weekly photo challenge – my favourite places

“It is good people who make good places.” Anna Sewell For 30 years did my heart belong unconditionally to Biarritz on the French Atlantic coast on the Spanish border – the high waves, the black rocks, walking distance to everything … … Continue reading

spa in ad 43 … blinis and jane plus a hole in the wall

#11 – on my gems list – Bath

The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) by the Romans in AD 43, and were abandoned when the Romans left Britain at the beginning of the 5th century.
It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590, and was made a county borough in 1889 which gave it administrative independence from its county, Somerset.

Today there lives about 84.000 people in this stunning city – where no estate agency’s signs or cars are allowed in the city center.  I have been there in the summer and autumn – and the same breathtaking beauty by River Avon.

Lived in Brighton when visiting Bath – direct train – a 3 hrs journey through stunning scenery (2 hrs from London, Paddington Station)  … the destination station is called Bath SPA. Price for a ticket from London anything between £9.50-£84.00/€11.35-100/$15.00-132.00 (single) – The Train Line, cheap online train tickets.

The main attraction in the city is The Roman Baths had 1,037,518 visitors during 2009. The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath fell as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills and reach 46 °C (114.8 °F) at the bath.

The Roman Bath – you have to visit – It’s a MUST – very interesting and beautiful
Adults £11.00/€13.00/$17.50 (July &August £11.50/€13.80/$18.50)
Senior Citizens & Full time Students – £9.50/€11.50/$15.15
Child (6yrs to 16yrs) £7.20/€8.60/$11.40
Family tickets – 2 Adults +4 children £32.00/€38.50/$51.00

 The Grand Pump House – completed in 1799 – after couple of builders had resigned, 10 years it took to finish the building and in their The Pump Room restaurant …  they serve a great afternoon tea: Pump Room Champagne Tea for £24.50/€29.45/$39.00 for 1 – £48.00/€57.70/$76.45 for 2. Well worth the money – not least because of the smoked salmon and cucumber blinis. You can also buy a glass of spring water from The Kings Spring for £0.50 – when I was there.

Also worth it’s money is Pulteney Cruisers – from the Pulteney Bridge along the River Avon – 60 min around tour.
Fares: £8.00/€9.60/$12.75 adult – £4.00/€4.80/$6.35 children (under 16) – children under 5 free
Senior & students; £6.00/€7.20/$9.55
Done the tour twice and both times I saw Kingfishers along the river bank – beautiful small bird. Only that is worth the ride.

They there is so much to see of old buildings, culture, events and parks – The City of Bath – you need a couple of days or come back for more.

Shopping – everything from the big high street names to small local exclusive boutiques: fashion, antiques, jewels, books, food … you name it – they have it and all in a picturesque setting.

So where should you have your pillows – have stayed once on hotel just opposite the railway station and on B&B’s that I can’t recall the names on – nothing outstanding, but the city itself does that. Today there is some boutique hotels and luxury with SPA, if that’s what you’re after. The Bath Priory Hotel, luxury a bit outside the city centre – but they have the Breakfast award and 2* Michelin Restaurant. Also member of Relais & Chateaux , but don’t sell itself cheap – £300/€360/$478 for standard double. Never been there – not even for a cup of coffee. Have a look on their website – quite a place and I’m sure that I would have liked it very much. Now back to reality!!!!
Friends of mine stayed not long ago at The Henry Guesthouse – and where very pleased – so I give details for that plus the hotel I stayed.

The Henry
6 Henry Street,
Bath BA1 1JT, UK
Tel +44 (0)1225 424052
Double/twin room £90-120/€108-145/$143-191 – 7 rooms – breakfast incl.
2 bedroom apartment ‘Below Stairs’: sleeps 8 – self catering – breakfast avalible for £5.00/€6,00/$7.90p.p. at the hotel – £240.00/€287/$379
The Henry Guesthouse, Bath

The Royal Hotel
Manvers Street,
Bath BA1 1JP, UK
Tel: + 44 (0)1225 442931
Double/Twin: £120-165/€145-98/$191-263 – breakfast incl.
The Royal Hotel, Bath

A bit old fashion, otherwise nothing wrong with it – fantastic location – great service – good breakfast and medium size rooms. Some has 4-poster beds.

Then we come to interesting bit of Bath – the food.
Loads of restaurants & pubs with great food.
My favourite is:
Hole in The Wall
16 -17 George Street
Bath BA1 2EN, UK
+44 (0)1225 425242
The Hole in The Wall
Always served me high class food – great wines and a fantastic interior with open fire place. A very cosy and romantic restaurant. Not over pricey – 3 course set menu £29.95/€36.00/$47.50
Make a reservation.

