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We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts in ‘Food, Pubs & Nightlife’

Xel-Ha – No Ordinary Water Theme Park

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Xel-Ha is one of those brilliant accidents – where nature’s handiwork meets man’s creativity.  It is located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast and 75 miles (122km) south of gorgeous Cancun.  The drive to Xel-Ha is just an hour and a half down the coast from Cancun.  It is a wonderful, breath-taking scenic trip.

Named after the nearby Mayan archaeological site, the Xel-Ha theme park opened in 1984.  Since then, the popularity of its facilities and attractions has never flagged drawing people from all over the world.

The Xel-Ha park area is created by the ox-bow curve of the coast and peppered with numerous tiny islands.  The area is pockmarked with numerous caves and grottoes.  The incredibly blue waters are populated by innumerable varieties of fantastically coloured tropical fish and underwater plants.  The waters are a mix of fresh underwater springs and the ocean’s salty variety adding to its amazing allure.  It is without doubt the world’s largest and most beautiful natural aquarium.

The sea-side of the park is protected by a shark fence making it safe for snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.  The top attraction in Xelh-Ha is the opportunity to swim and interact with the super-friendly dolphins. You can hug these endearing creatures, which are not averse to giving you kisses or a speed thrill by pushing you over the water on their snouts.

There are other thrills to be enjoyed at Xel-Ha.  For the daring there is the Trepachanga, a river crossing activity where you hang on tightly to one rope while trying to keep your balance on another.  Then there is the zip-bike ride that has you soaring over the jungle giving you a bird’s eye view while making your heart race.  Test your grit at the Stone of Courage as you jump off a rock into the crystal clear waters below.

The fun and adventure is topped off with a trip to the buffet tables for a mouth-watering breakfast and lunch.  The choices are huge – international cuisine, sea foods and Mexican foods.

Spending the day at Xel-Ha is an experience that will beat most others hands down.

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Nightlife in Tenerife

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Tenerife is one of the most southern islands in Europe. It still retains verdant forests containing interesting and colourful vegetation. It also has deserts, mountains, volcanoes and incredibly beautiful beaches. The backdrop to this scenic paradise is Mount Teide, the third largest volcano in the world.

The island has plenty of activities and attractions for the visitor. It also has a varied and exciting nightlife with options ranging from famous cafés, bars, raucous nightclubs, exhilarating discos, cabarets, live entertainment and children friendly venues. Most of the after-dark action happens around the Playa de Las Americas on the southern side of Tenerife.

In a place dedicated to giving the tourist a good time, two shows are standout – the Medieval Games at the Castle San Miguel and the Carmen Mota Show.

Castle San Miguel is a survivor from medieval times. The towers themselves stand to the rear at 16+ meters tall, above carefully maintained gardens and landscaped grounds. The entrance itself is enough to get your jousting juices flowing, for it is artfully adorned with authentic armour, swords, strongboxes and scrolls. Being greeted by knights at the door and escorted to your table by only heightens the expectations.

The entertainment is a throwback to a romantic period when men jousted, battled and fought for glory and honoured at the hand of a fair maiden. The costumes are superb and the scenery and choreographed drama will have you all worked up as you cheer for your hero.

The evening also includes colourful equestrian performances and a number of games. The after dinner entertainment includes an orchestra performance, comedy numbers and acrobatics.

The dinner is a treat too. You will be served a medieval style banquet meal in the vast tournament hall. Your chicken is cooked whole and you eat it with your hands – no cutlery – to maintain that medieval aura.

The other wonderful entertainment option, the Carmen Mota Show, takes place at theMare Nostrum Resort in the south of Tenerife. This show is a spectacular and exuberant performance by a group of phenomenal flamenco dancers. This is something you will not see anywhere else.

The latest choreographed show from the company is called “Evolución”. It is the evocative story of flamenco and the many influences that are embedded in the most vigorous of dance forms. The high-tempo music, choreography, costumes will simply sweep you away in its passion and colour.

The two-hour show has been running for 16 years and the quality, exoticness and presentation is pure flamenco that has not changed over time.

November is especially a great time to visit Tenerife. The temperature is wonderful, hovering around the mid-twenties Celsius. Go and book your trip now!

