Sunday, November 27, 2011

WILLIAMSBURG

HOTELS
Williamsburg Inn – 136 East Francis Street; 757-253-2277 or 800-447-8679; colonialwilliamsburgresort.com; built in 1937; National Trust Historic Hotel; indoor pool.



RESTAURANTS
Cheese Shop – 410 West Duke of Gloucester Street; 757-220-1324; gourmet sandwiches.
Fat Canary – 410 West Duke of Gloucester Street; 757-225-3333; nouvelle cuisine in Art Deco location; above usual touristy fare; try cornmeal oysters.
Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que – 447 East Rochambeau; 757-565-2955; pierces.com; local legend.



SERVICES
Spa of Colonial Williamsburg – 307 South England Street; 757-220-7720 or 800-688-6479; colonialwilliamsburgresort.com/spa.



SHOPPING
J. Fenton Modern American Crafts – 110 South Henry Street; 757-221-8200; quiltsunlimited.com; updated interpretations of clothing, jewelry, and quilts.
Nancy Thomas Gallery of Folk Art – 407 West Duke of Gloucester Street; 757-259-1938; nancythomas.com; pricey and unusual interpretations of traditional American crafts.



SIGHTS & SITES
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum – 325 West Francis Street; 757-220-7693; history.org/history/museums; take docent-guided tour.
Colonial National History Park – 757-898-3400 or 757-898-2410; nps.gov/colo.
Colonial Parkway – on Virginia peninsula between James and York Rivers, short distance from I-64; 757-898-3400; nps.gov/colo/; 1 of 27 US “National Scenic Byways”; scenic 23-mile parkway linking 3 popular attractions of Virginia’s Historic Triangle of colonial-era communities, Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown; part of National Park Service’s Colonial National Historical Park.
Colonial Williamsburg Historic District – 102 Information Center Drive; 757-229-1000 or 800-447-8679; history.org; don’t miss Governor’s Palace and Bruton Parish Church.
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum – 325 West Francis Street; 757-229-1000; history.org/history/museums/dewitt_gallery_current.cfm; extensive collection of American and British antiques, including ceramics, firearms, furniture, glass, metals, paintings, prints, and textiles from 17th-19th Centuries.
Williamsburg Winery – 5800 Wessex Hundred Road; 757-229-0999; williamsburgwinery.com; adjacent tavern serves snacks.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ECUADOR

(does not include Quito)

BAÑOS
Sights & Sites
Casa del Arbol – hostalerupcion.com/casa-arbol-banos-ecuador.html; rickety tree house overlooking active volcano in near distance with swing with no harnesses, inviting only bravest risk-takers to experience killer view.



GALAPAGOS
Isla Santa Cruz
Hotels
Pikaia Lodge – El Cascajo; 011-593-4268-1952; pikaialodgegalapagos.com; on tortoise reserve atop dormant volcano.



MASHPI VILLAGE
Hotels
Mashpi Lodge – Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve; 800-527-2500; mashpilodge.com.



PUERTO LOPEZ
Beaches
Los Frailes – in Machalilla National Park; from park entrance gate at Los Frailes, 2-mile trail down to beach.
Services
Machalilla Tours – Malecon; 011-593-5-230-0234 or 011-593-9-610-9185; machalillatours.org or machalillatours@yahoo.com (for Fausto); run by Fausto Choez Castro.
Naturis – General Cordova y Juan Montalvo Calles; 011-595-5-230-0218; naturis.com.ec; tour agency.
Sights & Sites
Agua Blanca – 6 miles north of Puerto Lopez; small archaeological museum and nearby ruins.
Humpback Whale – Puerto López’ greatest draw is annual humpback-whale breeding, mating, and migration event.
Machalilla National Park – Calle Eloy Alfaro (Puerto Lopez office); 011-595-05-230-0170; park includes Isla de la Plata, among world’s premier manta-viewing sites (mantatrust.org); named “Isla de la Plata” because Sir Francis Drake reportedly hid huge treasure here; island 14 miles west of Puerto López; park also includes vast forest tracts and couple ancient archaeological sites; bird-watching and wildlife-viewing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

ST. LUCIA

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Cane Bar – Soufriere (at Jalousie Plantation); 011-758-456-8000; jalousieplantation.com; owned by Rolling Stones’ former accountant, Roger Myers; unique artwork abounds.
T’Cholit Bar – Soufriere (at Ladera Resort); 011-758-459-7323; ladera.com; try rum and lime, Ti Punch.
Whispers – Bridge Street (Soufriere); 011-758-720-8486; weekday bar turn night club on weekends; cadence, reggae, and soca lovers delight; many themed dances; up above dance floor and away from strobe lights is private lounge where more reserved can hang out with friends or by oneself.



BEACHES
Anse Chastanet Beach – Old French Road (Soufriere); not beautiful in blue-water-white-sand sense; dark water and gray sand; but, excellent visibility and great for diving and snorkeling.
Anse Cochon Bay – Castries (access at Ti Kaye Village Resort); 011-758-456-8101; tikaye.com; best for snorkeling to see seahorses; resort sells day passes to non-guests.
Sugar Beach – Jalousie Drive (Anse des Pitons); between two Piton mountains; beach bar and restaurant; also, snorkel rentals; at cove’s north end, trumpet fish abound below Petit Piton.



DIVES
Anse Chastanet Reef.
Fairy Land – coral reef washed by strong currents; drift-diving spot.
Key Hole Pinnacles – 4 coral-encrusted seamounts, home to grouper, jacks, wrasse, etc.
Lesleen M – sand eels, seahorses, and turtles; intentionally sunk in 1986.
Rosemond’s Trench.
Soufriere Marine Management Area.
Superman’s Flight – 1.6K' coral wall.



HOTELS
Anse Chastanet – Old French Road (Soufriere); 011-758-459-7000 or 800-223-1108; ansechastanet.com; on 600 acres of dense greenery; Piton views; Jade Mountain is part of resort (see below); unmemorable food.
Balenbouche Estate – Laborie; 011-758-455-1244; balenbouche.com; 4 cottages on historic plantation that grows own fruit; inconvenient if no car.
Cap Maison – Smugglers Cove Drive (Cap Estate, Gros Islet); 011-758-457-8678; capmaison.com; Spanish-style villas arranged around courtyards.
Discovery at Marigot Bay – Marigot (Marigot Bay); 011-758-458-5300; discoverystlucia.com; perched on hillside fronting Marigot Bay; 124-room resort with long, frangipani and ginger lily lined footpath; guest rooms have wide verandas and Brazilian hardwood flooring; pillowtop beds; slate-tiled bathrooms; giant showerheads; Kiehl’s toiletries; friendly service; 1 restaurant; go late January and early February; book top-floor Bay View suites, which have unobstructed harbor views, plus 4-poster beds and lofted ceilings.
Fond Doux Estate – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7545 or 011-758-459-7548; fonddouxestate.com; Creole cottages; ask for refurbished unit.
Hotel Chocolat – Rabot Estate (Soufriere); 800-757-7132; thehotelchocolat.com; 10-room, boutique hotel; 6 stone cottages.
Jade Mountain – 100 Anse Chastanet Road (Soufriere); 011-758-459-7000; jademountainstlucia.com; Soufriere; ask for sun suite; private infinity pools.
Jalousie Plantation – Soufriere; 011-758-456-8000; jalousieplantation.com; 42 hillside bungalows with plunge pools; 100+ acres; UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ladera Resort – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7323; ladera.com; former cocoa plantation looks out at Pitons; “missing wall” in all rooms allows views from canopy beds with mesquito netting; plunge pools; average food; spa.
The Landings – Rodney Bay; 011-758-458-7300; landings.rockresorts.com.



RESTAURANTS
Boucan – Rabot Estate (Soufriere, at Hotel Chocolat); 800-757-7132; thehotelchocolat.com.
Coal Pot – Castries (on water); 011-758-452-5566; local food favorite.
Dasheene – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7323; ladera.com; awesome view.
Fond Doux Estate – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7545 or 011-758-459-7548; fonddouxestate.com; Creole lunches; call 1st.
Great Room – Soufriere (at Jalousie Plantation); 011-758-456-8000; jalousieplantation.com; Caribbean dishes.
Jardin Cacao – Soufriere (at Fond Doux Estates); 011-758-459-7545; fonddouxestate.com; almost all produce grown on site.



SERVICES
Anse Chastanet Resort – Old French Road (Soufriere); 011-758-459-7000 or 800-223-1108; ansechastanet.com; diving.
Chocolate Bean to Bar Experience Excursion – Castries; 011-758-450-0507; (ask for Alison); www.barefootholidaystlucia.com; they also offer other tours.
Dive Fair Helen – Marigot Bay (Castries); 011-758-451-7716 or 888-855-2206; divefairhelen.com.
Fond Doux Estate – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7545 or 011-758-459-7548; fonddouxestate.com; will arrange cocoa plantation tours.
Gros Piton Tours – Fond Gens Libre; 011-758-286-0382; will arrange hiking tours up Gros Piton (3-4 hours round trip).
Rabot Estate Cacao Plantation – Rabot Estate (Soufriere); 800-757-7132; thehotelchocolat.com; raw-to-refined tour, starting in orchard and ending in processing.
Rainforest Spa – Jalousie Plantation (Soufriere); 011-758-456-8000; jalousieplantation.com; huge spa surrounding 18th Century Sugar Plantation.
Scuba St. Lucia – Soufriere; 011-758-459-7755; scubastlucia.com; diving.



SHOPPING
Batik Studio – Anse Chastanet Road (Soufriere, at Hummingbird Beach Resort); 011-758-459-7985; istlucia.co.uk; showcases owner’s work (Joan (Joyce) Alexander-Stowe), as well as son’s (David Simmonds).



SIGHTS & SITES
Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens – Soufriere Estate; 011-758-459-7565; diamondstlucia.com; make sure to see Diamond Falls and Mineral Baths.
Pigeon Island National Park – 011-758-452-5005; slunatrust.org/index.php?id=30; 40 acres of abandoned forts and beaches.
Sulphur Springs Park – Soufriere (10 minutes south); 011-758-459-5726; soufrierefoundation.org; mineral-rich waters in collapsed caldera; admission fee allows you to enjoy these hot-springs and their enriching mud; dress in something you don’t care about.
Tet Paul Nature Trail – Soufriere (near Fond Doux Plantation); 011-758-720-1779; soufrierefoundation.org; hiking trail that follows gentle trail between 2 Pitons.
Treetop Canopy Adventure – Dennery; 011-758-458-0908; adventuretourstlucia.com; zip-line rainforest tour.
Volcano – Bay Street; 011-758-459-5500; world’s only “drive-thru” volcano.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TAORMINA

(includes Castelmola, Gole dell’Alcantara, Letojanni, Mazzaro, Mt. Etna, Nicolosi, Sant’Alfio & Santa Maria La Scala)

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Caffe Wunderbar – 7 Piazza IX Aprile; 011-39-0942-625-302; Tennessee Williams hung out here.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Caffe Wunderbar – 7 Piazza IX Aprile; 011-39-0942-625-302; Tennessee Williams started his evenings here.
Mocambo Bar – 8 Piazza IX Aprile; 011-39-094-223-350; mocambobar.com; famous people-watching locale with mural depicting celebrities who have visited.



BEACHES
Isola Bella Islet – just past Capo Sant’Andrea headland, region’s prettiest cove; twin beach crescents sweep from sand spit out to minuscule islet; can walk here from cable car in minute; also can paddle from Lido Mazzaro around Capo Sant’Andrea, which hides grottoes with excellent light effects on seaward side.
Lido Letojanni – long wide beach north of Lido Mazzaro; more developed but less crowded than Giardini, large, built-up resort beach south of Isola Bella.
Lido Mazzaro – most popular beach; go south of town via cable car that leaves from Via Pirandello every 15 minutes; beach is among best equipped in Sicily, with bars, hotels, and restaurants; rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and watersports equipment at various kiosks from April to October.
Lido Spisone – long wide beach north of Lido Mazzaro; more developed but less crowded than Giardini, large, built-up resort beach south of Isola Bella.
Paradise Beach Club – Via Lungomare (Letojanni); 011-39-0942-36944; lies at beachfront’s east end; built on former Dr. Gayelord Hauser’s villa’s grounds (Greta Garbo’s confidant and dietician); for half or full day; freshwater pool; pleasant restaurant; registered lifeguard; open June to October; entrance fee includes all-day chaise longue and parasol.



HOTELS
Grand Hotel Timeo – 59 Via Teatro Greco; 011-39-0942-23801; grandhoteltimeo.com; have Bellini on terrace.
Hotel Ashbee – 46 Viale San Pancrazio; 011-39-0942-23537; theashbeehotel.com; boutique, luxury hotel; lovely.
Hotel Villa Sonia – 9 Via Porta Mola (Castelmola); 011-39-0942-28082; hotelvillasonia.com/uk; former historic residence overlooking garden and swimming pool; most rooms have balcony with Mount Etna view.
Palazzo San Domenico – 5 Piazza San Domenico; 011-39-0942-613-111; amhotels.com; where Churchill stayed; former 14th Century Dominican monastery; best views of any hotel in city; some suites have jacuzzis on terraces facing sea.
Villa Sant’Andrea – 137 Via Nazionale (Mazzaro); 011-39-0942-627-1200; hotelvillasantandrea.com; seaside sister to Grand Hotel Timeo.



