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Favourite Michelin Star Restaurants in Europe

Le Meurice Alain Ducasse

Prepare to whet your appetite on a feast for the senses with our list of our favourite Michelin-star restaurants in all of Europe.

ABaC – Barcelona

Helmed by one of Spain’s youngest chef to be awarded with the prestigious and coveted Michelin Star title, Chef Jordi Cruz has the ability to throw seemingly disparate ingredients together to create a magical dish. At the ABaC, highlights include the fresh seafood and unique meat plates that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else but here. We applaud the food Tasting Menu – great value for such a treat for the palate! Take yourself through the epicurean journey of the senses including fatty cuts of tuna belly with a mild punch of citrus ponzu, shaved kumquat zest, crispy baked artichokes and creamy veggie roots purée. The sommelier may present his selections from the wine list of over 1,000 curated options.

Le Meurice Alain Ducasse – Paris

Just looking at the picture, it’s not difficult to guess why this has made our list of our favourite Michelin-star restaurants in all of Europe. Two-Michelin starred restaurant Le Meurice goes all out to impress her diners – from the grandeur of the interior design to the honest, simple ingredients magically woven into edible works of art by Executive Chef Jocelyn Herland – the restaurant does not hold back in its experience of a dining extravaganza.

Perfect for a morning breakfast or a romantic night out with a view out to the Jardin des Tuileries, you’ll be treated to a selection of comforting favourites including French toast with soft vanilla cream, and lobster and butter with a smooth monté beurre sauce. Take your pick from the broad variety of artisanal cheeses from their cheese trolley.

For diners with dietary restrictions, vegetarian friendly, vegan and gluten free options are readily available, just ask! The dining experience here is pure theatre.

Hotel du Clos, Cote d’Azur – France

Hotel du Clos, Cote d’Azur

The perfect address for a weekend stay for families or couples, the restaurant Clos Saint Pierre and the Bistro du Clos is the in-house restaurant of cosy and picturesque Hotel du Clos. Seated on the outdoor terrace at sunset, we were surrounded by pretty curtains of natural weaves of grapevines in the alfresco compound. The generous canapés gave us little hint as to what we were soon to be served – a delicate and fresh sea bream fillet in a light, savoury broth bursting with flavours of the sea. After several other exquisite dishes, we opted for simple, comfort food to end the beautiful evening – a platter of petit fours and sour berries, plus a side of iconic, dainty french macaroons.

Red Lion & Troutbeck Guest House – Cotswolds, UK

This gem was originally launched as the Red Lion pub, and since its inception, the owners have spared no effort in establishing its epicurean reputation. Their hard work finally paid off in 2012 when they were awarded with the Michelin star, as a firm recognition of the service excellence and food quality. Till today, fresh ingredients are purchased from local producers and farmers, and all condiments and sauces are lovingly made from scratch in the kitchen. The offerings here honest and artisanal – fresh sourdough bread is served with manually-churned butter!

Best Things to Do in Valencia, Spain

Here, we explore the top and best things to do in Valencia, the third largest city of Spain. With a dynamic old city, with a maze of little streets and awe-inspiring medieval architectural buildings like the UNESCO-listed Lonja de la Seda, Spain has maintained its image of a perfect holiday destination for a long time and for good reason.

However, you can still get a chance to go through fantastic architecture, traditional blend of cultural norms, and fabulous cuisines at the cafes in Valencia, which offers both advantages of offering beach as well as city tours. Let’s take a journey through the old history of Spain.

Historical Places at Valencia  

If you are more interested in the old town and classic history of the city, then Plaza de Virgen could be the best place to start your trip. Wander through the old town streets, visit age-old churches, and observe the grandeur of the traditional city of Spain. There are also more contemporary visitor attractions at the City of the Arts and Sciences, and the offerings of old world charm and contemporary styles makes Valencia one of Spain’s most loved destinations.

