Berlin’s Coolest Cafes and Restaurants

The dining scene in Berlin has been dramatically transformed in recent years and virtually every type of cuisine is represented by the hundreds of eateries that can be found scattered throughout the city. People who like to dine in style will really be spoilt for choice, while there are also plenty of cheap and cheerful eateries to choose from. Here are some of the coolest cafés and restaurants that the city has to offer.

Les Solistes

This is one of the newest gourmet restaurants to arrive in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin and is run by Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire. Les Solistes serves an imaginative collection of reinventions of classic French dishes with signature dishes such as roasted pigeon in a tangy blackcurrant and cherry compote and foie gras custard with sautéed squid just waiting to be tried in a luxurious setting.

Der Goldene Hahn

The vintage style is all the rage in Berlin right now, which makes Der Goldene Hahn one of the coolest restaurants in the city. The dining room has been decked out like an ancient apothecary with a unique twist in the form of innovative artwork that adds a humorous touch. The red brickwork and chequered tablecloths help to set the scene for the homely cuisine that includes Sicily’s classic cold sweet and sour aubergine stew, gratineed scallops and lamb cutlets. The wine bar comes complete with an extensive list and there are also plenty of cool cocktails for visitors to try.

Bar Raval

This colourful café is a real haven for budget diners who still want to enjoy comfort and style. This restaurant fully embraces the New Spanish wave of restaurants that have hit the city and diners will be able to try an extensive range of tapas dishes that are as kind to the wallet as they are delicious and juicy. The restaurant overlooks the picturesque Görlitzer Park and there are plenty of monthly specials to keep diners coming back for more.

The Bird

Everybody’s heard about The Bird, but if you haven’t you will want to make sure you pay this cool restaurant a visit while spending time in Berlin. The Bird puts a whole new twist on the dining experience and instead of using a knife and fork to cut up main courses, the steaks and other dishes come already cut. The main emphasis here is on dipping the dishes in a selection of tasty sauces, which helps to make the dining experience more fun and light hearted. The restaurant clearly has a good sense of humour, which is reflected in the angry hours daily deals, that run from 6pm to 8pm every day and the interesting names of some of the food and drink on offer.

People who are on a true gastronomic adventure will want to hire a car so that they can travel to all the new eateries that they hear about. Arranging Direct Car Excess Insurance is by far the best way to make sure that you are covered throughout the entire journey and have peace of mind to enjoy the adventure.

Photo by Alexander Cahlenstein

6 Ways to Get Pampered in London

There’s no place to do luxury better than London. Take a look at the best ways to feel like a celebrity in the Big Smoke.

Afternoon Tea

Dress in your best and tuck in to dainty sandwiches, delicate cakes and beautifully brewed tea. There are a whole range of places that you can go to enjoy an afternoon tea in London, from The Ritz to the Savoy. You could even enjoy a relaxing cruise along the River Thames seeing the sights of London as you’re served a selection of sandwiches and cake. Make sure you book in advance, because going to high tea is a very popular pastime.

Luxury Shopping

If you’re looking for high end shopping, then London has the best selection of luxury department stores. Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason are all stores well worth visiting for the shopping experience alone – even if the prices are a little out your range, just being there makes you feel luxurious. Fortnum & Mason, for instance, is a beautiful store that is renowned as a purveyor of fine foods amongst other things, and has five different restaurants, including an ice cream parlour.
If you’re looking for more than just department stores, however, head to Bond Street and Mayfair. An exclusive shopping area, it’s perfect for those looking to splash the cash on designers, or just aspirational window shopping.


For a posh restaurant experience, go to a celebrity restaurant. Whether you’re into Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey or Michel Roux Jr, finding your favourite chef is easy. Make sure you book in advance!


If your idea of luxury is being pampered into bliss, then you need a spa. Luckily, London has many. From The Berkeley Spa’s open top swimming pool to the Chinese medicine Chuan Spa, there’s a spa to suit your idea of luxury.