1 York Buildings
George street
Great concept restaurant that I visit many times in London – now spreading globally. Asian food – and very good. You can’t go wrong – often the restaurants are quite big and service excellent. Great prices. Just drop in!

Jamie’s Italian
10 Milsom Place
Bath, BA1 1BZ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1225 432 340
Jamie’s Italian
UK’s young TV-chef, Jamie Oliver’s place in Bath – never been there, but my friends went there and they said it was like eating in Italy. Very casual – but book. Can’t believe it – he has wallpaper with blue roses !!!!!!!

A little more about Bath in Somerset.
1. “Bath in Bloom” In the summer months – Bath is full of flowers every where, called “Bath in Bloom” – non profitable organization – an award – where the residents and companies in the city can compete about the best looking gardens. The whole city is eye candy.
2. The Royal Crescent – the most photographed building/buildings is Bath. You need a good wide angle lens.
3. Fashion Museum – Fashion Museum – you need a good 2-3 hours and get the audio guide.
4. Jane Auston Centre – The Jane Austen Centre – Bath’s most famous resident, the centre has a lovely tearoom too.
5. Hugh Grant & Elizabeth Hurley – lived in Bath for many years, before the scandal, that made them sell their house. Some useless information !!!!!!!

Bath is so beautiful – and it’s like taking a step back in time – and if you can avoid July & August when it’s cramped, you will get a very relaxed visit. A very regal city – it’s like you can imaging the horse carriages, the ladies in their pretty dresses with umbrellas walking on the cobblestone streets – and elegant men in top hats with walking sticks. Please, give the city good time when you go there.

A city very hard to give justice in the written word –
it has to be seen !!! So just go !!!

“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more”
Jane Austen

Photos provided by; eurobuildings.info / eyefetch.com / en.wikipedia.org / tripfinding.com / food.filbertcua.com / austenonly.com / telegraph.co.uk / allposters.se / nbgecko.blogspot.com / emergingpensees.blogspot.com / thehenry.com / geograph.org.uk / bathrestaurants.co.uk / guide2bath.com / jamieoliver.com / hintoncharterhouse.com / dave.csonka.net / Kate Stone-fickr.com / bbc.co.uk / telegraph.co.uk / thequartermastergeneral.com / estherlederberg.com / guardian.co.uk

12 meters high waves … black rocks … rugby and campari & grapefruit juice

#1 – on my gems list – Biarritz, France 

Biarritz and I met in September 1977 – and it was love at first sight. Have returned 8 times in total through the years – most during my years in UK and Ireland, with low cost airlines with Biarritz as one of their destinations. More difficult to get there with scheduled flights – have to change in Paris.

Biarritz is really the place I would have love to retire in, wish that I bought something in 1977 – today a closet cost close to 1 million Euros. If I win enough money – will I go and knock on a very special penthouse apartment and ask how much they want for it.

First time I arrived in an Audi with my German finance, Hans Joachim. Don’t remember why we chosen Biarritz for a longer stop over (5 nights) on our drive around France holiday. Both of us are big lovers of France, but not Paris. Will come to that another time.

Now to a little of this stunning town nearly on the Spanish border by the very much alive – Atlantic ocean. Build on sand and black rocks. Biarritz was born in 1170 as Bearriz – and Biarritz in 1249. But didn’t become really renowned until 1854 when Napoleon built a beautiful palace just on the for his Empress Eugenie – now a luxury hotel and apartments, The Hôtel du Palais. Loads of European royalty and film stars has had Biarritz as their playground through the years.

Once a whaling village – today there lives about 30.000 people and of course a lot more during summer month. A surfer’s paradise and there is loads of them – a good thing because it keeps the prices down on restaurants and bars. Officially surfing came to Biarritz in 1957. It’s a very upmarket and elegant town – with and for rich and famous, but not expensive. Le Casino Barriere is right on the Grand Plage.

19th November 1996 – during a heavy storm – did “Franz Hals” a freighter vessel with 154 passangers and crew stranded on the Grand Plage only meters away from Hôtel du Palais – it took 25 days to get the vessel of the beach.  Atlantic Ocean is a powerful ocean.

Biarritz has 4 beaches – the Grand Plage in the middle of the town centre, very popular with a nice promenade along with cafes to sit and watch the surfers and well-dressed French families on their Sunday promenade (the whole families match) – the more sheltered one, (excellent if you have kids) Port Vieux, Côte des Basques – surfers and surfer schools and the Miramar Beach where no surfers allowed and strong currents – all beaches are provided with life guards – if you don’t follow the flagged warning system they use – they sort you out very quickly.