 

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Oktoberfest 2014, Munich

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It began, bang on time, at 12:00 noon.  Munich’s mayor Herr Dieter Reiter used a wooden hammer to pound a tap into the first Oktoberfest beer barrel at Schottenhamel Beer Tent.  It was the opening act of the Oktoberfest 2014 at Theresienwiese on September 20, 2014 in Munich, Germany.  It was the 181st such occasion of one of the world’s most famous and largest fairs.

The show then kicked off in earnest with a large and colourful parade put on by the tent operators and breweries. Their horse-drawn wagons loaded with huge beer barrels decked with flowers rolled sedately by.  The parade was led by the traditional Münchner Kindl (Munich child) mascot.

Oktoberfest1
Six days into the festivities and about 6 million visitors are expected to attend by the time it ends on Sunday 5th October.  It is also estimated that 6 million litres of beer will go down their thirsty throats.  Somehow that doesn’t seem excessive when you consider the numbers and the drink or bust attitude of attendees.  Folks ‘sleeping it off’ in parks and gardens is one of the more common sights, in the mornings, during Oktoberfest.

Not wanting to give a false picture that Oktoberfest is all about drinking and falling over, there is plenty of other interesting stuff going on all the time.  There is a parade of some kind nearly every day, dancing (traditional and a la carte), music and lots of costumes.  On the fourth day there was the usual special lunch for senior citizens.  The next day there was the solemn yet moving religious Oktoberfest mass.

The men donned their Bavarian best, with hats, braces, Wadlstruempfe stockings and lederhosen and participated in the Parade of Costumes and Riflemen on the second day of the fest.  The ladies on the other hand showed up in traditional Dirndi garb at the funfair tent “Festzeit Tradition.”  They hitched up their pretty bright red skirts and vigorously twirled and kicked their heels on the stage to lively music.

Beer oktoberfest
Comes the evening and night you would be forgiven for thinking that Munich was one overgrown fun fair and theme park.  As dusk gathers, the whole place is lit up by thousands of coloured lights from the beer tents also the blinking and flickering ones from various rides and roller coasters.  It is almost fairytale and Disneyland-ish and looks very pretty.

All this festivity and gathering of people from across the globe was actually sparked off in 1810.  What happens every October began as a wedding celebration for Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese from Saxony-Hildburghausen (hence the name of the Theresienwiese).  The commemoration soon morphed into the Munich Beerfest lasting for 16 days up to the first Sunday in October.

If you are fortunate enough to have got hold of accommodation during the fest and looking to plunge into the action here is what to expect in the coming days.

Sunday      28/9/2014    Traditional concert of brass bands
Tuesday    30/9/2014    Family Day:  All rides and performances are cheaper
Sunday      05/9/2014    12 noon: Traditional gun salute at the Bavaria monument

Timings:
Beer Serving Hours
Opening day 12.00 noon – 10.30 pm
Weekdays 10.00 am – 10.30 pm
Saturday, Sunday & holiday 09.00 am – 10.30 pm

Stall Opening Hours
Opening day 10.00 noon – midnight
Monday – Thursday 10 am – 11.30 pm
Friday 10.00 am – 12.00 midnight
Saturday 9 am – midnight
Sunday 9 am – 11.30 pm

More activities to check out while you are in Munich for the Oktoberfest-

Neuschwanstein Castle

A trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle
A visit to the Oktoberfest Museum
Road trip to Harburg and Rothenburg

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Five Fantastic Food Destinations

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At isango! we believe there are two essential yardsticks to measure your experiences when travelling.  One is seeing the sights and the other is sampling the food.  Here we give you a taste of what foods to look out for at five popular destinations.

Flavours of New York City
New York City has been and continues to be the gateway for people coming to the United States.  So you will find every ethnic and world cuisine available.  New York also prides itself on inventing many dishes and foods.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan clam chowder

Taking a foodie tour of NYC is a delight for the taste buds.  Hot dogs and New York style pizzas in the East Village; a Manhattan clam chowder; Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches; savoury French quiche, and Mexican yucca are just some delights in store for you.  You could also try out a knish appetiser or some Greek spinach pie to go with a succulent lamb souvlaki.   Then there is a sinful choice of chocolates to top off your meal.

