This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: February 2017

The 7 Best Cocktail Bars in Rotterdam

Suicide Club

Step aside Manhattan, this is how rooftop cocktail bars are done. Take the Groot Handelsgebouw service elevator to the eighth floor and exit into the bustle of the kitchen. Don’t fret – you’re in the right place. As bar staff flit past in signature Jasna Rokegem dresses, join the al fresco beau monde for a cabana cocktail among the greenery of the Suicide Club’s (thesuicideclub.nl) rooftop. With vistas right across the city, drinkers should feel on top of the world.

Dr.

Like America’s Prohibition-era speakeasies, this clandestine bar is only open to those in the know. Dripping in crystal glass decadence and with a luxurious rosewood bar, bartenders in white apothecary attire create medicinal concoctions to ease ailments of all kinds, including melancholy, heartbreak or simply thirst. The Dr.’s (drrotterdam.com) menu switches regularly, but get past the introductory punch and you’ll be prescribed a maximum of three great cocktails.

The Stirr

The Stirr (thestirr.nl) is an award-winning drinking den that mixes the past and the present as exposed brick and darkly varnished saloon bar stools side next to diamond cage lights and DJs spinning vinyl. There isn’t a cocktail menu, but the barmen – who have an assemblage of whiskers so epic, many of their moustache designs went out of fashion with the penny-farthing – will shoot you a few questions and shake up a drink to suit your mood.

NY Basement

Step back in time to the Roaring Twenties when men were gentlemen, women were ladies and highballs were really, really strong. Every detail of this cocktail bar-cum-restaurant is authentic, right down to the bartenders’ black tie outfits and the swing era jazz. Mainly serving drinks that were in vogue a century ago, if the old-fashioned brews start getting the better of you, NY Basement (nybasement.nl) also has a first-class food menu too.

NHow bar

If you like your cocktails with a view, this is the place to come. Situated on the seventh floor of the iconic De Rotterdam skyscraper, the NHow bar (nhow-rotterdam.com) is the perfect spot to sit back, sip and stare at the sparkling vistas over the Erasmus Bridge. With raw concrete pillars and a steel grate ceiling, the bar takes an urbane slant on an industrial theme. Try a get a table on the terrace and order their signature This is nHow cocktail with St. Louis cherry beer, fresh lime juice, mint and strawberry coulis.

Ballroom

Not officially a cocktail bar, but with over 100 different types of gin and tonic, the knowledgeable staff at candle-lit Ballroom (ballroomrotterdam.nl) certainly know how to mix a mean drink or two. If you’re having a hard time choosing, bartenders can advise and surprise, but do your best to get a seat in the charming garden where walls of creeping greenery and low-hanging lightbulbs dangle above the shiny checkerboard floor. The food is remarkably sophisticated too and features the best meatballs in town.

Noah

Situated at the base of the Witte Huis, the oldest skyscraper in Europe, Noah (noahrotterdam.nl) acknowledges its historic location by thinking up respectful twists on stonewall classics like their fiery barrel-aged Mai Tai, which mixes Clement Terre Caraïbe and Appleton VX rums with Orgeat syrup, lime juice and dry orange. The more adventurous should try The Pig, a bourbon brew with Maple syrup and a bacon aroma. DJs liven up weekend proceedings, spinning funk, R&B and disco from a small enclave in the exposed brick wall.

Best Places for Vegetarians in Belgrade

Radost Fina Kuhinjica

Radost Fina Kuhinjica is usually the first choice for vegetarians, due to its attractive location beneath the Kalemegdan Fortress, cozy setting in a ground-floor apartment and the original menu that will make even your die-hard meat-eating friends think twice. At Radost they always try new recipes as a daily menu, but the evergreen dishes to definitely taste are the starter platter with baba ganoush, hummus and freshly baked pita bread, vegan burgers in either beetroot or shiitake variation, as well as Radost ramen soup. Don’t be in a hurry, because the cakes are more than worth waiting for.

