so what’s your perfect weekend in NY like?

I’d like to launch a series of posts in the format of an “email from a friend”: collecting feedback  from everyone, great little places, tricks and tips… and actually test

and I’m off to the big Apple with my best friend for a long weekend early Feb. I can’t wait!!! great occasion to launch that series.

So what are your best reco’s?

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Burma – recipe for a great night out in Yangon?

Burma has been hitting the headlines in the last few months as it starts opening up to the world –  for the traveller who passes by for a couple of weeks like me though, it is pretty clear that there is still a long way to go before it becomes a more “normal” country, with more freedom and more prosperity for everyone, not just the few at the top.

That being said, in addition to the real treasures this country has to offer and that are very well documented in various guides, Burma, or more precisely its former capital Yangon is also, surprisingly, a place where you can party!

We are far from places like Thailand or HK but that is precisely what makes the place pretty fun! Here is the recipe for a great night out in Yangon:

The first ingredient is to find yourself a local friend – if you are lucky enough the person seating next to you in the plane can turn out to be a cool Burmese chap who 1) makes your life much easier when you land at 6am and that you need to go to the black market to change your USD into Kyats  / find a cab 2) knows where to go out! This ingredient is not compulsory but it clearly spices up your night!

The second ingredient is a yummy diner: best is to go simple and just eat in on the many eateries where for USD5-10 you’ll have a real feast! Burmese food is influenced by the neighbouring countries so Chinese, Thai and Indian/Bangladesh are among the standards fares but Burma also has some yummy and flavourful dishes to offer for the curious minds. If you are brave enough you can also try out the local spirits such as Grand Royal Whisky. If you care about your stomach, stick to beer though…

The third ingredient is the club. Not so easy to find, especially since the place we went does not have a name. That is where the local friend comes really handy! If you don’t have one ,it seems like you will simply have to tell the taxi driver to go to the 9th floor night club, and hopefully he should take you to an entertainment complex with several clubs. In the lobby of the building there are several elevators, take the one on the right as the one on the left takes you to another club. Our guide literally called the elevator by manually opening the doors and shouting something – the elevator comes down and then take you to the9th floor.

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The last ingredient is some Burmese disco / rock / R&B; Still a burgeoning scene but some potential!

if you are a girl, one of the great benefits of partying there is that the security guys will make sure no one comes too close to you! Not sure if it was because we were the only white people in the club or it is a standard procedure.

Surfing on a volcano in Lanzarote

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On stressful days like this, I dream of being able to take a coffee break on Famara beach, Canarias.

It’s the end of the world. Don’t go to party, not point. We were alone, watching the sun rise and falling asleep right after the sun had set (and the bottle of local vino), exhausted and ocean-washed. Alone to the point when we wondered : where are the locals gone!?

We asked the (many) Brits we found, why they had decided to live in Canarias: the answer was invariably, “because it’s sunny, and we benefit from steady surf conditions all year round”. It would be a good enough reason; but the volcano-island in the Atlantic ocean, has much more to offer; great wine, cheese, sun, and above all : peace.

Go get your surf board, it’s one of the best spot in the world

The first things that surprised us was that the island is small, but you’ll definitely need a car, no public transport there. Also, that the weather is ever changing. The land is swept by the wind, for the greatest pleasure of surfers, but making the shining sun turn into a bone soaking shower in 3min.

Famara is an amazing beach for surfing beginners, it’s a safe and high quality beaches, with consistent swell. We went in October and could use a short wetsuit
check the weather, tides and other info here

or here
but for more experienced surfers (or for those who, like us, will enjoy watching some serious action live), go to La Santa. It’s 10min driving from Famara, and the most famous surf spot of the island.

 

Do’s and Don’ts

helpful map

go rent a car cauz you’ll need it. They’re lovely people, and you’ll get an audio guide

get spoilt in a cosy B&B

do take your car and cross the island from one side to another, stopping in bodegas to test the wine.

please don’t think it’s a good idea to go for an ice-cream in Puerto del Carmen. It’s not, you’ll be disappointed.

Cultural Corner

Once back at home, watch Pedro Almodovar’s Abrasos Rotos (broken embraces). In Spanish please.

Pedro Almodovar seldom gets it wrong

World Party!

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We love travelling guides, of all of them, the penguin’s “rough guides” are high up in my esteem.

One of my flatmate has received the amazing “World party” rough guide for Christmas and I truly thank his mum. It’s no ordinary travel guide, it’s a window open on worldwide fun and excitement.
It’s also a constant reminder that I have only ticked a very limited amount of boxes, and all of it in Europe: The Notting Hill festival, Pascua en Andalusia, Ibiza opening and closing parties … All were amazing but there is so much more to do I feel like getting plane tickets every time I flick through it.

 

Rough Guide -World Party

Also check out their world music network website

Ps: tell us which ones you’ve ticked off. Was worth it?

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Turkish Coffee (in a silver cup)

The world divides in 2 categories: coffee addicts and tea maniacs. Turkey ticks both (and many other addictions)

I first discovered Turkish coffee when I was a student in Madrid, my friend would brew some at the beginning of revision session; the little ceremonial was a good way to get us started.  Boil it in the little cooper pot, with sugar, repeat 3 times – his grandma’s tip. It’s and acquired taste; as the coffee powder isn’t filtered, it can be rather dusty if one drinks hastily.

Turkish coffee requires a bit of time, some friends to share it with, and preferably a nice view on the Bosphorus (fancy option).

When a Turkish man go to his in-laws-to-be, asking for permission to marry the beloved one, she should prepare some coffee and serve it to her dad when he approves the union. Now I don’t know if I have particularly cheeky friends, or if everyone else does this, but she purposely put salt instead of sugar before serving, for the father has no other option but to drink the cup at that moment!!

Oh well, they did get married (I will have to write a post on that absolutely fantastic wedding indeed), and as far as I know they’re still in good terms with they in-law, thanks for asking!

ps: check the  rumeli hisari area for brunches overlooking the bosphorus, we were recommended Nar or Lokma Cafe but there’s really quite a few options. I think it would make a fantastic jogging area but didn’t have the leisure to try (for this time!)

(and if you order burritos to then post poor reviews on tripadvisor, please make your way out of this blog)

Turkish coffee