Lyon, Gastronomy and Beaujolais
Lyon’s ancient fame lay in its silk weaving industry.  That has however changed.  Over the centuries it has become known as the capital of French gastronomy and its renowned cuisine.  The city and municipality has a deliciously bewildering array of traditional Lyonnais restaurants, called bouchons, serving local dishes such as salade Lyonnais; marrons glacés; coussin de Lyon, sausages, duck pâte and roast pork, and local wines.

Marrons Glacés

Marrons Glaces

The Lyon bakeries, fromageries patisseries and chocolatiers continue to make their wines, breads, cheeses and chocolates the way have for centuries.  In addition to its gastronomic delights, the Lyon area is at the heart of Beaujolais wine region.

Tapas In Barcelona
Barcelona offers a variety of pleasures but none as staggering as tapas!  Choosing or even listing them is a near impossible task.  Salmon sashimi with cream cheese; honey and soy, or cod; passata and black olive pâté; fried fish and seafood, patatas bravas; Galician octopus and ensaladilla rusa; croquetas made with ham, fish, chicken or spinach are just some choices.

Tapas

Tapas Barcelona

Whether you are strolling down La Rambla or feasting your eyes on the fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese or meats of La Boqueria (Barcelona’s food market), you will never be far from a tapas bar.  So feel free to wade into one of them and pick out your choice.  Don’t forget to wash it down with some cava, wine or draught beer.

Bangkok & Food
The two are synonymous and no one needs coaxing to dig in to a plate of Pad Thai (or phat Thai).  Take a walk down any street in Bangkok and you will be constantly reminded of food.  The innumerable fragrances waft out at you from myriad street stalls and restaurants.

Yong Tau Foo

yong tau foo

Thai street food is the safest and tastiest in the world and probably the most reasonably priced too.  Whether it be juicy pieces of grilled pork on a stick or a fiery bowl of ‘Tom Yum’ soup or Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup) or good yong tau foo and pork stew with green chilli dip, you will find it really difficult to pass it up or stop eating.  Thai food is among the most appetising and popular cuisines in the world and it is an exciting experience to take a cooking class and learn how to make some!

When In Rome – Eat
That’s right!  Food in Rome is just as fascinating as the Colosseum, the churches and the Vatican museums.  Roman cuisine is some of the most delicious in Italy.  It is based on seasonal ingredients, plenty of fresh vegetables, meat and cheeses.  All put together in a simple way.  Lamb roasted with herbs and spices is a very important part of the cuisine so is pizza, of course.  In Rome they have three different ways of making pizza but a Roman characteristic is that it is thin with no lip to the crust.

Pizza

rome pizza

The Testaccio is the best place to find the original and traditional Roman food.  Another great place is the Rione Monti area, a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum, where you will find a range of authentic Italian delicacies in local family run shops and pizzerias.

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Paris Cabaret Guide

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Paris has always known how to put on a show and have fun especially at night.  The city is one giant seething mass of bars, cafés, lounges, esoteric drinking cellars, factories-turned-rave-dance-halls, barges converted to snooty restaurants and fancy cocktail bars.  Just about everywhere there are drinking places, clubs and bistros that attract with the pounding beats of electro, retro rock, reggae, jazz, you name it.

‘Life’ Liza Minelli once warbled, ‘is a cabaret, old chum.  Come to the cabaret!’  That urge to taste its pleasures still rings out loud and shines bright in gay Paree.  Paris, always a ‘good time city’, was one of the first in the world to put up street lighting, which only served to extend those good time hours.  The sheer numbers, variety and quality of entertainment choices can, at times, be overwhelming.

But nothing says Paris like cabaret!

Moulin Rouge
Moulin Rouge is probably the most famous cabaret nightclub in the whole wide world and the spiritual birthplace of the can-can.  Its cabaret featuring ladies dressed in feathers, sequins and not much else draws people from all over the world like moths to its bright gaudy iconic red windmill entrance.  The very name and the images it conjures up gets the heart racing.

Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge is about 125 years old; the can-can and cabaret has evolved but the sheer seductiveness of the place has just kept growing. The decor still harks back to those carefree hedonistic days captured by Tolouse-Lautrec’s fabulous posters. The thought of watching a show with a glass of champagne in hand at the Moulin Rouge is inspiration enough to pack one’s bags for Paris.

Lido Cabaret
There is nothing modest about the Lido.  From its grand facade, its opulent interiors, a panoramic theatre style that seats over a thousand people, its six floor height to its Champs-Elysées address – it shouts out flamboyance.  It is over-the-top in a spectacular and glamorous way.

