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Best Tapas Bars in Barcelona

by Richa G 6. December 2012 04:40
Tapas in Cal Pep
Photo by robertpaulyoung, on Flickr

A part of the charm in visiting a place lies in doing what the locals do; nothing can beat a firsthand experience of a vacation destination. And when that experience is something like Tapas in Barcelona, you'll start wishing you were Spanish. Bar hoppers in particular have much to celebrate because Tapas gives you an excuse to visit and linger at the bar before or after meal hours.

A Tapa is an appetizer that is served with your drink in Spanish bars; there are usually several snacks served with your drink in small portions and can be anything from roasted nuts to pickled octopus. If you are new to Tapas, before you Google to find out the best Tapas bar near your Barcelona hotel, find out more about this delightful Spanish tradition so that you can Tapas like a pro.

  • By tradition, Tapas should be free. Yes! The snack that accompanies your drink need not be paid for. Though rare, this practice still exists in Barcelona; so if you want you can enjoy free Tapas. However, remember, paid Tapas usually has better choice of snacks.
  • Pack your appetite before you set off to Barcelona for your Tapas tour. An empty stomach will help you appreciate the snack and drink combination better.
  • Don't get overwhelmed by the crowd at Tapas bars. A part of the charm in ordering Tapas lies in queuing, or rather crowding around to get your order. This is a fun way to get to know the locals. You don't have to pay when you place your order; the waiters here have an uncanny billing sense that calculates the cost of each order no matter the crowd or the size of orders.

Here is a roundup of Tapas bars in Barcelona ranging from free to high-end. Each one can offer you a different Tapas experience; so make sure you make the right bar selections.

Best free bars
The Ambiente Del Sur with its Tuesday special Paella and Thursday special sardinas offers the best of Andalucia on a plate while Atrapatapa has very attractive homemade tapas to accompany their cava. The Sesamo near Sant Antoni market is a veggie haven where you can sample free tapas every Tuesday; but make sure you book your space through their Facebook page in advance.

Inexpensive Tapas Bars
For the budget conscious, Inopia with its bite-sized tapas, Quimet & Quimet with their tinned delights and sharp flavors and Ziryab Fusion Tapas are exciting options where you can have your full at very affordable rates. For the authentic experience, try the Bar Celta in Barri Gotic and La Cova Fumada in Barceloneta.

Classy Tapas
Though by principle, Tapas is meant for the mass, Barcelona's restaurant culture has brought in the class aspect to this tradition. So if you want your Tapas served to you in fine restaurant setting, consider these options.

Taller de Tapas is multilingual and tourist-friendly while Tickets is a trend setter where you have to book your table at least 3 months in advance. It's a privilege to sample the Tapas here as well as in Pla in Barri Gotic and Cal Pep where the seafood is said to be excellent.

The tapas tradition is just a part of Barcelona's culinary charm; the city has much more to offer to foodies with varying tastes. But that's another story!

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Tags: barcelona, barcelona tapas bars, barcelona travel, cal pep, tapas bars

travel guide | Destination Guides

In Pursuit Of Paidakia in Athens

by Richa G 5. December 2012 01:35

You have heard that the Paidakia is an icon of Athens; but before you ask your cab driver to take you see Paidakia, let me clarify. Paidakia is not a place or the name of a celebrity; it's just one of the most celebrated dish in Athens. And though it's a national favorite, there's nothing elaborate about this delicacy; it's just simple lamb chops. However, the way it is cooked and revered in Greece makes it a precious treat; one that forms a part of your Athens holiday experience.

What goes into the Paidakia?
Juicy lamb chops marinated in olive oil, lemon, herbs and pepper grilled on a charcoal fire and served with Greek pride. Before you prepare to dig your forks into the Paidakia in an Athens restaurant, make sure you learn how to pronounce the name of the dish. Pah-ee-thak-yah is the way it should be pronounced. And again, before you take your fork, remember, the Paidakia is best eaten with fingers; the Greek way. Approach this dish with a lot of appetite (remember you have to order in kilos) and you won't be disappointed.