RESTAURANTS
Caffe Wunderbar – 7 Piazza IX Aprile; 011-39-0942-625-302; Tennessee Williams hung out here.
La Giara – 1 Vico La Floresta; 011-39-0942-23360; lagiara-taormina.com/pages/intro.php; beautiful outdoor seating on veranda with tremendous views.
Granduca Ristorante Pizzeria – 172 Corso Umberto I; 011-39-0942-24983; granduca-taormina.com; especially good seafood.
La Griglia – 54 Corso Umberto I; 011-39-0942-23980; ristorantelagrigliataormina.com; traditional Sicilian food.
La Grotta – 46 Via Scalo Grande (Santa Maria La Scala); 011-39-095-764-8153; atmospheric trattoria.
Casa Grugno – Via Santa Maria dè Greci; 011-39-0942- 21208; casagrugno.it; some consider Taormina’s best restaurant.
Parco Reale – 9 Via Porta Mola (Castelmola, at Hotel Villa Sonia); 011-39-0942-28082; hotelvillasonia.com/uk.



SERVICES
Funivia dell’Etna – Rifugio Sapienza (Nicolosi); 011-39-0942-23605; funiviaetna.com; cable car.
Siciltrek – 27 Via Marconi (Sant’Alfio); 011-39-95-968-882 or 011-39-348-853-0310 (Andrea Ercolani’s personal cell); ww.vulkane-erleben.info; ask for Ercolani for personalized tour of Mt. Etna with “vulcanologist.”



SHOPPING
Carlo Panarello Antichita – 122 Via Corso Umberto I; 011-39-0942-23910; good selection Sicilian ceramics; also antiques, engravings, paintings, tablecloths, and umbrellas; also sells coppola (small hats) from Corleone.
Casa d’Arte Forin – 148 Via Corso Umberto I; 011-39-0942-23060; antique shop featuring bucolic Sicilian countryside and Ionian Sea scenes; excellent reproductions antique jewelry at good prices.
Ch’ien – 53 Via Bagnoli Croce; 011-39-0942-628-722; stylish and sophisticated gift shop.
Oggettistica e Arredi – 4 Via Fratelli Ingegnere; 011-39-0942-606-614; 18th-19th Century art reproductions.
La Torinese – 59 Via Corso Umberto I; 011-39-0942-23321; delicatessen established in 1936; good picnic foundations; breads, cheese, jams, pastries, pates, and sliced meats.



SIGHTS & SITES
Alcantara Gorges – in Gole dell’Alcantara; 011-39-0942-985-010; gorges rushing with extremely cold water; bring bathing suit; allow at least hour for trip.
Biblioteca di Comune di Taormina – 3 Piazza XXV Aprile; 011-39-094-261-0260); comune.taormina.me.it; dignified, former Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, built in 1448 CE and majestically transformed into library around 1900.
Castelmola – 3km (2 miles) northwest of Taormina; small village; among eastern Sicily’s most beautiful places, with panoramic Mount Etna views on clear days.
Duomo Santa Caterina – Piazza Santa Caterina (off Corso Umberto I); 011-39-0942-23123).
Francavilla di Sicilia – village near Gola dell Alcantara; good for lunch.
Giardino Púbblico – Via Bagnoli Croce; pretty garden that overlooks sea; can order drinks at bar in park; open from dawn until dusk.
Mount Tauro – 3km (2 miles) northwest of Taormina; visit ruined castello (castle) on summit; hikers can follow footpath here; former acropolis ruins visible.
Museo Archeologico di Taormina – Via Circonvallazione (Palazzo Badia Vecchia); 011-39-0942-620-112; on ancient Roman baths site; archaeological remnants discovered during excavations in and around the city.
Palazzo Corvaja – Piazza Santa Catarina (Corso Umberto I); 011-39-0942-23243; among most famous palaces in Taormina; contains tourist office, Museo Siciliano di Arte e Tradizioni Popolari (Museum of Art and Popular Traditions).
Villa Communale or Parco Duca di Cesaro – Via Bagnoli Croce (off Corso Umberto I); among most beautiful little parks in all Sicily; gardens were Lady Florence Trevelyan’s creation (Edward VII’s exiled mistress) in late 19th Century; various amusements in gardens, including fanciful brick-and-stone pavilion conceived as teahouse.
Savoca – tiny, medieval village that Coppola used in Godfather movie(s).
SP 122 – national highway that leads into Taormina; very dramatic.
Stroll – along Corso Umberto I until reach small square, Piazza IX Aprile, which overlooks sea and Mount Etna; 1 side square open; other 3 sides enclosed by 17th Century Church of San Giuseppe, San Agostino (converted into library), and Torre dell’Orologio, from late 1600s.
Teatro Greco – Via del Teatro Greco; 011-39-0942-23220); teatro.org; Taormina’s most visited monument, offering beautiful view over sea and Mount Etna; on premises display of artifacts from classical and early Christian periods; site of annual Taormina film festival.

PALERMO

(includes Santa Venerina)

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA

Antica Focacceria San Francesco – 64 Via Paternostro Alessandro; 011-39-91-609-0261; afsf.it; bakery.
Antica Gelateria Lucchese – 11 Piazza San Domenico; Sicilian “breakfast of champions” is brioche and granita (like sorbet), such as granita alle mandorle (almond granita); also try jasmine and mulberry gelato.
Bread Forreria – 29 Via Bonacorso; old-fashioned bakery.
Caflisch Cafe – 2b Viale di Regina Margherita di Savoia; 011-39-091-684-0444; try pezzo duro (candylike gelato cone).
Gelateria Ilardo Giovanni – 11 Foro Umberto I; 011-39-338-749-9757; ice cream vendor on seafront, open until 2 am; try prickly pear and/or walnut.
Panelle Stand – at corner of Via Torremuzza and Piazza Kalsa (mornings only); chickpea flour crepes in morning.
Panificio Porta Reale – 17 Via Niccolo Cervello; 011-39-091-616-4128; baked goods, sandwiches, and pizzas; as well as sweets.
Pasticceria Alba – 7c-d Piazza Don Bosco; 011-39-091-625-6390; baralba.it; half-century old institution with endless takeout menu and ancient staff; get “ice-cream burger” – brioche with gelato on it.
Pasticceria Bar Russo – 105 Via Vittorio Emanuele (Santa Venerina); 011-39-095-953-202; dolcirusso.it.
Pasticceria Scimone – 18b Via Vincenzo Micelli; 011-39-091-584-448; pasticceriascimone.it; city’s finest pastry shop; order “apostles’ fingers” – filled with chocolate or hazelnut ricotta filling.



BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Extra Bar di Polizzi Pietro – 49 Via Mazzini; 011-39-091-898-3006; this may be bar that Lampedusa frequented daily.
Picone – 36 Via Marconi Guglielmo; 011-39-091-331-300; enotecapicone.com; wine bar.
Taverna Azzura – 15 Via Maccheronai (Vucciria); gritty bar; cheap wine and fascinating patrons.
Malu – 21 Via Enrico Albanese; 011-39-347-820-0870; grown-up bar with outdoor seating.
Villa Igiea – 43 Salita Balmonte; 011-39-091-631-2141; villaigiea.hilton.com; outdoor, terrace seating; 180° view of Palermo Bay.



HOTELS
Atlante – 5 Via Cadorna; 011-39-091-214-777; bedandbreakfastatlante.com; early 20th Century apartment on traffic congested street; clean and modest; pays no mafia money.
BB22 – 22 Largo Cavalieri di Malta (Centro Storico); 011-39-091-611-1610; bb22.it; cute, designer B&B.
Butera 28 – 28 Via Butera; 011-39-333-316-5432; butera28.it; 17th Century palace/apartment owned by Lampedusa’s adopted heir; 11 apartments, each with own kitchen; cooking classes.
Centrale Palace Hotel – 327 Via Vittorio Emanuele; 011-39-091-336-666; centralepalacehotel.it; 18th Century palazzo.
Excelsior Palace – 3 Via Marchese Ugo; 011-39-091-790-9111; excelsiorpalermo.it; renovated, 19th Century, lovely with specials on-line.
Hotel Garibaldi – 146 Via Emerico Amari; 011-39-091-601-7011; hotel-garibaldi-palermo.h-rez.com; modern and close to city’s shopping district.
Grand Hotel at Des Palmes – 398 Via Roma; 011-39-091-602-8111; amthotels.it; old world institution; French proto-surrealist Raymond Roussel lived here.
Grand Hotel Wagner – 2 Via Riccardo Wagner; 011-39-091-336-572; grandhotelwagner.it; slightly faded grandeur.
Hotel Villa Igiea – 43 Salita Belmonte; 011-39-091-631-2141; villaigiea.hilton.com luxury hotel on Monte Pelligrino’s slopes; mentioned in Montalbano series.
Palazza Conte Federico – 4 Via dei Biscottari; 011-39-091-651-1881; contefederico.com; torchlit, antiques-laden castle from 1100s still inhabited, owned, and run by aristocracy.
Plaza Opera Hotel – 2 Via Nicolo Gallo; 011-39-091-381-9026; hotelplazaopera.com/it; “cosmopolitan.”
Hotel Porta Felice – 45 Via Butera; 011-39-091-617-5678; hotelportafelice.it; renovated palace with modern décor and spa.
Hotel Ucciardhome – 34-36 Via Enrico Albanese; 011-39-091-34-8426; hotelucciardhome.com; boutique.



RESTAURANTS
Antica Focacceria San Francesco – 64 Via Paternostro Alessandro; 011-39-091-609-0261; afsf.it; wildly popular and seafood; avoid maritata (beef spleen); 176 year-old restaurant that is famous for not paying pizzo (protection money).
Bellotero – 3 Via Giorgio Castriota; 011-39-091-58-2158; bellotero.altervista.org; small formal restaurant; 10-tables in “new town”; draws nightly crowd of discerning and lively locals; spaghetti with stone bass, sea urchin and lemon zest, or lamb with oven-roasted pistachios and vegetable caponata.
Bye Bye Blues – 23 Via Dei Garafalo; 011-39-091-684-1415; byebyeblues.it; award-winning restaurant in beachy Mondello neighborhood.
Caflisch Cafe – 2b Viale di Regina Margherita di Savoia; 011-39-091-684-0444; try pezzo duro (candylike gelato cone).
Casa del Brodo – 175 Corso Vittorio Emanuele; 011-39-091-321-655; casadelbrodo.it; 121 years old; reputedly never serves bad meal; try sea urchin pasta.
Cin Cin – 22 Via Daniele Manin; 011-39-091-612-4095; ristorantecincin.com; fancier dishes.
Franco ‘U Vastiddaru – 102 Corso Vittorio Emanuele; 011-39-091-32-5987; fried meals, especially for lunch.
Kursaal Kalhesa – 21 Foro Umberto I; 011-39-091-616-0050; kursaalkalhesa.it; separate restaurant and wine bar in magnificent Palazzo Forcella de Seta.
Osteria dei Vespri – 6 Piazza Croce dei Vespri; 011-39-091-617-1631; osteriadeivespri.it; delightful seafood and wine.
Pani ca Meusa – 62 Via Cala (Porta Carbone); 011-39-091-32-3433; sandwiches.
Panificio Porta Reale – 17 Via Niccolo Cervello; 011-39-091-616-4128; baked goods, sandwiches, and pizzas; as well as sweets.
Pasticceria Alba – 7c-d Piazza Don Bosco; 011-39-091-625-6390; baralba.it; half-century old institution with endless takeout menu and ancient staff.
Piccolo Napoli – 4 Piazzetta Mulino a Vento; 011-39-091-32-0431; trattoria outside city walls; seafood and excellent Sicilian wines.
Pizzeria Bellini – 6 Piazza Bellini; 011-39-091-616-5691; spaghettitaliani.com/PizzeriaBellini.htm; among Lampedusa’s regular haunts.
Ristorante Nabucco – 15 Largo Cavalieri di Malta; 011-39-091-58-4763; seafood and pasta.
Salvo – 30 Via Torremuzza; 011-39-091-616-8956; grill trattoria with street-side whiteboard menu and outdoor seating in sun.
Trattoria Da Toto – 5 Via Coltellieri; 011-39-333-315-7558; homey place for fresh seafood and local wine.
Trattoria Del Massimo – 25/26 Piazza Verdi; 011-39-091-326-155; trattoriadelmassimo.it/online; among Lampedusa’s haunts.
Trattoria Tipica Altri Tempi – 65 Via Sammartino; 011-39-091-323-480; classic Sicilian favorites.
Trattoria Zia Pina – 67 Via Argenteria (4 blocks from Tyrrhenian Sea); no sign welcoming diners, no written menus, no reservation book, no telephone; instead, half dozen tables, biblical paintings, and dented pots and pans gurgling and steaming on beat-up stove; you can’t simply walk in, if Pina doesn’t like your look, she’ll tell you trattoria is closed (and she’ll do it as she’s serving grilled swordfish and stuffed mushrooms to hungry fishermen); vegetables are crudely chopped, fish is served with head and tail, and everything comes under coarse sea salt veil; if you’re still hungry, you’re welcome to seconds, but don’t expect Pina to bring them, you can help yourself from cauldron on stove.