Revue Lido

The Lido puts on amazing shows because it has the space to install lavish sets including a skating rink, water curtain and a swimming pool.  The Lido specializes in jaw-dropping effects and absolutely gorgeous and talented performers.  The current show, Bonheur is a stunning and exotic example of what they are capable of.  It involves 70 performers, 23 sets and 600 costumes with lots of sparkles, feathers and beautiful bodies.  You will not lack for visual stimulation.  Oh yes, the food is superb too.

Paradis Latin Show
The Paradis Latin claims to be the oldest cabaret venue in Paris having been around since 1802.  What is certainly indisputable is that they put on really risqué shows.  Located in the legendary Latin Quarter in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, the Paradis Latin has glamour by the bucket-load highlighted by classy decor that is reminiscent of late nineteenth, early twentieth century Paris.

Paradis Latin Hero

Looks aside, the Paradis Latin puts on sensual shows with unrestrained energy and spectacular settings.  The choreography is breathtaking and involves ballet, tap dancing and even circus-type acts.  They rope in some of the best known talents from around the world who are capable of making you forget the glass of wine in your hand.  At the Paradis, you will never sit back and relax.  It’s all edge of the seat ‘naughty’ entertainment.

Crazy Horse Show
Avant garde, sensual, risqué!  Those are just some of the terms you could use to describe the performances at the Crazy Horse.  It is fairly young (in terms of age) among Paris’ cabaret venues with all the brashness and vitality of youth.  The Crazy Horse puts on a wide variety of turns including musical, magic, juggling and mime but its worldwide reputation is based on its “aesthetic celebration of the female form as an expression of art.”  It is one of world’s most famous burlesque theatres focusing its creative energies to celebrating the female body.  The current revue is a new show called Désirs.

spectacle désirs

A converted wine cellar, The Crazy Horse resides in an imposing building on Avenue George V.  The interior is relatively small in scale with tables, comfortable armchairs and mood lighting providing a cozy atmosphere.  The whole effect and design is to make the experience intimate for the audience and get them close up to the stage and performers.

Mugler Follies
To the Mugler Follies goes the title of the ‘baby of Paris cabarets.’  The brainchild of Theirry Manfred Mugler, the cabaret at this venue is both innovative and enchanting.  Mugler brings all his experience, as an haute couture designer and his work with the Cirque de Soleil, to the revue.

©MTML-Manfred T. Mugler (1)

He has taken over the Comedia, a 1930s theatre and imbued it with his rather unique vision.  He has put together a show that is ultra-modern, giving a fresh spin to the classic French cabaret.  The shows are total entertainment, combining glamorous characters, sophisticated erotic scenes, whimsical dances, fantastic lighting and other eye-popping effects.  They can also be beautiful and shocking at the same time.  The Mugler Follies has acrobats, singers, dancers and choreography combining original scripts, music and songs.

Mugler Follies is Paris’s newest and most mind-expanding while also being the best value Cabaret show!

Remember though when you start out on your aventures nocturnes Parisiens, that attire is very important.  A tie and jacket is not compulsory.  However, short-pants, jeans, sport shoes and sportswear are prohibited.

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Fun things-to-do in Ibiza

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When the Phoenicians came to Ibiza around 654 BC, they sensed something of the island’s nature and named it Ibossim and dedicated it to their god of music and dance, Bes.  Since the middle of the 20th century it has lived up to its ancient name.

Young people, in their thousands, come from all over the world to gyrate and groove to the insistent pounding of electronic music genres like trance, rave, techno and house.  Ibiza’s fame as the party capital of the world is confirmed by night clubs that can take in over 12,000 dancing guests and 40 DJs.  Starting at midday these parties go on all night.

Ibiza

Flashing strobe lights aside, Ibiza town and the surrounding area is absolutely gorgeous.  You can either rent a cycle or a scooter to discover this amazing island at your own pace and off the beaten track.  Several portions of Ibiza including the Old Town are UNESCO World Heritage listed sites.  Some of these sites include the Phoenician settlement at Sa Caleta and the Ses Feixes Wetlands.  A stroll through the Old Town reveals why it was chosen.