·        Valencia Cathedral

Valencia Cathedral is nestled between two squares Plaza de la Reina and the Plaza de la Virgen. The mixed architecture of the ancient mosque and cathedral has given this place a special unique character. You can enjoy the view and also go wild taking memorable shots there for the family album.

·        Valencia Central Market

If you feel like doing a spot of shopping, you’re at the right place! This is a foodie heaven and if you love a good selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, the authentic ‘market’ atmosphere, meat, fish, nuts and fresh juices, expect to go wild!

·        La Lonja – Silk Exchange

This majestic late-15th-century building is listed as a UNESCO heritage site and widely regarded as the masterpiece of Valencian gothic architecture. The name means “Silk Exchange”, where traders from far flung corners of the Mediterranean would meet to trade goods and services. Stand in awe of the intricate twisted columns of the main atrium (sala de contratación) and look above to appreciate the incredible detail of the vaulted ceilings. Did you know that the upper floors were once used as the prisons?

·        Plaza de la Reina

It is known as the hottest meeting spot of Valencia. You will find a lot of other attractions around the Plaza de la Reina. Santa Catalina church tower is the nearest attraction, and there is a cathedral where you will visit Miguelete Bell Tower. The square is famous for bars, pubs, and parlours. Barrio del Carmen is renowned for its nightlife. Also, you will find many shopping opportunities around the town. Public parking is also available so, a visitor can walk down the city and explore the beauty on the feet.

·        Valencia City Hall

Impressive clock tower and majestic beauty of the building is, without any doubt, the most inspiring place for visitors and one of the best things to do in Valencia. The city hall building is a fantastic place with the perfect view for memorable pictures. The square in front of City Hall – Plaza del Ayuntamiento – closes to traffic on the last Sunday of each month, so people can enjoy a stroll, markets, and other special events. It is open from Tuesdays to Fridays, and you will still need to reserve tickets in advance. You can go by bus, by train or by metro. There are multiple options to reach there and that also within your budget.

·        Quart and Serranos Towers

The walled city of Valencia is protected by these towers. This is one of the historic landmarks as well as the best example of exceptional architecture and design. The architecture of these towers is still an inspiration for builders. Of course, we have heavy machinery now, but this is inspiring about the times when people were talented enough to build such landmarks without the help of technology. It is open throughout the week, but it would be prudent to double check the timings before going there.

What to Eat & Drink?

Paella is the specialty of Valencia, and your journey is incomplete without trying this local cuisine. Not to worry though, it won’t be hard to find a restaurant with good paella, as almost every restaurant serves this dish. There are some of the best restaurants in the corner of squares. Usually, Paella Valenciana contains chicken, rabbit, snails, and both green and butter beans. You can try other combinations too, that is entirely up to your palate and preference.

Agua de Valencia is the famous drink of Valencia, the combination of orange juice, cava (or champagne), vodka and a splash of gin. Rococo Café de las Horas is the top choice for trying this drink. You may find some other refreshing drinks too. This café has some of the best in its menu so, don’t forget to try at least one in a day.

How to get around town?

If you have your driving documents, you can rent a car for your holidays. Otherwise, you can get around by bus, train or metro. All of the local travel options are quite affordable and safe for solo travelers. In fact, traveling through local transportation can be more fun and delightful experience for a foreigner. However, the ideal way to get around the city is on foot. Start packing for your next vacation now and tell us your list of best things to do in Valencia!

Important Do’s and Don’ts in Japan

Japan welcomes foreigners and travellers with open arms, but its layered and unique culture may be impossible to understand for a first-time visitor, which makes it important to learn the cultural do’s and don’ts of Japan. Familiarise yourself with a few of these tips on etiquette before your trip to the Land of the Rising Sun – from what to do when you visit an onsen, to how to snack on-the-go.

Do’s in Japan:

  • Practice or learn some basic phrases

The first rule of traveling to foreign is about learning phrases for better communication. If you want to get through the town, you must know their language, it makes easy to understand.

