Stone Town in Zanzibar is a secret foodie heaven. Day one: devour delicious smoothies at Lazuli, discover the delight of street food 'Zanzibar Mix', sink sundowners atop Africa Houses' roof and feast at Forodhani night market. Day two: start with a bang at Zanzibar Coffee House, wander through the local markets and lunch at legendary Lukmaans, with a grand finale tasting safari at Emerson Spice.
Blake's words and paintings have been immortalised in a series of mosaics that inhabit the railway tunnels of Waterloo in South London, just around the corner from the former site of the artist’s residence. It’s one of many art exhibits that provide a lovely adornment to the streets of this large metropolis and one best experienced as part of an alfresco walk. The Southbank Mosaics group of artists took over seven years to create the seventy works that decorate Centaur Street, Virgil Street, and Carlisle Lane.
‘When you compare the price of a hand painted, made to measure kimono to a Western designer dress it is quite reasonable’. I had to agree with Sonoe, £1000 for the stunning silk gowns did seem like a bargain. She adjusted the kimono jacket I tried on, showing how I could wear it in two different ways. It was from her vintage collection and had a lovely pink tweedy style pattern, circa late 1960’s to 1970’s. Luckily, it was a tenth of the price of the bespoke ones.
What do you do with twenty-four hours to kill in Dar es Salaam? The pseudo capital of Tanzania doesn’t normally feature on the tourist trail other than an entry, exit or transit point, a small blip on the itinerary in between safaris, summiting and sunbathing. It’s a dirty, hot, humid, chaotic conurbation; one of the world’s fastest growing cities. But behind this facade what does the metropolis offer the stranger on a layover? I’ve taken on this challenge many many times, so here are just a few suggestions of how to turn Dar es Salaam into a highlight of your trip.
What is the most romantic food? Is it falafel? One of the show’s characters came over to ask us for our opinion as we settled into our seats, taking notes of our suggestions. This was just one of the interactions we had as part of the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF). It has been a cultural catalyst since 1978 and attracts over 200,000 visitors to the city every July. For two weeks there are over 200 amazing events in Galway including theatre, music, dance, opera, comedy, drama and street extravaganzas. It features international and local acts, many critically acclaimed artists, writers and performers, and has helped the town win European Capital of Culture in 2020.
‘s-Hertogenbosch, a.k.a Den Bosch. Nope, I hadn't heard of it either. I was visiting a friend who lives there and wondered if it is that far off the tourist map, is it any good? I was on a mission to see whether this little known Netherlands town was keeping any secrets.
Sometimes it's inevitable that you have to spend some of your travels 'in transit'. This could be seen as an awful waste of time or an amazing opportunity. Here are a few cool ways to turn the long wait into something much much better.
The t-shirt printing store boasts tops with the slogan ‘Westport - voted the best place to live in Ireland’. However, it failed to declare by whom and more importantly, why? We were keen to investigate this further, so when we saw an advert for ‘Ireland’s best loved heritage attraction’ it was our first port of call.
Texel was chosen as one of the top places to visit in 2016, but they got it wrong, my Dutch friend said. Apparently, Schiermonnikoog, which is also one of the West Frisian islands, is way better and also her favourite place in the Netherlands. The rest of the Dutch population agree; it was voted their best loved nature spot. I was sold. However, she warned me that we should also be prepared for an adventure, as when she has missed the last boat before she slept on the floor of the ladies room of an empty ferry and at the foot of a desolate sea dyke. I wondered, how remote is this place?
Once synonymous with ship building, coal mining, flat caps and whippet dogs, the north-east of England’s main city of Newcastle has managed to migrate into a modern metropolis whilst still retaining its character. It hasn’t shed its party town image, nor its reputation for producing great musicians, comedians and sports players. We jumped at the chance to experience some of the new cultural highlights and also the traditional passions of this full of character city.
Who can resist decadent dining, exclusively exploring the seas of a tropical island, topped and tailed with a soupçon of safari? Not I for one! A convenient long weekend, a friend with a tank sized car and a couple of helpful directions later meant I was living that dream. Woop!
Ireland’s fair city, Dublin, is one of twenty officially recognised UNESCO cities of literature. Overflowing with associations to well known bards of the written and spoken word it is an ideal place for contemplating their compositions and appreciating literary wonders.
From colourful art and shiny jewels to local hangouts and historic homes via Surinamese food and microbrewed beers, I took a quick dip into the more cultural edge of this town. I’d love to come back and explore some more!
Amsterdam has had for far too long a naughty reputation, often attracting the ‘wrong kind of tourist’. But this former port town has so much more to offer. I wanted to see beyond the seedy, smoky, party facade, take a little peek behind the right kind of curtains and find out what else Amsterdam has to offer.
The Big Smoke. Nodnol. Londinium. The capital of the United Kingdom. A hectic mash-up, where big business, high-class art, ancient history, urban fashion, aristocracy and international cultures all meet and mingle freely. It’s a festival of human awesomeness disguised as a city. Famous wordsmith Samuel Johnson managed to put it succinctly: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford’. Too true.