The most amazing thing about Biarritz is the high waves – that happens once a month when it’s full moon. Don’t really know what causes those massive waves. The whole seafront of the town is soaking wet and all beaches disappear – no swimming is allowed and no surfing. Has nothing to do with ebb or tide. It can be little brezzy and sunny – still it happens. People come from all around the area to enjoy the “show” – they know excatly when it’s going to happen. So difficult to explain … have to be seen.

Biarritz are also famous for their rugby team, best in France most of the years – their horse racing track; l’Hippodrome des Fleur. Golf is a big sport too with some big tournaments.

Small notes about Biarritz;
1. Grand Plage buildings have a 1920’s architecture.
2. The Hôtel du Palais – has a salt water pool that’s worth visiting on a wooden deck hanging above the beach.
3. The town has been famous for it’s Thalassotherapy SPA’s for nearly 30 years .Athletes from all over the world comes for treatments.
4. It’s full of Hortensia – striking view in all their shades of blue, white, pink and purple.
5. “Le Rocher De La Vierge” (Virgin on the Rocks) is the most visit place in Biarritz – The statue of Madonna, set up to keep local fishermen safe, is over a bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, of tower fames.
6. La Villa Belza – the story tells that once built by Stravinsky in the late 1890 for his mistress – it just sit there on the rock. Have both been a hotel and apartments through the year. Magnificent view. Been scenery for a couple of movies.

Biarritz are now building something called, CITE DE L’OCEAN ET DU SURF  – exhibition area, auditorium, restaurant, cafeteria and offices – designed by Steven Holl. An amazing building, it looks like a massive wave – a museum intends to raise awareness of oceanic issues and explore educational and scientific aspects of the surf and sea and their role upon our leisure, science, and ecology – will open this summer.

Two museum to visit in the meantime;
Musee de la Mer – aquarium
Plateau Atalaye
Biarritz  Musee de la Mer

Planète Musée du Chocolat – chocolate museum
14 Avenue Beau Rivage
Biarritz Planète Musée du Chocolat

Shopping – for fresh fish & seafood, vegetables, cheese and meat it’s Les Halles – well worth a visit  even if not buying any fresh products. 5 min walk from Place Clemenceau, main square – where also Magasins Galerie Lafayette is. There is loads of beautiful small fashion shops, beautiful handbags and shoes, perfumes, jewellery- very chic and upmarket, there are some exclusive shops that sells the big designer names like Chanel, Dior & Armani – and there is the most beautiful bridal shop Gloria Mariage, so if I ever will get married I will buy my dress in Biarritz – doubt very much that will happen!!!  … but there is also a monthly street market – the whole town centre and you can buy anything, loads of Spanish people comes and sell their goods, like very nice under wears. Can say exactly what day of the month it’s. Can’t find the information anywhere on the net.

Have to recommend “Para Gabia” on 18 rue Mazagran – is a very special shop … espadrilles in the rainbows all colors and many styles – customised with ribbons and laces while you wait. Prices starts from €10

I have stayed on hotels and in vacations apartments – all with ocean view of course. Doesn’t really matter where you stay – the beach is only a couple of minutes away. There is walking distance to everything in town.
Last time I was there was over my 60th birthday (now 3 years ago) and we rent a fantastic little apartment on top of rock with view for miles over the mountains and ocean. Become very good friend with the owner. A nice lady by name Valerie – that really took good care of us .. picked us up at the airport and showed us where to shop groceries, she even drove us there. Can call us sisters in our illness, we both where diagnosed with cancer only months apart. Have checked the website where she had her apartment and it’s removed.

Where to put down the head ???? Will recommend one hotel and a holiday rental website.

Florida Hotel
3 Place Sainte-Eugénie
64200 Biarritz, France
Phone; 05 59 24 01 76
Hotel Flordia, Biarritz
3-star; 48 rooms & 11 suites
Seaview rooms; €140-230 /$187-308/£118-195
A gem to hotel – small and friendly with an excellent location with walking distance to everything.
Great food and outdoor seating. Breakfast is like all French breakfast – not much to write home about. Always went next door to a brasserie and had my “café au lait et baguette au jambo et formage” every morning. Try to get a sea view room high up so you get the view of the lighthouse.

Home and Away rentals, is the website I would go for – has everything from loft to luxury villas and easy to use. Make sure you rent a property with terrace or balcony with ocean view – because it’s priceless and the sound from the ocean will rock you to sleep.