Mayka

Located in one of the most beautiful and historical streets in Belgrade, Kosančićev venac, the restaurant’s name is a play on the Serbian word for ‘mother’. Mayka’s (facebook.com/maykabeograd) menu consists of vegetarian dishes from various national cuisines that are made at ordinary homes, evoking the smell and the warmth of mum’s kitchen. In a stylish interior you can order samosas, curry, meals made of seitan and dhal, pizzas, spicy lemonade or Indian sweets. However, the signature dish that sublimes the restaurant’s philosophy is Mayka goulash, an authentic version of stew made with seitan, tagliatelle, heavenly spiced tomato sauce and warm, melted cheese.

Oliva

If you opt for a shopping tour across the river, in Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), make your way to this beautifully designed little eatery. You’ll be surprised by its spinach burgers with sea salt or vegan sticks seasoned with roasted sesame. The absolute winner among desserts is the avocado, dates and hazelnut mousse, which goes great with fine wines from the restaurant’s selection. Despite its out-of-the-way location, Oliva (restoranoliva.com) has an unusual frequency of guests even on a Monday evening, which is probably its best recommendation.

Jazzayoga

If you pass Jazzayoga (jazzayoga.com) at lunch time, make sure you stop by and try food from its weekly menu. Depending on the day of the week, you may run into buckwheat moussaka with green beans, oyster mushroom stew, steamed rice with chickpeas and mint, chili sin carneor other yummy food combinations. You’ll also find sandwiches made of wholegrain yeast-free bread, other wholegrain products and cookies that will make the entire world seem right for you.

The only raw-food bar in Belgrade, Zdravo Živo (zdravo-zivo.rs) serves and delivers complete meals made from raw, plant-based ingredients. The menu varies daily and there are usually two to three options to choose from, such as raw fish and chips, stuffed peppers, spaghetti bolognese, burritos, cabbage rolls or sausages. Stuffed peppers andsarma (cabbage rolls) are among the most common meat dishes in Serbian cuisine, but transformed and dressed up as raw meals with fresh vegetables and seeds stuffing, they’re a perfect refreshing choice for hot Belgrade summers.

Hanan and Tel Aviv Hummus House

Its majesty falafel is gaining huge popularity even among non-vegetarians in Belgrade. Once rare to find, falafel is now served at several locations around the city. If you want to eat in, you can go to the central Hanan (restoranhanan.rs) restaurant in Svetogorska Street, but if you’d rather grab a really voluminous falafel sandwich on the go, stop by Tel Aviv Hummus House (telavivhummushouse.com) near the busy Zeleni Venac Market or visit Shawarma Hanan (facebook.com/pages/Hanan-Shawarma) near Cvetni Trg.

Super Donkey and Lime & Carrot

These are the places to pop into when you want a healthy, nutritious meal on the go. Super Donkey (facebook.com/SuperDonkeyKrunska26) is a salad bar, health-food store and tiny eatery all in one. Here you can enjoy wraps and colorful salads named Peruvian, Lebanese or Caucasian, made with veggies, nuts, seeds and creamy dressings, as well as homemade soups, smoothies and sweets. Lime & Carrot (limeandcarrot.com) is owned by a very talkative chef who even cooked for the Serbian tennis star Novak Djoković and who’s always ready to give useful health tips on any ingredient you mention. The Three Beans salad and pumpkin-vanilla soup will make you go back to try everything else on offer, and the owner will gladly mix a cold-pressed juice for you while singing along to the radio.

7 Coolest Bars to Drink at in Porto

Miradouro Ignez

If you were to pick a place in Porto to kick back with a beer and sigh ‘ahhh, this is the life’, Miradouro Ignez (facebook.com/miradouroignez) would be it. Tucked behind the Jardim do Palácio de Cristal on a deck overlooking Porto’s red-tiled rooftops, this casual bar lets you turn your chair towards the sunlit city as the day’s final rays beam down the Douro River.