Where to eat?
To Steki Tou Ilia - A favorite with locals, this taverna near the Parthenon is famous for its Paidakia made of thin but juicy lamb chops. Enjoy the view of the Acropolis and dig into kilos of succulent lamb chops at this affordable restaurant that's crowded with locals as well as visitors.

Taverna Tou Psiri - A hidden gem, this is a non-touristy taverna and also one of most affordable places to get excellent authentic Paidakia. Though a little hard to find, this no-frills restaurant in Psirri is fun to visit with its charming cartoon painted walls and tons of character.

Taverno To Trigono - Be prepared to make a small journey just for your Paidakia. The Taverno To Trigono in the Kalyvia, a small town 35 kms from Athens, is said to serve excellent juicy lamb chops.

Karavitis - With its rustic atmosphere and old-world charm, Karavitis is a charming place for delicious Paidakia. Located near the Panathenaic stadium, the Karavitis is a favorite hangout for local politicians and celebrities.

Myrtia - This family run tavern near the Aghia Paraskevi station offers generous portions of delectable Greek food with a smile. Apart from their tasty Paidakia, this restaurant is also known for its complimentary desserts. Now who would want to miss that?

Strofi - If you are in the mood for fine dining, nothing can beat the lovely rooftop ambience of Strofi that offers spectacular views of the Acropolis. The food and service are also excellent. Here is a place where you can lick your lamb chops and potato roast amidst luxurious settings.

These are just a few places where you can get your hands on delicious Paidakia. Though there lots of other places where you can get these grilled lamb chops; however, select your restaurant carefully. Don’t get carried away by the sales pitch given by waiters standing outside restaurants in crowded tourist places. Athens has too many superb restaurants that you can't afford to miss just because you were taken in by these false claims.

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Tags: athens, athens food, lamb chops, paidakia

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Rio for the Super Rich

by Richa G 4. December 2012 06:21
Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio
Evening by the pool "at the Copa"
Photo by Charlie Phillips, on Flickr

With a sprawling ocean right in front of you, wonderful views, amazing wildlife and spectacular landscapes, Rio de Janeiro lives up to its reputation as the marvelous city; especially if you have the money to spend here. One of the most expensive cities in the world; yet a pioneer of good life, Rio de Janeiro is a gem that offers enough worth for your money and more. If you are looking for a luxury holiday here, find out where you can get the best of the best.

If you want to holiday like royalty, your stay should be in a palace. The Copacabana Palace Hotel is a landmark fit for royalty; make sure you select an Oceanview Suite for the ultimate imperial experience.

The Sofitel Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel with its graceful design, gracious service and grand image is another legend in this city where guests feel proud to belong. With striking views of Ipanema Beach and the Copacabana, the Sofitel makes your holiday memorable.

If style is your obsession, stay in uniquely designed rooms at the Fasano Rio. This is also a favored haunt for party lovers; the Londra lounge bar has an impressive celebrity guest list. Don't miss the rooftop swimming pool and the views from there.

The Santa Teresa hotel with its swanky Design concept image, the Marina All Suites with its excellent location and unique design and the Sheraton Rio with its exclusive beach are other options where you can get the best of luxury and location.

Romantic Rio is a fine dining haven. If you want a taste of native South American food, head over to Casa Da Feijoada; the signature dish, Feijoada is a must try when you visit Brazil. This national dish of Brazil is a rich black bean stew flavored with meat and accompanied by rice, veggies and orange slices.

Careme with its fine French cuisine, Madame Butterfly's special Sushi, Gero's incomparable Italian cuisine and the appetizing portugese food offered at Antiquarius are just a few choices for food connoisseurs.

The Le Pre Catelan restuarant at Sofitel Hotel and the Cipriani at the Copacabana Palace Hotel are popular high end options where the food as well as the service come highly recommended; make sure you make reservations in advance.