Despite the numerous fabulous beaches on Ibiza, the Aguamar Water Park is one of the island’s most popular attractions.  A family destination, the Water Park offers a number of pools and bars and an excellent cafeteria.

On the historic side there is quite a bit to see in Ibiza.  For instance there is the 14th century Ibiza Cathedral, an excellent study in Gothic architecture.  Inside, the walls are covered with some fine religious art.  You can visit the well-preserved Phoenician tombs in an ancient burial ground.  The hypogeal (burial caves) contain over 3,000 tombs and are remarkable as they have been cut deep into the hillside.   There is also an on-site museum that contains amulets and other artwork that were found in the tombs.

Just 6 kilometres to the south lies Ibiza’s quiet island cousin, Formentera.  This is a really flat island and the sea can be seen from anywhere on it.  It is world famous for its pristine white beaches.  While most people come for the beaches, its crystal clear blue waters are ideal for snorkelling and sailing.  Cycling is a popular way to get around its 19 kilometre length.

formentera ibiza

Formentera also has a few pre-historic Stone Age sites and an ancient Roman road.  It is also famed for its beach restaurants that serve seafood platters, grilled fish and paella, which are among the best in the islands.

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Nightlife in Istanbul

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Bosphorus IstanbulNightlife in Istanbul is exciting and varied with a plentiful choice for all tastes.  The city straddles the Bosphorus connecting two continents.  The diversity and contrasts of its night time activities and the entertainment available reflects this geographical spread.

Istanbul has establishments that offer both western and oriental entertainment and both are hugely popular.  It is not uncommon to see lines of people stretching from the doorways of venues and going around the block – all just trying to get in.  Many of these venues are world famous and frequently attract celebrities from around the globe.

One of the factors that make night time entertainment great in Istanbul is accessibility.  This is a very large city and getting around (and across the Bosphorus Straits) can be just that bit challenging – especially at night.  However, there are many venues, which are spread out across several entertainment centres around the city.

For instance there is the Kadiköy district, on the Asian side with many pubs, restaurants and clubs on Iskele and Kadife Streets.  The European side has several well known districts such as ?i?li, Be?ikta?, Ulus, Taksim and Beyo?lu that are packed with pubs, bars, restaurants and venues featuring live music.

Most of the places combine eating, drinking, dance floors and live shows.  However, you need to check first because many night clubs offer only dancing and a bar but no food.  Another thing you should be prepared for is the dress code.  A surprising number and variety of places will insist on a jacket and leather shoes – no jeans, sneakers or flip-flops please!

However you wish to spend your evening, one thing is sure – the venue you choose will have plenty of “attitude” and atmosphere.  You will find every style of interior design from plastic, post-modern, harem-like and traditional English pubs to elegant neo-baroque.  All try to hype up the picturesque view(s) of the Bosphorus or their location on its banks.  Then there are the very popular river cruises on the Bosphorus that also feature live entertainment.

Finding your cuisine for the night will never be a problem.  Seafood, Cretan, Middle Eastern, Turkish kebabs, pasta or classic French and Italian eating places are abundant.

Istanbul night spots have trendy “in” places that serve only cocktails, which are frequented by rising banker types.  Music of all genres can be heard blasting out of entrance doors.  Take your pick – jazz, reggae, world music, electronic, Latin, Turkish, Arabic, indie, rock (Turkish and Western), funk, soul or pop.  Many have world famous DJs and live bands performing regularly.

Of course – as a visitor you cannot miss out on the belly dancers.  And Istanbul has plenty of bars, restaurants and dance places that feature belly dancing as a part of the fare.  The Turkish style of belly dancing is very lively, vigorous and often gymnastic.  Its energy differs from its more contained and conservative Egyptian cousin.  Most belly dancers in Turkey are of Romani ancestry and that has had a strong influence on the Turkish style.

A very popular part of Istanbul’s night scene is the bright, brassy, outrageously gay and transsexual scene.  Be prepared to be shocked and dazzled.  

It is no exaggeration to say that Istanbul’s nightlife rivals any other city in Europe or in the world for that matter.  There is no shortage of the glitzy or shady.  You are bound to find something to satiate your taste for new experiences.

Have Fun!!!