SHOPPING
Alongi – 46a Via Ruggero Settimo; 011-39-091-582-927; giovannialongi.it; menswear.
Borgo Vecchio Market – in Borgo Vecchio district.
La Coppola Storta – 74 Via Bara all’Olivella;
011-39-091-324-428; lacoppolastorta.it/en; coppola are small, “snap-rimmed” hats, like berets.
Fecarotta – 103 Via Principe di Belmonte; 011-39-091-331-518; fecarotta.net.
Fratelli Battaglia – 12 Via Torremuzza; 011-39-091-617-0625; store for legumes, chick pea flour, and nuts.
Francesco Pantaleone – 25 Via Garraffello; 011-39-091-332-482; fpac.it; owner formerly associated with Larry Gagosian gallery in New York.
Pescheria Isgro – 66 Via Porta Carini; 011-39-091-33-3775; fish market.
Pizzo & Pizzo – 1p-q Via XII Gennaio; 011-39-091-601-4544; food shop; place to shop for picnics and day trips; try piacentinu, local cheese with saffron.
Tasca d’Almerita – 13 Via dei Fiori; 011-39-091-645-9711; tascadalmerita.it; make appointment to tour this winery on Mount Etna’s slopes.
Vucciria – Via dei Bambina; most famous food market.



SIGHTS & SITES
Ballaro – city’s oldest, Arab-style market in Albergheria quarter.
Catacombe dei Cappucini – take 327 bus to city’s western outskirts; underground tomb with 8K corpses; has to be seen to be believed.
Cattedrale di Palermo – Corso Vittorio Emanuele; 011-39-091-334-373; cattedrale.palermo.it.
Chiesa della Spasimo – Via dello Spasimo; 011-39-091-616-6480; bombed during WWII, this 16th Century church is now atmospheric music venue.
Chiesa di San Cataldo – 2 Piazza Bellini (next to Piazza Pretoria and Church of Santa Maria Dell’Ammiraglio); 011-39-091-616-1692; 3 Saracen, cardinal-red domes.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Dell’Ammiraglio – 2 Piazza Bellini (next to Piazza Pretoria and Church of San Cataldo; 011-39-091-616-1692; built in 1143.
Eglise de la Martorana –3 Piazza Bellini; 011-39-091-616-1692; 10th Century church with Baroque façade and mosaics.
Galleria d’Arte Moderna Palermo – 21 Via Sant’Anna; 011-39-091-843-1605; galleriadartemodernapalermo.it; modern art.
Loggia District – baroque architecture; single pass will get you into 5 “architectural treasures,” including: Oratorio del Rosario del San Domenico (Via dei Bambiani, 16th Century chapel with Van Dyck alterpiece, Novello fresco ceiling); and Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Citta (Via Valverde 3, with 15 statues representing Virtues and Mysteries in splendid Rococo setting).
Monreale – bustling hillside village west of city; jaw-dropping display of Byzantine and Greek mosaics at Duomo (Piazza Gugliemo il Buono).
Oratorio Rosario di San Domenico – 2 Via dei Bambina; 011-39-091-332-779; make sure to see Serpotta’s frescoes; founded in closing years 16th Century by Holy Rosary Society, 2 outstanding members of which were sculptor Giacomo Serpotta and painter Pietro Novelli, both of whom left artistic work in this oratory; at high altar is Anthony Van Dyck’s Madonna of Rosary (1628).
Oratorio Santa Cita – 3 Via Valverde; 011-39-091-332-779; small, beautiful chapel.
Palazzo Mirto – 2 Via Merlo (on Piazza Marina); 011-39-091-616-4751; former residence of Lanza Filangeri family, Princes of Mirto (town in northeastern Sicily); built on 13th-14th Century structures’ foundations, palace completed in 18th Century’s last years; most salons, furnished with original items owned by family, Baroque; Chinese Salon is similar to Chinese Villa rooms built for King Ferdinando of Naples.
Palazzo dei Normanni (Palazzo Reale) – 1 Piazza del Parlemento; 011-39-091-705-1111; federicosecondo.org; used as governance building for centuries; currently, Sicily’s regional government seat; construction begun in 9th Century under Islamic rule; expanded and renovated by Normans from 1072 CE; once abandoned by Normans, untouched until 16th Century when restored; among main attractions are Cappella Palatina and royal apartments; guided tours are only provided in Italian.
Palazzo Valguarnera-Gangi – Piazza Croce dei Vespri; 011-44-20-7437-8553 (ask for Charles FitzRoy); finearttravel.co.uk; by prior arrangement only; ancestral townhouse 1st of Princes Valguarnera and then Princes Gangi; completed circa 1780; in Baroque style, although ornamentation more severe than that generally accepted as Sicilian Baroque; large circular and domed dining room with painted panels in dome by Giuseppe Velasco; in 1963, palazzo ballroom setting for Luchino Visconti’s film Il Gattopardo (The Leopard); house remains private residence.
Teatro Massimo Opera House – Piazza Giuseppe Verdi; 011-39-091-605-3521; teatromassimo.it.
La Vicciria – Via dei Bambina; morning marketplace.
Villa Garibaldi Park – Piazza Marina; 011-39-091-740-7793; statue dedicated to Joe Petrosino, New York policeman killed in 1909 in connection with mafia investigation.

RAGUSA

(includes Caltagirone, Ibla-Ragusa, Marina di Modici, Modica & Scicli)

BAKERIES, COFFEE, ICE CREAM, JUICE & TEA
Dolceria Bonajuto – 159 Corso Umberto I (Modica); 011-39-093-294-1225; bonajuto.it; perhaps Italy’s finest cioccolateria; produces cold-pressed chocolate, process derived from Aztec practices in 16th Century; make sure to try cannoli (legendary) and mpanatigghi (chocolate-meat-filled pies).
Pasticceria di Pasquale – 104 Corso Vittorio Veneto (Modica); 011-39-093-262-4635; pasticceriadipasquale.com; near Duomo; best pastry in town; tearoom with pleasant service and plethora of cakes (torta alla crema di mandorle, torta al pistachio di Bronte, torta al limone, cassata siciliana, and crostata di foglie di ragusano); must try spinach and ragusano arancino.



HOTELS
Caelum Hyblae B&B – 11 Salita Specula (Ibla-Ragusa); 011-39-093-222-0065; bbcaelumhyblae.it; means “Ibla Sky”; bit of climb to get to; cozy alternative venue with piano in lobby and stunning Duomo views.
Casa Talia – 1/9 Via Exaudinos (Modica); 011-39-9-3275-2075; casatalia.it; affordable; local ceramic tiles, Moroccan rugs, hand-wrought ironwork; impeccable service; owners will chauffeur you into Modica, arrange excursions (cooking classes, trips to quarries), etc.
Eremo della Giubiliana – Contrada Giubiliana, SP 25, km 7.5 (in Val di Noto, near Marina di Ragusa); 011-39-093-266-9119; eremodellagiubiliana.it; former monastery lovingly converted by Nifosi family into delightful boutique hotel.
Locanda Don Serafino – 15 Via XI Febbraio (Ibla-Ragusa); 011-39-093-222-0402; locandadonserafino.it; 4 stars; restored, 19th Century mansion; excellent restaurant of same name.
Villa del Lauro – 11 Via Ecce Homo (Ragusa); 011-39-093-265-5177; villadellauro.it; elegant Baroque building, pathways in old town center; large and elegant bedrooms with 4 star comforts (mini-bar, tv set, video intercom, cash box air conditioning); inside rooms even more charming, with garden views; elegant swimming pool positioned on 2 levels with hydro-massage area; refined outside furniture and enthralling lighting create perfect environment for unique and special occasion.
Hotel La Moresca – 63 Via Dandolo (Marina di Ragusa); 011-39-093-223-9495; lamorescahotel.it; chic, luxury hotel situated in Marina di Ragusa’s heart; 15 minimalist rooms with original furniture (alongside modern concept pieces such as those by Artemide, Castiglioni, Eames, Poulsen, and Zanotta, as well as pieces designed by architects involved in renovation process); sitting room; original house built in 1926 and belonged to same aristocratic family since; artworks by 2 local artists (photographer Giuseppe Leone and painter Giovanni Lissandrello).
Palazzo Hedone – 51 Via Loreto (Scicli); 011-39-093-284-1187; palazzohedone.it; weekly rentals; built in 1737; reached by ascending steep stairs from San Bartolomeo Church's base; 11 guest rooms and 4 suites; 2 large sitting rooms; grassy terrace looks out over ocean.



RESTAURANTS
Coria – 24 Via Infermeria (Caltagirone); 011-39-093-333-4615; ristorantecoria.it; competitively priced, imaginative restaurant.
La Gazza Ladra – 5 Via Blandini (Modica); 011-39-093-275-5655; ristorantelagazzaladra.it; high-end.
Iblabla – Via Calle Bartolotti (Ibla-Ragusa, off Piazza della Repubblica); 011-39-093-265-1888; locally beloved; pizzeria and restaurant in Palazzo Rosso known for boisterous happy hours.
La Locanda del Colonnello – 6 Vico Biscari; 011-39-093-275-2423; ristorantelagazzaladra.it; La Gazza’s trattoria offshoot.
Locanda Don Serafino – 15 Via XI Febbraio (Ibla-Ragusa); 011-39-093-222-0402; locandadonserafino.it; 90% kitchen products are from Ragusa; elaborations on traditional Sicilian fare, especially rabbit and tuna.
Monoresort Beach Club – Piazzatta Santa Chiara (Marina di Modici, on Contrada Maganuco); 011-39-093-245-3308; monoresort.com; fresh seafood in seaside-chic surroundings.
Ristorante Duomo – 31 Via Bocchieri (Ibla-Ragusa); 011-39-093-265-1265; ristoranteduomo.it; 2 Michelin stars; truffle gelato served in salted toast; salami of goat with wild vegetables; antipasto of octopus; black pork in chocolate sauce.
Trattoria di Pesce Donnalina – 76 Via Doria (Marina di Ragusa); 011-39-093-223-9888; trattoriadipescedonnalina.it; serves fish “100 ways.”



SHOPPING
Dolceria Bonajuto – 159 Corso Umberto I (Modica); 011-39-093-294-1225; bonajuto.it; perhaps Italy’s finest cioccolateria; produces cold-pressed chocolate, process derived from Aztec practices in 16th Century; make sure to try cannoli (legendary) and mpanatigghi (chocolate-meat-filled pies).
Salumeria Barocco – 80 Corso XXV Aprile (Ragusa); 011-39-093-265-2419; facebook.com/pages/Salumeria-Barocco/150882068282374; regional raw milk cheeses, especially ricottas.



SIGHTS & SITES
Basilica di San Giorgio – 5 Via San Michele (Modica Alta); 011-39-093-222-0085 or 011-39-093-294-1279; guidemodica.it/_luoghi_san_giorgio.htm; impressive Sicilian baroque specimen; erected in 1775 by Rosario Gagliardi, well-known architect from Syracuse; elegant façade with 3 tiers of columns; flanked by side-bay surmounted by volute; stairway and volute, though recently constructed, harmoniously adapted; beautiful decorated mirror, representing San Giorgio’s martyrdom, by painter Vito D’Amore, adorns nave; sacristy contains marble ancona, Gagini school sculptures, and precious Saint’s “treasures.”
Chiesa di San Giuseppe – Piazza Pola (Ibla-Ragusa); ibla.it; façade very similar to San Giorgio’s, hence attributed to Gagliardi; houses precious stuccoes, paintings, and several baroque pieces; elliptical front, inside, adorned with nice portal, baroque bell-tower, and beautiful silvered 17th Century statue of San Giuseppe.
Chiesa di Sant’Antonio – Via Orfanotrofio (formerly Santa Maria La Nuova); nice ogival portal from original Gothic construction; baroque portaletto (small portal).
Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Idria – Ibla-Ragusa; from 1639, built at Knights of Malta behest; doorway bears, still visible, order’s Cross; altar, inside, sumptuously adorned with order’s ornaments; bell-tower stands left of church, ornamented with lovely floral panels of majolica from Caltagirone.
Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Scale – Via 24 Maggio (between Ibla-Ragusa and Ragusa); largely rebuilt after 1693 earthquake; retains original Gothic portal and bell-tower; inside, remarkable Gothic-Renaissance arches and 16th Century terracotta image of virgin Mary, of Gagini school.
Duomo – 134 Via Roma (Ragusa); 011-39-093-262-1599; cattedralesangiovanni.it; also known as Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista; construction started in 1694; dedicated to Ragusa’s patron saint; front elevation in Baroque style with imposing doorway flanked by belfry; on inside are precious stuccoes and Canonical House.
Ecce Homo Church – Via Ecce Homo (Ragusa); 011-39-093-262-1778; neoclassical 19th Century façade and intricately tiled nave.
Museo Archeologico Ibleo – 107 Via Natalelli (Ragusa); 011-39-093-262-2963; under Ponte Nuovo (new bridge); housed in Mediterraneo hotel’s 1st floor; displays finds from excavations in Ragusa territory; collection is topographically and chronologically arranged; 1st section displays relics ranging in date from Neolithic to Bronze Age; 2nd, exclusively devoted to material recovered in Kamarina, contains Necropolises’ equipment and material, artefacts, Hellenic and Roman ceramics; 3rd, displays relics from most ancient Sikel settlements; 4th, documents referring to Greek sites, notably to excavations at Scornavacche; 5th, Roman and late-Roman’s specimens, mainly from Kaukana and Santa Croce Camerina excavations, where floor mosaics belonging to early-Christian church discovered.
Palazzo Bertini – Corso Italia (Ibla-Ragusa); 011-39-093-267-6111; erected by Florida family towards 18th Century’s end and successively acquired by Bertinis, local aristocratic family; masks on its façade, which, according to tradition, personify pauper, merchant, and noble.
Palazzo Cosentini – Piazza della Repubblica (Ragusa); ibla.it/pages/20-palazzo-cosentini; most typical of all 18th Century buildings in town, with elegant balconies supported by ornamented corbels and sculptured animals and masks typical of Baroque Art.
Villa Communale – Ibla-Ragusa (public gardens at far end); very well-mantained; beautiful mountain range and Irminio valley views; hosts 3 churches: San Giorgio il Vecchio; Capuchins; and San Giacomo; Chiesa di San Giorgio il Vecchio (Saint George “Elder”) has amazing Gothic-Norman doorway bearing depiction Saint George killing dragon and Aragon’s eagles; dates back to Chiaramonte’s age; erected towards mid-1300s; Chiesa dei Cappuccini Vecchi (old capuchin church) has simple façade enriched with 4 parastas with Corinthian capitals that support neo-classic front with 2 small bells; inside, truss roof and 1 of most beautiful paintings in Ragusa, triptych by Pietro Novelli, depicting Virgin Mary surrounded by angels and saints (1 represents, self-portrait, painter himself); 14th Century Chiesa di San Giacomo (Church of Crucifix).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

