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April 6, 2014

I love travelling everyday of the week except Sunday


I love travelling everyday of the week except Sunday.

I am not following that rule today.  I am back on the ‘road.’ I’ve escaped through a hidden portal in time and find myself back in the city I lived in for almost 9 years.  Yet, having been away from Edinburgh for so long, I feel like I am in the uncomfortable embrace of a stranger. It’s a cloudy and misty- what you would call a dreich morning.  I am missing the warmth of home. Madeira. I don’t feel like getting out of bed.

My mind wanders back into another gap in time. A similar lazy, Sunday morning almost a year back. I had been travelling through Germany for 3 weeks. I had just arrived in Dusseldorf. It had been an eventful trip, blighted by bitterly cold weather. It was the end of March. Germany was firmly still in the jaws of winter. Despite the sub-zero temperatures, I tried to make the most of my trip indoors.  From the sweet buttery cinnamon flavoured goodness of Franzbrotchen in Hamburg to the deliciously fruity ‘Klaben’ of Bremen, my mornings had fallen into a waist busting routine of discovering some of Germany’s finest regional pastries.

Afternoons were spent in some of Germany’s finest museums.  The Kunsthalle in Hamburg and Bremen followed by the Sprengel in Hannover: Germany is blessed with some of the finest contemporary art museums. By the time I arrived in Dusseldorf, the weather patterns had started to shift. A band of high pressure had brought clear skies. Cold, frosty nights gave way to crystal clear, cold blue sunny mornings.  The snow had melted, leaving behind a mixture of dead yellow and lush green grass. Craning my neck from my bedroom window of my stylish double room of my Jugendherberge hostel in Dusseldorf, I could see the iconic Rheinknie bridge towering in the distance , while the Rhine flowed serenely beneath, sparkling in the spring sunshine.  It was almost 10am. I was in danger of missing the hostel breakfast. Still, I lie dazed and lethargic. I usually can’t stay in bed longer than 9am. I spent a few minutes reading a ton of literature I had amassed the evening before from the local tourist office.

Dusselfdorf, Altstadt, on a Sunday afternoon.

Dusselfdorf, Altstadt, on a lazy Sunday afternoon.


I had a choice of activities to choose from. Maybe a stroll down the Rhinuferpromenade. I can watch the Rhine cruise boats sail by . I can check out some of the city’s iconic architecture in the Mediahafen district. Later in the afternoon I could continue my binge of contemporary art in the world famous K-20 + K-21 museums. Still, I found myself blighted by some sort of malaise. I spent another good hour under the covers, checking Facebook updates. Then I spot a picture from a friend in Edinburgh enjoying a traditional full Scottish at one of my old favourite haunts, the Holyrood 9A. I felt an instant pang of jealousy. There are a few better places in the world to start your Sunday morning than the Holyrood 9A. The staff are cheerful. There is a faint dash of morning light in this pub. It’s dark and cavernous. You’ll find a cosy log fire crackling away in the corner. When I lived in Edinburgh, my sunday mornings would be spent here reading their full selection of morning papers. I had a pang of nostalgia. I wanted to be far away from Dusseldorf. I wanted to be home. But where was home? Edinburgh was my home for 9 years but now no longer home. I had been living out of a backpack for almost a year now. Home was everywhere and nowhere.

It’s 12pm by the time I dragged my sorry ass out of the hostel.Sun was now high on the sky. After a 30 minute vigorous long walk to the city that included a very windy interlude on the bridge, I could feel a tickle of sweat forming on my back. The city’s main thoroughfare had a steady trickle of locals. I walk past wide gaping empty shop entrances adorned with confetti and balloons announcing mega spring savings. The eeriness and desolation reminds me of Sunday afternoons before in another world and space. Everywhere I looked, people looked disconsolate and slow in their step.

It’s only when I reach the banks of the Rhine river, there are suddenly signs of life. Tourists, mainly stag groups had congregated at the riverside bars gulping generous amounts of the quite dark and bitter local Altbier. I sit at the steps of the embankment and join the steady growing crowd of sun worshippers. It’s quite peaceful and orderly with the exception of a gaggle of homeless people with Lidl shopping bags, listening to music on a radio with a cracked speaker. They were a vision of happiness, drowsing themselves in cheap beer.

Pleasure boats drift by, crammed with over excited tourists waving their arms madly at the sun worshippers. The gaggle of beggars are the only people to respond. They start waving enthusiastically and like a terrible afterthought, the stag party group from the riverside bars stagger to their feet and join the impromptu rave. I sip on my lukewarm bottled water and wish it could turn into beer.

I get up and start walking. There is a wave of happiness along the Rhine river. Picture postcard scenes -couples walking by arms interlocked, the young family with cute baby and obligatory cute puppy in tow. I see all these scenes with a strange mixture of fascination and disengagement.

This could be my life. This cafeteria with great wifi, so nice and cosy. I could have my Sunday morning cup of coffee here. This could be the park I go running in the mornings.

I soon find myself walking by beautiful houses with broad bay windows that invite the outsider to gaze in. I see people gathered around the TV.  The biggest plasma widescreen TV you can imagine. It’s a scene that looks very inviting. Cosy leather sofa. I see a dude lying slothenly with the remote about to drop from his hands. He looks bored as hell. I imagine he could be watching something utterly tripe. I remember Sunday tv schedules from the past . Probably the sunday matinee movie. Or he could be numbed watching a very one sided football game from the Bundesliga involving Bayern Munich.

I walked back to the hostel with a nagging feeling. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be like to that dude. Watching the dullest TV programmes you can imagine. However the idea of waking up at home, in your own bed and not feeling the need not to go anywhere…. is a nice feeling. Maybe I am showing my age here. Maybe it’s good to watch utter tripe on TV and be numbed into a deep slumber on the sofa.

Maybe there is no place like home on a Sunday.

Since I am not home, I am going to make the most of now. The sun seems to be making a comeback in Scotland…peeking through those dark grey clouds. I might just drag my ass out now and have that full Scottish at Holyrood 9A….

Have a great Sunday, wherever you are in the world.