Places to Stay

From luxury hotels to serviced apartments, there’s a whole range of choice when it comes to where you should stay. The benefit of a luxury hotel is that you can have everything catered to you, but serviced apartments, like the ones from Urban Retreat, means that you can have the best of both worlds – your every whim catered for, and you can cook yourself if you so wish!

Champagne Bars

Pop your cork at a champagne bar for true luxury. Champagne and Fromage in Covent Garden combines, you guessed it, bubbly and cheese. With champagne made by their own producers and a range of cheeses, it could be the perfect way to spend the afternoon. Alternatively, if you want something a bit more high end, you could head to Kettner’s Champagne Bar, where Oscar Wilde himself used to frequent.

A Budget Guide to Tasmania

Tasmania is an island off the coast of Australia, where the first penal colonies were established. Apart from a grim part of history, Tasmania has an incredible culinary scene, festivals galore and a unique wilderness to offer travellers. Read on to find out how you can see Tasmania on a budget.

Planning Ahead

If you’re truly committed to your budget, it means that you have to start planning as early as you can, up to 6 months beforehand. Giving yourself plenty of time will mean that you can research and find the best deals for your flights, accommodation and any tours or activities you want to take part in.

Peak time for tourism in Tasmania is from October to April, so if you want to avoid tourist prices, avoid these months.

Try and plan what you want to do in advance so you can plan your budget accordingly.

Getting There

First, you’ll have to get to Australia, and then to Tasmania. Of course, the best option for getting to Australia is by air, and if you buy your tickets far enough in advance, you can make a big saving.

You have two options when it comes to getting to Tasmania from Australia, the ferry or a flight. The flight is good if you’re staying close to Hobart. If, however, you plan on exploring the island more than this, then you may want to take your car, and therefore the ferry is your best option.


Tasmania has lots of options when it comes to accommodation, ranging from luxury hotels to super cheap hostels and dorm rooms. Work out your budget and see how much you can afford when it comes to accommodation. Accommodation is likely to account for a large chunk of your budget so it’s probably one of the first aspects you want to consider.

Again, it’s worth getting in early, particularly if you’re going for a particular event or holiday.

Food and Drink

If your budget is tight, then plan a couple of meals out in restaurants, but make sure it’s not for the whole time, because that can get expensive very quickly. Plan a couple of places that you really want to dine at prior to your trip.

Supermarkets will make your budget stretch a lot further than eating out all the time. If you can, opt for self-catering accommodation and you’ll save a whole lot of money on food. This is also a good idea if you’re driving around the island too, to stock up on food before you leave for another destination.

Photo by Adam Selwood via Flickr CC

Precautions to Consider When Going Backpacking Alone

Backpacking is a great deal of fun and you can experience some of the most unforgettable sights on the planet. From taking a tranquil hike through the majestic Grand Canyon to viewing the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps, the world is very much within your reach. However, there are some very real safety concerns to keep in mind. Let us take a look at some of these variables from a pragmatic point of view.

The Basics

If you plan on taking any type of excursion (even if only for a day), carry an ample supply of food and more importantly, water. Also, be sure to bring a map and a navigation device such as a compass or a GPS system. Tell at least two other people where you are going, how long you plan to be gone and when you expect to return. ALWAYS keep a mobile phone with you in the event of an emergency. Due to increased coverage levels, such a phone may very well save your life.

Medical Equipment

Only the foolish fail to bring along even the most basic of first aid kits. Never fall into the "this cannot happen to me" category. Minor injuries such as a sprained ankle can have dramatic effects while alone in the wild. The essentials of this kit should include a triangular dressing, sterilised water, a tourniquet and an emergency blanket (the shiny type that provides superior insulation). Also, be sure to keep a small booklet that describes emergency medical procedures.