SPAIN-BASQUE COUNTRY

ALFOZ DE LLOREDO
Sights & Sites
Altamira Caves – Santillana del Mar; 011-34-94-281-8005; actual caves closed to public now but replica is open.



ASTIGARRAGA
Restaurants
Roxario Jatetxea – 96 Errekalde Baserria-Mayor; 011-34-94-355-1138; roxario.com/indexCA.html; cider-house experience; try tortilla de bacalao.



BAKIO
Restaurants
Bar Itxas-Ondo – 9 Zarrakoa; 011-34-94-619-4004; overlooks water; great, affordable, tapas.
Eneperi – 89 San Pelaio (on way to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe); eneperi.com; 011-34-94-619-4065; eneperi.com; both formal restaurant and bar.



BILBAO
Hotels
Hotel Miro Bilbao – 77 Alameda de Mazarredo; 011-34-94-661-1880; mirohotelbilbao.com; spiffy.
Silken Gran Hotel Domine – 61 Alameda de Mazarredo; 011-34-94-425-3300; hoteles-silken.com/hoteles/gran-hotel-domine-bilbao; modern; across from Guggenheim Museum.

Restaurants
Restaurante Guggenheim – 2 Avenida Abandoibarra (at Guggenheim Bilbao); 011-34-94-423-9333; restauranteguggenheim.com; chef trained at El Bulli and Mugaritz; emphasis on vegetables; try apparently unadorned endive chemically altered to have shellfish mouthfeel and taste; no foams or spherifications; dessert peach dish (exterior like fruit leather, inside like liquid).
Mina – Muelle Marzana; 011-34-94-479-5938; restaurantemina.es; elegant tasting menu.
Nerua – 2 Avenida Abandoibarra (at Museo Guggenheim Bilbao); 011-34-94-435-9000; guggenheim-bilbao.es.

Sights & Sites
Guggenheim Bilbao – 2 Avenida Abandoibarra; 011-34-94-435-9000; guggenheim-bilbao.es; mid-20th Century to present architecture and art exhibits; building designed by Frank Gehry.



DEBA, MUTRIKU & ZUMAIA
Sights & Sites
Basque Coast Geoparkea – (1) Deba Tourist Office, 4 Ifar Kalea (Deba), 011-34-94-319-2452, deba.eus/eu/turismoa); (2) Mutriku Tourist Office, Txurruka Plaza (Mutriku), 011-34-94-360-3378, mutriku.eus/turismoa); (3) Zumaia Tourist Office, 13 Kantauri Plaza, 011-34-94-314-3396, zumaia.eus/eu/turismoa; 8 km-long coastal stretch between Deba & Zumaia in Gipuzkoa province; coast reveals extraordinary rock formations protected as part of Basque Coast Geopark (just 30 minutes by car from Donostia-San Sebastián & little under 1 hour from Bilbao); most striking formations are made of flysch – sedimentary rock sequence that makes among longest continuous rock strata in world; formed nearly 100 million years ago by crashing of waves against cliffs & creating platform of alternate hard layers of limestone & sandstone & soft layers of clay & loam; effect, especially at low tide, is stunning; park in bustling, attractive fishing port of Zumaia; start walking from San Telmo Chapel on town’s western side, perched precariously right on clifftops above Itzurun beach; from chapel some of best parts of flysch can be seen by following GR121 (red & white waymarking, part of Vuelta de Gipuzkoa route), just 10-15 minutes in direction of Deba; worth continuing along same coastal footpath for about 1 hour to most spectacular coastal section around Sakoneta, which forms Europe’s most extensive abrasion platform (sloping or nearly flat bedrock surface that extends out from sea cliff under shallow water); at low tide, Sakoneta coastal area reveals huge variety of wildlife such as cucumbers, starfish & sea slugs, along with many sea anemone varieties; platform, carved over millions of years by sea, is wavy, almost wafer-like sheets of bedrock; Algorri Interpretation Centre in Zumaia is good place to learn & where guided walks to most spectacular sections & beyond can be arranged; consider 3-hour boat trips from Zumaia along coast westwards via Deba to Mutriku, which enables best of geopark to be viewed from sea; try local txakoli white wine.



ELCIEGO
Hotels
Hotel Marques de Riscal – 1 Calle Torrea; 011-34-94-518-0880; starwoodhotels.com; though main building (Gehry-designed) stunning, most of 43 rooms are in bunkerlike spa annex built in hill and reached by glass-enclosed bridge; excellent food; May for great weather; September to enjoy grape harvest eve; to stay in main building, book #s 101-104, 112, and 114-115 for village views through cantilevered windows; for those who want to gaze on Gehry’s design, book #s 116-118.



GERNIKA-LUMO
Sights & Sites
Guernica Peace Museum – 1 Plaza de Foru; 011-34-94-627-0213; museodelapaz.org.



GETARIA
Hotels
Hotel Iturregi – Azkizu Auzoa; 011-34-94-389-6134; hoteliturregi.com; lovely.

Restaurants
Elkano – 2 Herrerieta; 011-34-94-314-0024; restauranteelkano.com; seafood; mystical cachet for foodies.
Iribar – Kale Nagusia; 011-34-94-314-0406; fresh fish a la plancha.

Sights & Sites
Museo Cristobal Balenciaga – 6 Aldamar Kalea; 011-34-94-300-4779; cristobalbalenciagamuseoa.com; displays couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga’s works.



GIPUZKOA
Sights & Sites
Museo Chillida-Leku – 66 Jauregui (Hernani); 011-34-94-333-5963; museochillidaleku.com; museum for Spanish Basque sculptor notable for monumental abstract works.



HONDARRIBIA
Hotels
Hotel El Emperador – 14 Plaza de Armas; 011-34-94-364-5500; paradores-spain.com.
Restaurants
Alameda – 1 Minasoroeta; 011-34-94-364-2789; restaurantealameda.net; 3rd generation family business occupying old house; well-renovated interior; traditional cuisine & enticing set menus, with strong emphasis on technique, presentation & top quality ingredients.



LARRABETZU
Restaurants
Azurmendi – Corredor del Txorierri; 011-34-94-455-8866; azurmendi.biz; deceptively bucolic; modern and traditional Basque cuisine; try kokotxas (tiny hake jowls).



LEKEITIO
Hotels
Hotel Palacio Oxangoiti – 2 Gamarra Kalea; 011-34-94-465-0555; oxangoiti.net; perched above cathedral plaza.

Restaurants
Kaia – 5 Txatxo Kaia; 011-34-94-624-3753; lekeitiokaia.com; excellent grilled hake.



SAN SEBASTIAN (includes Donostia, Errenteria, Gros & Lasarte-Oria)
Bars & Nightclubs
Bascook – 8 Barroeta Aldamar; 011-34-94-400-9977; tapas.
A Fuego Negro – 31st de Agosto; 011-34-65-013-5373; tapas.
Bar Ganbara – 21 Calle San Jerónimo (Parte Vieja); 011-94-342–2575; ganbarajatetxea.com; busy favorite near Plaza de la Constitución; run by 3rd generation family; specialty morsels range from shrimp and asparagus to ibérico acorn-fed ham on croissants to anchovies, sea urchins, and wild mushrooms in season.
Museo del Whisky – 5 Alameda del Boulevard; 011-34-943-424-678; museodelwhisky.com; where chefs and movie stars drink into night; unofficial cocktail is gin & tonic (ask for Martin Miller gin and Fever-Tree tonic).
Ondarra – 16 Avenida de Zurriola (Gros); 011-34-94-332-6033; ondarraclub.com; laid-back; tables spill onto sidewalk.
Txepetxa – 5 Calle Pescaderia; 011-34-94-342-2227; tapas.

Beaches
La Concha.
Zurriola.

Hotels
Hotel Astoria 7 – 1 Sagrada Familia; 011-34-94-344-5000; astoria7hotel.com; cinema-themed hotel; 20-minute walk from beach and Parte Vieja (Old Town); rooms are mid-century modern; ground-floor has library and cafeteria.
Hotel Gran Bahia Bernardo – 1 Calle de Trueba (Gros); 011-34-94-329-8049; hotelgranbahiabernardo.com; few blocks from Zurriola beach; 10 simple rooms with hardwood floors, wi-fi, minimalist photographs.
Hotel Maria Christina – 4 Paseo Republica Argentina; 011-34-94-343-7600; starwoodhotels.com; open since 1912; riverfront property with Belle Epoque cupolas; convenient base; Vietnamese restaurant.
Villa Soro – 61 Avenida Ategorrieta; 011-34-94-329-7970; villasoro.com; fin de siecle mansion restored with modern rooms; ask for room in original house.

Restaurants
Akelarre – 56 Paseo Padre Orcolaga (Donostia); 011-34-94-331-1209; akelarre.net; 3 Michelin stars.
Aldanondo Jatetxea – 6 Euskal Herria; 011-34-94-342-2852; aldanondo.com; open on Sundays and Mondays, when most other restaurants are closed.
Arzak Restaurante – 273 Avenida Alcalde Jose Elosegui; 011-34-94-327-8465; arzak.info/index.html; 3 Michelin stars; Basque fish and game.
Astelena – 1 Calle de Inigo; 011-34-94-342-5245; Parte Vieja pintxo bar; famous for pastel de pescado (fish paste); also try croquetas with pistachio crust and/or salmon and cheese crepes.
Bar Goiz-Argi – 4 Calle de Fermin Calbeton (Donostia); 011-34-94-342-5204; Parte Vieja pintxo bar; must try brotxetas de gambas (shrimp skewers) and bola de carne (fried béchamel, chopped beef, and pimento ball).
Bodegon Alejandro – 4 Calle de Fermin Calbeton (Donostia); 011-34-94-342-7158; bodegonalejandro.com; hidden among Parte Vieja pintxo bars; longtime stellar Basque cuisine bastion.
Borda Berri – 12 Calle de Fermin Calbeton (Donostia); 011-34-94-343-0840; Parte Vieja pintxo bar; try carrillera (slowly braised veal cheeks).
Cafe de la Concha – 10 Paseo de la Concha (near beach); 011-34-94-347-3600; cafedelaconcha.com; hamburgers & tapas.
La Cuchara de San Telmo – 28 Calle 31st de Agosto; 011-34-94-343-5446; lacucharadesantelmo.com; Parte Vieja pintxo bar; try seared oreja (ear), wonderful seared foie gras with apple compote, and/or orzo and goat cheese risotto.
A Fuego Negro – 31 Calle 31st de Agosto; 011-34-65-013-5373; aguegonegro.com; order Makcobe (mini-Wagyu burger), or spider crab, avocado, and licorice mix-up, or pastel cherry-meringue wafer with mackerel, sheep’s cheese, and mint.
Kokotxa – 11 Calle Campanario; 011-34-94-342-1904; contemporary Basque.
Maruxa – 14 Paseo de Bizkaia; 011-34-943-461-062; city’s best pulpo de gallega (octopus).
Mugaritz – 20 Aldura Aldea (Errenteria); 011-34-94-352-2455; on par with El Bulli; rural setting; can sit on terrace for cocktails; tasting menu; 2 Michelin stars.
Narru – 56 Calle de Zubieta; 011-34-94-342-3349; narru.es; beneath Hotel Niza; less dramatic alternative to, e.g., Ni Neu; try secreto Iberico with Basque apples.
Ni Neu – 1 Avenida de Zurriola; 011-34-94-300-3162; restaurantenineu.com; in Kursaal (auditorium and convention center); beside Zurriola beach; try tuna tartare with green lemon cream.
Rekondo – 57 Igeldo Pasealekua; 011-34-94-321-2907; rekondo.com.
Restaurant Martin Berasategui – 4 Loidi Kalea (Lasarte-Oria); 011-34-94-336-6471; prestige restaurant with expensive tasting menu.
La Perla – Paseo de la Concha; 011-34-94-346-2484; seafood restaurant on beach, with excellent beach and water views; interior is modern and open with light wood floors and high ceilings; have coffee and light snack or head to rear dining room to try specialties like chicken breast with foie gras or grilled filet.