  1. Hello – Konnichiwa
  2. Thank you – Arigatō gozaimasu
  3. Yes and no – Hai/Iie
  4. Do you speak English? – Eigo o hanasemasu ka.
  5. My name is (your name). – Watashi no namae was (your name) desu.
  6. I don’t understand. – Wakarimasen.
  7. Please give me – Kohi Kudsai (this phrase can be helpful in placing orders at cafes or restaurants)
  • Learn Basic Etiquette

Bowing is a well-known custom of Japan that you might be aware of, but it is not for every occasion. In fact, some Japanese prefer a simple handshake. Keenly observe their body language and gestures, and you will know what they are expecting. Moving on, while you enter into someone’s home or various restaurants, you will have to remove your shoes and wear the slippers provided. In addition, don’t hand over money directly to the cashier, instead, place it on the tray provided at the cashier counter.

  • The custom of visiting an Onsen

An onsen (温泉) is a Japanese hot spring, many spend time here as part of tradition and culture, as well as for relaxing and quiet contemplation. First of all, cleanse yourself before entering the bath. Second, forget the swimsuit and strip down. Third, you will be provided with two towels: use one and save another for after-bath cleansing. Do not swim.

  • Dining Manners

In Asia, table manners are an important to convey your respect for the food served, as well as to those you are dining with. In Japan, it is no different. In this country, you can find many restaurants with the more westernized tables and chairs but at the same time, some provide zashiki-style dining. This is a traditional Japanese-style room complete with tatami flooring, and padded mats or cushions for sitting. Remember that if you enter one of these restaurants, you you will have to remove your shoes before entering the dining area.

Don’ts in Japan:

  • Do not litter

The Japanese are really concerned about manners and care for the environment – rubbish is taken to the recycle bins. Plus, people don’t throw trash on the floors or on the grounds. So, be mindful not to litter and carry your trash with you until you find a bin. 

  • Don’t finish your meal

There is a hospitality rule of the Japanese, they make you eat until you are satiated. Therefore, finishing your whole meal may make them think that the food served was not enough for your appetite. So, always leave some food on your plate and avoid over-eating due to this unspoken custom. (I know, it’s hard! I LOVE Japanese food!)

  • Don’t tip

Regardless of the quality of service, you don’t tip the servers in Japan. You can say that they love to earn the hard way rather than relying on this culture.

  • Avoid drinking or eating while walking

Do not drink or eat while walking. They may not be saying anything considering you are non-Japanese, but manners are like the cultural protocols and you must follow them.

Japan promises a journey like no other. Just be mindful of these do’s and don’ts in Japan and you’re all set. Shiawasena tabi!!  (Happy traveling!!)

Travelling to Italy? Don’t miss these tips!

Travelling to Italy? Don't miss these tips!

Located in Southern Europe, Italy is a charming peninsula protruding into the Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia. When travelling, it’s imperative to understand that you are not on home ground – always be respectful of local customs and practices.

WEATHER AND CLOTHING

Generally, the weather in Italy is sweltering in the peak of summer, during the month of July and August. If you are visiting during this time, I would highly recommend that you wear light clothing. Don’t forget your sunglasses, wide-brim hat and sunblock! Occasional afternoon thunderstorms are to be expected, especially in Rome and inland cities, so you may want to consider bringing an umbrella or a raincoat. Don’t let the unexpected weather patterns dampen your visit. Many churches and religious sites such as the St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums in Rome and at the Basilica di San Marco in Venice institute dress standards (covered shoulders and knees) so it is important to dress appropriately when visiting.

Great weather makes for superb photo opportunities!