Backpacking Abroad

Let us assume that you wish to go hiking in the deserts of northern Mexico. Besides all of your necessary travel documentation and passport, it may be wise to take out an independent insurance plan. You will be surprised to learn that kidnap travel insurance is becoming quite a popular option. Many policies will also include an addendum known as extortion liability. In the simplest terms, you will be financially protected in the event that you are taken hostage and a ransom is demanded. These can be one-off packages that are only designed for a specific time frame and coverage limits will likewise vary. If you are visiting any location that has been known for kidnapping, such a plan can be a wise option.

Knowing Your Limitations

Many backpackers get into trouble because they underestimate their surroundings and overestimate their own skills. Avoid pushing the limits when going it alone; you have no one else to rely upon if you find yourself in trouble. Be sensible and do not take unnecessary risks. Do not venture out too far off of the beaten path, for you may soon find that you are utterly lost.

Backpacking can be a great deal of fun and it is very healthy to enjoy a bit of nature. Still, there are some very real concerns to always keep in mind. This checklist will enable you to make the best decisions before and during your next trip.

Plan The Summer Holiday That's Most Suited For You

Those all-important holiday plans and holiday destinations can be as individualistic as the person who is planning and paying for them. This infographic shows the kind of traveller and the holiday or destination most suited to them and their vocational needs. It also proves that such a holiday can be undertaken in a luxurious style that some travellers may have thought was just too expensive for them. 

From the holiday maker who prefers sun, pool side relaxation and a trip to the beach, the traveller who wants to take in the local cultures, sights and cuisine to the adrenalin holiday maker who prefers venturing into the unknown, the infographic shows all of this and more. If you want to take that step and find out your ideal holiday or destination you can have a look at a great low cost flight here.

The Many Types of Luxury Traveller

Motorhome Safety Tips on the Move

Are you planning on an RV road trip? Then brush yourself up with some generic and not so generic tips while you still have the chance on a safe yet enjoyable way to drive yourself around. The generic tips are more like the dos and don’ts of a simple driving lesson although it can get tricky while you are maneuvering a campervan. 

However, the not so generic tricks involve the safety and security aspects of your campervan itself. It is often easy to forget about the safety issues on the road while you are high on your energy enjoying the experience. However, if you plan ahead your trip and way before your excitement kicks in you can avoid a whole lot of mess that may happen while you are behind the wheels. Although accidents do not occur always because you were careless that is why they are called an accident and thus the best bet is to get a motorhome insurance. In fact this should be your first step towards safe caravanning trip. The so called generic and not so generic safety tips are as follows:

1. Weight Restriction: Do not overload your motorhome at any cost. Take all the factors of your motorhome into consideration before you plan on how many people should board your motorhome. Remember that there are legal restrictions regarding Maximum Vehicle Weight, Mass in Running Order, Payload, and Gross vehicle weight. Check your motorhomes specifications and board and load accordingly.

2. Outdated Parts and Accessories: Make sure all the parts are in perfect working condition in your motorhome. If some parts are outdated or retro run a thorough check. Do not let any accessory hang on at the rear end of your motorhome which might hinder your rearward view like the rear cycle carrier. Most importantly make sure your satnav is not outdated at any cost.

3. Interior: Make sure you van is always dry in a healthy way. You should not let any damp or moist air circulate inside your van while you are in it. It can settle anywhere so make sure you run a thorough check. Do not leave anything unattended that may happen to rot and smell. Also make sure of attaching industry standard child seat if you are travelling with one. If the cupboards in the interior of your motorhome tend to fly open while in transit consider replacing them.

4. Exterior: Each time you stop at a gas station or for a grocery break; make sure you run a check on the exterior condition of your van. Damages as simple as a dent and a scratch or a broken surface needs immediate attention that you cannot afford to ignore even if you are on the road. Get them fixed ASAP. Assess the door, window, and pane fittings thoroughly. This is essential because you would not want to be bothered by external weather condition, especially when you are driving.

5. Gas and electrics check and other fitted equipment: Check all the gas, electric and other fitted equipment to see if they need any repair once you are around civilization. You would not want to get stuck without the essential convenience when you would be behind the wheel for a long run again.