The Carnaval sets the mood to Rio's "ever-ready-to-dance" atmosphere. Ipanema and Leblon have some swanky nightclubs and bars where you can dance the night away. Zero Zero, Nuth, Casa de Matriz and Fosfobox are a few known names. You could visit a bar or nightclub each night of your stay in Rio and yet by the time your holiday ends, you wouldn't have experienced all the different kinds of experiences the city has to offer.

For sightseeing, after you complete your regular beaches and city tour, take a panoramic helicopter flight to see the beauty of the marvelous city from the skies; admire the statue of Christ the Redeemer and take in the spectacular landscape of the city.  Fly over to neighboring Buzios, a lovely town with exciting shopping and nightlife options.

Ipanema and Leblon are good for shoppers; the boutique shops here display the best and latest in the fashion scenario. Gemstones are a must-buy in Brazil. H Stern is a popular jewelry store that's reliable and has a good collection.

Complete your luxury holiday in Rio de Janeiro with a pampering spa massage at the Copacabana Palace Hotel Spa.

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Seven Secrets Of Sao Paulo

by Richa G 1. December 2012 05:54

Sao Paulo's first secret hits all its first time visitors in the face. Don't make the mistake of traveling to this city expecting some hot South American beaches and wilderness. Sao Paulo is a complete metropolis with congested roads, towering high-rises and bustling offices. The cultural and art scene, however give the city a distinct image and these combined with fantastic shopping options and terrific nightlife make Sampa (as the locals prefer to call their city) a lovely place to visit.

Check out seven secrets of Sao Paulo ranging from funny to bizarre; these are sure to make your holiday in this city a lot more interesting.

Secret #1: Voodoohop
Don't get scared when a seemingly abandoned building comes to life with music. Voodoohop is a group that started with performances in old car garages and isolated buildings; the group's popularity increased manifold, thanks to word-of-mouth campaigning and of course, Facebook. Now a favorite with many locals, a bizarre concert with Voodoohop is sure to electrify your holiday. Keep a watch on their Facebook page for event listings.

Secret #2: Ludus Luderia Bar
This bar in May Street offers great food and cold beer; but then, that's available all over the city. What makes this place different is, it combines this food with some excellent gaming; that too, of the non-digital type. If games like Monopoly and Scrabble bring back fond memories of your childhood, visit this bar and have fun playing any of its 700 board games. Here is a secret Sao Paulo specialty that you're sure to wish you had in your hometown too.

Secret #3: Beco De Batman
Try to find a piece of blank space in Beco De Batman and you may have spend your whole day searching around with a magnifying glass. A whole alley covered with graffiti drawn by stencilers and painted by excellent artists, the Beco De Batman keeps changing every week. This versatile landmark of Sao Paulo is a treasured attraction, yet not too crowded with tourists.

Secret #4: A Figueira Rubaiyat
The centerpiece of this restaurant is a 130 year old Fig tree; but that isn't the main attraction here. The food is. Fresh food direct from the ranch is enough to attract a sizeable crowd; but when the food tastes like heaven, people may even be ready to climb on the tree to wait. If you are a fan of grilled meat, this restaurant is heaven for you. The soft steaks here are worth dying for; go there to experience.

Secret #5: Z Carniceria
No, you are not here to buy meat, but you will be forgiven for thinking you are in a butcher's shop. The bright red lights of the bar highlight its theme and history, both being a meat-packing unit. Complete with meat hooks and counters, this is an interesting place for a cowtail, oops... a cocktail.

Secret #6: Air taxi
Did you know Sao Paulo; not New York, not Tokyo, is the helicopter capital of the world? The land traffic is so congested that people with the means and the wings have resorted to air transport to travel. Landing pads can be found in lots of hotels and skyscrapers. So if you want a tour of the city, see it from the skies.

Secret #7: Juquehy
If you feel the beach is the only attraction that's missing in the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo, think again. The sexy Juquehy beach is just a couple of hours away from Sao Paulo by car. With clean sand, clean water and plenty of activities, this secret getaway from Sao Paulo just completes your holiday.

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