Capela Incomum

Venture off the bustling Cedofeita shopping strip down a cobbled backstreet to find a 19th-century chapel converted into the trendy Capela Incomum (facebook.com/capelaincomum) wine bar. On the ground floor, small tables surround an engraved wooden altar set against blush pink walls, while a cosy upstairs area features additional seating. Pair one of the 70-odd wines on offer with a platter of Portuguese cheeses and cured meats.

BOP

True to its name, BOP (bop.pt) is the place to bop along to your favourite tunes while enjoying a wine, single-origin pour-over coffee or BOP’s own tap beer. The bar is lined with a collection of more than 2500 records and patrons are invited to spin a vinyl on one of the communal record players with a set of headphones. The intimate space tends to attract a laidback crowd of laptop-wielding hipsters by day and small groups by night. Select a burger or bagel from the bar menu if you get the munchies.

360º Terrace Lounge

On a technicality, Espaço Porto Cruz’s 360º Terrace Lounge is in Porto’s neighbouring city of Gaia, but the short walk over the Dom Luís I bridge is hands-down worth it for the view. Upon entering the modern tiled building (which glows a funky blue at night), zip up the elevator to the rooftop and admire Porto’s stacked cityscape of red, orange and yellow from the comfort of an outdoor lounge. As a bar attached to one of Portugal’s famous port wine cellars, the drinks menu is laden with port cocktails, and a bar menu is offered during the summer months.

Armazém

Colourful chairs stuck to the exterior of this old wine storage warehouse make Armazém easy to pinpoint. From the road, a concrete ramp leads into a huge space decked out with all manner of vintage products, such as ceramics, jewellery, glassware and furniture. The jumbled collection is kooky and fun, and wraps around a cosy bar where you can sip a warming tawny on a chilly day. Then, when the weather heats up you can enjoy wine and tapas on the relaxing outdoor terrace.

Catraio

While Portugal may not immediately spring to mind when you think of craft beer, the country’s artisan beer movement is gaining momentum and Catraio jumped on the trend in 2015 as the city’s first dedicated craft beer bar. The space, which includes a mix of alfresco tables and indoor seating, has more than 100 varieties on offer including a rotating selection of tap beers. Catraio primarily supports domestic producers but also serves a range of international brews.

Bonaparte Downtown

The walls of this dark and quirky pub are adorned with paraphernalia including worn briefcases and old machinery parts, while dolls locked in birdcages hang from the high ceiling. Big groups can convene in the smoky haze of Bonaparte Downtown’s spacious rear section, while smaller groups can enjoy pints of Guinness from studded leather booth seats near the entrance.

Best Coastal Hikes in Sicily

Whether you’re looking for a single day hike or a whole vacation’s worth of walking, you’ll find it here. To avoid heat, crowds and high prices, come in spring (April–June) or early autumn (September–October).

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Stromboli town | Length: 8km | Duration: five to six hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding

For sheer excitement, nothing compares to Stromboli. Sicily’s showiest volcanic island has been lighting up the Mediterranean for millennia, spewing out showers of red-hot rock with remarkable regularity since the age of Odysseus.

Set off a couple of hours before sunset for the spectacularly scenic trek (guide required) to Stromboli’s 924m summit. Climbing through a landscape of yellow broom and wild capers, the trail eventually opens onto bare slopes of black volcanic rock, revealing fabulous vistas of Stromboli town, the sparkling sea and the volcanic islet of Strombolicchio below, and a zigzag line of fellow hikers slogging steadily towards the summit above.

Round the last bend and emerge into a surreal panorama of smouldering craters framed by the setting sun. For the next hour you’re treated to full-on views of Stromboli’s pyrotechnics from a perfect vantage point above the craters. The periodic eruptions grow ever brighter against the darkening sky, changing with the waning light from awe-inspiring puffs of grey smoke to fountains of brilliant orange-red, evoking oohs and aahs that mix with the sound of sizzling hot rocks rolling down the mountainside.

