After a long day touring Jordan, we finally get back to Amman and it’s starting to get late. Our base for our stay in Amman is the Amman Pasha Hotel. All the information provided by the hotel is to ensure that if you do go out to eat, make sure that is listed on other review sites, and has a good rating. Why, you may ask? Our hotel tells us that it is common for travellers to get a tummy bug! Which I can tell you from experience, isn’t nice! One restaurant that they do recommend is Hashem Restaurant. This is reinforced a couple of times during our stay from other Amman locals, and not just the hotel.
If you didn’t know any better, from the outside Hashem Restaurant isn’t the most attractive or inviting place to eat. But it is packed with locals and a scattering of apprehensive tourists. We ask the waiter for a table for two and are guided to the closest available table.
Our waiter approaches and is ready to take our order, we ask for a menu. The menu is simple, there’s no menu. They offer falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, fresh bread and a salad. You dictate how much you want and what you want. We decided to try it all. Other staff occasionally walk by offering sage tea to customers. But we decline as we’ve just had some at the Amman Pasha Hotel.
It isn’t long before the food is brought out to the table. Visually, the food is nothing special, a swirling of hummus and baba ghanoush in shallow bowls, warm fresh bread for dipping and small brown balls of falafel. When I break open the falafel and I’m greeted by a glorious green colour and once I taste it i know it is probably some of the best falafel I’ve ever had. The hummus has a smooth creamy texture and is sensational, and the baba ghanoush is superb. I immediately think, I’m definitely ordering more, but decide to wait until we’re finished before ordering again.
In the end we didn’t end up ordering anymore, because it is quite filling. We go to pay and are astonished the price of all the food with two bottles of water comes to 4.50JOD (which is about AUD$8). For such a sensational meal you can’t go past this remarkable price.
So, when in Amman do yourself a favour and make a visit to Hashem Restaurant. Getting there was easy we just walked from our hotel using Google Maps, but I’m sure nearly everyone is Amman knows of Hashem Restaurant. Everyone we met did! Have a great meal and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for Hashem Restaurant
Address: King Faisal Street, Amman, Jordan Ph: +962 6 463 6440
Jordan has always held a little intrigue as a place to visit. I of course knew about the magnificence of historical Petra, seeing it a few times on travel shows and in blockbuster films. Yet, Jordan is so much more than that. There is some awesome protective reserves and it also boasts the lowest place on Earth. At 450 metres below sea level the Dead Sea is an attraction that in my mind must be visited. During our journey in Jordan, we couldn’t resist the temptation of taking a dip in the Dead Sea whilst staying at the brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort.
The brand-new Hilton Dead Sea Resort is approximately 7 months old opening in early 2017. We travelled from Jordan’s capital city Amman via driver transfer for 50JOD (AUD$90). There are probably cheaper ways to travel to the Dead Sea, but we opted for door to door service and sat back and enjoyed the one and a half hour drive. Prices do vary so make sure you are happy paying the price before jumping in the taxi or private driver.
Situated alongside the vast expanse that is the Dead Sea, the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a well secured facility with guards only allowing listed guests through the checkpoint. Our car is checked we drive down into the hotel and are greeted by the Hilton’s helpful staff. Once you enter the lobby you are again greeted at a security checkpoint for a luggage scan (like at any airport). They take their security seriously at the Hilton!
The main lobby of the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is incredibly large, the reception desk is to the right with a cafe/bar to the left. You can’t help but stop and look at the spectacular view of the Dead Sea straight ahead of you.
We are greeted by the smart-looking staff, checked in and escorted to our room in the Marhaba section. The hotel is divided into sections like Marhaba and Petra, so guests can find their way back to their rooms easier.
The King guest room allocated to us is wonderfully decorated with a stunning view over the hotel pools and Dead Sea.
The room contains a safe, ironing board, television, table and chairs and King bed. After a short time, we were delivered a nice welcoming treat of fruits, nuts, macaroons, and chocolate.