Services
Basque Culinary Center – 101 Paseo Juan Avelino Barriola; 011-34-94-353-5103; bculinary.com; new culinary school and research institute headed by Ferran Adria; half-day classes for enthusiasts; otherwise, full, 4-year curriculum.
Luis Irizar Cooking School – 5 Calle Mari; 011-34-94-343-1540; escuelairizar.com.
Motoras de la Isla – Paseo Mollaberria; 011-34-94-300-0450; motorasdelaisla.com; motorboat trips to Isla Santa Clara.

Shopping
Aitor Lasa – 12 Calle Aldamar; 011-34-94-343-0354; good, local cheese shop.
Galparsoro – 6 Calle Mayor; 011-34-94-342-1074; galparsoro.com; bakery only.
Kukuxumusu – 15 Calle Mayor; 011-34-94-342-1184; kukuxumusu.com; cartoon-designed products.
Viva La Vida – 12 Calle de Narrica; 011-34-94-343-0378; vivalavidatodalavida.com; original graphic-designed accessories and clothing.

Sights & Sites
Calle de Zemoriya – Gros; follow yellow trail markings (in reverse) for this Camino de Santiago portion; weave through forests and picture-perfect cliff-over-ocean panoramas; might want to buy snack at Galparsoro before leaving.
Isla Santa Clara – island in bay.
Mount Igueldo – on bay’s western edge; 011-34-94-321-3525; monteigueldo.es; for funicular ride to top.
Promenade – along bay; 4 miles long; lovely walk along community’s 3 sandy beaches.
San Telmo Museoa – 1 Plaza Zuloaga (Parte Vieja); 011-34-94-348-1580; santelmomuseoa.com; next door to refurbished 16th Century former Dominican convent where permanent Basque artifact and art collection kept.



TOLOSA
Restaurants
Casa Julian – 6 Calle de Santa Klara; 011-34-94-367-1417; casajuliandetolosa.com; great steaks; ancient charcoal grill in cavelike space with 6 tables.
Sights & Sites
Pagoeta Natural Park – Gipuzkoa; 011-34-94-383-5389; nekatur.net/Espacio-natural.aspx?Id=10&lang=en-US; 2.9K hectares; instead of demonstrating only natural landscape, shows human impact on environment; installations throughout park for making charcoal from wood & water-powered Aborregi forge (reconstructed); archaeological remnants of prehistoric occupants, with barrows, cave deposits & dolmens.



VIZCAYA (includes Atxondo & Muxika)
Hotels
Urune – 8 Txakale Auzoa (Muxika); 011-34-94-465-1663; urunehotela.com; affordable; high design escape; 30 minutes west of Bilbao; renovated 1780 farmhouse; plaster walls, steep chestnut roofs; low-slung beds and space age purple pod chairs; beautiful shaded flagstone terrace overlooks forested hills.

Restaurants
Asador Etxebarri – 1 Plaza San Juan (Atxondo); 011-34-94-658-3042; asadoretxebarri.com; tucked in Axpe-Marzana’s rolling hills; inside 2-story stone building on village square; mythologized in blog posts and magazine articles; exemplary seafood, home-made grills and charcoal, and grill technique from next realm; 44th best restaurant in world; not high concept.
Hotel Santuario Urkiola – 9 Barrio Urkiola (Abadiño); 011-34-94-609-7013; hotelsantuariourkiola.com; idyllic location.

ALGARVE, ALTO ALENTEJO & EVORA

ALGARVE
Albufeira
Beaches
Praia da Rocha – most photographed, with ocher cliffs.
Hotels
Hotel Vila Joya – Estrada da Galé; 011-351-28-959-1795; vilajoya.com; set on hill overlooking Atlantic Ocean, upscale hotel offers direct access to the beach; refined rooms come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks & minibars; bathrooms feature hand-painted Portuguese tiles; most rooms offer balconies or terraces with ocean views; room service; breakfast & parking free.
Pine Cliffs Residence – Praia da Falesia; 011-351-28-950-0300; luxurycollection.com/pinecliffsresidence; lush gardens at cliff-top location.
Sheraton Algarve – Praia da Falesia; 011-351-28-950-0100; luxurycollection.com/algarve; lovely.

Almancil
Hotels
Hotel Quinta do Lago – Faro; 011-351-28-935-0350; quintadolagohotel.com; isolated coastline locale; all rooms have terraces with Atlantic views; good restaurant.
Sights & Sites
Igreja de São Lourenço – Rua de São Lourenço; 011-351-28-939-5451; portugalconfidential.com/sao-lourenco-church-almancil; considered among greatest artistic treasures in Algarve; 17th Century whitewashed church with amazing azulejo work dating back to 1730 & attributed to azulejo master, Policarpo de Oliveira Bernardes; other sites nearby.

Castro Marim
Hotels
Praia Verde Boutique Hotel – Rua de Real Village (Praia Verde); 011-351-28-153-0600; praiaverderesort.com/en/home; sleek, low lying, slate exterior; nestled between expansive pine forest & beach on Algarve’s eastern coast.

Faro
Sights & Sites
Parque Natural da Ria Formosa – 18 Avenida 5 de Outubro; 011-351-28-980-0400; natural.pt; barrier islands and lagoon; great birdwatching.

Lagoa
Sights & Sites
Praia de Benagil – CM 1154; 011-351-96-961-7828; travel-in-portugal.com/beaches/praia-de-benagil.htm; must be seen beach & caves.
Sé de Faro (Faro Cathedral) – 11 Largo da Sé (Vila-Adentro); 011-351-96-262-6984; portugaltravel.org/cathedral-of-faro; spectacular views from bell tower; in courtyard is chapel made entirely of bones; Arab quarter within walking distance. .

Olhão
Hotels
Real Marina Hotel & Spa – 18 Avenida 5 de Outubro; 011-351-28-909-1300; real-marina.com; overlooks Ria Formosa.

Sights & Sites
Ilha da Armona – reachable by boat from Olhão; accessible by regular 20-minute Ferry trips or even quicker water taxi from Olhão waterfront; popular day-trip destination with 5 cafe bars.
Ilha da Culatra – reachable by boat from Olhao; accessible via ferry; lighthouse, beaches & lagoon; only possible to explore island by foot, on wooden paths.
Jardim Patrão Joaquim Lopes – 50 Avenida 5 de Outubro; on waterfront; walk to municipal market to see amazing sea life varieties up for sale.

Portimao
Hotels
Hotel Bela Vista – Avenida Tomás Cabreira; 011-351-28-246-0280; hotelbelavista.net; old Moorish-style mansion built in 1916 as summer home; minaret-type tower at one end and Virgin statute set in building corner; since 1934, special hotel, ideal for those who respond to past architecture; guest rooms face sea, former master bedrooms most desirable; on ocean, atop palisade, with access to sandy cove where can swim; villa is white with terra cotta tile roof; entry hallway has winding staircase and abundant 19th Century blue-and-white tiles depicting allegorical scenes from Portuguese history.

Sagres
Hotels
Martinhal – 54 Quinta do Martinhal; 011-351-28-224-0200; martinhal.com; overlookas wild beach within Costa Vicentina National Park; recycled materials and low-rise design blend hotel buildings into rugged landscape; local cane and stone, natural timber, and recycled cork, teamed with warm furnishings, lend “homespun contemporary“ feel.
Sights & Sites
Costa Vicentina National Park – 32 Rua Serpa Pinto; 011-351-28-332-2735; aljezur.net; best preserved European coastline, with several species unique fauna and flora; steep cliffs; birds (like rare fish eagles and large white storks (only place in world in which they nest on sea cliffs)); otters; be sure to visit lighthouse at Cabo de São Vicente and very close to Ponta de Sagres, where there Prince Henry Navigator founded his famous nautical school.

Tavira (most unspoiled town in Algarve)
Sights & Sites
Torre de Tavira – 12 Calçada da Galeria; 011-351-28-132-2527; travel-in-portugal.com/attractions/torre-de-tavira.htm; camera obscura; in converted water tower; worth special trip.

Vilamoura
Hotels
Purobeach Vilamoura – Tivoli Marina Vilamoura, Apartado 65 (Marina de Vilamoura); 011-351-51-28-930-3303; purohotel.com; ridiculously hip.



ALTO ALENTEJO (includes Crato, Elvas & Marvao)
Comporta (includes Brejos, Carvalhal, Carrasqueira, Grandola & Muda)
Bars & Nightclubs
Ilha do Arroz – Praia da Comporta (Grandola); 011-351-2-6549-0510; restauranteilhadoarroz.com; beach lounge & restaurant, where specialties include pastéis de bacalhau (salt-cod fishcakes) & amêijoas a bulhão pato (clams in garlicky broth); try blueberry caipirosca.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; funky lunchtime pitstop.
Beaches
Carvalhal.
Comporta.
Pego.
Hotels
Almond Blossom Rental Villas – Muda & Pego Beach; almondblossom-rentalvillas.com; 3 state-of-art rental houses to rent; Modern Villa (from £7K per week) & Design Villa (from £3.7K per week) connected by winding path; masses of crashing-about space, clipped, green lawns, large pools & light-filled rooms; also, Beach Villa (from £2.6K per week); all slatted wood & smooth stone, curving deck & panoramic rooftop pool; 2-minute walk through lavender & rosemary-scented pine woods to Pego Beach.
Amanduna – Carvalhal; amanresorts.com; will be 40-room/36-villa property.
Cabanas No Rio – Carrasqueira; 011-351-934-418-316; cabanasnorio.com; pair of converted fishermen’s shacks, 1-bedroom & 1-living room; right on water; from $204 per night.
Casas Na Areia – Comporta Beach (on Sado Estuary Natural Reserve); 011-351-9-3441-8316 or 011-351-9-3301-4000; casasnaareia.com or welcomebeyond.com/property/casasnaareia; from about £425 per night; architect Manuel Aires Mateus, shortlisted for Mies van der Rohe Award, redesigned 4 traditional masonry buildings; clever mix of new & old; muslin drapes, deep Gervasoni sofa, anglepoise lights craning over beds & tree stumps as side tables; huge glass doors open onto nature reserve; pool, slim, sleek & narrow, with pale, pale water, is framed by thick-mattressed, charcoal-colored sunbeds; sitting room has sand floor.
Comporta Concierge – near Carrasqueira; 011-351-9-3624-6256 or 011-351-9-6157-8526; facebook.com/pages/Comporta-Concierge/342066392500397?sk=info; 2 white-washed structures: 1-bed Casa do Guisado (about £1K per week) & much larger Casa da Silvandira (about £3.3K per week).
Possanco Resort & Villas – Comporta Beach (within Sado Estuary Natural Reserve); 011-351-9-1754-2402; portugueseliving.com/Comporta-Possanco-Resort-&-Bungalows.html; villa from about £420 per night; thatched cabanas center around sunny deck.
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt; 14-bedroom guesthouse.
3 Bicas – Muda; 3bicashouse.com; about £7K per week; about as far removed from simple fishermen’s hut as possible, with towering glass walls, sharp edges & Eames furniture.
Restaurants
Comporta Café – Praia da Comporta; 011-351-2-6549-7652; comportacafe.com; wide variety of dishes and beach & sea views.
O Dinis Bar do Pescadores – Praia da Carvalhal; 011-351-9-6797-7193; facebook.com/pages/BAR-DOS-PESCADORES/101645796596527?sk=info; owned by fisherman; best spot for catch-of-day, grilled, with lemon.
Dona Bia – Torre-Comporta; 011-351-2-6549-7557; portugaldreamcoast.com/en/2010/09/dona-bia; seafood.
Gervásio – Brejos; 011-351-2-6549-7111; café with football table that is social hub for anyone under 16.
Ilha do Arroz – Praia da Comporta (Grandola); 011-351-2-6549-0510; restauranteilhadoarroz.com; beach lounge & restaurant, where specialties include pastéis de bacalhau (salt-cod fishcakes) & amêijoas a bulhão pato (clams in garlicky broth).
Museu do Arroz – Largo de São Jão; 011-351-2-6549-7555; restaurantemuseudoarroz.com; sister restaurant to 1 on beach; owned by Isabel & Tó Zé Carvalho, local notables.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; funky lunchtime pitstop.
Services
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt; spa.
Shopping
Coté Sud – 3 Largo de São João; 011-351-2-6549-7317; colorful sandals and embroidered tops.
Loja Lavanda – Largo São João; 011-351-2-6509-8364; facebook.com/loja.lavanda; Lenny bikinis & clothing.
Loja do Museu do Arroz – Largo de São Jão; 011-351-9-2715-3677; facebook.com/pages/A-Loja-do-Museu-do-Arroz-Comporta/224009847628956; everything from crockery to caftans to woven straw hats.
Sal – Praia do Pego; 011-351-2-6549-0129; restaurantesal.pt; cool boutique.
Sublime Country House & Spa – Muda; 011-351-2-6944-9376; sublimecomporta.pt.
Shopping
Space@Art – Herdade da Comporta; Vera Iachia’s design showroom.

