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Posts in ‘Food, Pubs & Nightlife’

Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

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Experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, giving you a great chance to get away for the weekend and experience an authentic St. Patrick’s Day, and other fantastic adventures that only Ireland has to offer.

1.) Cut Loose the Irish Way

The St. Patrick’s Day Festival:

The St. Patrick’s Day Fesitval is a great way to experience authentic Irish culture on such a special holiday. The festival takes place in Dublin and is known to last for around four days (this year it begins Friday March 16 and ends Monday March 19).

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Some of the world’s best street performers and musicians can be found on Dublin’s streets during these four days. Also be on the look out for some great free concerts, with local and international bands, along with great theatre performances and even a Russian spectacular show.

The Guinness Brewery & Storehouse:

Another great way to celebrate Ireland and its fantastic pub culture is to partake in the Guinness Brewery & Storehouse experience, home to Ireland’s most beloved beer- the Guinness Draught. The brewery, located in Dublin since 1759, is a key contributor to Guinness’s 2 billion dollar a year revenue. The tour includes several floors to experience the history behind Guinness, with even a glass pint-shaped atrium tribute to the Guinness “black stuff”. Tours of the brewery usually finish up at the Gravity Bar, a bar with a 360 degree panoramic view of Dublin situated atop the famed storehouse.

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2.) Get Your Irish Knowledge On!

Although you may know the origin and story of St. Patrick’s Day, other cultural and historical tales from Ireland are important and interesting ways to enhance your trip. There are many castles, monuments and sites to be seen that hold signifigant value to the Irish people, but the Tomb of Newgrange is certainly one of the coolest.

The Tomb of Newgrange:

The Tomb of Newgrange is one of the oldest historical sites in the world, dating back before Stonehenge and even the pyramids of Giza. Although called a tomb, there’s still no official account for what the site was used for, although many believe it was connected with burial rituals and the Winter Solstice. What IS known about the historical structure is that it dates all the way back to the Neolithic period and is considered Ireland’s greatest national monument.

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The tomb resembles a giant mound with alternate layers of stones and grass to make up the outter structure of the building. The tomb has three small rooms, which all connect to the one main room. Rock slabs line the walls of the tomb, along with a slab centered in the middle of the room, which the bones of the deceased are believed to be laid. The Neolithic abstract art of carved swirls and shapes only add to the mysterious beauty of the tomb.

3.) Find the Beauty of Ireland

Part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is by embracing the Irish culture and the beauty of Ireland. No better place can this be achieved than Ireland’s coast, which offers several mesmerizing landmarks and sites that will surely enhance and enrich your trip. Beautiful hills, valleys and look out points scatter the 120 mile long route known as the Causeway Coastal. Although the route has many stops, the most famous of them defintely belongs to the Giant Causeway.

The Giant Causeway:

Located in Northern Ireland in Antrim County The Giant Causeway is the biggest tourist attraction in all of Ireland. The Giant Causeway is primarily known for its basalt stepping stones and 40,000 chimney stack columns which slowly descend into the sea, giving it the title of the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. The Causeway was created some 50 million years ago, when the Antrim coast was subjected to intense volcanic activity.

Many legends surround the Causeway, with the most popular focusing on the Irish warrior Finn McCool, who outwit and frightened his enemy Benandonner, who fled from McCool and destroyed the Causeway in his flight. The Giant Causeway can be seen as a jump off point for a truly exciting road trip all along Ireland’s coast, with many more memorable stops on the way.

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The Glens of Antrim

The nine Glens of Atrim is more inland than the Giant Causeway, but is defintely worth the ride. The nine Glens of Atrim is named after the nine lords from the 13th century and is a prime example of beautiful green rolling hills and lush flowers that call Ireland home.