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Al fresco Tapas Bars In Lanzarote

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TapasBefore we start out lets understand what Tapas is.  Tapas are a wide variety of mouth-watering appetizers or snacks of the Spanish cuisine.  It is not the Sanskrit word for deep meditation, though after a tummy-full of Tapas you might want to drift off into a very satisfied mental state.

Tapas can be cold or hot and of many different kinds.  From the humble snack it has become sophisticated.  In most instances, it is a whole meal in itself with diners combining several tapas dishes.  It evolved from light snacks you nibbled on while you sipped your sherry, chatted and waited for the main meal to arrive – to the main course.  Having tapas has grown into a ritual in Spain – a favourite one too.

Way back in time tapas would be a piece of meat (usually salty) like Jamón (cured ham) that would be nibbled on while sipping drinks.  Bars and restaurants then became creative in their snack-making and started incorporating ingredients from around the world.  The Romans brought the olive; whole almonds, citrus fruits and spices came from North Africa and the Americas delivered tomatoes, peppers, corn and potatoes.  All these edible incursions have turned the tapas into gourmet must-do.  

Its evolution continues with the regular use of garlic, chillies, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron, other seasonings and olive oil.  The fillings often include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, squid or a huge variety of produce from the sea.  These are all mixed in an infinite variety of combinations and accompanied by tomato-based sauces, with a number of types of bread including Boccadillo, the Spanish version of the baguette.  It is quite usual for bars and restaurants to have over a dozen kinds of tapas sitting in warming trays to temp and cajole you into ordering them.

Now that you have a much better understanding of what makes tapas, let’s move to its consumption and the culture surrounding it, especially on the island of Lanzarote.

Al fresco dining started out (more or less) in cooler climates where a sunny day was a good reason to sit out in the garden or and have a meal.  Al fresco is Italian meaning “outside” or “in the fresh air.”

The gorgeous warm and sunny Canaries weather of Lanzarote means that it is almost de rigueur for bars and local restaurants to have sit-out arrangements where dining is casual and encourages a party-like scene.  All the villages in Lanzarote have numerous al fresco and so do the beaches.  The bars in the larger towns place tables out on the sidewalks and pavements.

Enjoying a leisurely tapas meal at these bars is usually enhanced by fantastic blue skies, pink and orange sunsets and the magical scenery of the island.  Your happy taste-buds and the location that made them so, ensure you will remember the experience(s) for years to come.

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Brussels Nightlife Guide

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Brussels Nightlife Guide

brussels

Having lived in Brussels for 9 months and frequenting pubs and bars nearly every weekend (sometimes two nights in a row) I like to think myself a connoisseur of Brussels after dark. Some of the best places for a drink can be found conveniently located around the city centre and for some you might have go the extra mile, but it will be worth it. Whether you’re in the hunt for the best margarita or just a place to dance until your legs feel like jello, Brussels will deliver.

Le Corbeau

Good for: Dancing on tables

If you go to one place in Brussels, go to Le Corbeau. Get there before 10pm and you will see people casually enjoying their dinner with a few drinks in a charming old-Brussels setting. Stick around and you will be surprised. At approximately 11pm the bartender goes around removing lamps from tables, the volume goes up and suddenly you will see someone scrambling onto the table they just had their dinner on – soon the whole place is up on tables, grooving to the music and you have no choice but to try it yourself. I’ve never had a bad night here even though the fight for the best table spot can sometimes get a bit heated. Wearing heels is not recommended, you will need all the balance you have!

http://www.lecorbeau.be/

Mappa Mundo

Good for: Pre-drinks

Mappa Mundo is one of the many gems of the Saint Gery area. In the summer the cobbled St. Gery streets are filled with the sound of chatter and clinking glass as tables are spread outside and the bars open their windows wide to let some of the cool air in. Mappa Mundo has a wonderfully cosy, warm atmosphere. The lights are dim, the seats and setting comfortable and the music varied. Here you can have a quiet drink and catch up with friends or gear up for a night out in the livelier bars of the area.

http://www.mappamundo.com/?lang=en

Havana

Good for: Cocktails

This Cuban place is superb for cocktails; here is where I fell in love with margaritas. They make them super tangy and sweet, and during happy hour you get 2 for 1! If you’re into Latin music you can easily spend the whole night dancing here, but you can also catch the last bus into central Brussels at around 11pm if you’re looking to explore the city more.