Crato
Hotels
Pousada Flor da Rosa – Mosteiro da Flor da Rosa; 011-351-245-997-210; pousadas.pt; stylish clientele.

Elvas (includes Portel, Santa Eulalaia, Sao Vicente, Vila Fernando & Vidigueira)
Hotels
Casa da Ermida de Santa Catarina – Herdade da Rocha 7350 (Santa Eulalia); 011-351-917-214-380; casadaermidadesantacatarina.com; spectacular views, with activities like canoeing, fishing, and lake picnics.
Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Country House & Spa – Albernoa-Beja 7800-601; 011-351-284-965-432; malhadinhanova.pt; nicely done with slightly less unusual setting; horseback riding and yoga.
Herdade do Sobroso – Marmelar-Pedrogao 7960 (Vidigueira); 011-351-961-732-958; herdadedosobroso.pt; on beautiful lake; inn with great food, emphasizing wild game hunted on premises.
Hotel Sao Joao de Deus – Largo Sao Joao Deus, 1; 011-351-268-661-194; hotelsaojoaodeus.net; elegantly appointed; small pool.
Restaurants
Refugio da Vila – Largo Dr. Miguel Bombarda 8 (Portel); 011-351-26-661-9010; refugiodavila.com; Michelin-recommended restaurant; can also take cooking classes.
Restaurante Pompilio – Rua da Elvas 96 (Sao Vicente); 011-351-268-611-133; traditional fare like grouse soup, grilled pork, lamb chops; family restaurant with flat-screen television to watch soccer.
Taberna do Adro – Largo Joao Dias de Deus 1 (Vila Fernando); 011-351-268-661-194; superb regional cuisine.
Sights & Sites
Sao Cucufate Roman Villa (Villa Aulica) – off Route N258 (Vidigueira); 011-351-284-441-612; monumentos.pt/Site/APP_PagesUser/SIPA.aspx?id=1044; dates back to 1st Century, although most of what can be seen dates to 4th Century; name “Sao Cucufate” derives from medieval monastery built here later; ruins distinctive and impressive, even rising up to 2nd story; also, cold and hot bath remains.

Marvao
Restaurants
Restaurante Casa do Povo – Rua de Cima; 011-351-245-993-160; serves traditional fare on terrace; try accorda Alenteja (garlicky bread and coriander soup).



EVORA (includes Alandroal, Arraiolos, Canaviais, Estremoz, Evora & Guadalupe)
Alandroal
Restaurants
Restaurante a Maria – Rua Joao de Deus, 12; 011-351-268-431-143; venerated, traditional restaurant.

Arraiolos
Hotels
Pousada de Nossa Senhora da Assuncao – Nossa Senora da Assuncao; 011-351-266-419-340; located on hillside; former monastery with pool.

Canaviais
Hotels
Convento do Espinheiro – Apartado 594; 011-351-266-788-200; luxurycollection.com/convento; 15th Century former convent.

Estremoz
Hotels
Convento de Sao Paulo – 011-351-266-989-160; hotelconventospaulo.com; former hilltop convent with two pools and stunning tilework.
Pousada Rainha Santa Isabel – Lardo de D. Diniz; 011-351-268-332-075; pousadas.pt; in former royal palace; offers canopied beds, marble bathrooms, and high-ceilinged rooms with views.

Restaurants
Zona Verde – Largo Dragoes Olivanca, 86; 011-351-268-324-701; regional fare like braised lamb shank with potatoes.

Evora
Hotels
Convento do Espinheiro – Apartado 594; 011-351-266-788-200; conventodoespinheiro.com; plush, 5-star accommodations in stunning 15th Century former convent with full service spa and 2 pools.
Evora Inn-Chiado Design – Rua da Republica, 11; 011-351-266-744-500; evorainn.com; colorful wallpapers and playfully painted antiques define 6 doubles and suites at updated and newly renovated hostel on main square.
Pousada dos Loios – Largo Conde De Vila Flor; 011-351-282-423-770; lies opposite Roman temple in city center (UNESCO World Heritage Site); former 15th Century monastery; antique furnishings; serene garden cloister.
Restaurants
Dom Joaquim – Rua dos Penedos, 6; 011-351-266-731-105; try Almofada (hearty pork pie).
Tasquinha d’Oliveira – Rua Candido dos Reis, 45-A; 011-351-266-731-105; tiny (14 seats); among city’s most cherished culinary experiences.
Shopping
Lojatelier 73 – Rua Serpa Pinta 73; updated handicrafts.
Mont’Sobro – Rua 5 de Outubro 66; 011-351-266-704-609; montsobro.com; impossibly extensive product array, from floor tiles to fruit bowls – all made out of cork.
O Arco – Rua dos Penedos, 15; 011-351-266-706-135; painstakingly restored aviary now antique gallery.
Sights & Sites
Agua da Prata Aqueduct – just northwest of Evora; there is “eco-trail” alongside it, 5 miles long.
Almendres – 15 kms west of Evora; megalithic site that predates Stonehenge by 2K years.
Arraiolos – nearby village that is Portugal’s carpet and tapestry weaving center.
Capela dos Ossos – Praca 1st de Maio (at Church of San Francisco); 011-351-266-704-521; chapel made entirely of bones.
Cathedral of Evora – Rua da Republica; 011-351-266-704-521; whc.unesco.org/en/list/361%5E; medieval, built between 1186-1204.
Church of St. John “Evangelist” – Largo do Conde de Vila Flor; 011-351-266-704-714; beautiful.
Monsarraz – nearby village.
Museum of Evora – Largo do Conde de Vila Flor; 011-351-266-702-604; museudevora.imc-ip.pt/en-GB.
Praca do Giraldo – square in old city center.
Roman Temple of Evora – Largo do Marques de Marialva; sacred-destinations.com/portugal/evora-roman-temple.
Vila Vicosa – nearby village.

Guadalupe
Sights & Sites
Almendres Cromlech Megalith Complex – 15 miles west of Evora; largest existing structured menhir grouping in Iberian Peninsula and among Europe’s largest; originally consisted of more than 100 monoliths, some of which removed; several building phases during neolithic (5000-4000 BCE); ovals’ axis is along east-west direction; complex’s position latitude about same as moon elongation maximum (38.55º) for 1500 BCE; other latitude at which that happens is that of Stonehenge (51.18º) for 2000 BCE; about dozen monoliths present carved drawings, 4 of which exhibit only small circular holes; monolith number 8, with cut flat top at about breast level and showing several dimples, might have served for finer astronomical observation, specially spring equinox observation, by putting small stones on them.

Reguengos de Monsaraz
Shopping
Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios de Mizette Nielsen – 79 Rua Mendes; 011-351-266-557-159; http://mizzete.pt/en; last workshop in Portugal to handloom thick, shepherd blankets.



MONSARAZ
Sights & Sites
Sagres Point – Europe’s most southwesterly point; enjoy ocean view from from Cliffside fortifications.



MONTEMOR-O-NOVO
Hotels
L’And Resort & Vineyard – 4 Estrada Nacional (Herdade das Valadas, Apartado 122); 011-351-266-242-400; l-andvineyards.com; 22-suites, some with sliding roofs (Sky Suites); worth special trip.
Sights & Sites
L’And Resort & Vineyard – 4 Estrada Nacional (Herdade das Valadas, Apartado 122); 011-351-266-242-400; l-andvineyards.com; vineyard; worth trip just for architecture and scenery.



SANTIAGO DO CACEM
Sights & Sites
Mirobriga – Herdade dos Chaos Salgados; 011-351-269-818-460; mirobrigaeoalentejo.blogspot.com; Roman ruins worth special trip.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ZIMBABWE

TOURS
Heritage Tours Private Travel – 121 West 27th Street, Suite 1201 (New York, NY); 212-206-8400 or 800-378-4555; heritagetoursonline.com; operated by Joel Zack; can arrange tours throughout country; can focus on Jewish heritage.



VICTORIA FALLS
Hotels
Matetsi River Lodge – Kazangula Road (Victoria Falls); 011-27-11-809-4300; andbeyond.com/en-us/matetsi-river-lodge; 20 minutes from Victoria Falls, overlooks Zambezi River; set within 123,500-acre private concession beside Zambezi National Park; in thick acacia & mopane woodland, 18 tents set between Zambezi National Park & professional hunting concession; hour’s drive to new Victoria Falls International Airport, from which there are regular flights to regional capitals; angular elephant-colored suites featuring local colors & materials: “wrapping” of wooden poles for shade, with copper bar & kitchen inside, terracotta & iron lamps, carved Danish-style furniture & abstract art; friendly butlers, professional safari guides – knowledgeable about game, fishing & Falls – & former chef from world-class Singita group in South Africa; each room has its own plunge pool; spa, small gym, wine cellar stocked with fine South African wines, well-stocked souvenir shop, 66' rim-flow pool & high-tech conference room; safari drives, walking, sunset boat cruises, kayaking & fishing.

ZAMBIA

TOURS
Heritage Tours Private Travel – 121 West 27th Street, Suite 1201 (New York, NY); 212-206-8400 or 800-378-4555; heritagetoursonline.com; operated by Joel Zack; can arrange tours throughout country; can focus on Jewish heritage.



LIVINGSTONE
Hotels & Lodges
Royal Livingstone – Mosi-Oa-Tunya Road; 011-260-21-332-1122; Zroyal-livingstone-hotel.com; right by Victoria Falls; colonial style.
Tongabezi Lodge – Zambezi River; 011-260-21-332-7450; tongabezi.com; luxury camp in trees overlooking Zambezi River; guests can also stay on private island, Sindabezi.
Sights & Sites
Devil’s Pool – adjacent to Livingstone Island (operated by Tongabezi Lodge, Zambia); 011-260-21-332-7450; devilspool.net; small still pool, safety of which determined by water flow; can swim up to edge of falls themselves and look out over.
Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya) – on Zambia-Zimbabwe border (transport from Senanga Road, Livingstone); 011-260-03-321-402; whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31&id_site=509; UNESCO World Heritage site; 1.2m-wide Zambezi River drops more than 328' into steeply-walled gorge; for Eastern Cataract close-up views, take hair-raising (& hair-wetting) walk across footbridge, through swirling mist clouds, to sheer buttress called “Knife Edge” (when water low & wind favorable, magnificent view over falls and yawning abyss below Zambezi Bridge; at certain times of year possible to visit Livingstone Island and swim at Falls’ very edge (not free).



ZAMBEZI RIVER
Kazungula
Hotels & Lodges
Royal Chundu Luxury Zambezi Lodges – Nakatindi Road & Katambora Island; 2 lodges; 011-27-13-751-1038; royalchundu.com; Island Lodge is more exclusive and private; located on private island, surrounded by gentle river channels and dotted with Baobabs and 2K year-old Jackelberry trees; 4 villas, each with deck, large open-air bath, glass-walled double shower, air-conditioning, fan, mosquito net, and king-size, extra-length bed; intimate boma area for outdoor evening meals, 2 lounges, dining room, private dining decks, infinity pool, and complimentary WIFI; River Lodge is main hub; 10 river-front suites, looking out onto Zambezi River and Matetsi Private Game Reserve (on opposite side); each suite has double shower, air-conditioning, fan, mosquito nets, king-size bed, and deck with excellent views; boma for outdoor evening meals, library, wine cellar, business center, satellite TV, dining room, and complimentary WIFI; chance of leopard viewing.

HO CHI MINH CITY (Saigon)

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Cage – 3A Ton Duc Thang Street; 011-84-8-3910-7053; chic new club, named for bird cages suspended around crystal chandeliers; live music 5 nights week.
Deck – 38 Nguyen U Di (Thao Dien, District 2); 011-84-8-3744-6632; thedecksaigon.com; legendary cocktail hours at this floating, stylish bungalow on Saigon River.
Hoa Vien Brauhaus – 28 bis Mac Dinh Chi Street (District 1); 011-84-8 3-829-0585; hoavien.vn; typical Central European beer garden with long wooden table rows stained in dark, rich hues; half- and full-liter beer mugs hang from metal racks; 2 beautifully crafted, brass decoction tanks used for mashing traditionally brewed beer.
Nguyen Du Brauhof – 98 Nguyen Du Street (District 1); 011-84-8 3-822-6891; small open-air restaurant; serves Adler Bräu beer alongside German dishes like schweinshaxe and traditional Vietnamese fare like eel.
Lion Brewery & Restaurant – 11C Lam Son Square (District 1); 011-84-8 3-823-8514; resembles giant Munich bierhalle, complete with wall-size Oktoberfest reveler murals.
Rex Hotel – 141 Nguyen Hue Boulevard; 011-84-8-3829-2185; rexhotelvietnam.com; during Viet Nam War, home to US military’s daily briefings; palm-lined, rooftop bar today provides kitschy setting for sunset drinking.
Vasco’s – 74/7D Hai Ba Trung Street; 011-84-8-3824-2888; outdoor balcony for chatting; inside, it’s all about music; stiff cocktails.