6. Chassis, engine, running gear and tire check: At every stop make it an absolute necessity to check your engine, hitch mechanism, condition of your tires, chassis, and other running gears in your motorhome. The idea of a break down and getting stranded in the middle of nowhere is not particularly enjoyable.

7. Others: The more generic safety rules while you are on the trail are that first and foremost you must remember to drive slowly and gradually build your confidence. Accelerate slowly and press your break a little sooner than sudden. If possible take a motorhome maneuvering course before you venture out. Beware of the traffic around you and let them pass. Also beware of the trees and branches overhead while you are driving for obstruction and possible damage. Be careful of the weather condition and if it is raining or snowing or frosting up, try and make a halt. If that is not possible go really slow, and at all cost avoid all steep or sharp curves and slopes and lose ground. 

Also make sure you take a wider area while taking a turn. Do not haul your motorhome with you once you are pitched if you have to go to town or the local market. Most importantly do not drink and drive and keep changing the hands behind the wheels every now and then if travelling with friends and family. If you are travelling alone make sure you rest often if you are tired.

With these tips in your hand you would surely enjoy your trip safely. Make sure you abide by these codes and you will have no problem in not just reaching your destination but also come back safely.

Photo by studio tdes via Flickr Creative Commons

Authentic Mexico: Exploring the Gringo Trail

Mexico is a world of pristine beaches, jungle adventures, exciting cities and storytelling ruins. If you’re a traveller who likes to escape the crowds by getting off the beaten track, the Gringo Trail will enlighten you to some incredible sights like the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Playa del Carmen. Along the way you will also discover the low cost of living in Mexico, making it a great destination for those on a budget.

Budgeting starts with flights

Millions of people take flights to Mexico every year to relax on the white sand beaches at the resorts in Cancun, Acapulco and Cozumel. If you’re taking the road less travelled, budget travel to and around the Gringo Trail is readily available, starting with your flights. Mexico is a year round sunshine destination but you’ll find discounted flights during the low season, which stretches from April through November.

Take in the sights

The Gringo Trail is all about escaping the crowds but it can draw in many backpackers wanting to share the unique experience. Don’t overlook some of the highly-rated attractions just because they are popular! Take the time to explore the Yucatan Peninsula, by visiting the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza as well as the magical underground pools known as cenotes. The chance to scuba-dive in some of the world’s best diving sites off the island of Cozumel and along the Cancun coast should also not be missed.

Unspoilt beaches

Whether you’re intending to spend some time on the west coast Mexican Riviera or on the Gulf Coast you will be able to find unspoilt stretches of immense white sand. Beaches such as those found in Tulum are less developed than those that at the resorts and are less populated. The beauty of these beaches is unparalleled and one glimpse of Tankah Bay Beach on the Riviera Maya or Playa Paraiso in Tulum is all it takes to fall in love with this country. Hidden beaches such as those at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum as well as Solomon Bay Beach are as wild, natural and beautiful as it gets in this country.

Far from the crowd

If you’re looking to travel a little further then try not to miss the southwestern state of Oaxaca for even more Gringo Trail experiences. It’s here where you can explore the pre-Columbian Monte Alban pyramid site as well as travel through the cloud forests and river trails of Santiago Comaltepec. In this state, you will mix with indigenous people and can become immersed in the cultures of the Zapotecs, Mixtecs and Mazatecos. If you want to enjoy real Mexican food and authentic Mescal then there’s no better place than the traditional restaurants in Oaxaca City.

The back-packer’s favourite

You can’t get any further south in Mexico than the state of Chiapas and the town of San Cristóbal de las Casa is a definite travel experience. The city dates back to 1528 and lies in a small valley with a mountainous backdrop and offers a taste Spanish colonial Mexico. Winding, little, cobbled streets, open air markets, the beautiful Santa Domingo church and the Zocala Plaza are all well worth seeing. The atmosphere in San Cris is laid back and you can find plenty of low cost eating establishments as well a budget accommodation in this city.