Eating, load of places – will recommend the ones that is a must for me every time I go back.
1. Chez Albert – 1 Class Seafood restaurant that has been busy since 1977. The owner Albert was killed about 18 years ago riding his motor bike. His finance has been running the place since, situated in the little fishing harbor in the town center – necessary booking. English spoken.
Chez Albert
allée Port des Pêcheurs – 64200 Biarritz
Phone: (05) 59 24 43 84
Chez Albert
2. Le Clos Basque – a very small restaurant during the cold months – in the summer they expand with having a beautiful terrace. Runned by husband and wife. Lovely food in relaxed atmosphere – booking necessary and speak very little to – no English. Modern French cuisine.
Le Clos Basque
12 r. L.-Barthou F
64200 Biarritz
Phone (05) 59 24 24 96
3. La Roulle – restaurant of Hotel Marbella, big dining room plus a massive terraces, witch is packed in the summer. Really good food, nice service and not pricey. Fish and seafood, do great lamb too. Just to turn up. By the old beach – Port Vieux. Everybody speaks English.
La Roulle
11 rue du Port Vieux
Phone, (05) 59 24 04 06
La Roulle
4. Le Café de Paris – lovely food in art décor brasserie style – in the middle of town center in a small luxury hotel with the same name – all rooms with seaview. Great ocean view – little pricey. Modern cuisine and everybody speaks English. During summer months they have outdoor dining with ocean view.
Le Café de Paris
5, place Bellevue
64200 Biarritz
Tel.: (05) 59 24 19 53
Le Café de Paris

What to visit nearby Biarritz;
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, trashed in 1177 by Richard Lionhearted troupes – up in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques – famous to being one of the stops along “Routes of Santiago de Compostela” in France also the scenery in the movie “The Walk” with Martin Sheen, 2011 – took the train from Bayonne the first time. Fantastic train ride up through the forests, along River Nive up into the mountains. Very picturesque. Took the bus from Biarritz to Bayonne, 30 min journey.
Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (only in French)

Bayonne – with it’s old towns – great shopping and a very special tearoom;
27 rue Thiers
64100 Bayonne

St Jean de Luz – small fishing town with the best grilled sardines in the world.
Great small shops, great beach, very pretty and loads of tourists. Bus from Biarritz about 40minutes

San Sebastian, Spain – we went by car (90 min). Very pretty with everything a sea resort should have. Exclusive shops, cafes and restaurant’s. Beaches in the middle of the city, lays in a bay – very busy and mad traffic. Once a dump, but have got a fantastic facelift.

Bilbao, Spain – (1hr40min with car) not a very pretty or friendly city … but it has The Guggenheim Museum – only reason why we went there. Fantastic building inside and out .. but exhibitions was a real disappointment

Have been in Biarritz in February over Valentine and it was +22C and we – have been there in January with grey evil looking ocean and sky, very windy – but still pleasant. My favourite month is September, warm and nice … sun tan weather and all French tourists gone. Biarritz are never too hot or too cold.

1977 I got my first Campari with grapefruit juice in Biarritz and that’s what I drink every day before and after dinner with sea view  – when I’m down there, very seldom anywhere else.

All this is Biarritz for me – it gives me loads of pleasure and I never feel any guilt.

Photos provided by;  jeffdivinesur.com / weather-forecast.com /dailymail.co.uk / hotel-du-palais.com /ricardomiguel.po / fond-ecran-image.com /  panoramio.com / bonjourparis.com / anjawiroth.com / flickr.com / bbc.co.uk /  lefigaro.fr / tripadvisor.se /  thalasso-line.com / blomsterpassion.se / oglobo.globo.com / myfranceamoi.travel / stevenholl.com /  panoramio.com / mrjet.se / profimedia.si / fringeclub.blogspot.com

about my “gems”

“Gems takes people’s minds off your wrinkles.”
Sonja Henie

 My world if full of “gems” – some hidden, some very easy to find.
So I think I have to do a list – with my favorite gems and I have a feeling that it’s going to be long – need to keep an eye on how I’m doing – because I want to share them – and I want you to find them too. Some of them you maybe already found – then I’m looking forward to share your experience.

For me “gems” are something very special – that I really feel good about – something I have returned to, returning to or want to return to – and still want more off. Some are sparkling diamonds – some of them still uncut.

1. Biarritz, France (posted; 03.03.12)
2. Kinsale, Rep. of Ireland (posted; 03.02.12)
3. Belfast, Northern Ireland
4. Patterson’s – restaurant, London (posted; 31.01.12)
5. Bruges, Belgium
6. Waterfront Hotel & Bistro, Portpatrick – Scotland (posted; 10.02.12)
7. The Landmark, London – Hotel (posted; 24.02.12)
8. Afternoon Tea -The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong (posted; 28.02.12)
9. Brighton & Hove, UK (posted; 20.03.12)
10. Nagasaki, Japan (posted; 04.02.12)
11. Bath, UK (posted; 07.03.12)
12. Les Quinz Nits – restaurant, Barcelona (posted; 31.01.12)
13. “SPUR Gastro Pub – restaurant, Seattle (posted 10.08.12)
14. Le Clef des Champs – restaurant, Brussels (posted; 29.01.12)
15. Meliá Berlín – Hotel, Berlin (posted; 23.05.12)

 My Gem list will change as I go along – and it’s going to be long!!!