There is a large bathroom area and separate toilet, for your added comfort. The only thing we could pick on was the only power point that the hairdryer could be plugged into near a mirror was next to the front door. Surprisingly, not in the bathroom area.
The hotel oozes luxury with its pools and private white sanded beach leading to the slick salty water. Stylish restaurants, cafes and bars are positioned around the complex to eat, meet and greet other guests. So, you can easily stay within the resort for your entire stay and not be disappointed.
The hotel has multiple pool areas. From the adult area with poolside bar to the family area and kids club. Towels for the pool are supplied by the hotel, with pool attendants available to take your food and drink orders. The family pools have lifeguards to ensure the safety of your family.
Most people come to the Dead Sea to float around and experience this remarkable phenomenon. The mud contains healing properties so there are mud basins and mirrors available for you to apply the thick rich mud. After fifteen minutes you then hop into the Dead Sea to wash off. Make sure you read the warning boards before you take a dip as the high salt content can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. Additionally, it can be uncomfortable if you have a cut or abrasion.
Breakfast is served in the Spectrum Restaurant and Executive Lounge daily. They provide an extensive range for breakfast from a continental breakfast to individually ordered plates. It’s the ideal way to start a relaxing day.
The Hilton Dead Sea Resort, reminds me a lot like a cruise ship, everything you want to make your stay comfortable is right there. You really don’t have to leave the resort to have an enjoyable stay. Yet, saying that if you did want to adventure away from the resort, the concierge can help you to organise a tour. Subsequently, if you’d rather go it alone, the AVIS car rental booth has vehicles available.
Overall the Hilton Dead Sea Resort is a beautiful place to stay. As active travellers, it was actually nice to rest and lounge by the sea for a day. It was also special to stand outside during the evening and watch the sun setting over the Sea. I do recommend taking a dip in the Dead Sea. The water feels oily and leaves a filmy residue on your skin, but the sense of just floating around is quite appealing. With plenty of food options and a Kids Club it is an ideal place for a family to base their Jordan stay. So, why not head there today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for the Hilton Dead Sea Resort
Address: Dead Sea Road، Sweimeh 11953, Jordan
Ph: +962 5 349 3000 Website: www.hilton.com
Book your stay at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort now with Booking.com
Prices of accommodation per night at the Hilton Dead Sea Resort
Once again Istanbul has been a great place to stay. The culture the atmosphere and the people have been kind and gracious. If you are considering a trip to Turkey, then I would say without any hesitation, “do it!”
As Australian’s, we’ve been to Turkey for the last couple of years. Last year, we experienced the pilgrimage to the Gallipoli peninsula, which is considered a rite of passage for many Australian’s. Here we paid our respect to the fallen heroes of WWI.
Then we visited Istanbul and had an incredible meal at Mehmet Gürs marvellous Mikla. Both times have come away with the same impression of Turkey. “What a remarkably friendly place!” Although the tensions of the regions have affected Turkey we have found it to be a safe place to go. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed in the amazing history, culture, markets and food.
Therefore, why not dip your toes into Turkey? And if you only decide to visit Istanbul, there is a remarkable little place that showcases all of the major attractions within Turkey called Miniaturk.
Miniaturk, is park consisting of miniature models of the sights of Turkey. It’s located alongside a stretch of the Golden Horn and is a nice place for families and backpackers to discover what Turkey has to offer. If you haven’t finalised your itinerary whilst backpacking in Turkey, stop by at Miniaturk and discover which cities contain some of Turkey exquisite architectural history.
See places like the Galata Tower, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Green Tomb of Bursa, Cappadocia or the white terraces of Pamukkale all in the one park.
The models contained are a remarkable re-creation of these attractions and you can’t help but marvel at all the places to available to see. During our visit, we constantly commented about going to see certain attractions.
Spend some time walking up and down the walkways, it takes a good one and a half hours to traverse the entire site.
There is also plenty of things to entertain you and your family. Miniaturk also has a large playground, games arcade and a small train that the kids can ride on. For the older kids and adults, you can also try the helicopter flight simulator. Who’s the best pilot in your family?