Exploring the Gringo Trail may mean making a little extra effort than simply relaxing at the resorts but your additional travels will be rewarded. You’ll have a much more authentic Mexican experience and an extended stay is definitely warranted if you can afford the time.

Images by Mom the Barbarian, Carlos Adampol Galindo and waywuwei used under creative commons license.

3 Fabulous Sharm El Sheikh Resorts That You Should Visit

For most tourists, Egypt starts and ends with Cairo and the Great Pyramids. This is a real shame, because this beautiful country has so much to offer besides towering ancient monuments of stone. From its interior desert towns to the beautiful resorts along its coast that have enthralled travellers for centuries, Egypt has it all.

Among the most popular tourist spots in Egypt (besides Cairo) is Sharm El Sheikh. Located along the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm El Sheikh is a spectacular beach destination that boasts of world-class dive spots and pristine underwater reserves. It also has gorgeous seascapes, stunning desert vistas and some of the finest luxury resorts in the world.

If this charming little town is on your travel itinerary, here are three fabulous resorts you should consider staying in:

1. Maritim Jolie Ville Resort, Naama Bay: Located right in the heart of the popular Naama Bay area of Sharm El Sheikh, Maritim Jolie Ville Resort & Casino is a great place for families to enjoy the charms of the city at a price that won't break your budget. It offers easy access to the Naama Bay beach, has charmingly decorated rooms with beautiful ocean views, and boasts well-equipped rooms with climate control, satellite TV, and wi-fi. A firm favorite among foodies, it has four a-la-carte restaurants serving everything from French to Italian and traditional Egyptian cuisine.

The resort's highlights include an extremely popular Beach BBQ, and ultra-luxurious 'super rooms' located just 50-500 metres from the beach!

2. Hilton Sharks Bay Resort, Sharks Bay Beach: Thanks to its location at the edge of the Shark's Bay Beach, the Hilton Sharks Bay Resort offers some of the most stunning views of the Red Sea in the city. Popular among families as well as young couples, this resort boasts seven different pools, its own private beach, a whopping 13 restaurants and bars, and two separate clubs exclusively for kids. The resort will also be more than happy to arrange dive site trips or whisk you away to a romantic private dinner by the beach. Every room in the resort looks out to either the pools, the beach, or the hotel's vast gardens.

3. Rixos Sharm Elh Sheikh, Nabq Bay: Awarded the Travellers's Choice Award for Luxury by TripAdvisor, the Rixos in Nabq Bay is one of the finest luxury hotels in the city with over 695 rooms and suites spread along a gorgeous stretch of the Nabq Bay beach. Besides world-class international dining options (including options from Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Italian and Egyptian cuisines), it also has several pools, three water slides for children (and adults who act like children!), and gorgeous rooms modelled on traditional Egyptian architecture.

If you plan to travel to Sharm El Sheikh, you can't go wrong with picking from any one of these three luxury family resorts!

Photo by Dominic Sayers via Flickr CC

5 Tips to Save Money on a Skiing Holiday

What better way to winter than gliding over the Alpine snow on a pair of skis? Heading off on a skiing holiday to France or Austria is a yearly ritual for many families and snowsports enthusiasts. This ritual need not burn a tidy hole in your pocket, however and these five tips will show you how to save money on your next skiing holiday:

1. Be flexible with your schedule: Since skiing is a seasonal sport, prices for hotels, resorts, transport, and even food tend to vary a lotdepending on the season. Shift your schedule by a couple of weeks outside peak periods, and you might just end up saving half your money. Most hotels tend to become cheaper late into the season and some resorts high into the Alps in places like the Three Valleys area in France continue their snow seasons until April-May, so take the opportunity for lower rates.

2. DIY or ski package: This is another big question you have to ask before heading out on your ski holiday: do you buy a ski package, or do you book everything on your own? If you're like most families heading out to a popular resort like Val d'Isere, chances are, you'll choose the ski package. After all, you're short on time and most self-catered and catered ski packages include everything from hotel rooms to bus tickets, so you don’t need to fork out once you get there. Conversely, if you choose to assemble your ski holiday yourself, you can mix and match hotels and add on only the extras you want, like childcare, or special family offers.