Photos provided by;   loa-now.com /  alaglobal.com

stay so long as you can

#8 – on my gems list – Afternoon Tea -The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

Afternoon tea at The Lobby – is one of the few traditions in the city from its colonial period. Once the hottest ticket in town for rich, famous, governors, generals and visiting royalty, the Peninsula Hotel remains the height of luxury in Hong Kong and Asia, been served in over 80 years.

Afternoon tea is offered at the Peninsula everyday from 2p.m. – 7p.m and the classical string quartet on the balcony is including in the price. They don’t accept any reservations.

Went to Hotel Ritz in London for a “tea break” and never been so disappointed in my life – it was a circus and the staff didn’t want to be there. After having enjoyed this treat a couple of times during my stay at this hotel – I think it will be difficult to find something that is better, when it’s all about high tea.

The tea set itself was .. like straight out “Alice in Wonderland” .. and what I understand they still use the same today. Not a tea person so I got my nice silver pot of coffee together with a silver jug of warm milk – busting cases, mini English scones with Devonshire clotted cream and finger sandwiches all served on silver stand. Fussed by bow tie waiters that makes you feel very VIP. Stay so long as you can to soak up the elegance and experience.

The experience will be yours for yours for HK$ 268 for 1 person, HK$398 for 2 and be prepared to queue for it, so come so early as possible. Because it’s worth it.

“A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how
strong she is until you put her in hot water.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Photos provided by: jimmynjapan.blogspot.com – ledelcieux.com – plumvoyage.fr – photobucket.com

22 July 2005 … mistaken identity … winter graden and taittinger

#7 – on my gems list The Landmark, London 

also day that brought the death of Jean Charles de Menezes – shot to death by mistaken identity by the police – in London Underground. Was waiting for my bag at the conveyor at Luton Airport outside London, when my boss phoned me .. told me to be careful because there had been a shooting in the Underground – he didn’t have any details, about who or why.

2 hours later a girlfriend an I signed in at The Landmark Hotel in London. A gift from my American travel insurance, IAPA (International Airline Passengers Association) – don’t know why – the voucher just came on the post. Very nice of them.

The best hotel experience I ever had – it even beats the Peninsula. Everything was just so exquisite – from the check in to the check out.

The Landmark Hotel
222 Marylebone Rd
London NW1 6JQ, UK
Phone; +44 (20) 7631 8000
5-stars; 249 rooms – 51 suites
Prices: £300 – £2.400 4/ $475 – $3.795 / €360 – €2.800

It was a bit carry on – on my part when booking – because it was an Executive room I had been given .. we had our own (call her) hostess – we changed our mind a couple of times and nothing was a problem – she where so helpful and tried all she could to help us get dates adding up with flights – my friend came from Sweden and I was living in Belfast. Outstanding service. Sent her a bouquet of flowers as “thank you”.
Never heard about the hotel before and when visitng their website they had this interactive map – where London taxi’s and buses where driving on a drawn map. Very cool – don’t anymore.
The room at that time would have cost us £280 without breakfast … there we was with 3 nights with breakfast include.

The room – had it’s own door bell – no knocking there. The rooms was so lush … and the colours so soft. We got a room with view over the Winter Garden – their atrium and restaurant. The curtains – never felt anything like in my life and the style of them !!!!! – wish I had taken a photo.

We didn’t only have a bath room , we had a separate shower room and the toilet – all had separate entrances, so no interfering there. Our check-in clerk went with us up on the room and explained everything .. about TV, DVD player, internet, safe – mini bar (free).

Breakfast – served either in the room or in The Winter Garden – cooked to perfection and freshly squeezed juice, what ever flavour we wanted in crystal glasses. No breakfast buffet – served on warm big plates and if we wanted more – they came with an other plate.

Because everything was free – except the tipping and tipping there was – we decided to go for their Sunday Brunch. £55.00 per head and so much champagne as we could handle – and my favourite: Taittinger. We where singing like canary birds as we left the restaurant 2,5 hours later.

Food for Gods. To make a buffet so SCRUMPTIOUS plus it was massive, 5 tables in total – and to keep those entire hot dish looking fresh and warm a miracle. Everything from veal kidney, bacon, pan cakes, Belgium waffles … Caesar salad – Asian noodle dishes .. the most beautiful desserts.