Additionally, Miniaturk has multiple food stalls scattered around the park and a nice restaurant if you prefer something more substantial.
To finish the day, stop into the souvenir store and take home a memento of your time in Turkey.
Overall Miniaturk is a fun and amazing place to visit. Get some inspiration of other attractions around Turkey. At an inexpensive cost, Miniaturk is an ideal place for a young family to experience some of Turkey’s attractions without actually having to visit them. Of course, it is always better to see them up close and personal. But if you don’t have the time, this is the next best thing. So, if you are in Istanbul visit Miniaturk and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
In all our travels, Sarajevo would be one of the top 10 cities that has intrigued me the most in the Balkans. A city still rebuilding. Trying to ensure their past mistakes don’t erupt again. When speaking to its residence you can see their frustration from their “scars and smiles”. Yet, those frustrations aren’t directed towards the different ethnic groups, they are directed towards their over-governed parliament. With unemployment rising, Sarajevo is becoming more reliant on tourists visiting and understanding the beauty, culture and pain of this remarkable city.
During our stay here, we base ourselves at two completely different accommodation options. For the first part of our visit, we stay outside of the city centre at the four-starred Hotel Emiran. Then for the remainder of our stay we head into the old town and experience what hostel living is like at Hostel Franz Ferdinand. It is here that we organise the Scars and Smiles, Urban Adventures tour online. Urban Adventures offer two quality tours, the Story of Sarajevo and Scars and Smiles.
The Scars and Smiles tour starts at 9:00 a.m and our meeting point for the tour is the impressive city hall/ national library building. Our friendly helpful guide for the tour is Almedin, who you cannot miss due to his 205cm height. Almedin is the tallest tour guide we have ever had. No need for an umbrella or a sign, because if you can’t see him, then he’s not there!
Group sizes vary from day-to-day and on our tour, we only had one other guest. Almedin spoke excellent English and was a toddler during the Sarajevo siege, so has an honest family perspective of life during wartime.
During our tour, Almedin speaks passionately about the scars and smiles of the Bosnian people. He talks about why the war occurred, how it ended and specific tragedies that had befallen its residents at the time.
We are taken on a 3 hour journey around the city of Sarajevo and visit important places like the Sarajevska brewery, the only source of fresh water in Sarajevo at the time. Almedin then speaks about the importance of the Sarajevo roses, shows us a memorial for the children and takes us for Bosnian coffee.
An intriguing and at times moving tour, Almedin speaks about life after the conflict and finishes the tour at the Sarajevo National Theatre.
Once the tour is completed, guests can either join Almedin for a drink at a local pub or state their farewells. I suggest having a drink with this kind gentleman and learning more about Bosnian and Herzegovinian hospitality.
Overall for the price, the Scars and Smiles tour is a fantastic way of getting to understand Sarajevo and its tragic history. So, book your Urban Adventure tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for Urban Adventures: Scars and Smiles
There is so much to like about Sarajevo. It’s a city still rebuilding after a brutal forty-four month siege. A cityscape with constant reminders of the destruction and resilience of the Bosnian and Herzegovinian people can be found everywhere. Apartment buildings are riddled with bullet and mortar holes, and the poignant dedications to the victims in the form of the artistic Sarajevo Rose. Sarajevo’s appearance will open your eyes to the effects of war and the countries hopes for a peaceful future. During our stay in Sarajevo we are based at the four starred Hotel Emiran.
Located outside of the city centre this hotel offers affordable stylish accommodation and facilities for its guests. Positioned within 100m from the Nedžarići tram stop, the Emiran is an excellent base to start your adventures in remarkable Sarajevo.
We arrived into Sarajevo by international bus and found the directions to the Hotel Emiran easy to navigate using our Maps App. Public transport tickets are easy to obtain with kiosks everywhere. Just look for the transport sticker to know if they sell tickets. Tickets are 1.60BAM from a kiosk or 1.80BAM if you decide to buy them from the driver. We also found the people to be very helpful, so if you have any troubles someone will be glad to help.