3. Be mindful of exchange rates: You might be tempted to whip out your credit card to pay for meals and tickets. Don't. The exchange rates through electronic transactions tends to be very unfavorable. Instead, take out the appropriate amount of euros or Swiss francs from the ATM and use cash instead.

4. Take cheaper modes of transport: Flights save you time but also end up being a huge drain on your finances. Trains, buses and even cars are preferable to flying, even if it means spending an extra day or two on the road. If you treat the journey itself as a part of your holiday, you might even come to enjoy the experience as much as the destination!

5. Try some alternative destinations: Last, but not least, remember that France and Switzerland aren't the only countries that receive snow in the winter. Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia have plenty of ski resorts as well, and these can be cheaper than anything in the French/Swiss Alps. Similarly, ski resorts in the Italian Dolomites and Pyrenees offer great skiing at very affordable rates as well. If you're willing to search thoroughly, you can often get great deals on a skiing holiday.

Saving money on a skiing holiday isn't easy, but it is possible. Be flexible with your schedule, avoid exorbitant exchange rates, book tickets/rooms yourself and try out some alternative destinations to get the most out of your holiday!

Photo by Ridge Tahoe Resort Hotel via Flickr CC

A Spanish Trip: Low Cost Living

Spain is an immensely popular destination for travellers thanks to its beautiful beaches, exciting cities and relatively low cost of living. One of the major bonuses when visiting Spain is that your spending cash should stretch a lot further if you’re wise with your money.

Book before you leave

Spain holidays are a financially wise move due to the low costs but the popularity of this country means you should book your flights and accommodations well before departure. Using a couple of travel comparison websites will give you a good range of accommodation choices but remember that summer vacations will come with premium prices.

The good news is that outside of the peak summer months you will find plenty of value for money choices. You can of course just turn up and search for a room but expect to pay $20 for a hostel and $45 - $70 for a private hotel room, per night.

Budget beach resorts

It might sound strange but, due to competition, you will find a wider choice of accommodation at the popular beach resorts. Those along the Costa del Sol and the Costa del Luz hold an immense amount of hotels and self-catering apartments all competing for your custom.

Accommodation fills up quickly during June, July and August but outside of these months you can easily find low cost rooms. Remember that many of the Spanish Islands such as Majorca and Ibiza are year round sunshine destinations but you will still find lower prices during spring, autumn and winter.

Local Dishes

To find tasty but inexpensive good food in Spain, follow the locals. Avoiding the ‘laminated menu’ tourist trap restaurants is a good idea and in Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona there are plenty of excellent restaurants serving traditional tapas and paella.

Snacks such as sandwiches should set you back around $5 but can be more expensive in the cities. If you eat where the locals eat then expect to pay around $15 - $30 for a decent evening meal, usually with wine included.

Exploring the country

Getting around Spain is pretty inexpensive. Train fares cost more than buses, which are a good low cost option, and car rental can be one of the best options available. If you’re planning on some sightseeing around Spain then you can hire a car from around $25 per day, but always keep an eye out for the extra charges. Major cities such as Barcelona offer city cards, which once purchased will provide you with free admission to popular sightseeing venues as well as unlimited use of public transport.

Fun, free & low-cost activities

Spain is the perfect option for lovers of the great outdoors and it won’t cost a thing to spend days out on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. The country is also home to some stunning national parks: 14 in total, with beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes. The cities will offer sightseeing attractions including museums, art galleries and historic buildings.

You don’t need an unlimited budget if you’re spending time in this beautiful part of the world. The Spanish locals will always be more than happy to provide recommendations when it comes to finding the best value for money restaurants, entertainment and sightseeing options.

Images by lecercle, alobos Life, Erik Campo and Ekaterina Starchuk used under creative commons license.