We went to bed around 3 a’ clock pickled as gherkins and woke up just before midnight – room service and 2 hamburger with fries and coleslaw. Heavenly good.

Our last breakfast we decided to take in the room – so I filled in the card .. add on my special requests with 50/50 juice, sliced cheese, warm milk with the coffee,  lemon muffins and fresh fruit salad with blackberries – just to test them. A ring on the door on the minute and in come this massive table and there they where – on top of  my fruit salad was my blackberries plus everything else. Top Class!!!!

My friend and I we talked about saving a bit every months … so go back after 2 years, but it never happen. We often talk about the hotel. We where told by the taxi driver that took us to the airport that – the rooms cost £1 million pounds each when the hotel was built. I suppose it was divided the total cost for the hotel with the amount of rooms. Still – a lot of money for a hotel room.

That weekend was the ultimate hotel experience. I doubt if it can’t get any better then that.

Photos provide by; hudsonproperty.com /olypen.com / landmarklondon.co.uk

as we all do …

#6 – on my gems list

The Waterfront Hotel & Bistro
7 North Crescent
Nr. Stranraer
South West Scotland
Phone : +44 (0) 1776 810800
12 double and 2 cottages for up to 4 people

Wedgwood blue – on the seafront – 5 meters away from the ocean – in this little fishing village on 20 min drive from Stranraer on the South West coast of Scotland – is the The Waterfront Hotel – Home away from home.

The rooms a beautiful decorated and lovely crisp bed linen without a wrinkle, the house keeper are ironing the beds when they been made. Absolutely spotless. Free WiFi in the whole hotel and the cottages, much better then bath robes and slippers. The rooms has the smallest shower rooms in the world – I think – but no problems. The main building is a graded building, so nothing could be changed inside, so the built-in-wardrobes became shower rooms.

Was invited to the opening of the hotel in June 1999 through my job in Stena Line and  all  years staying there  have I become very good friend with the owners and their staff, Geraldine and David. It’s like being at home. Going back every last weekend in November, because I love it when the rain and wind make the Irish Sea “evil” – it’s makes the place even more cosy.

Food ???? !!! ” The Bistro” favourite restaurant in the area – and the best I dare to say. My mentor once said that you should judge a chef by his vegetables – and the chef’s at “the Waterfront” are very gentle with their vegetables. In the tiniest kitchen are they performing to high standard and excellent presentation of the food. Nothing fancy or fooling around with silly stacks of carrots or pyramids of peas. Food are cooked with care and passion = like a love affair. Seafood and fish always top class, but the slow cooked lamb shank is one of my favourite dishes. On weekend the little restaurant is often full and they have to turn the foyer into private dinning room. Neither is there a problem for them to whisk up an omelet if that’s what you fancy.

If you like fresh seafood and fish, loads of fresh air, the ocean and a fantastic combination of  Scottish and Irish hospitality, as we all do – no doubts  – this is the prefect place for you. If there is any downfalls – is’t the weather, don’t count on blue sky and sunshine – but we can say as they do in Belfast … if you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 min.

Ceud mìle fàilte! / You are welcome!

Photo provided by; visitsouthwestscotland.com / thetraveleditor.com / flicr.com – michael thompson / guide.visitscotland.com/ portpatrick.co.uk

out of the aches …. 9 August 1945 (長崎市)

#10 – on my gems list – Nagasaki 

Nagasaki – Hong Kong, 18 times, back and forward … so Nagasaki became just like Hong Kong something I got know better. We visit other Japaneses cites, but Nagasaki is the one that I can relate to. Yokohama, Tokyo & Kobe we spent a couple days in – but there was never any “click”  between neither of them and me. Nagasaki total different matter.

One Sunday morning I woke up early and I went up in the sun rise .. it was only me out there – expect for the ladies that swept the streets. Have been looking at the net for weeks to find a picture of them, but no luck. They where so beautiful dressed and had the most fantastic big hats. Didn’t have my camera with me. Their long dresses in light brown with burned orange apron and those massive hats. I wish I could share it with you.

We where in Nagasaki 6.08.78 – the memorial day of the bombing of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki  – but I couldn’t leave the vessel because we where accepting new passengers for lunch. I wished I had been able to attend. The next day some of us visit the “Nagasaki Peace Bell”, Hill of Yamazato – ready for that year’s memorial service. In 2002  Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims built – would love to visit. There is 69 monuments in 10 areas – it all want us not to forget.

Once a small fishing village in the 1600 century and founded by the Portuguese  – has Nagasaki harbor was a mayor base for Imperial Japanese Navy during many war’s. After the bombing the harbor just developed rapidly and and was rebuilt into a modern harbor for cargo and cruise liners. Nagasaki lay in a bay with hills on all sides – stunning surroundings.