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Brrrrr-lin in the Winter

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Berlin is certainly one of the most beautiful cities to explore, but once winter hits, you might find that walking and bike tours are more fitting for the warmer months.  Don’t rule out winter as a time to visit, as Berlin’s charm is still visible, if not accentuated by freshly fallen snow, Christmas decorations, and multiple activities reminding you that wintertime isn’t just for hibernating.

Christmas Markets

With over 50 different Christmas markets spread over the large squares and smaller allys, Berlin really captures the spirit of the holiday season wherever you run into them.  And you won’t be running into the same products over and over again, each market seems to specialize in different areas offering you a wide variety of gifts, gadgets, and goodies to browse through.

christmas-market You can go to the Gendarmenmarkt which features not only local embroidery, woodwork, stonemasonry, and food, but also there are shows which include performances by acrobatics, jugglers, musicians, and artists.  Or if you’re looking for something more low-key (relatively speaking to the glitz and glamour that can take over these markets), you can try the international Market of the Continents which supports social and structural projects from around the world.  When the native, handmade products are purchased from these traders it goes to their community to help their development.  Even better, this market is held indoors so even the snow can’t stop you.

Shows and Ballets

Outside may be snowy, dark, and cold, but what better way to capture the spirit of the holidays than a show by a world-renowned ballet, soothing orchestra, or fantastical entertainment?

candlelight-dinner I’ll be the first to admit that anything with the word “palace” sparks my interest, and this experience wouldn’t fall short of any expectations.  Enjoying a sumptuous dinner by candlelight in the Charlottenburg Palace Orangery, followed by what feels like a personal performance from the Berlin Palace Orchestra couldn’t make me feel better about escaping the cold in the warm and cozy comforts of this palace.

stage-show The Friedrichstadt Palast Stage Show is another alternative, less emphasis on the romance and instead, a complete focus on putting the audience in awe.  It’s safe to say that goal is always accomplished at the state-of-the-art theater where the stage is a show in itself.  With the addition of talented dancers, acrobatics, singers, and musicians, you’re mind will be in disbelief at what is presented in front of you.  Just call it a Christmas miracle.

Who could forget the Nutcracker?  Follow the classic story of a young girl and her doll on a Christmas Eve adventure.  Music by the infamous Tchaikovsky, and performed by the internationally acclaimed Russian National Ballet, this is one show that is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit!

Pubs

berlin-pub Finally, there is no better way to warm up than having a drink at a local pub.  With authentic taverns and numerous choices of drinks at the cocktail lounges, live music and even rooftop gardens over looking the city, there is no shortage to your options.  Berlin is filled with a wide variety of relaxing pubs and lively clubs, but they all give you a taste of the nightlife culture.

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London Nightlife: Top 5

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“Nightlife” can hold multiple meanings, from clubs and bars to scary night walks, we wanted to share five of our favorite ways to spend our nights in London.

Ice Bar London

If you’re looking for a new way to go out in London, look no further than Ice Bar.  It’s perfect for a special night out since it is completely out of the ordinary.  How is it different? Well, yes, it’s exactly what the name indicates, everything is made out of ice.  moulin-rouge-by-torfo
You might be a little confused as to how exactly that is possible, as I was, but in a temperature controlled room below ground level, the typical London pubs are put to shame as the walls, tables, glasses, and even the bar are made out of ice. Even the clear floors give the illusion that they too are made out of ice, but don’t worry it’s completely slip free surface.

Don’t worry about being cold, as soon as you step inside they have people throwing heavy, insulated, and super warm hooded capes over your head. ice-bar-2 When you’re downstairs you have 40 minutes to take in this spectacular bar before the next group is ushered in.  40 minutes didn’t sound like a lot, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time to take tons of pictures with friends, and you get a complimentary drink with your ticket!

Going to Ice Bar was definitely one of the coolest London experiences I’ve had since I’ve been here and I would definitely encourage both visitors and residents of London to head over to Mayfair and have the chance to look around the eclectic and one of a kind bar.