Do you love travelling everyday of the week, especially Sundays? Love to hear your thoughts on my post.

More stories from the road? Have a peek at the archives.


March 31, 2014

Cheap eats guide to Bari


It is my pleasure to welcome Ezio Totorizzo, proud native of Puglia and editor of the travel blog Spezio as the latest guest editor of the Cheap Eats Guide column. Today he’s taking us on a virtual tour of the best street food of his home town, Bari.



Bari is one of the most important cities in Puglia which lies at the southern tip of Italy  (the tip of the boot) With its busy thriving port and also the newly opened Aeroporto di Bari ‘Karol Wojtyla’ , the city is the gateway for discovering this beautiful region.

One reason to enjoy a day in Bari, is of course the food and in particular, the street food.

Yes, it sounds unusual but in Bari it is possible to get the most amazing and tasty speciality of the Apulian Food.

Behind the food there is a world of stories, culture and lives that you can better to know just by eating.

I want to share with you the tips and secrets of what you can’t miss in a street food tour of my town.



This is the type of pasta made in Puglia. In front of Castello Svevo, in the “Old town”, you’ll find a street where a lot of old ladies sell hand made orecchiette. It’s really nice because they show you how to do and they can prepare it in the moment. I suggest you not to buy at the first stop, but walk and talk with all of them (body language is well known). The price depends on the types of grains or the size but with more and less 5-8 euros you’ll have some to try.



These are slices of fried cornmeal mush with a little bit of salt.

They are really good and I’m going to share with you the best secret in town. There is an old lady who makes the best Sgagliozze- she is known as ‘Maria of Sgagliozze’

Maria delle SGAGLIOZZE

She is about 85 and she cooks them in front of her house at the price of around 1-3 euros. She is a living legend and knowing that people are more interested in local food she allows you to take a picture with her frying a SGAGLIOZZA.

She is really famous and Newsweek put her in the list of 101 best places to eat street food in the world.


POPIZZE (brittle)

These are types of frittelle made with the same dough of pizza. They are not so big and you’ll buy in bags cooked at the moment. The price is almost the same of Sgagliozze and usually you can find it together, made by the same lady.

FOCACCIA is one of the most famous kind of food in town.

FOCACCIA is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product, made by flour, water, salt, oil and yeast, with tomatoes, olives or herbs (sometimes with potatoes), and other delicacies.


PANZEROTTI, that are similar to POPIZZE, but filled with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese or minced meat or what you like most.

If you are in Bari, maybe you’d like to know some places where buying some food for a quick meal. I suggest you the best places in town

Panificio Milanese di Visaggio

Via Quintino Sella,43 (Almost at the end of the famous  street Corso Vittorio Emanuele)

Ask for Focaccia, panzerotti and rustici. Everything is so good and genuine. This is a family bakery.

Panificio Fiore

Strada Palazzo di Città 38, Bari (just beside the “Saint Nicola ” Cathedral) One of the oldest bakery in town.

Pizzeria Di Cosimo

via Giovanni Modugno 31, Bari For a really big and local Panzerotto.

I just wanted to share with you some stories about my city and I really suggest you to come and visit Puglia, because it is a really charming place for people, architecture and above all food.

If you need some tips about Puglia just tweet me  @eziomrlifestyle or search news on my travelblog

Hope you enjoyed Ezio’s fantastic guide. If you are visiting Italy don’t forget to check out the cheap eats guide to Florence  , Cheap eats guide to Rome , Cheap Eats Guide to Catania plus my guide to Parma and the 48 Hour Guide to Bologna

March 28, 2014

Venice, in 40 pictures & 20 songs.


“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”

― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities



Please press play. Enjoy the pictures and the memories…





40 pictures. 20 songs and 1 little video to finish.


Hope you enjoyed the pictures and selection of songs. If you have any feedback to share or suggestions for the Venice playlist, please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Also if you enjoyed this post, please share on Facebook or Twitter. You may also want to check out my earlier instalment of Paris, in 40 pictures & 20 songs 

March 24, 2014

15 budget bus companies to check out on your next trip to Europe



The cheapest way to travel across Europe is definitely the bus. In terms of comfort and ease of travel, nothing beats interrailing across Europe but if you’re on a tight budget, then taking the bus in Europe can offer some amazing cost savings.



Whilst offering excellent fares some of these bus companies featured offering a very high quality service- you can expect reclining seats, extra hold luggage, free wifi, sometimes they offer you free tea or coffee and you also have charging points at each seat.  If you have any bus companies to add to this list, please leave a comment below as I will be constantly updating this page and will credit you. Cheers!




The starting fares can be ridiculously cheap: If you’re looking to go from London to Paris, Brussels or Amsterdam then look no further than the Megabus where you can book yourself a seat for as little as £1 ( 50p booking fee) Other destinations being served by Megabus from London include now Ghent, Rotterdam and Cologne so it’s definitely worth checking them out.

Plus if you are travelling across the UK and especially if you’re looking for the best deal to getup to Scotland from London, do checkout Megabus.


2.National Express

Talking about travelling across UK on the cheap, National Express also has a very impressive network across UK with ‘funfares’ as cheap as £1 if booked in advance. Plus if you are visiting London, Manchester, Bristol or Birmingham, your ticket gets you 2 for 1 tickets in some leading visitor attractions like Legoland in Manchester or Madame Tussaud’s / Tower of London in London.


London-Paris bus route is fiercely competitive so it’s definitely worth shopping around. Eurolines offer advance fares of £38 return at the moment plus allow for 1 piece of carry on luggage and 1 hold luggage.  If you’re looking for an all inclusive bus pass , then Eurolines is a great network covering 41 destinations in 21 countries. Price varies according to the season you travel. In low season: €320 to €465 in high season. ( 30 days, Adult)



Another recent rival on this route worth checking it is IDBUS, subsidiary of SNCF. IDBUS are offering currently deals from London to Lille for as little as £8, London to Paris for just £16, London to Brussels is £29 while London to Amsterdam costs £33. The IDBUS comes with free-wifi, plug point at each seat plus reclining seats. (I hope to be posting a in-depth full review of IDBUS soon on the site)


5. Berlinlinienbus 

If you are heading to Berlin, definitely worth checking out the excellent Berlinlinienbus where you can secure fares for as little as €9. Destinations served include Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Paris and London etc. On board services include stewardesses on long national lines, free daily newspapers, luggage service, check-in with mobile devices and the latest state of the art coaches that offer great comfort. 