HOTELS
Caravelle Hotel – 19 Lam Square; 011-84-8-3823-4999; caravellehotel.com; overlooks opera house and Saigon River; 335 sleek rooms.
Continental Hotel – 132-134 Dong Khoi Street; 011-84-8-3829-9201; continental-saigon.com; founded by Frenchman in 1880; high ceilings and lots of carved wood; where Graham Greene hung out.
Elios Hotel – 233 Pham Ngu Lao Street; 011-84-8-3838-5584; elioshotel.vn; new, 90-room guesthouse overlooking leafy park in back-pack district; some rooms have views.
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon – 39 Le Duan Boulevard (District 1); 011-84-8-3520-9999; ichotelsgroup.com; new, 19-story hotel.
Park Hyatt Saigon – 2 Lam Son Square (District 1); 011-84-8-3824-1234; hyatt.com; 2 year-old former American military barracks with antique glass ceiling panels and Indochine furniture close to Reunification Palace.
Sunflower Hotel – 84A Bui Thi Xuan Street; 011-84-8-3925-7458; sumflowerhotel.vn; affordable.



RESTAURANTS
Café Terrace – 65 Le Loi Street; 011-84-8-3821-4958;trendy afternoon coffee spot in city’s center; outdoor terrace seating or inside air-conditioning.
Club Camargue – 16 Cao Ba Quat; 011-84-8-824-3148; terrace restaurant serving continental food and European wine; try squid-filled ravioli with saffron sauce.
Com Nieu Sai Gon – 6C Tu Xuong Street (District 3); 011-84-8-3932-6388; legendary, local restaurant; speciality is rice cooked in clay pot, which waiters break open at table and throw rice patties to each other across restaurant; also try Japanese eggplant with garlic.
Cue Gach Quan – 10 Dang Tat; 011-84-8-3848-0144; en.cucgachquan.com; renovated French colonial house; if you eat in former library, can look out over garden; traditional Vietnamese cuisine; excellent.
Deck – 38 Nguyen U Di (Thao Dien, District 2); 011-84-8-3744-6632; thedecksaigon.com; floating, stylish bistro-bungalow on Saigon River.
Lan Nuong Nam Bo – 285 Cach Mang Thang Tam Street (District 10); 011-84-8-3863-2309; Mekong-Delta-style barbecue.
Lemongrass – 4 Nguyen Thiep Street; 011-84-8-3823-2036; atmosphere is candlelit and intimate, very Vietnamese; cane furniture and 3 separate tile floors of subdued dining; nice place to duck out of midday sun; set lunches are affordable and light option, long menu emphasizing seafood and seasonal specials; try deep-fried prawn in coconut batter and crab sautéed in salt and pepper sauce.
Mandarin – 11a Ngo Van Nam; 011-84-8-822-9783; on side street between Le Than Thon and river; elegant, quiet oasis; upscale Chinese décor motif with timber beams, fine Chinese screen paintings, and artwork on 2 open-plan floors; casual clothes ok; ask about daily specials and set menus; try duck “Mandarin,” Nha Trang crabs, or steamed lobster in garlic.
Minh Duc – 100 Ton That Tung Street (District 1); 011-84-8-3839-2240; tiemcomminhduc.com; kitchen across street from dining room so waiters have to scurry back and forth; try caramelized pork belly or braised catfish.
Nam Phan – 64 Le Thanh Ton Street; 011-84-8-829-2757; chic colonial villa with dining rooms filled with orchids, old scrolls, and lovely ceramics; ravishing food.
Pho Dau – 288/M1 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia; 011-84-8-846-5866; among city’s best and cleanest pho shops.
Quan An Ngon – 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia; 011-84-8-3825-7179; open-air restaurant run by all of city’s best chefs; try bun cha (vermicelli with minced pork balls and herbs).
Square One – 2 Lam Son Square (District 1, at Park Hyatt Saigon); 011-84-8-3824-1234; hyatt.com; excellent pho.
Temple Club – 29-31 Ton That Thiep Street; 011-84-8-3829-9244; elegant restaurant in former Chinese temple; colonial feel with distinctly classic Vietnamese menu.



SERVICES
L’Apothiquaire Artisan Beaute – 61-63 Le Thanh Ton Street; 011-84-8-3822-1218; lapothiquaire.com; day spa.
Exotissimo Travel – 64 Dong Du, Dist 1 (Ho Chi Minh City); 011-84-8-3827-2911; exotissimo.com.
Heritage Line Jahan – 10 68th Street (Tran Trong Cung, Tan Thuan Dong Ward, District 7); 011-84-8-3773-8555; heritage-line.com/en; for 3-day Mekong River cruise; 230' 26-cabin ship; British colonial décor (intricate hand-stenciling on walls, comfortable and well-equipped, air-conditioned cabins, private balconies with white, wrought-iron rails).



SHOPPING
Indochine House – 27 Dong Du; 011-84-8-822-7318; high quality antique and modern ceramics and reproduction furniture.
Khaisilk – 107 Dong Khoi; 011-84-8-829-1146; khaisilkcorp.com; stunning cashmere and velvet scarves, as well as stylish jackets and shirts.
Precious Qui – 29a Dong Khoi; 011-84-8-825-6817; beautiful silk boxes you place over teapots to keep warm, silver-handled salad servers, etc.
Tricia & Verona – 39 Dong Du Street; 011-84-8-3824-4556; triciaandverona.com; boutique and tailor workshop run by 2 sisters with 24-hour turnaround.



SIGHTS & SITES
Ben Thanh Market – rambling market in city center.
Binh Tay Market – rambling market laid out like Arab souk.
Cholon – ancient Chinese quarter.
Dong Khoi Street – good shopping; handicrafts, silks, and tailors.
Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theater – intersection Le Loi and Dong Khoi Streets (District 1); magnificent building built at 20th Century’s turn; classical opera house planned to entertain French colonists; renovated in the 1940s, only to be badly damaged by bombers in 1944; shelter for refugees after Geneva Accord split country at 17th Parallel in 1954; briefly housed parliament before falling under 1st private, and ultimately state, hands (after reunification) as opera house and theater; extensive renovations in recent years; 3-story interior houses some 1,800 seats.
Quan Am Pagoda – 12 Lao Tu Street; built in 1818; courtyard has nooks dedicated to various gods and small pond with turtles.
Saigon Zoo & Botanical Garden – 2B Nguyen Binh Khiem Street; 011-84-8-3829-1425; saigonzoo.net; also home to temple and historical museum; gardens founded in 1864.

HANOI

BARS & NIGHTCLUBS
Bobby Chinn – 77 Xuan Dieu Road (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3934-8577; bobbychinn.com; excellent mixed drinks.
19C Ngoc Ha Street – Ba Dinh; bia hoi joint that caters to upper-class Vietnamese crowd; great place to get afternoon beer after waiting in line to see Ho Chi Minh in casket (mausoleum is literally just out back).
22 Hang Tre Street – Hoàn Kiếm (Old Quarter); bia hoi joint or 2, occupying both sides of street; just off main tourist drag, but totally off most tourists’ itineraries.



HOTELS
De Syloia Hotel – 17a Tran Hung Dao; 011-84-04-824-5346; desyloia.com; boutique in former villa with “gentle” prices.
Hilton Hanoi Opera – 1 Le Thanh Tong Street; 011-84-04-3933-0500; Hilton.com/Hanoi-Opera; ask for room 336, which overlooks Hanoi Operahouse.
Sofitel Metropole – 15 Ngo Quyen Street; 011-84-04-3826-6919; sofitel.com; fusion of French and Vietnamese styles; near Opera House.



RESTAURANTS
Angelina – 15 Ngo Quyen Street (at Sofitel Metropole); 011-84-04-3826-6919; sofitel.com; fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine.
Banh Cuon Thanh Van – 14 Hang Ga (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3828-0108; try banh cuon (steamed crepes); please note that ca cuong is made of “water beetle essence,” in liquid form tastes like green apples.
Bún Chả Hàng Mành – 1 Hang Manh (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3828-5022; tnhvietnam.xemzi.com/en/spot/129/bun-cha-hang-manh-old-quarter-hanoi; popular bún chả (bowl of rice vermicelli topped with grilled pork patties & broth) joint & great crab springrolls.
Le Beaulieu – 15 Ngo Quyen Street (at Sofitel Metropole); 011-84-04-3826-6919; sofitel.com; French; where locals go for brunch.
Cha Ca La Vong – 14 Pho Cha Ca (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3825-3929; be careful – many restaurants on this street have same name; make sure to go to “14”; 2nd floor should be overflowing with people; try cha ca (grilled fish) but be careful – can be very hot; also, restaurant is like sauna.
Chim Sao – 65 Ngo Hue (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3976-0633; chimsao.com; among city’s best restaurants; housed in 2-story building; chic and old-fashioned at same time; local artists’ work hangs on walls; sublime food.
Bobby Chinn – 77 Xuan Dieu Road (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3934-8577; bobbychinn.com; blends East & West (salads, fish & chocolate bombs); elegant setting.
La Cooperative – 46 An Duong; 011-84-04-3716-6401; hoptacxa.net; place favored by expatriots, foreigners, and locals; French-Vietnamese fusion; try foie gras, fig terrine, caramelized pork slow-cooked in ginger fish sauce.
Emperor – 18b Le Than Tong Street; 011-84-04-826-8801; eat by candlelight, beneath banana palms in courtyard; excellent grilled chicken and prawns served in “paste.”
Ly Quoc Su – 10 Ly Quoc Su (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3825-7338; tnhvietnam.xemzi.com/en/spot/2863/pho-ly-quoc-su-hanoi; only serves chicken soup.
Pho Huyen – 31 Chau Long (Ba Dinh); 011-84-49-1276-9129; noodle shop in French Quarter.
Quan An Ngon – 18 Phan Boi Chau; 011-84-04-3942-8162; excellent bun cha (grilled pork belly and meatballs with rice noodles) and ca kho to (braised fish cooked in caramel in clay pot).
Restaurant at Press Club – 59a Ly Thai To; 011-84-04-934-0888; world-class steaks, chops, and more; woody décor.
Seasons of Hanoi – 95b Quan Thanh; 011-84-04-843-5444; in pretty red and yellow room; superb food; deep-fried shrimp, beef in lemon-grass, and squid salad; try to sit at table on 1st floor.
Sen – #10, Lane 431 (Au Co Road); 011-84-04-719-9242; excellent bun cha (grilled pork belly and meatballs with rice noodles) and ca kho to (braised fish cooked in caramel in clay pot).
Spices Garden – 15 Ngo Quyen Street (at Sofitel Metropole); 011-84-04-3826-6919; sofitel.com; some of best pho in city.
La Verticale – 19 Ngo Van So Street; 011-84-04-3944-6317; vertical-hanoi.com; near French embassy; Vietnamese fare with modern twist; gift shop on premises.
Wild Lotus – 52 Nguyễn Du (Hoàn Kiếm, Old Quarter); 011-84-04-3943-9342; wildlotus.com.vn; .



SERVICES
Ha Long Bay Junk Boat Trip – 115 Le Duan Street, Thang Long Building, Suite 707; 011-84-04-3942-9442 or 011-84-04-3941-2243; halongviolet.com; traditional Asian sailboat outfitted with 6 ultra-luxe suites; visit Cua Van fishing village (floating); sleep over night outside ancient cave.
Hanoi Cooking Centre – 44 Chau Long Street (Ba Dinh); 011-84-04-3715-0088; hanoicookingcentre.com.



SHOPPING
La Casa – 12 Nha Tho Street; 011-84-04-828-91616; adorable, small home décor and souvenir shop.
Cho Chau Long Market – corner of Chau Long and Nguyen Streets (Ba Dinh); tented food wonderland.
May – 7 Nha Tho Street; 011-84-04-828-9650; embroidered cotton and linen.
Minh Tam – 2 Hang Bong; 011-84-04-828-9907; hand-made, traditional lacquerware of highest quality, combined with modern look; specialty is eggshells incorporated in about 20 layers and polished, resulting in smooth, unusual finish; stylish black and white products include huge plates and vases, masks, plus unusual turtle paperweights.
Red Door Deco – 15 Nha Tho Street; 011-84-04-824-5194; reddoordeco.com; home furnishings.
Tan My – 66 Hang Gai; 011-84-04-825-1579; beautiful embroidery and silk.



SIGHTS & SITES
Bia Hoi (“Beer”) Corner – Luong Ngoc Quyen & Ta Hien Streets; central gathering place for some of freshest, best tasting bia hoi.
Halong Bay – near Hanoi; stay night or 2 on Vietnamese junk; can rent kayaks and explore caves beneath limestone islands along shoreline.

VIETNAM

(does not include Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon))

General
Aqua Expeditions – 10 Jalan Kilang, #04-06 Sime Darby Enterprise; 866-603-3687; aquaexpeditions.com; luxury riverboat cruising in remote Mekong River areas between Cambodia & Vietnam.
Trails of Indochina – 10/8 Phan Dinh Giot Street (Ho Chi Minh City, Tan Binh District); 011-84-08-3844-1005; trailsofindochina.com.



