
  • Salmojero (A cold tomato & garlic based soup)
  • Spinach with chickpeas (A delicious side or main meal made from spinach, garlic & cumin)
  • Cod Fritters (Tasty light dish made from fresh fish served with beautiful sauce on the side)
  • Spanish omelette (As simple as it sounds learning the proper recipe for this was invaluable, it tastes restaurant quality).
You get to learn how to create the recipes step by step then sit down to eat your culinary creations with a cold beer or glass of wine.
The class cost €50 per person and was definitely value for money. Book online here or contact Victor to book directly via email info@tallerandaluzdecocina.com .




Shopping

Seville has a great mix of high street stores such as Zara and H&M alongside Spanish boutiques. There are a lot of homeware stores so if you are looking for unique finds for your home this is the perfect place.

The markets such as the Triana Market are a fantastic place to pick up dried fruits, cured meats, sauces and oils to take home with you.

Religion
Whilst in Seville you will come across some beautiful churches but during La Semana Santa, Holy week you will get to see the huge procession that takes place and goes around the whole city. It starts in the morning and goes on right into the early hours. There are floats, musicians and prayers said and residents come out to the streets to pay their respects along the way.




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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A guide to Positano


How to get there

The best way to get to Positano is by flying to Naples airport and travelling by taxi or bus to Positano.

To travel to Positano from Naples airport by bus:

  • A bus leaves on the hour every hour and takes 1h15minutes
  • It stops in Sorrento train stations where you have to the "Sita" bus to Positano, again there is one every hour and this bus takes 50 minutes.
  • The bus is cheaper but have to change 2 times and it takes much longer


To travel to Positano from Naples airport by Taxi:
Its costs around €100, here are some local taxi services.

  • Mr Ottavio: info@positanotaxiservice.com
  • Vincenzo: info@divinacarservice.com
  • Francesco: info@positanodrivers.com


Where to stay

Residence Villa Degli dei is a traditional Italian house situated high above Positano in the hills of 'Nocelle'. The house overlooks the town of Positano below, it offers charming suites with spectacular ocean views that you cannot find in the main town of Positano. It worked out at £78 per night which is one of the cheapest accommodations in the area.
Picture@expedia



It is a long walk up to the villa from the town (Around 6km) however there is a bus that goes up to Nocelle every hour and vice versa for just a couple of Euros per person.

You can walk to Positano from Nocelle but after walking down myself I would recommend the bus, the walk winds around the mountain sides so although it doesn't look like a long descent it is very decieving! There are also taxis available.

Restaurants
The main town of Positano is filled with cafes, patisseries and restaurants.
The best restaurants are situated at the sides on the town on the hills, the restaurants down on the main beach can be overpriced and lack the same traditional fare and atmosphere that you can find off the main drag.


For true authentic Italian dining head up the hill to Nocelle where you will find a few gems such as 'La Terra, Montepertuso' . But you cannot visit the area without spending an evening dining at II Risotto deli Dei in Nocelle. It is set in a cave which overlooks the sea and the town of Positano. The food is homemade and fresh so the menu can vary from day to day. It is a hidden secret and you will not regret making the trip!
They serve fresh meats dishes, pasta and pizzas, it is also extremely cheap.
Read more reviews of this amazing little restaurant on Trip Advisor http://bit.ly/2nk9olh 

See video below for what the atmosphere is like : )





Shopping
There are lots of boutiques in Positano from designer labels to local designers, you can find beautiful linen clothing, paintings and pottery. Most shops offer free postage so if you find a large item like a painting that you would like to purchase they can take care of the shipping for you.


The Beach
To access the beach walk through the main town and past the restaurants, you can hire beds next to the sea or you can pay extra to hire a lounger just above the beach which has it's own private bar and toilet facilities. (It is around €10 per person for a day).