6. Mein Fernbus

Another German bus company that has take advantage of Deutsche Bahn losing their monopoly over the German transport network is Mein Fernbus where you can sample fares like  single from Zurich to Munich for €15 or Dresden or Leipzig to Stuttgart for €22 one way

Features of the service include free Wifi, reclinable chairs with at least 70cm legspace, air conditioning, toilet, snacks and drinks (sodas or beer are around  €1.50 mark)


7. ADAC Postbus

ADAC Postbus is the marriage of two German giants – ADAC & Deutsche Post who have created a nationwide bus service that offers an alternative low cost travel between 24 of Germany’s largest cities.

You book online via ADAC-Postbus , via a Deutsche Post office or direct from the driver.

Buses are equipped with three point safety belts, free WLAN and electric plugs for charging devices.


Booking in advance you can  book a one-way ticket from Munich to Stuttgart from €11, or a trip from Cologne to Berlin from €28 or Cologne to Hamburg from €19

Bikes can be taken along for just 10€ – stowed away in the luggage hold.

Top Germany bus tips

In some cases the bus can be cheaper than the train in Germany plus faster- for example the BerlinLinienBus coaches that take you from either of the two Berlin airports or from the central bus station straight to Dresden Hauptbahnhof (main station) or Dresden-Neustadt station takes as little as 2 hours and, if you book early, you get the € 9 fare.€18 regular price, €20 if purchased on the bus.

If you’re visiting Bavaria, do check out the Bayern Ticket which gives you unlimited travel any day, till 3am and covers between one and five people. It costs €23 for one person plus a further €4 each for up to four more people. The price for five people is just €39-really is one of the best deals in Europe.

8. Simple Express

If you’re looking to heading out to the Baltics and Russia from Germany, looking no further than the excellent Simple Express which covers Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Russia. Prices start from €3. Book early because the 3 euro special price applies to the first 5 tickets bought from the internet per departure.

To give you an idea, their Berlin to Warsaw service takes 8 hours with standard fares of just €18 while an overnight coach journey from Riga to St Petersburg takes 12 hours and costs just €23.

9. PolskiBus

If you’re hitting Poland then definitely check out the legendary : Travellers can take advantage of 16 lines linking 20 Polish cities and five European locations. You can expect luxury, double-deck Van Hool Astromega coaches which are equipped with reclining, leather seats, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and toilet. In addition, on the way from Wrocław to Kraków each passenger receives free refreshments: hot and cold drinks, sweet buns/croissants, cookies and water. Amazing. Ticket prices start from 1 zł + 1 zł per booking.

10. Onnibus

Further north if you’re visiting Finland then do check out Onnibus. Booking in advance you can get fares from Helsinki to Tampere and Turku for as cheap as €3.

11. Swebus

Other companies to check out include Swebus where you can go from Oslo to Copenhagen for as little £35 and journey takes around 9-10 hours.

12. Student Agency Bus

Do check out the excellent Student Agency bus service. 7 years ago, I checked out their Prague- Cesky Krumlov route ( as little as €4 one way) and back then, it had reclining seats, free Czech newspapers plus free refreshments like hot chocolate, coffee or tea.  Don’t let the name fool you-anyone can travel on their network. You hop from Prague to Vienna or Budapest for as little as €16 one way.

13. Westbus

Another company to check out for the same route and also for getting around Austria is Westbus. Vienna- Prague to Budapest is €22 one way, Salzburg-Munich €9 or Vienna to Zagreb for €29 while Salzburg to Prague is just €29.

14. Alsa

Spain’s bus services are provided by a host of bus companies whose routes comprise an extensive network. The biggest of the Spanish bus companies is ALSA which operates an extensive network of bus routes throughout the country including international routes to Andorra, France and Portugal. Definitely for many routes in Spain alone, Alsa offers major cost savings when you compare the prices with trains. Plus they have a bunch of excellent money-saving offers like when visiting France from Spain, you can get 50% off your ticket if you book more than 30 days in advance. For bus travel in Spain, the same offer of 50% stands if you can book a mammoth 120 days in advance. Both these type of advance tickets are non-refundable and cannot be changed, once booked.  They also have an app which avoids the problem of trying to print your ticket.



15. Busabout

Last but not least, if you’re looking for an alternative network to getting around Europe, do checkout Busabout.

Am a big fan of their service- great destinations, friendly guides and they drop you off at the hostel ( work with a great network of hostels )

They offer a range of options including their popular ‘Hop on and Hop off’ network which serves 9 countries and 34 destinations. Prices start from  €485. For more about Busabout, do checkout my earlier in-depth review of the Busabout experience.

March 11, 2014

Is teaching abroad compromising your holiday?


In the past three years I have become addicted to travelling – cramming my backpack to the brim with clothes and a battered Lonely Planet book, disappearing for a few months at a time and exploring some amazing places. All pretty standard stuff really.

But this summer, when I applied to teach English in China for a month, I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

Would teaching in one place for a month give me as good an experience as if I were to just see the country by myself?


Zhongshan, Guangdong Province, China


There are lots of organisations that offer teaching abroad placements – I went with AIESEC, a student run organisation.

Getting to grips with the culture

Although travelling for an extended period of time is guaranteed to give you an insight into a country’s culture, nothing beats living in a foreign country for giving you a taste of the culture. Living in another country means that you are rapidly immersed in another way of life – for me this meant sleeping on a wooden board every night, eating rice for EVERY meal (I cannot stress how much rice I consumed) and going to the toilet in what can only be described as a hole in the ground.

A wooden really is as uncomfortable as it looks!

A wooden bed…it really is as uncomfortable as it looks!


Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, always rice!

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, always rice!