The old part of Nagasaki is so pretty – you need good legs to get up those hilly streets. No wonder that  Puccini used Nagasaki as setting for his opera “Madama Butterfly”  Houses with Shōji – sliding paper and bamboo doors – instead of blinds. Roof tiles in many different colors. All bedded in lush greenery.

The Sōfuku-ji Temple – Built in 1629 for the city’s Chinese population, this famous Ming-style temple is the oldest building in Nagasaki. Here the The Chinese Bon Festival is held here from July 26 to 28, with Chinese coming from all over Japan to participate in the ritual for the dead. Well worth a visit.

Around Nagasaki it’s very visible that Japan is built on volcanic islands – the archipelago is very bare and rough – one evening as we left for Shanghai – it was full moon and I never seen a moon that orange, nearly red and massive – it was like we could touch it. True that the moon in Japan is bigger then an where else in the world. Maybe it true what they said in the old days that it’s because the moon is raising in and falls of the sky in Japan .

A little story about one of our nights in Nagasaki – we, all the girls want a night out. We went for meal sitting on floor cushions – tough job by the way – specially with long legs like mine. After the dinner we wanted to go a night club. Not the easiest thing when not being Japanese. After trying a couple of places – we went to a bar and experience Karaoke – all texts was in Japanese … so we sang our own songs and the men in the bar loved it. No women in the bar at all except us. Japanese man don’t laugh – they giggle. We tried to get some information out them about somewhere to go for dancing. They spoke no English at all. Back out on the street again we stopped a taxi and with his nearly none English he toke us to “Rolex Club”.  At the entrance we where told that we need a Rolex watch to come in. So two of us took a taxi back to the vessel robbed all the guys on their Rolex and up the club again – where we was told – only for Japanese. So no disco in Nagasaki never, but a lot of bad singing and SapporoVodka.

photos provided by; japanesescreens.com / jerlene.blogspot.com / japan-guide.com / therapidian.org / fickr.com- Toumas Xi’s / fickr.com- nagasakisky            /  flickr.com-lawrence pergrine /google.com

only do rabbit chasers

Old Head Golf course, Kinsale, Rep. of Ireland

#2 – on my gems list – Kinsale, Rep. of Ireland

This is going to be a lot of writing about a very small place – a hidden gem – on the greenest island in the world.
Kinsale with a population of 2300 – a beautiful little fishing town in bold colours and full of stunning scenery surrounding it. 30 min drive from Cork. This little town has over 100 establishments for drinks and food and every year in October they hold Kinsale Gourmet Festival, festival that you can buy tickets to and eat the most fantastic food for 3 days for €230 this year. Now the town has a new cookery school. It’s said that Kinsale is the Food Mecca of Ireland and I agree. Been there during  festival once about 11 years ago. Have visit Kinsale 3 times in total and I missed it before leaving it every time. It’s a treasure. Then the Irish friendliness everywhere on top of it.

3 golf courses nearby .. the most famous is Old Head – on a small peninsula and extremely windy up there. The Clubhouse you can hardly see, because it’s built in with the rocks and dunes. A stunning view. Don’t play golf – have tried but it has only come to “rabbit chasers” – not able to concentrate enough.

Kinsale is nestles in with hills and ocean – small narrow streets with colourful houses – never fare from the the water. A town that have changed very little during 100 of years. A very charming and pretty town and it has become a very popular with tourists. Came to Kinsale the first time in 1991 when I lived outside Dublin.
A medieval town and in 1601 a battle between a combined Spanish, an Irish force and English armies, was a turning point in Irish history.

Kinsale has also a famous English school. Hard to find a nicer spot to learn English at.

Kinsale is twinned with:
Newport, USA
Mumbles, Wales/UK
Portofino, Italy
Antibes, France

So where to stay and where to eat – endless choices but I will recommend my favourites.
Great Pillows in Kinsale – text from http://kinsale.ie – but I stayed on all 3.
Blindgate House
Blindgate, Kinsale, Co. Cork
Tel: 477 7858 Fax: 477 7868
Overlooking the town, this four star luxury guesthouse combines traditional Irish hospitality with modern facilities and imaginative cuisine for the discerning traveller. All en-suite bedrooms have TV, telephone, fax and modem connections. Private parking, six minutes walk from town centre. Amex accepted. We have a non-smoking policy throughout the house. Closed December – March.