Capri
You can see the island of Capri from the beach on Positano, you can jump on a boat from the beach to visit for the evening or go on a day trip, book a tour to Capri here http://www.capri.com/en/e/the-island-in-a-day




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For more travel tips on Positano visit http://www.positano.com

Thinking of visiting more of Europe? Read our guide to Barcelona here:
https://daintykane.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/a-guide-to-barcelona.html
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

A guide to Thailand

Bangkok



Accommodation
The Wild Orchid hotel  is just off Khao San Road in a quieter street . Rooms start at £13 per night.
It is in a great location, has a warm atmosphere , its clean and the staff were really helpful too. - Excellent value for money!
http://www.wildorchidvilla.com/accommodation.php

Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a hub for travellers from all over the world , the street is full of cheap bars , restaurants , shops and tattoo parlours. It is busy throughout the day but it really comes alive at night when the streets are filled with partygoers.





The Grand Palace
Before entering you need to pay an admission fee and if you are not wearing long sleeves you can rent a shirt to wear. The palace is full of huge buddhas , grand temples and beautiful gardens.



China Town
Bangkoks china town is absolutely buzzing with life. The narrow streets are full with food outlets and shops , you can find some really cheap homeware here...it is worth leaving some space in your suitcase if you are planning a trip.

The Lebua Hotel
Renown for being a location on the movie The Hangover , The 5 Star Lebua Hotel offers a luxury stay and amazing views over the city from it's rooftop terrace. They have a strict dress code at the hotel and if you wish to visit the rooftop bar you have to make an effort or they may refuse entry at the lift!
To book online visit their site http://www.lebua.com/state-tower




Jim Thompsons House
The house is a collection of the businesses man's art and most treasured possessions.  Jim disappeared in the 1960's and the home was taken over by the Thompson foundation so that they could share his beautiful home and art collection with tourists.

The house itself sits within a small jungle right in the heart of bangkok , it is uniquely built and laid out. Each room is spacious and intricately decorated,you can tell a huge amount of thought went into every detail of his home.
http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com

MBK shopping Centre
This is a one stop shopping destination , there is pretty much nothing you won't find in here.
It is 8 stories high with around 2,000 shops! - Plus restaurant , bars , tattoo parlours and even karaoke booths. http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-mall/mbk.htm



Ann's Sweet patisserie 
This little cake shop is the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea.
https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293916-d7306828-Reviews-Ann_s_Sweet-Bangkok.html


JJ Markets
This market is held at the weekends and is popular with both locals and tourists.
You can find independent boutiques plus branded goods too.
http://www.bangkok.com/shopping-market/popular-markets.htm





Deck Restaurant 
The views alone give enough reason to visit this restaurant , it sits along the river opposite Wat Arun and some of Bangkok's other biggest temples which look spectacular lit up at night.

The food itself is fantastic although the portions are quite small so go for the starter and main . : )



Dentists
I had a pretty bad tooth and as there is a dentist on almost every street in Bangkok it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get it checked out.
I visited a dentist at the bottom of Khao San Road were the dentist examined my teeth then gave me a quote. It was so cheap I decided to return later and  had three fillings done for 2600 baht / £59 . The practice was very clean and professional , if you spare monies it is worth splashing out on tooth whitening in Bangkok as it costs a fraction of the price you would pay for the same treatment in the UK.

Chiang Mai

Travel
The bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes almost 9 hours , its a long trip but a good way to travel if you are trying to look after the pennies as it only costs around £10-£15. The bus route goes through rural areas and makes a few stops along the way for food.

You can also fly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok which takes around 1 hour 15 mins for around £70-£100.


Accommodation
Accommodation in Chiang Mai is much cheaper than Bangkok and the islands , we stayed at the Awana house which has rooms starting from 400 baht (£10) per night. It is clean , the staff are friendly and the decor is lovely too - win win!

View rates and book to stay in Awana house here http://www.awanahouse.com/english/rates.htm

Food
Chiang Mai was one of best spots in Thailand for food , there is a huge food market , street food stalls and excellent variety of restaurants and bars.