SAFETY

Pickpockets are rampant in Italy, especially in crowded tourist areas. You’d be wise to protect yourself against sneaky pickpockets and wallet-snatchers. You may want to consider wearing a hidden money belt or a concealed necklace pouch to hold your valuables. If you have to carry a purse, make sure that it is attached to your body and tuck it tightly between your body and arm! A word of caution: “gypsy”
children are everywhere in Rome, and they are extremely skilled pickpockets that strike when you least expect it. Always keep a watchful eye and you might save yourself the hassle and pain of losing your valuables in a foreign land!

TELEPHONES

It is well-known that long distance and international calls made in hotels are extremely pricey! You’d do well to make these calls from public phones, using telephone cards – for general information in English, dial 176. To place international telephone calls via the operator assisted service, dial 170. It would be useful to keep in mind: the country code for Italy is 39. You can also consider purchasing new SIM cards from local telecommunications shops, which can provide great value for money, with the added convenience of making calls wherever you are.

A public phone booth in Italy

If you are in need of additional information, I’d recommend you to have a look at Tourism Italy’s website, they have a wealth of useful information for travelers to this lovely country. In the unlikely event that you run out of things to do here, hop on a quick flight to Amsterdam and explore the liberal and bohemian city in The Netherlands!

Pack well and have a safe and enjoyable trip to Italy!

Top 5 Unique Things to Do in Vancouver

Vancouver, Canada

We are going to explore top 5 unique things to do in Vancouver, a city where you could be on the ski slopes in the morning, and laze around beautiful beaches in the afternoon! This city is well-endowed with marvellous spots of nature – from snow-capped mountains, well-worn forest trails to kayaking in the open waters, there is no lack of unique things to do in Vancouver.

Experience a slower pace of life at Maplewood Farm

Rabbit grazing in the warm sunshine

With more than 200 birds of the sky and docile farm animals, the highly-educational Maplewood Farm provides visitors with a glimpse into the rural life, a mere 15 minutes’ drive from Vancouver city. Once a dairy farm, is it now the cosy home to, sheep, cows, goats, birds, rabbits, horses and pigs. This farm is extremely family-friendly, with horse rides and many opportunities to learn more about the animals and their care.

405 Seymour River Pl.

Go green at Granville Island

A dynamic marketplace and cultural hub., the Granville Island hosts a spectrum and quaint mix of attractions and artisans, including sake drink makers and independent pottery stores. With it undivided focus on going green and environmental sustainability, the island has enforced an all round zero-waste policy, so you’d be happy to know that food and entertainment on this island goes easy on your conscience!

Get a taste for the city on a food tour

Local food is a gateway into the understanding of local culture. While there are many other ways to do so, there is little contention that mingling with local cooks while tasting iconic local food greatly enhance visitors’ experience of a new destination.

There are a number of organised food tours in Vancouver which takes you through the city’s gastronomic offerings. One popular tour company is Vancouver Foodie Tours, which has many options depending on what type of food you would like to sample. From Vancouver’s renowned Chinese to food trucks to artisanal food, you’ll surely enjoy eating your way through the town!

Food, glorious food!

Watch and cheer at a professional ice hockey match

Professional ice hockey match

Hockey is the national sport of Canada, so it is possible that you will be able to catch some serious professional skills at an ice hockey game. The hockey game season runs from October to June, and the speed of play is certain to impress you. Tip: Book your tickets ahead as tickets to the important games can sell out quickly.

Rogers Arena, 800 Griffiths Way

Reach for the canopy in Capilano Suspension Bridge & Park

Capilano Suspension Bridge, West Vancouver, Canada

Boldly installed above the Capilano River in 1888, this 450-metre suspension bridge affords visitors an opportunity to stroll amongst the canopy of the cedar trees, which grow over the fierce wasters of the river below. This is perfect for the conservative traveller who prefers to safely explore Vancouver’s rich forestry and native flora. In the area, there is also a cliff walk and a system of footbridges which gives visitors an equally breathtaking scenery of the rolling rivers.

3735 Capilano Rd.

TRAVEL FOR FREE

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