http://www.havana-brussels.com/home_r.html

Delirium

Good for: Beer

This place is incredible. Even if you're not into beer you have to appreciate the fact that when you ask for the drinks menu, you will receive a book as heavy as The Lord of the Rings. As you leaf through the pages you will realise that the best option is to just close your eyes and poke your finger at the menu at random to choose your beer. They come in all tastes here, in over 2400 varieties from smoky to deliciously fruity. If you're finding the surplus of choice overbearing just ask the bar staff to recommend you something: they will give you a taste first before filling up the glass.

http://deliriumcafe.be/

Bonnefooi

Good for: Late, late hours

After all other bars in central Brussels close, there is always Bonnefooi. A favourite among nighthawks, this is where the party's at – even at 7 in the morning. The place gets a bit grubby in the early hours of the morning, but if you're hell-bent on not retiring to bed, Bonnefooi is there for you. Seen as it will probably be about 5 or 6 in the morning once you get here, have your wits about you and keep an eye on your belongings. I once had my bag stolen here right under my nose within the space of 5 minutes even after having carefully hidden it under a pile of jackets and keeping vigil right next to it.

http://bonnefooi.be/index.php/

Celtica

Good for: Cheap drinks

If you’re out to find that laid-back Irish pub feel and your main goal of the evening is to get sufficiently intoxicated, Celtica is your place. The drinks are cheap and the dancefloor upstairs crowded and pumping out the latest tunes to grind to. The place will become packed so be prepared to stand around with your drink. Certain nights kick off with live music, and you will most definitely hear a drunken singalong rendition of Wonderwall. Celtica is nothing fancy but it does the trick with the added bonus that the doors stay open til very late.

http://www.celticpubs.com/celtica/celticabxl.html

Fuse

Good for: Clubbing

One of the (very) few clubs in Brussels, this is where you can come all dolled up to bust a move.

The set-up is spacious and the music loud, providing all the essentials of a club night. The place lacks the great atmosphere you will find in smaller Brussels bars, but if clubbing is your thing, this is where you need to be. Be sure to bring change: every time you want to use the loo, you will need to pay.

http://www.fuse.be/

 

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Entertainment at the Benidorm Palace

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Night show at Benidorm Palace

Benidorm is a town that sits on the coast of Spain’s western Mediterranean region. It was once a sleepy fishing village. But today it is a whole different kettle of fish. It is now a playground with a large hotel and tourist industry catering to visitors who come for the beaches and the entertainment. Make no mistake entertainment is the main attraction here. And no one provides more excitement, razzmatazz and fun than the Benidorm Palace.

Benidorm Palace is a nightclub, cabaret, restaurant and variety show venue all rolled into one. Spending the evening and night there is a great way to get best of all entertainment worlds. The various acts and performances at the Benidorm Palace change every year, which is terrific because you are in for a different treat on every holiday. It has also earned itself the reputation of having one of the top shows in all of Europe.

The Palace is large, spacious and stunningly decorated (a trifle too loud for me – but then it is a nightclub!) and fitted out. It would seem that no expense was spared.   

The dances are spectacular with the beautiful exotic dancers feathered, fabulously costumed and most times topless (joy for the boys!). Shows typically last for about two and a half hours and feature several different acts. There are laser light shows, juggling feats and choreographed dances with styles including Flamenco and influences ranging from Ireland to Egypt. There are comedians, acrobats and live bands.

It would be advisable to make an advance reservation for a good table. Otherwise you could have a long wait to get it and that takes away from the fun. At €5 a head it may seem steep but the measure is worth the price as the place can get rather crowded and good viewing places can make the difference in your enjoyment.

Besides the regular entertainment the Benidorm Palace regularly engages a variety of top artistes from around the world to perform concerts. Do check before you go or you might find that you are not going to get the famous regular nightclub reviews.

A few tips to take into consideration in order to enhance your enjoyment. You get one free drink on your ticket – after that you pay. You could have a meal at the Benidorm but the food can be a bit of a mixed experience. It is sometimes excellent and other times the quality slips. It also takes a long time between ordering to arriving at your table. If you are vegetarian you could have a very restricted choice and you have to request it. The focus is non-vegetarian.

The Benidrom Palace opens on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays all through the year. In the summer they also open on Wednesdays.

Doors Open at 8.30pm; dining commences at 9pm and its – Showtime at 10pm!
 

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