Blue Haven Hotel
3/4 Pearse Street, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel: 477 2209 Fax: 477 4268
Award winning Boutique-style hotel situated in the heart of the beautiful Kinsale. Famous for it’s excellent food, service and style, the Blue Haven has an array of dining options to choose from, our cosy café, the Blue Haven Café, to our stylish newly refurbished Bar and Bistro, to our elegant Restaurant. Our menus feature a combination of Irish Cuisine with an international twist, with particular attention to fresh seafood from our local shores. Our now famous Blue Haven seafood chowder is always prominent on our menus. The Blue Haven prides itself in delivering the ultimate in friendly and efficient service in a stylish yet relaxed environment.

Old Presbyery Bed & Breakfast
€€ – €€€
Address: 43 Cork Street, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 477 2027 Fax: 477 2166
Five star Georgian townhouse with Victorian brass beds and antique furniture. Spacious rooms, some with jacuzzi and balcony. Quiet location. Recommended by all major guides. Private car park.

Fantastic waterholes – text from http://kinsale.ie – all 3 tried by me and excellent.
Fishy Fishy Café
€€ @
Crowleys Quay,
021 4700415
Seafood only – all locally caught fish served in a casual, friendly atmosphere.

Man Friday
€€€ @
Scilly, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 477 2260
Kinsale’s oldest and most famous restaurant with consistently excellent cuisine and friendly service.

Summercove, Kinsale, Co. Cork, Ireland
Tel: 021 477 2131 Fax: 021 477 3359
Bar Food served daily 12.30 to 4.30
Owner run bar serving bar food which specialises in seafood
“Best Gastro Pub in Cork” 2010
”Toddies Restaurant” upstairs open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 p.m.

So for your body and soul – if you are going to Ireland add a couple of days extra and visit Kinsale – one of the pretties and friendliest places on earth.

photos provided by; m.golfweek.com – falling-coconut.tumblr.com – kinsaleireland.com – kinsale.ie – westcorktours.ie

well hidden gem – 4 mill street in london

Pattersons food - dinewizard com

#4 – on my gems list

4 Mill Street London,
London W1S 2AX, UK
(20) 7499 1308 – Reserve!!!
EXECUTIVE CHEF & OWNER; Raymond Patterson
£££ – Modern European

No London without a visit to “Patterson’s” on Mill Street. This is not a restaurant that you find while out shopping on Oxford Str. You have to know where you’re going and if you been there – you will always find your way back. This is something very special. The food is sooOoOOo good and the plate’s presentation is like art. Mostly Scottish produce, particularly seafood – but if there is lamb on the menu I go for that. Signature dish: Smoked haddock soufflé, cod branded and baby spinach, white wine and herring roe sauce

The mood is understated rather than restrained, elegant but not stuffy, with comfortable high-backed chairs, dark glass vases of greenery, some impressive abstract seascapes, and two fish tanks.
Service is absolutely superlative with staff well-briefed on the creative menu – nothing is a problem if you want to mix menus. Have only eat their set menus – £45 – looks like they have now gone over to a la carte with indv. pricing
Very relaxed atmosphere. You can’t go wrong with an evening with “Patterson’s”
Located between Oxford Circus and Bond Street – as I said very well hidden.
A gem worth looking for.

Just found at that “Patterson’s” has now closed – what I lost for us foodies when visiting London.


 Photos provided by; pattersonsrestaurant.co.uk

in somebody’s private home

#14 – on my gems list

Le Clef des Champs
Rue de Rollebeek, 23
1000 Brussels, Belgium
(2) 512 11 93

€€ – French

My most memorable meal …. Lightly smoked bacon hook on red lentils – and it was in 1992

We found this romantic and intimate resturant by mistake on one of the back streets behind Grand Place.
In 1992 it had a decoration all in yellow and white. Madame very sweet and welcoming. Her husband – a big man who are very talent chef. Later found out that he always are a painter and his art is the décor of the small restaurant. You will get more of feeling that you’re in somebody’s private home and not in a big city restaurant.

A fantastic evening .. with the greatest food and still after all those years I can still sense the sell of that bacon hook. It was presented in a clay pot and when I lifted that lid – my god!!! Aroma from heaven.
Have been eating many dishes … all over the world, but this dish is the only one I still can sense when thinking about it.

The owner’s such a lovely couple and they made our evening there very special.

In the 2004 in may I went back … happy to see that Madame where still there, but the husband where at home. It was lovely to be back … the bacon hook wasn’t on the menu, but we had a lovely meal – can’t remember what we had. To be honest I had expected a little bit more of the menu, a lot (I guess) was that I couldn’t have the “Bacon Hook”. *smile

They have been awarded as Toptable Dining Awards 2010 – Runner Up: Best International Venue. Recommend this – set menus from €33 – 60, 3 courses … it’s a gem.

photos provided by: clefdeschamps.be