Medieval Banquet

Nothing says unique nightlife than a Medieval Banquet.  This is meant to make you feel like you’re having dinner with King Henry VIII, and is a really great option for adults and families alike.  the-medieval-banquet
As soon you enter the torch-lit banquet hall, you’ll realize this isn’t your typical dinner party.  Your four course meal is served alongside Medieval entertainment, also known as the Royal Court Show as history is reenacted featuring street performers, knights, and even wenches!

If jousting knights, Tudor-esque performances and medieval songs and dancing don’t sound like your sort of thing, don’t worry because you’re provided with unlimited wine and beer with your meal.  Also, the two hours of theater entertainment is followed by live music, dancing for the guests, and the open bar continues so it’s a guaranteed fun experience for everybody.

Now, with Christmas approaching, you also have the option to attend the Christmas Banquet option, which includes an even bigger meal and much more dancing and entertainment.

Jack The Ripper Tour

I have a love/hate relationship with scary movies, it’s almost like I can’t not look.  I had the same feeling when I saw the Jack the Ripper tour–I knew it would be terrifying, especially since it’s based on real events, but I just had to do it anyway.  So on a cold, dark night I went out and learned about the gruesome details of the infamous Jack the Ripper.

jack-the-ripper_13297_1 Walking down the old alleyways, seeing a haunted pub, and learning about the murders from autumn of 1888, was actually less frightening and more intriguing than I thought.  Our tour guide had such an extensive amount of knowledge of the topic and could answer any questions we had.

So if you’re looking for a thrilling but entertaining way to learn about London’s notorious Jack the Ripper, I highly suggest going on this tour for an easy way to switch up your evenings.

Ministry of Sound

The Ministry of Sound, London’s number one club for house and trance music, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The Ministry, commonly known as MoS, was ranked fourth on DJ Magazine’s top 100 Clubs Poll in 2010. There is good reason for this commendable ranking; MoS is as extensive as it is loud. mos1

Within the Ministry there are five main areas: The Box, the Baby Box, the Bar, the Loft and the VIP. The Box is the club’s most famous room, boasting a sprung floor, which allows clubbers to dance on into the night without getting tired, and a specially-built ceiling constructed to contain sound. Dancers are rocked with the beat that pounds out through the numerous speakers positioned around the room. The music is amplified by the psychedelic laser lighting that seems to ricochet off of every surface, creating an almost dream-like effect in the darkly lit Box.

The Ministry of Sound has become one of the leading clubs in global dance music and some consider it to be the only venue that has hosted every famous DJ to date. Every Friday and Saturday night, world-renowned trance and hard house DJs come to spin the night away. The club also hosts disco, funky garage and chill techno.

So come out to the Ministry of Sound some night and discover what the rage has been all about. MoS won’t disappoint.

London Pub Tours

Any visit to London would be incomplete without visiting one of the hundreds of pubs located around the city. Each pub has its own unique feel; whether you are looking for a cosy place to sip on a drink on a cold day or socialise with the locals, the pubs of London are the places to be.

london-pub In his writings, Samuel Pepys describes the pub system as the ‘heart of England’. Indeed, pubs have been the focal points of British society for hundreds of years and continue to hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Britain. The name pub comes from public houses, which are drinking establishments that are most often owned by a brewery. Pubs offer a wide selection of beer, wine, cider and spirits. Pubs are most often used as places to unwind after a long day of work, catch up with friends and sip on one of the local beers served on tap.

Pubs generally have regulars who, as the terms suggests, go to the pub frequently, generally because it is close proximity to their home or it is a designated meeting spot for friends. While in London, feel like a regular by taking a tour of three of the city’s most famous pubs. Sample London’s famous fish and chips and unwind with one of our expert tour guides. When your trip is over, go home knowing you have thoroughly experienced what it means to be a part of the pub culture of London.