If I hadn’t been thrown head first into Chinese culture, I may never have come across such weird and wonderful food…


Who's hungry?

Who’s hungry? 

Turtle soup, anyone..?

Turtle soup, anyone..?

or mastered such fashionable headwear ….….nor would I have learned the dance to Gangnam Style.

Any self-respecting traveller knows that if you really want to get to know a place, you should get to know the people –there really is no substitute to interacting with locals for understanding the similarities and differences between cultures. Teaching a class of Chinese teenagers not only helped improve my own confidence and communication skills, but educated me in terms of contemporary Chinese culture- I’m sure that if I had gone to China just to travel I would have picked up basic Mandarin for ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’, but I doubt I would have learned the cheesy Chinese chat up lines and hilarious insults that the kids were desperate to teach me!

Teaching the children about my own cultural norms was a window into their own beliefs and lifestyle- they wanted to discuss everything, from politics to pop stars. By talking to the same students every day, I got to learn a huge deal about Chinese culture, not by being shown the ‘best bits’ by a tour guide or museum placard, but by talking to the people who actually lived there!

Travelling and Sightseeing

I have to admit that when I was teaching, I was sometimes very frustrated about the fact that I was stuck in one place. Here I was, over 5,000 miles away from home, and instead of scouring every inch of the country as fast as I could, I would be teaching and living in the same school for a month. I started my internship feeling claustrophobic, thinking that by taking a teaching job, I had limited my experience to one region of China.

In reality, this couldn’t have been further from the truth!

In 8 weeks I managed to visit Dubai, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing, Singapore and parts of the Phillippines – once I had paid the initial cost of a flight to China, internal flights and stopovers meant that I could continue my travels within Asia relatively cheaply.

The impressive skyline of Guangzhou

The impressive skyline of Guangzhou


Buddhist temples


The Phillippines... paradise

The Phillippines… paradise 



Although the cost of living in Asia is substantially lower than in the U.K, the start-up cost of getting there is always hefty (around £650 for a flight if you are really savvy). Some companies will pay you for teaching (I received just under £550 for a month’s teaching), so it’s important to remember that you are going for the experience, and not to make money.

With many teaching internships, accommodation and food is often covered by the partner company, and so all you really need to think about is funding any travelling afterwards.

Was it easy?

Easy is NOT the word I would use to describe my teaching experience in China. Although my contract guaranteed that I would receive a week’s teacher training, the school didn’t provide this and my first day compromised of being pushed into a classroom of 30 children, with the advice being only to ‘teach’. Looking out at the classroom to see 30 blank faces staring expectantly at me meant I had to improvise  pretty quickly, and after a few hours of panicked ad-libbing I soon got the hang of teaching. Since returning to the U.K, I have spoken to a few friends who taught abroad on similar teaching programmes offered by different agencies – it seems that a lot of them were given a great deal more training than I was, and so I would recommend researching the reputation of your employer to make sure you get the best deal.


Dabbling in martial arts with my class


I absolutely loved teaching English in China, and my experiences taught me that you don’t have to always be on the road to see a country- I saw and experienced so much of Chinese culture during my stay. Teaching in a foreign country allows you to develop confidence as well as invaluable skills, so this is one trip I’d definately recommend!

My 5 tips for teaching abroad


1.) Do your research

There are plenty of organisations that facilitate teaching abroad, but from my experience some deliver better training and pay better wages than others. Don’t just work for the first company that you come across! Research the company you are interested in working for, read recent reviews and accounts written on forums, and talk to somebody that has already taught abroad if possible.

Go Overseas is just one website that offers reviews of teaching and internship programmes.

2.) Read the small print

Are you a volunteer or a paid teacher? How many hours a week are you contracted to teach? Is food paid for? Before signing a contract, make sure you know what you are agreeing too!

3.) Prepare!

If you’re a little on the shy side and  are considering teaching abroad, I would definitely recommend doing a small amount of preparation before you leave for your respective country, as there really is no guarantee that you will be trained, or even have time to plan your first set of lessons! Prepare an ‘about me’ presentation to introduce yourself to your first class so that you aren’t stuck for ideas during your first lesson – and remember to include lots of pictures of your home friends and family!

If you are stuck for ideas, British Council offers free online teaching rescources which are a great starting point for lessons.


4.) Be prepared for anything!

Although you may be hired as an English teacher, the school you are working for may expect you to help with extracurricular activities – art, dance, football, you name it. Be prepared to get involved with these activities, and remember, just because you couldn’t draw at school doesn’t mean you can’t teach drawing now!


5.) Embrace the experience

Teaching abroad can sometimes be overwhelming or challenging, but my best advice would be to just try and enjoy it. Overcoming the challenges will the good memories that you remember once you return home!

February 20, 2014

You’re invited to Lonely Planet’s first ever global Twitter chat!

Blog asset





















A very exciting announcement to share with you all!

To help celebrate the launch of Lonely Planet’s top 10 best value stays for 2014, I am very excited to announce that the BudgetTraveller is joining forces with the Lonely Planet to help co-host their first ever global Twitter chat on Thursday, 27th February, 4-5pm (GMT) and 8 – 9am PST. 

Everyone is invited and can be involved in this unique event!

We will be discuss money-saving travel tips, exceptional value accommodation and finding out about your favourite budget destinations. The most creative and inspiring tweeter will win a bundle of LP guides!

How can you take part?

1) Follow the hashtag #LPchat on Twitter on 27th Feb ’14 from 4-5pm GMT/8-9am PST
2) Questions will be ordered Q1, Q2, Q3 etc. To answer Q1, begin your tweet with A1. For Q2, A2 and so on.
3) Add #LPChat to all of your tweets during the twitter chat, so others including Lonely Planet and myself can see what you’re saying.
4) Bring your best travel tales and tips!
One week and counting till the 27th February, 2014. 4pm GMT. Keep the date aside for the diary, grab your popcorn, tell your mates to join in the fun!
I look forward to chatting with you soon!
Terms and conditions are as follows:
Terms and Conditions: Entrants must be  13 years old or over. Judges’ decision is final. Promoter: Lonely Planet Publications Ltd of 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TQ, UK. The winner will be notified via direct message and public tweet on Twitter. The winner must claim their prize and provide and address for delivery within 7 days of being notified, otherwise the judges may select another winner. Prize: A pack of 4 Lonely Planet Shoestring guides, as chosen by Lonely Planet, valued at £76.96.


