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Doha's first Argentinian restaurant but don't be fooled by the faux St Elmo-eque interior. The prices here are anything but down tempo: a meal for two will easily hit US $130 and that's without any booze. Food was ok, service so-so.
Ah, now for something I did enjoy about Doha. A touch of tradition and heritage. It used to be children racing the camels, these days don't be surprised if you see a robot rider (I'm not joking) remote controlled by its owner. See the website for race schedules.
Buying something second-hand in Qatar?? Surely heresy! OK so it's obviously not in the same league as the flea markets of Paris and Brussels but this monthly fixture is a welcome alternative to the plastic and concrete expanse that is the rest of the city. Amongst the vendors hawking paintings and jewellery you'll find some interesting and eclectic food merchants.
Yup, another hotel restaurant, with the name of a celeb chef attached. Burger and fries for 30 bucks coming up.
The antidote to most of the more homogenised bling of Doha's restaurants is this Pakistani place with friendly staff and yummy curries. If you're particular about whether your 'meat' curry contains goat or lamb, you might want to ask before ordering. Very reasonably priced, by local standards.
Don't be deceived by the name, which fools you into thinking this is a simple affair with fish fresh off the boats. It's in fact the beach front restaurant of the InterContinental Hotel, so it's a Disney-fied sort of 'market'. Even so, the setting is pleasant enough and the seafood brunch every Friday a good draw.
Fishy delights on an industrial scale at this vast restaurant where you'll often have to wait for a table. Choose your fish, get it weighed (and be careful for bill shock here) and then tell them how you'd like it cooked. Nothing particularly revolutionary, a bit characterless but pure Doha.
Stunning heritage haweli located in the quietest of Varanasi's Ghats. The place just oozes character and it's often frequented by visiting writers, poets and artists. Rooms and public areas are tastefully decorated with a mix of antique and reproduction furnishings, art works and sculptures. If you're looking for five star comforts, being waited on hand-and-foot then this isn't for you. If you savour an authentic experience with slightly eccentric service, then you'll love the place to bits. Room 19 has the best views and is the most flamboyantly decorated of them all. Rooms 17-19 on the second floor feel the most private; also recommended are rooms 15 & 16 on the first floor. All of these have semi-private verandahs. Bathrooms are basic but clean. Vegetarian dinners are served nightly at 8pm in a splendid dining room. Very reasonably priced and gets booked up.
The spiritual centre of Varanasi are these steps leading down from temples and palaces to the River Ganges, where you'll experience everything from pilgrims washing away their sins in the river and people washing clothes (though given the level of pollution in the river, it's hard to tell whether they come out cleaner) through to cremations. Now on this latter point I feel a bit queasy: not that devout Hindus choose to burn their loved ones on great pires in front of the river and then scatter the ashes in it; it's the boat loads of tourists who go by taking pictures of funerals which I can't quite fathom. I mean, how would you feel if a coach load of Indians turned up at a crematorium and started taking snaps while you were bidding farewell to a member of your family?
There are around 80 ghats in all, occupying. Assi Ghat, at the southernmost end of the riverside marks the spot where the Ganges and Assi rivers meet - it's also one of the calmer spots in this stretch. As the saying goes, in some parts of India you'll see all of life in just a few minutes: nowhere is that truer than at the Ghats.
For a truly unforgettable experience, take a stroll along the Ghats in the late afternoon and then at sundown, experience the ceremony of 'Aarti' when Hindu priests light fires in praise of the sacred and revered river.
Well worth a detour to this countryside mill-cum-restaurant, a short drive from the city centre in between Dubrovnik airport and the road to Montenegro. Excellent river fish and hearty meat dishes served up in rural surroundings which are charming and, in warmer months, offer some respite from the heat under the natural canopy of the forest. Full of character.
The Nepalese capital back in the 15th Century and to the present day home to some of the most stunning temples and monuments of the period. The old city is easily to navigate on foot - bear in mind that if you're not a national of an SAR country, you'll be asked to pay a US $15 entry fee to help pay for the preservation of the city. The main sites - including the five storey pagoda of the Nyatapola Temple - can be enjoyed in half to a full day. Plenty of places to stop for something to eat or drink too. What's particularly lovely is that rather than just being mothballed for sightseers, it's still a living city - though be careful of those motorbikes haring through the streets!
The only high-end place to say in the tiny village of Nagarkot, which enjoys quite the most splendid views of the majestic Himalayas. The in-house restaurant offers a decent range of dishes a la carte and there's a twice-daily fixed-price buffet; oddly Nepalese cuisine barely features. There's an indoor pool which is puportedly heated but I found to be quite invigorating. There are also daily yoga and meditation classes, which are free for hotel guests. Service ranges from fantastic to unremarkable, largely depending on whether the managers are on duty. I loved the bar here: a design theme which is 1960s alpine retreat meets 1970s Geneva nightclub - the centrepiece fireplace and copper chimney is a great place to warm up over a glass of wine on a chilly evening. Try and book one of the refurbished rooms on the fourth or fifth floor of block B, or failing that head up to the rootop terrace of the same building for the best views. About an hour's drive from Kathmandu International Airport.
The antidote to bling that's the norm in the region. A hotel manages to achieve style, comfort, reasonable prices and - best of all - social responsibility (it claims to donate all of its profits to local charities. My stay here was just a pitstop during a brief visit to Doha but I was thoroughly impressed. Look out for some seriously discounted rates through the usual aggregators - I got an excellent standard of room here for about USD $100 / night.
Just an hour's drive from Kathmandu International Airport and a world away from the chaos of the Nepalese capital. One of several key vantage points for enjoying sweeping views of the majestic Himalayas - on a clear day you can see the peak of Mt. Everest too. In recent years the village has developed around tourism, with plenty of cheap and cheerful places to stay, as well as Club Himalaya - the only luxury option in town. Many come here for the trekking. On a clear day (best time to visit, incidentally is January) the sunrises and sunsets are absolutely spectacular.
Two tips: 1) If travelling here from Kathmandu International Airport, avoid the pre-paid taxi counters in the arrivals hall which will want to charge you an enhanced rate just for tourists; grab a cab from one of the touts outside for NPR 2,000-2,500. 2) For the return journey, ask around in the village and you should find someone willing to take you for around NPR 2,000-2,200. Try and bargain on stopping off at Bhaktapur on the way back - factoring in around NPR 400 for each hour of waiting time.
Many cities vie for the title of the oldest inhabited city on Earth - Damascus among them - but people, prepare for a place which will just blow your mind. Welcome to the wheel of life, done only as the extremities of India can do. You'll either be immediately captivated or loathe the place at first sight. I fell in love with it, for words I can't even begin to describe.
Here's a nice touch for anyone booked to stay in the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Amman. If you book the 'meet and greet' service you'll be escorted through (sometimes chaotic) immigration facilities and then taken to relax in a private lounge in the arrivals hall, reserved for hotel guests, while a porter waits at the carousel for your luggage. If you're an unconfident traveller or travelling with an elderly relative who might feel overwhelmed, then this service is highly recommended.