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Give Away: The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook

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three-sisters-cook-bookAs the weather is currently so lovely in Europe after a wash-out summer, Team isango! has decided to embrace the Indian summer* by giving away The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook courtesy of The Book People.

The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook is written by Sereena, Alexa and Priya Kaul and is full of recipes from their childhood in Kashmir. The three came to the UK in the 1970s and settled in Derbyshire, when they had families of their own they craved the dishes that their mother used to cook and this is the result.

The cookbook is full of mouth-watering recipes, from the familiar samosas, Aloo Tikki and Chicken Jalfrezi to the lesser-known Sukhi Macchli (dry spiced fish) and Bhindi Churma (crispy okra chips). The book also has a Masala Dabba section with information on the spices that are regularly used, and some useful preparation tips. The sisters have even created their own spice box that you can order from their website.

The recipes are easy to make and the ingredients even easy to get outside of India, so there are no excuses not to get creative in the kitchen!  We love the sound of the autumnal flavoured  Saeb-Adrak Aur Dalchini Chutney ( Apple, Ginger and Cinnamon Chutney)

We have five copies of The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook (published by Simon & Schuster; RRP £16.99) to give-away: simply send an email with ‘Cookbook’ in the Subject line to competition@isango.com  – ends 4th of Oct 2011.

* and yes… we realise the term Indian summer is very likely from Native American roots but it fitted so nicely…

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Celebrate Independence Day in London

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It’s Independence day! It is 235 years since the Americans have declared their independence from the United Kingdom. Luckily international relations have long since cleared so get out your star-spangled banner as we highlight the All American options one has when visiting London.

Go for Dinner

Every year on Independence Day there’s a hot dog eating competition in New York’s Coney Island. The current record stands at 54 hotdogs in 10 minutes! For the first time in history there will be a Women’s Only division this year. If you want to take your other half for a more relaxed dinner, there are restaurants aplenty serving traditional American dishes. Recreate the 50’s vibe jukebox and all at Ed’s Diner and get a tasty burger too! For ribs and the like try Bodeans that has four branches spread over London or go to a Byron restaurant for another quality burger.

Celebrate  Jeff “The Dude” Bridges

If America has given us anything, it is Hollywood. One of  best American screen-icons is Jeff Bridges, who created a cult when portraying The Dude in the film The Big Lebowski. He’s been an actor for decades starring in films as The Fabulous Baker Boys, Crazy Heart for which he finally won and Oscar, and last year’s Coen western True Grit. The British Film Institute, BFI, is celebrating his life in film until the end of July.

Fall in Love with an American Sweetheart

In the original movie the bubbly Elle was played by American sweetheart Reese Witherspoon. This Legally Blonde musical adaption follows the same story line of the first film and Elle follows her boyfriend to Harvard to study law. Elle’s determination and style will have you cheering for the red, white, blue and pink!

Raise a glass

Find yourself an American bar: smack-bang in Covent Garden you find the classy Christopher’s American Bar and Grill, they serve beers as well as celebratory cocktails and conveniently located if you want grab a drink after the theatre too! Or go to All Stars they have a bars in Holborn, Bayswater and Brick Lane. Not only do they serve beer,they offer bowling and karaoke too: a full night’s entertainment in one – result!

Live the American Dream

See how the American Dream came true for Frankie and his buddies in Jersey Boys the Musical. The musical the Jersey Boys is based on the true story of the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four seasons, you will no doubt sing-along to all the classics: December 1963 (Oh What A Night), Walk Like a Man and Can’t Take My Eyes of You.

What ever you do, have an awesome day this Independence Day!

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The Lido Show Paris

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to enter the veiled world of the Paris cabaret where it all began? Well now you can!

As many agree the Lido Show Paris is one of the greatest spectacles available in the city of lights and crazy nights out, so join the revelry and give in to the delights Paris has to offer. Perfect for one of those special nights out (anniversaries, birthdays, Saturdays…) dinner and a show at the Lido Show Paris has everything you would expect from a club with a reputation matched only by the infamous clubs of Las Vegas which were born from the tradition of Paris cabaret.