February 11, 2014

Cheap eats guide to Barcelona


Barcelona based travel blogger Meritxell Garcia Roig from Tourism With Me  gives us the lowdown of her favourite cheap eats in the city


1.) Nostrum – Mum’s food to takeaway

Provença 209  and Rambla Catalunya, 20

Cost: Dishes from just €1

Nostrum is a chain of take away food, very much used by busy workers. You also have the possibily to eat in and they have microwaves available in the same shop with some tables and chairs to enjoy the food.

I like the food and they have a wide variety of dishes: soups, pasta, rice, veggies, meat, fish, croquettes and desserts, fruit etc.. The price is very good, I like their salads and pasta dishes. They have delicious croquettes as well.  If you download their app in your mobile you can join the Nostrum fan club where you can get dishes for  €1  to €3. Great deal, huh? Healthy and cheap as chips.

It is a franchise. On their website you can find different shops around Barcelona. I have listed the address of two of them above.

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara


2.) Grup Andilana Restaurants- La Rita & Miu 

Miu: Carrer de València, 249, 08007 Barcelona

La Rita: Carrer d’Aragó, 279, 08009 Barcelona

Cost: Between €10-€15 euros per person

They have a few restaurants in Barcelona, I have tried many- my favorites are La Rita and Miu. They have dishes from €5 with wide variety of dishes on their menu with fish, meat, rice, veggies…

Miu  is a Japanese restaurant in the city center with lovely sushi, my favorite flying fish roe and amazing desserts. I loved their green tea tiramisú. La Rita is a Catalan food restaurant in the city center . My favourites here are their bravas with chistorra , red chorizo,  cod with sanfaina and a catalan sauce. They also have a daily lunch menu from Sunday to Thursday for €15 per person with a starter , 2 main dishes, dessert, a drink and bread included.

Miu Miu

Miu Miu


3.) La Boqueria market

La Boqueria: Rambla, 91

Cost: Between €5-€15 euros per person

La Boqueria is the most famous market in Barcelona and is a jewel in the city center where you can find any kind of food, gourmet ingredients and great quality of fruit and vegetables. It has become very popular among tourists as well and there are stalls that have take away dishes of fish, meat, fruit, veggies etc… It is a cheap and an authenhic option to try out catalan food and maybe buy some food souvenirs as well. The most famous bar in la Boqueria is Bar Pinotxo, a classic. If you have the chance stop by to see the dishes and the atmosphere it not the cheapest place to eat in the market but nevertheless worth stopping by at least. (stall 466-470).

fruit to take away

La Boqueria -Fruit to take away


Catalan food dishes

La Boqueria: Catalan food dishes

4.) Las Fernandez

C/Carretas 11

Cost:- Dishes from €5 

The perfect stop in El Raval to have some typical food from Leon . The amazing dish you have to try here is the Papa don’t preach- fried potatoes with a spinach sauce. Very tasty. My favorite is bacon rolls -shoulder of pork- stuffed with avocado au gratin. You can have a full dish or half, depending if you decide to go for different tapas. I love to share dishes and for this is the perfect place to go with friends.

5.) Tacos Tacos

Poble sec. C/Tapioles 9

Cost: 1 taco from €1,70

A new discovery of this year is Tacos Tacos, a cheap mexican restaurant. Great burritos and of course tacos, the name of the tacos are swear words which makes it fun to order!

My recommendation is Tinga de pollo (chicken burrito) and the tacos are all very good, my favorites are: Gilipollas! (onion black pudding) and Hijo de la chingada ( chicken with mole). They have great nachos with guacamole too!

Tacos Tacos: C/Tapioles 9

Yummy tacos

Tacos Tacos: Yummy tacos


About the author

Meritxell is a tourism professional and a traveller from Barcelona, she loves her city and Catalonia, and in her blog Tourismwithme she explains how to know better Barcelona and Catalonia like a local. You can download her mobile Barcelona guide for free.

Visit her Blog and find her also on Facebook and Twitter.

February 3, 2014

Cheap eats guide to Tenerife


Warm sunshine all year, pints of lager for a euro and lots of sunburnt Brits – that’s Tenerife.

Although a small part of the largest Canary Island can squeeze its bulging beer belly into that description, most of Tenerife is a different island altogether. It’s not difficult to eat cheaply in the purpose built resorts, but it’s not so easy to do so and get quality food.

Outside of the resorts, where the Canarios live, you can eat very cheaply and extremely well simply by going local.

These are some popular authentic places to enjoy cheap eats on Tenerife.



El Cine

Hidden in an alley near the harbour in Los Cristianos, El Cine clings defiantly to the resort’s fishing village roots. It’s a no frills joint selling fresh fish and seafood the way abuela used to cook them (there’s one chicken dish for those who don’t worship at the seafood shrine). Canarios, and anyone  who knows El Cine, happily queue to get their turn to tuck into whole octopus or chunky hake fillets with papas arrugadas (wrinkled potatoes, a Canary Island speciality) at €7 a plate.

Address: C/ Juan Bariajo, 8
Opening Hours: Daily from 11am to 11pm





One reason to visit Otelo in Adeje Town is for pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), a local speciality that is so lip-smacking tasty it could put a certain colonel out of business if it went viral on the world’s culinary scene. Another is that Otelo sits at the mouth of the Barranco del Infierno, a beauty spot and one of the most popular walking routes on Tenerife. Tell the waiter a number (depending on how many people are with you) and wait for a mountain of crispy garlic chicken to appear.

Address: Calle Los Molino 44, Adeje
Opening Hours: Open 11.00am to 11pm, closed Tuesday

Cost: €5 a portion




Tasca La Oficina

Huge, herby, beefy burgers in a popular restaurant district in El Sauzal that few visitors know about. With a rustic design and furniture as chunky as the burgers, La Oficina serves the best of Tenerife’s fast food scene at crazy prices; cheeseburgers are €2.70. Pair burgers with papas locas (French fries with cheese, ham and lashings of ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard) for the full La Oficina experience.