CAO DAI
Sights & Sites
Cao Dai Temple – Tay Ninh (60 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City); “Great Temple” or “Holy See”; Cao Dai sect’s center; Cao Dai is syncretist Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, & Taoism; temple begun in 1933; noon ceremony always has largest audience, because most visitors are day trippers from Ho Chi Minh City.



CON DAO ISLAND
Hotels
Con Dao Seatravel – 6 Nguyen Duc Thuan Street; 011-84-064-363-0768; condaoseatravel.com; 1st beachfront bungalows on island; 12 rooms; $60 per night; “shiny” wooden furniture & “sliding glass doors.”
Saigon Con Dao Resort – 18-24 Ton Duc Thang Street; 011-84-064-363-0779; saigoncondao.com; kingsize beds & faux-marble bathrooms; ask for pool-view room.
Con Dao Six Senses – Bai Dat Doc; 011-84-064-383-1222; sixsenses.com/SixSensesConDao; 50 beachfront villas; private plunge pools; nearby restaurants, bakery, stores; spa.

Restaurants
Con Son Café – 2 Ton Duc Thang Street; 011-84-064-363-0670; great place for morning coffee.
Phuong Hanh – 38 Nguyen Hue Street; 011-84-064-383-0180; family-run restaurant that serves lemongrass beef & clay pot fish.
Try Ky – Nguyen Duc Thuan Street; 011-84-064-383-0294; wide range seafood; delicate steamed crab is exceptional.

Sights & Sites
Con Dao National Park – 29 Vo Thi Sau Street; 011-84-064-383-0669; condaopark.com.vn.



HA GIANG (Dong Van, Ha Giang & Sa Phin)
Hotels
Huy Hoan Hotel – 14 Phuong Nguyen Trai (Ha Giang); 011-84-021-9386-1288; clean & modern.
Pan Hou Village – Xa Thong Nguyen; 011-84-021-9383-3565; panhouvillage.com; charming, eco-resort with 30 rooms in stilt houses; beautifully designed with bar, restaurant & small spa; good base.
Rocky Plateau Hotel – Place du Marche (Dong Van); 011-84-021-154-8668; owned by Karst Plateau Travel tour-guide, Hoang Tuan Anh.

Restaurants
Café Pho Co. – Place du Marche (Dong Van); coffee & mango shakes; in century-old traders’ house.
Rocky Plateau Hotel – Place du Marche (Dong Van); 011-84-021-154-8668; excellent, local food.

Services
Exotissimo Travel – 64 Dong Du, Dist 1 (Ho Chi Minh City); 011-84-08-3827-2911; exotissimo.com.
Karst Plateau Travel – 011-84-091-545-8668; karstplateau@gmail.com; ask for Hoang Tuan Anh.

Sights & Sites
Vuong Chin Duc Palace – Sa Phin; operated as museum.



HOI AN (Danang)
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Bep Truong – 166 Trần Phú (1st Floor); 011-84-051-0391-0225; artbook.com.vn; coffee shop, restaurant & among biggest bookstores in Hoi An; 2nd floor in shop is space for coffee with comfortable seats (books can be brought from ground floor); if you like panoramic view over Old Town, sit at 2nd floor balcony or even top floor, tremendous overview.

Hotels
Anantara – 1 Phạm Hồng Thái (Sơn Phong); 011-84-051-0391-4555; hoi-an.anantara.com; large suites accompanied with daybeds & porches overlook river & lush gardens.
Essence Hotel & Spa – 132 Hùng Vương Street; 011-84-051-0391-5915; hoianessencehotel.com; overlooking rice paddies at town edge; relaxed hotel with Asian-inspired decor; casual rooms have free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs & minibars, as well as desks & armchairs; some offer floor-to-ceiling windows; upgraded quarters add balconies; suites provide sitting areas & laptops; free bike rentals, beach shuttles & breakfast buffet; open-air restaurant serving local & western dishes has adjoining sunken bar; spa, outdoor pool, cafe & exercise room, plus gardens.
Furama Resort Danang – 68 Ho Xuan Huong Street (China Beach); 011-84-051-1384-7333 or 011-84-051-1384-7888; furamavietnam.com.
Hotel Royal – 39 Street Ward (Đào Duy Từ, Cẩm Phô); 011-84-051-0395-0777; hotelroyalhoian.com; close to Japanese Covered Bridge & Old Town; grand, French-style presence; floral-lined pool & dusky pink umbrellas; riverside bar.
Nam Hai – Hamlet 1 Dien Duong Village (Dien Ban District); 011-84-051-094-0000; ghmhotels.com or namhai.com; 100 villas with stunning views of breakers rolling in from Tonkin Gulf; high design concept; centerpiece is sequence of 3 huge pools that step down to sea; 2 groups villas – (1) ocean villas; & (2) larger pool villas, each of which has own plunge pool; buffed gray stone floors & stained teak living platforms; magnificent public spaces; go March-April & September-October; book Villas 4050 or 4070 for good sea views & easy access to hotel facilities.
Red Bridge Inn – 4 Thon (Cam Thanh, Nhà Hàng Red Bridge); 011-84-051-0393-3222; visithoian.com/redbridge; rustic villa with garden & pool.

Restaurants
Ancient Faifo – 66 Nguyễn Thái Học (Old Town); 011-84-051-0391-7444; inhoian.com/ancient-faifo; in old merchant’s house; traditional favorites; perfect sticky pork.
Banh Mi Phuong – 2B Phan Châu Trinh; 011-84-090-574-3773; hoianfoodtour.com/banh-mi-hoi-an; best banh mi (Vietnamese baguettes) in town; Anthony Bourdain recommends; try pork deluxe (thin slices roast pork, ham & cha lua (meatloaf) served with homemade mayonnaise, etc.
Bep Truong – 166 Trần Phú (1st Floor); 011-84-051-0391-0225; artbook.com.vn; coffee shop, restaurant & among biggest bookstores in Hoi An; 2nd floor in shop is space for coffee with comfortable seats (books can be brought from ground floor); if you like panoramic view over Old Town, sit at 2nd floor balcony or even top floor, tremendous overview.
Central Market – Nguyen Hue & Tran Phu Streets (Trần Quý Cáp); vietnam-guide.com/hoi-an/central-market.htm; look for fresh, white rose dumplings, cao lau (pork, noodles & veg), banh xeo (savory rice-paper pancakes).
Hai Cafe – 98 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street (Old City, also at 111 Tran Phu Street); 011-84-051-0386-3210; visithoian.com/haicafe; bar & grill.
Light Candle – 43 Ba Trieu Street; among most popular expat restaurants; only open for breakfast & lunch.
Mango Mango – 45 Nguyễn Phúc Chu; 011-84-051-0391-1863; themangomango.com.
Nhu Y (Mermaid) – 2 Tran Phu Street; 011-84-051-086-1527; restaurant-hoian.com; quiet spot in downtown’s heart; ivy-draped, unassuming storefront that serves some of best authentic Vietnamese food in town (for next to nothing); can take cooking class in large adjoining kitchen open to street; try tuna filet cooked in banana leaf with turmeric; most unique dish, called white eggplant, is eggplant covered in spring onion, garlic & chili & then pressed, sliced & served in light oil.
Red Bridge Restaurant – 4 Thon (Cam Thanh, Nhà Hàng Red Bridge); 011-84-051-0393-3222; visithoian.com/redbridge.
White Lantern – 810 Nhi Trung Street; 011-84-051-086-3023; popular tour group stop, so try to get there early (or late); everyone’s here for good reason, though: delicious, affordable Vietnamese cuisine & mellow atmosphere; delicate won-ton soup, spring rolls & chicken in light curry.

Services
Red Bridge Cooking School – 4 Thon (Cam Thanh, Nhà Hàng Red Bridge); 011-84-051-0393-3222; visithoian.com/redbridge; 1 classic half-day tour & 1 deluxe day tour everyday; night class at sister restaurant Hai Cafe.

Shopping
Bep Truong – 166 Trần Phú (1st Floor); 011-84-051-0391-0225; artbook.com.vn; coffee shop, restaurant & among biggest bookstores in Hoi An; 2nd floor in shop is space for coffee with comfortable seats (books can be brought from ground floor); if you like panoramic view over Old Town, sit at 2nd floor balcony or even top floor, tremendous overview.
Central Market – Nguyen Hue & Tran Phu Streets (Trần Quý Cáp); vietnam-guide.com/hoi-an/central-market.htm; look for fresh, white rose dumplings.
Yaly Couture – 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc; 011-84-051-091-0474; yalycouture.com; bespoke tailors catering to men & women; dresses, shirts & suits (more in modern, traditional styles); known for detailed bead work & embroidery; most expensive in town but can be worth it.

Sights & Sites
Old Town – whc.unesco.org/en/list/948; UNESCO World Heritage Site; more than 800 historical buildings preserved, so much of Old Town looks as it did several centuries ago; 18 open to visitors (require Old Town ticket for admission); fee goes towards funding conservation work.



HUE
Hotels
Huong Giang Hotel – 51 Le Loi Street; 011-84-054-382-2122; huonggianghotel.com.vn; spell-binding river views but slightly odd décor (plastic flowers on bathroom ceilings).
La Residence Hotel & Spa – 5 Le Loi Street; 011-84-054-383-7475; la-residence-hue.com; perched on Perfume River’s banks, just upstream from Hue’s famous citadel; former French colonial governor’s mansion; 2 modern wings; large pool overlooks river; avoid November-January; book double with river view.

Sights & Sites
Thien Mu Pagoda – Ha Khe Hill (Perfume River’s northern bank); built in 1601 between river & pine forest, “Heavenly Lady Pagoda” among country’s oldest & prettiest religious; among many interesting artifacts housed at complex is car that took monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation on June 11, 1963 Saigon; construction began in 1601 under Lord Nguyen Hoang; renovated by Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan in 1665; Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu contributed great bell in 1710 & stele erected on marble tortoise’s back in 1715; Phuoc Dien Tower in front added in 1864 by Emperor Thieu Tri; pagoda heavily damaged in 1943, fully renovated for over 30 years thereafter; its 7 successive tiers dedicated to steps to enlightenment; near entrance gate are 12 huge wooden fearsome temple guardian features with real facial hair; monks are usually involved in their daily routines (cooking, stacking wood & whacking weeds); novices practice calligraphy.



NHA TRANG
Bars & Nightclubs
Louisiane Brewhouse – Tran Phu Street (Lot 29); 011-84-058-352-1948 or 011-84-058-352-1831; louisianebrewhouse.com.vn; nestled beneath undamaged palm trees on main drag’s southern sweep; arm’s length from sand; classic Northern European styles transformed by Southeast Asia’s tropical flavors; try Crystal Ale draft, top-fermented beer made with passion fruit & local rambutan (tropical fruit similar to litchi) that tastes faintly of honey; also try Passion Fruit Witbier draft, slight twist on Belgian classic with witbier base made with mixture imported & local wheat grains, flavoring base consisting of local coriander & orange & imported hops.



NINH VAN BAY
Hotels
Six Senses at Ana Mandara – Ninh Van bay, Ninh Hoa, Khanh Hoa, Nha Trang; 011-84-058-829-829; sixsenses.com; on verdant hills that seem to tumble down to sea, 54 thatched-roof villas face Ninh Van Bay’s natural rock formations, which stand like sentries in distance; competing with view’s serenity is 6 Senses Spa, where holistic remedies & tai chi classes performed beside rhythmic sea; escape to Dam Tre Island’s secluded beach, 30 minutes away by speedboat, for day trip.



PHU QUOC ISLAND
Beaches
Sao Beach – white sand beach, considered island’s prettiest.
Hotels
La Veranda Resort – Tran Hung Dao Street (Ward 1, Duong Dong Beach); 011-84-077-3398-2988; laverandaresort.com; on largest island off country’s southwest coast; custard-yellow bungalows cluster around cobalt blue-tiled pool; surrounded by frangipani & hibiscus; full service beach; small spa; January-February ideal for beachcombing; ocean view villas best, like #301.

Restaurants
Morning Glory – 106 Nguyễn Thái Học; 011-84-051-0224-1555; msvy-tastevietnam.com/morning-glory; top option for salads & pork noodles; also try spicy chicken.
Night Market – D Vo Thi Sau, Duong Dong; open nightly from 6 pm to midnight; dozens drink & food stalls; English menus.

Shopping
Night Market – D Vo Thi Sau, Duong Dong (near ferry landing); open nightly from 6 pm to midnight; dozens drink & food stalls.
Phu Quoc Pearls – Long Beach; 011-84-077-398-0585; treasuresfromthedeep.com.
Sights & Sites
Coconut Tree Prison (Nha Lao Cay Dua Prison)‎ – Bai Sao; discoverphuquoc.com/landmarks.html; used by US as detention center for North Vietnamese prisoners during Vietnam War.
Phu Quoc National Park – northeast area; discoverphuquoc.com/nationalparks.html; beaches & forests covering nearly 70% of this small island.
Tranh Stream Waterfall – Duong Dong; pretty place to swim & shelter from heat.



QUANG BINH
Sights & Sites
Hang Son Doong Cave – Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park (Bố Trạch District); sondoongcave.org; biggest known cave in world; located near Laos–Vietnam border; inside is fast-flowing, large underground river.