Ready for one last moment of magic? Don your headlamp for the descent and begin plunging down Stromboli’s precipitous eastern slope, with the moonlit sea at your feet stretching clear to the twinkling lights of Italy’s mainland.

Fossa delle Felci, Salina, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Valdichiesa | Length: 4km | Duration: three hours |Difficulty: moderate-demanding

The ancient Greeks dubbed this island Didyme (the twins) for its verdant pair of dormant volcanoes. These days Salina remains theAeolian Islands’ greenest island, dotted with wineries that produce the region’s renowned Malvasia wine. For sweeping views of the vineyards and the surrounding seascape, climb Salina’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci (962m).

Starting in Valdichiesa, the trail switchbacks steeply up the mountainside, climbing through fern-carpeted evergreen forest to the summit. Up top you’re rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Salina’s shapely second cone, 860m Monte Porri, backed by the distant volcanic islands of Filicudi and Alicudi.

Pianoconte to Quattropani, Lipari, Aeolian Islands

Start: Pianoconte | End: Quattropani | Length: 8km | Duration: four hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding

Fabled since ancient times for its rich obsidian deposits, Lipari also boasts some of the Aeolians’ most stupendous coastal scenery. This classic hike starts in the highlands around Pianoconte, descending past the ancient Roman baths of San Calogero to reach the cliffs and sea caves of Lipari’s western shoreline.

After levelling out along a series of coastal bluffs – with tantalising perspectives on the neighbouring islands of Salina, Vulcano, Filicudi and Alicudi – the trail climbs steeply inland again to the town of Quattropani, revealing yet more dramatic vistas of flower-covered slopes cascading to the cobalt sea below.

Vulcano, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Vulcano port | Length: 4km | Duration: two to three hours (return) | Difficulty: moderate

Volcano hikes don’t get much more satisfying than the gradual climb upFossa di Vulcano (391m), the smouldering grayish-orange peak that dominates the island of Vulcano. Belching out a steady stream of noxious sulphurous fumes, the crater – mythologized by the ancient Romans as Vulcan’s forge – is only a 45-minute jaunt up from Vulcano’s port via a wide, signposted path.

Once up top, circumnavigate the rim for spectacular views of the cavernous crater in the foreground, with the Mediterranean, the cliffs of Lipari, and the distant silhouettes of the remaining five Aeolian Islands aligned symmetrically on the horizon.

Capo Milazzo                                                              

Start/End: Chiesa di San Antonio | Length: 3km | Duration: one hour | Difficulty: easy-moderate

You couldn’t ask for a more scenic hike than this easy loop around the hook-shaped Capo Milazzo peninsula north of Milazzo. The trail initially passes through a level landscape of olive groves, cactus and stone walls before beginning a steady descent towards the surging sea.

The views get truly dreamy near the peninsula’s northern tip, where you’ll find the Piscina di Venere, an idyllic rock-fringed natural pool that’s perfect for a swim. Loop back along the peninsula’s western shore, stopping en route to visit the cactus-covered ruins of the 13th-centurySantuario Rupestre di San Antonio.

Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro

Start/End: Scopello | Length: 14km | Duration: five hours |Difficulty: moderate

Spanning a sinuous series of coves and steep headlands one hour west of Palermo, the Zingaro was established as Sicily’s first nature reserve in 1986, after local protests cancelled construction of a controversial highway that would have bisected this spectacular shoreline. The result: one of Sicily’s best walking locales, with the would-be highway converted into a 7km trail snaking between bluffs and beaches.

Some 40 bird species (including rare Bonelli eagles) and 700 species of flora can be found here, along with several small museums that celebrate the area’s traditional farming and tuna fishing economy. The trail is most easily hiked as a simple out-and-back from the park’s southern entrance near the pretty hamlet of Scopello.