Address: Carretera General del Norte, 19
Opening Hours: Open Tues to Saturday 1 to 11pm; Sunday 1 to 5pm, closed Monday




La Cueva

Way off the beaten track is La Cueva, a restaurant set in a cave in the Anaga Mountains. La Cueva attracts hikers and sharply dressed city folk from Santa Cruz, making for an odd mix of clientèle. The food is good quality, country fare and includes fried goat, rabbit in sauce and filling stews. To really go local try gofio escaldón, a thick paste of flour ground from toasted grains mixed with stock. It’s an acquired taste and dirt cheap.

Address: Chinamada, 14A
Opening Hours: Open 11am to 7pm Wednesday, Thursday & Sunday; 11am to 10pm Friday & Saturday; closed Monday & Tuesday.

Cost: Courses average €7




Humboldt’s Mirador

A stylish café and restaurant with knock-out views of the La Orotava Valley and Mount Teide that wowed the German naturalist and adventurer it’s named after. Humboldt’s serves Canarian themed breakfasts with names that has locals smiling but mean nothing to anyone else. The bocadillos (filled baguettes) are delicious and different – think goats’ cheese and avocado or calamari with fried egg – and the black pig burger is something else.

Address: Carretera El Pinito, Las Cuevas, La Orotava
Opening Hours: Open daily 1.00 to 4.00pm & 7.00 to 11pm (1 to 4pm on Sunday)

Cost: Bocadillos are €2, special breakfasts €8




The Kiosko

They could serve mediocre food at the Kiosko in Santiago del Teide and the location, a eucalyptus scented picnic zone opposite a pristine church, would make it taste great. But they don’t, they have some of the best arepas on Tenerife. These are fried, or toasted, Venezuelan corn pancakes. Avocado and chicken arepas are delicious but even better is carne mechada (spiced shredded meat). Perfect paired with an icy Dorada cerveza.

Address: Zona Recreativa, Santiago del Teide
Opening Hours: A mystery

Cost: Arepas are €2.50




Santa Cruz Bus Station

The cafeteria in the main bus station in Tenerife’s capital, Santa Cruz, is where guagua (Tenerife’s buses) drivers eat because a) it’s good value and b) it has excellent tapas. For a serious carb hit, try the tortilla bocadillo otherwise check out whatever tapas is on offer that day. The churros de pescado (fish in crispy batter) and albóndigas (lightly spiced meatballs) are top choices.

Address: Estación de Guaguas, Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Opening Hours: As long as the bus station is open

Cost: Tapas average €3 a ración


Tapas, Sirmiri, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife


Sirmiri Vinos & Pintxos

Puerto de la Cruz is the tapas capital of Tenerife; Sirimiri, in the fishermen’s district, is one of the latest additions. Over thirty, orgasmic Basque tapas such as mushrooms stuffed with ham, garlic, cheese and quail egg or smoked salmon, prawn, egg and mayonnaise are an irresistible €2.50 each. Whilst there’s a good selection of vino, the house wine from the owner’s small vineyard in La Orotava is seriously drinkable.

Address: C/San Felipe, 15
Opening Hours: 11.30am to 3.30pm and 7pm till it closes.





The ultimate budget, local cuisine is found in a guachinche. These are unique to Tenerife and the most authentic ones are in the north of the island. Their roots go back to the days when Victorian traders bought fresh food and wine from roadside stalls along the stagecoach route. Guachinches are rough and ready makeshift affairs that can only open for three months at a time and sell a limited selection of traditional food (e.g. spicy pork kebabs, ribs with corn), plus the wine must be their own.

How do you find one? Look for a home-made sign with an arrow and ‘Guachinche’ scrawled on it (usually nailed to a tree or pasted to a wall) and follow for a dining experience to remember.


Jack is a travel writer/blogger currently living in a banana plantation in the north of Tenerife who blogs about the the island that exists beyond the resorts on his website He also writes about hiking & dining on and off the beaten track in other parts of the world on Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


January 31, 2014

Paris, in 40 photos & 20 songs


Here are 40 pictures I took from my latest jaunt to Paris.

Pictures are taken with my humble iPhone 4s.

To accompany the pictures I’ve also created a Spotify playlist of 20 songs that have inspired my past and present trips to Paris.

Press play. Sit back and enjoy this little November ride through the streets of Paris….



St Pancras International Terminal, London

Every great adventure has a great beginning. Our first big adventure to Paris started at the epic Eurostar terminal in St Pancras International which is a destination in it’s own right.


We went to Paris with Eurostar. Booking early, you can get tickets as cheap as £69 return to Paris. Another bonus of travelling with Eurostar is that they are offering passengers 2 for 1 entry  into some of Paris’s top cultural attractions like the Musée d’Orsay. Great for culture vultures like me and Sofia.


Gare du Nord

2 hours and 30 minutes after we left St Pancras, we are safely nestled in the heart of Paris.


Hotel Manufacture

This was our double bed at Hotel Manufacture. Very comfortable room. Nice bedding. Quiet. Great friendly staff. It’s located in the 13th arrondissement and just a 20 minute walk to the Latin Quarter. The nearby (50m) Place d’Italie metro station offers easy access to several metro lines (5, 6 and 7) so it’s a ideal base for exploring Paris. Booked via Expedia’s new mobile app ( I got 20% off booking via the app) , I got a room for 3 nights for £197 which works out to be £67 a night. Great deal for Paris.


Roue de Paris

Next day. A cold, grey day in November. We start our walk at the northern edge of Jardin de Tuileries at the Roue de Paris , a 60-metre (200 ft) tall Ferris Wheel, installed on the Place de la Concorde in Paris.


Fontaines de la Concorde, Place de La Concorde.


Place Vendôme


La Madeleine, Paris, just a few minutes walk east of Place Vendome.