Raming Siam Celadon Tea House
This tea house is a little sanctuary. Located in the middle of Chiang Mai the restored teak house offers an amazing selection of Ramen teas , pastries , light bites and ice creams served in traditional siam celadon earthware. There is a peaceful garden out the back which is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Find out more here http://www.ramingtea.com/eng_tea_house.php


O'Malley's is an Irish bar and restaurant which is great for lunch or dinner if you fancy an evening without spice , view the menu here  http://www.omalleys-thai.com/food-menu/


Hot Chilli is a great place to try for dinner they have a great menu and the atmosphere is brilliant . See more here https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293917-d1569933-Reviews-Hot_Chilli-Chiang_Mai.html
Temples
The temples in Chiang Mai are not as busy as Bangkok so you get a great chance to explore around , there is also a school for Monks next to the temples were you can even attend 'monk chat'. 'Monk Chat' is what it says you can sit next to a monk and have a chat!Ask any questions and they do vice versa. Most of the monks are from outside of Chiang Mai , we met two monks from Cambodia and Laos. Whilst we were curious to why they had chosen to be monks they also were curious about how we lived , they have a lot of wisdom and it is really eye opening to hear all about how they live.






Shopping
The night markets in the centre of Chiang Mai were excellent , they had all sorts of homeware , gifts , clothing and foods unlike the markets in Bangkok a lot of the items were not massed produce so you can find something really unique here.

On Sundays there is a 'Walking Market' which is a 10 -15 minute taxi ride away , it is great for independent boutique clothing brands, organic beauty products and homeware , definitely worth a trip. If you are the first customer of the day at a stall they will rub the money you pay over other items on the stall for good luck. : )


Thai Boxing
Boxing is a big part of Thai culture .Once you enter the arena it is hard to not get into it as much as the locals , the atmosphere is electric. Some of the matches are just for fun,the competitors wear eye masks and throw some WWE style moves but towards the end it becomes more serious when the heavy weights take to the stage.


Elephant trek
There are tour agents all over Chiang Mai who offer trips to visit the elephant orphanages or even home stays in the jungle for 2-4 nights.
The day trip option starts with being picked up from the tour operators office and from there you board a jeep that takes you into the jungle . There will probably be another couple of jeeps joining you on the trip with 15-20 people max. The journey to the jungle usually takes 1 hour 30 mins.
Top tips for the trek would be wear shoes with good grips , wear swimwear underneath and only carry £5-£10 in cash max.


We trekked through the jungle to a huge waterfall then made our way back down the steep climb for lunch.
After lunch we went to see the elephants , they seemed well looked after and pretty gentle giants. Without being told the elephants stopped by a ledge to allow us to hop on then the elephants followed one another along the trek.


The afternoon ends with a white water rafting trip , after a quick demo you onboard the boats and set off. - Your tour guide may play a few tricks like...jumping out of the raft to leave you and your group to your own devices so be ready to steer!

On the way back to Chiang Mai we visited a Tibetan hill tribe who were dressed in their traditional costumes , the community was lively with kids playing and people making crafts on their front porches.



Kanchanaburi

Kanchanburi is two hours and 30 minutes by bus from Bangkok.

Accommodation
Rooms start at £18 per night at Pong Phen. http://www.pongphen.com The resort has poolside bungalows , bar , great restaurant and they can also help you book day tours. It is a brilliant base for a stay in Kanchanaburi , you can get a taxi or tuk tuk into the main town.

The tiger temples
When you arrive you sign a disclaimer...then head into an open area of tigers.
Most of the tigers are lying down and seemed pretty lifeless which was sad although the people that worked there said that this was just because they have been trained by the monks to lie down and are used to people. The temple is controversial as many say that the animals are sedated but the monks insist that this is not the case. You can get up close with the animals and pet the tigers which is quite surreal!






After you leave the main area there is a play area where you can watch trainers doing tricks with tigers , it is crazy to see how lively the tigers are in this area and how they seem so playful and used to humans.

As I said it is a controversial place but it still worth a visit to have the rare opportunity to see these wonderful animals up close. You can find out more details about the Tiger Temples here http://www.tigertemplethailand.com

History
Back in the 18th century Kanchanaburi was an outpost against potential Burnese attacks.





In 1942 Kanchanaburi came under Japanese control , labourers were forced to build the railway bridge under dire conditions and nearly half of the prisoners died. There is memorials and a museum in remembrance of the dead. The museum has an eclectic mix of war memorabilia plus a few random pieces of taxidermy.

Thinking of visiting Thailand's islands? Read our Thailand island guide here: https://daintykane.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/a-guide-to-thailand-islands.html


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