To those who have already taken part in a night at the Lido Show Paris the Bluebell girls do not need any kind of introduction, but for the as-yet uninitiated they are the unique troupe of sparkling diamonds adorning the stage every night at the club on the Champs-Élysée. Accompanied by the Lido Boy Dancers both groups know exactly the fine art of entertaining and enchanting an always eager and enthusiastic crowd.

Named after the Lido beach area of Paris by the Italian founders Joseph and Louis Clerico the name came with high-class connotations and a reputation for fun during the 1920s. They had transformed a well-known if outdated club into a revolutionary venue that invented the concept of dinner shows for the 20th century. They successfully invoked the spirit of the stylish era at the Venice Lido with something new and exciting for the post-war era. Inhibitions were broken down and taboos shattered all in the name of good quality entertainment.

In a glittering and exclusive venue on one of the most celebrated and romanticized streets reside the spectacular Bluebell girls and the Lido Boys dancers who do not fail to seduce a different audience night after night in Paris. One glimpse will convince you that this is more than the seedy and sought-after clubs seen on every street in every major European city. The dignified spirit of the 1920s certainly lives on in every aspect of the Lido Show Paris, including the modern lighting, intimate décor and mystifying demeanor of the performers.

There are many packages available for any budget. Combine the night out with dinner or a bottle of champagne, but be sure not to take your focus off the fascinating Bluebell girls.

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Don’t be Scared of an Alternative Halloween Across the Channel

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Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.

For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée. continue reading

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Eat…Pray, Love

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You might wonder what taking a hop on hop off Rome tour, buying Last Supper tickets, and embarking upon a Venice gondola ride have in common with Julia Roberts. If you’ve seen her latest film, then you will know that one third of it takes place in Italy, where all three of the above experiences can be enjoyed. continue reading

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How to avoid being cheated in Paris cafés

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This is the other side of the medal, as they say in France, of those little old style Parisian cafés.
Nothing really illegal, but sometimes they bend the rules to the point that unsaavy tourists end up paying fat bills.
 
More light on this:
- Most cafés have a clear menu on each table, with all items and prices clearly displayed.
But others will only bring you a printed menu upon request. In some cases they assume that you
don’t need the menu for simple orders (coffee, drinks) and that’s precisely where they
get you. Your bill will show fantasy prices based upon the look of your clothes.
- The “riskier” areas are the famous Paris hop on hop off bus tourist spots: Ile de la Cité (around Notre Dame), Saint Michel, Saint Germain, the restaurants area around Les Halles/Chatelet.
-“Would you like some X with that?” is a typical strategy to sell you more without telling you
it’s more expensive, sometimes by a lot. Adding milk to coffee can add 1-2 euros.
Adding a side salad to a steak can add 4-6 euros to the bill.
- Serving a larger size than requested is quite typical, especially when hiding behind
linguistic incomprehension (sometimes faked). For example draught beers: the standard serving
is called “Démi” and it’s about 20cl. The larger option is called “Serieux” and is around 40cl, roughly the same as a British “pint”. Well, if you just ask for “a beer” without being specific, chances are you’ll get a pint, or even sometimes one full litre. For coffee: the default size for
coffee is a small cup, but don’t be surprised if you get a large bowl. A generic “café creme” order
will get you a large bowl unless you specify “petit” or “noisette”.

continue reading

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Experiencing the Medieval Banquet in London

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Freshly arrived to the U.K., one of the first opportunities of a night out in London for me was to go to the Medieval Banquet.

I went there with 5 colleagues, and we had the surprise of spending a very nice evening. Indeed, none of us already experimented such a thing to do in London

As we were arriving to this medieval show, two knights and the Queen herself welcomed us and lead us to our table. And that’s only the beginning… continue reading

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