Jeu de Paume – a home for all types and periods of the visual arts. During our visit there was an excellent exhibition about the photographer, Erwin Blumenfeld. Plus 2 for 1 entry with our Eurostar ticket. Saving of €8.50. Magic.


 Sofia capturing the last colours of autumn in Paris.



Time for lunch. We loved Mavrommatis on 42 rue Daubenton, just a 5 minute walk from Jardin Tuileries. Best Greek restaurant I’ve ever dined out in. €38 for 3 course lunch. Pricey, but damn good food. Lamb moussaka was amazing.

Nice service. No tourists. Just locals. They also have an excellent deli downstairs which serves delicious sandwiches with great fillings- jambon, grilled halloumi, name a few.You can have a sandwich, drink & one of their delicious desserts for just €9.90.



The Jardin des Tuileries is Paris’s most visited garden thanks to it’s perfect location between the Louvre and Place de la Concorde. In winter, I guess it’s a different story.




Approaching the world’s greatest art museum, the Louvre...

Dunno who the naked dude is. Can anyone enlighten me?


Love the courtyard of the Louvre.


While people were jostling in the long queues to get into the Louvre, we were content just to soak in the atmosphere outside, observing visiting tourists striking all kinds of weird poses in front of the pyramid.


Continue our walk up the Seine. I am desperate for the loo. I am hopping like mad to find a place to pee. I ask politely at two restaurants. I get a firm, grumpy ‘non.’ My third attempt is a moderate success. I have to pay 50 cents as my fee to pee. Which I reluctantly accept.


Continuing our walk up the Seine, we meet a few friendly locals.


Shakespeare & Company, across from the Notre Dame Cathedral is my favourite bookstore in Paris. I love coming back here every time I visit Paris. Upstairs they have a cosy library with lots of worn out interesting books and worn out sofas. We spend a few hours leafing through their collection. There’s a lot of tourists packed into the bookshop but still a wonderful silence.



Then I find a typewriter! It’s been years (decades) since I’ve sat in front of a typewriter.


Unfortunately, the typewriter was broke. Still, like R.B from India above, I too was inspired just sitting there.







Day 2. We’re at the beautiful Musee D’Orsay. Probably my favourite art museum in the world. Plus 2 for 1 entry with our Eurostar tickets. A grand saving of €11.


From inside the Musee D’Orsay looking out….



Favourite painting at Musee D’Orsay? Probably Auguste Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette



Another favourite of mine at Musee D’Orsay. Le Dejeuner sur l’Herbe by Claude Monet


Clock Cafe, Musee D’Orsay. Overpriced and very touristy but worth visiting just to enjoy the ambience.



Sofia, lost in wonder , enjoying the view of the Sacre Coeur from inside the Musee d’Orsay clock tower.




One last look at the impressive atrium of Musee D’Orsay …



Macarons at Richart. Situated very close to Musee D’Orsay ( 258 Bvd. St. Germain ) it’s perfectly located . Priced at just €1.60 per piece, it’s very reasonably priced.



Wondering the Left Bank, we stumbled upon the famous Hotel D’ York (56 Rue Jacob )

The Treaty of Paris was signed here on September 3, 1783 that marked the end of the American War of Independence between Great Britain and the United States of America.



This is the courtyard of Hotel D’Angleterre on 44 Rue Jacob, just a stone’s throw away from Hotel D’York. I love coming back and going for a wee nosy in this historic hotel. Hemingway spent his first night in Paris here.


Thanks to tip from my friend Alexis from Hejorama blog, we ended up for dinner in Cafe de l’Industrie just off the crowded Rue de Lappe in the Bastille area. It’s a charming restaurant, filled with locals and has a nice cosy atmosphere.

If you do visit here, I recommend the wonderful snails cooked in garlic and butter.



We end the day wondering the cobbled streets of the village of Montmartre. Lit up at night, Sacre Coeur looks stunning.


While looking for bars to have a farewell drink, we noticed that bars don’t offer free wifi here and revel in the fact that they don’t offer it. I get your point but still there is a certain snobbery about the whole issue of offering wifi in Paris which frustrates me.



In the touristy drag of Rue Lepic, we find a bar that offers free wifi has a real down to earth charm. Welcome to the lovely Un Zebra de Montmartre. The food is decently priced, staff are friendly and the wine is great. We buy half a carafe of red for €7 euros and enjoy our wine, sipping it slowly and savouring the last moments of our holiday.


So that’s our 40 pictures from Paris. Hope you enjoyed the moments from our holiday and also my Paris playlist. It would be great to hear your suggestions of the perfect song for Paris.


Courtesy of Eurostar , I travelled from London to Paris. Booking in advance you get one-way fares for £39 and return from £69.

I flew from Paris to Madeira courtesy of Transavia, the low-cost airline from KLM. I have to admit before this trip, I wasn’t aware of this low-cost airline. They have some great deals. Currently they have a fantastic sale on where you can fly from Porto to Lyon for €29 or from Rotterdam to Prague for €30. If you’re planning to travel across Europe this summer, it’s very worthwhile bookmarking their website.

We stayed at the Hotel Manufacture courtesy of Expedia. They currently have a fantastic winter sale on where you can get 40% off hotels.


While my flights and stay were offered courtesy of Expedia, Eurostar and Transavia, the views represented in this article are entirely my own. 


January 27, 2014

25 top cheap eats in Munich


Excited to have onboard, good friend and local Municher Julia Pawelczyk as the latest guest contributor to my cheap eat guides series. Today she’s giving the lowdown of her 25! favourite cheap eats in Munich, sorted by the town’s districts. Guten appetite! ( PS If you’re visiting Munich, worth checking out also my 48 Hour Guide to Munich for €120 )

Local muncher and avid foodie, Julia Pawelczyk dining at one of her favourite cheap eats in Munich: Jai Ma

Local muncher and avid foodie, Julia Pawelczyk dining at one of her favourite cheap eats in Munich: Jai Ma


1. Pasta e Basta

Pasta e Basta is an Italian style pasta restaurant. Cheapest dishes (spaghetti Napoli with tomato sauce) are for less than €4. Delicious pizza starts at the €4 mark as well. The atmosphere in the restaurants is simple but corresponds with Italian style.

Jai Ma

Jai Ma















2. Ja Mai

Hoang and her two colleagues are preparing homemade Vietnamese food – it feels like coming home to your Vietnamese mum! Main courses are €6.50  during lunch time, €7.50 in the evening.

3. Schnelle Liebe

This is a tiny bar with great organic burgers, pasta and huge, delicious salads for less than €10. Schnelle Liebe is also great for party and drinks with friends. Cool music plus you get to hang out with cool crowd from the Glockenbach neighborhood.

4. Cihan

Cihan is a turkish restaurant in the Ehrengut quarter. In the summer, you can sit outside and watch the people go by.

Best dish? Choose the grilled octopus with potatoes and salad for less than €9. Sometimes, the boss is playing Saz, the Turkish guitar and you will have lots of Raki as well…

5. Bergwolf

The first place for Currywurst in Munich, Bergwolf is a very popular and brilliantly located in the Glockenbachviertel party quarter. Perfect place for a late night sausagefest.

Extra-long opening hours on Friday and Saturday.

6. Punkto

The pizza place in Müllerstraße in Glockenbachviertel is very cheap and has brilliant pizza directly from the wood oven. Many Munich people call it Party-Italiener- “party Italian place.” Equally a good place to get drunk there or drop in later at night.

7. Westend-Café

Cafe Westend hosts an excellent cocktail happy hour every evening between 9 p.m. and midnight. Great cocktails start from just €5.50.


8. dean& david

dean & david have 10 locations in Munich. Motto: “Create your own salad!” They also offer tasty sandwiches and awesome smoothies. Or you can choose one of their big, delicious salads for €6-9. Warning: While the salad is the best in town, you might be disappointed about the curries – not hot and spicy enough for me!

9. Pho

Pho is an excellent vietnamese restaurant with a modern atmosphere. Portions are sufficient and prices are quite reasonable. You can choose the medium size portions – they are huge!  


10. Feinspitz’s Hot Dog


They have 2 branches in Munich. A great variety of different hot dogs plus vegetarian or vegan options. It’s a tiny restaurant with nice staff and reasonable prices. Also they are located in Müllerstraße/ Glockenbachviertel.


11. Café Neuhauser

Cafe Neuhauser are all about enjoy delicious pizzas, baked in a wood-burning oven. Every Tuesday pop in for their famous giant night pizza where you get XL pizzas for the price for the normal size. We would say: One of the best pizza places in town! If you come for lunch, the huge and delicious lunch pizza (daily offers) only costs €5,50 ! Several Happy Hour offers for cocktails.

12. Restaurant Pardi

Turkish restaurant with quite pricey dishes at night but for lunch, they have a great menu with 3 courses for less than €10. We can recommend the Cocktail happy hour every evening between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Great cocktails for 4.90 Euro each. Big and good cocktails.

13. Radha

Nice Indian Restaurant. Every Monday is ladies night. Two ladies get one of their main courses for free!





14. Viktualienmarkt 

Breakfast or lunch, while the prices for groceries at the Viktualienmarkt are really high due to the extraordinary quality, you can have a delicious and cheap meal to go or to stay here.

15. Try Rostbratwurstl at Schlemmermeyer’s in the Viktualienmarket ( €2.60 )

16. Bäckerliesl Munich´s best bread – the owner is 83 years old. Some people come from far away just to get her bread.

17. Münchner Suppenküche

Münchner Suppenkü Munich´s soup place – homemade soups directly beside the Bäckerliesl. They also serve Bäckerliesl´s delicious bread.


18. Schinder Stadl

Schinder Stall is a beer garden located directly at the Flaucher, a great spot to swim in the Isar. Reasonable prices, it is actually only a kiosk, but has also a beer garden which is open all year round. In winter, you can sit on lamb fur and have hot wine. Super cheap prices for typical Bavarian specialties like Obatzda (cream cheese with pretzel) or Bratwürste. Scenic nature surrounding even though it is only 400 metres from the next metro station (U-Bahn Station Thalkirchen).

19. Lucullus

Lucullus is the cheapest Greek restaurant in town with HUGE and delicious portions. It is simple and cosy, but not fancy at all.


Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 14.38.52

20. Condesa Gourmet Tacos

Condesa Gourmet Tacos is the best Burritos in town for a reasonable price: at the Münchner Freiheit – don´t miss it.

21. Pepe Nero

Pepe Nero is an Italian style pasta restaurant. Delicious pizza. The atmosphere in the restaurants is simple but corresponds with Italian style.

22. Ben’s Bar

Ben’s Bar is a cosy and stylish location. The quality of the drinks is very good and you get super cocktails for a fair price. On Tuesday and Friday the bar offers a Happy Hour all night long

Beer Gardens & Barbecue & Picnic!

English Garden, Munich

English Garden, Munich

23. Beer Gardens

In all beer gardens in Munich it’s allowed to bring your own food (Brotzeit) – you are only asked to buy the drinks. Get your own Brotzeit, buy a beer and have a great time in one of Munich´s “outdoor living rooms”.

Some examples with a great atmosphere are:

Augustiner Biergarten

Hofbräukeller at the Wiener Platz

Beer Garden at the Viktualienmarkt 

Chinese Tower in the English Garden 

24. Barbecues

Barbecue Munich people LOVE barbecues at the Isar river. In summer, they do it every day.

The best spot therefore are by the Isar’s river banks, especially at the gravel banks of the Flaucher (please note: Barbecue is only allowed from Brudermühlbrigde down South, because of the heavy smoke everywhere in the city center, they had to prohibit barbecues at the river banks from Brudermühlbrücke up North until Deutsches Museum Insel. If you need any more food or beverage you’ll find two kiosks at the Flaucherbrücke – a nearby bridge over the Isar.

25. Fancy a picnic?

One of the loveliest places is Gärtnerplatz – great to go there on a warm evening to have a drink and picnic with friends. Just bring your own food and beverage and if anything runs out, Kirk Bar is just around the corner.