On arrival at the Hotel Emiran you enter a large lobby area divided up into sections. There is a lounge area with comfortable lounge suites, an enclosed smoking area and an open cafe area for the hotels Juicy cafe. With televisions positioned in various locations , it’s a good place to relax and watch a game. Here you will also find the hotel’s small reception desk for check-in.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is mainly a muslim country, and the hotel has a conservative attitude towards a dress code. Therefore, the knees must be covered throughout the main hotel area. We quickly check-in and make our way up to our standard double room.
The room interior is nicely decorated with a cityscape motif on one of the feature walls. Our room contains a queen sized bed, a long desk with two chairs, a television and empty bar fridge. Unfortunately, there is no in-room coffee and tea facilities, so you will have to go to their cafe to get your coffee fix.
Each room contains a private bathroom with body wash packs supplied. As a tip, you may need to ask the staff for some scissors as they can be difficult to open. The rooms are clean and comfortable and serviced daily. The shower has an adjustable shower head with good water pressure and plenty of instant hot water.
Being on the sixth floor, our room also had a nice view of the local area which we were able to easy see the trams running towards the city centre.
For this stay breakfast was included in the accommodation price and was served from 07:00 a.m in the Emiran Restaurant. They offer a decent breakfast spread with a mixture of hot and cold options for you to choose from.
If you are in the hotel for lunch and dinner, food is available to be ordered from the Emiran Restaurant or try one of the lovely cakes on offer at the Juicy cafe.
The Emiran Restaurant serves a range of traditional Bosnian and Mediterranean cuisine. Although you wouldn’t call the food exceptional, it is okay at an exceptional price. One night we were able to purchase two twelve-inch plain Margherita Pizza’s and two soft drinks for 7BAM (AUD$5.35). They also have a takeaway option in case you wish to eat in your room.
For local businesses, the hotel also has a couple of meeting areas to conduct company workshops or management meetings.
Once work is over, why not try the hotel’s Turkish Spa and Finnish Sauna to relax and steam those worries or tired muscles away. Subsequently, if you need to blow off some steam or work off some energy, head to the hotels gym for a workout. But, remember the hotel’s dress code. The Emiran has dressing rooms alongside the gym to change in and out of your gym clothes.
One of the other benefits of staying at the Hotel Emiran is the ability to access the visitors laundry area. The laundry has various washers and dryer available for use at a reasonable price. Additionally, there are irons and ironing boards available the complete your laundry task.
The Hotel Emiran is a little out of the main tourist area, but with easy access to the public transport system, the commute into the old town (Baščaršija) is enjoyable. With clean affordable rooms, the accommodation is comfortable at a decent price. With access to a laundry, fitness centre, health and beauty spa, cafe and restaurant, you can easily spend a day in the hotel, if you decide not to venture out for a day.
Overall the Hotel Emiran is a conservative hotel with friendly staff good facilities. Therefore, when you are staying in Sarajevo next, try the Hotel Emiran and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for Hotel Emiran
Address: Aleja Bosne Srebrene bb, Sarajevo 71000, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ph: +387 33 255-755 Website: www.emiran.ba
Nestled between rugged mountains and the Boyana (Buna) River, you will find one of the Vataksi Groups two hotels in Shkoder, Albania. Located at one of the entrances into Shkoder city the newly developed Hotel Vataksi offers limited accommodation with five rooms available at an inexpensive price.
Once an important trading port during the ruling times of the Ottomans and Venetians. Shkoder is a peaceful city in Northern Albania and a gateway to the Adriatic Sea. It is here that many travellers start the popular three-day hike from Valbona to Theth. An intersection of three converging rivers Shkoder’s abundance of beautiful landscapes is excellent for the travelling photographer or fishing enthusiast.
The Hotel Vataksi is a small hotel which offers its customers affordable accommodation with a set breakfast. The hotel originally started as a restaurant but as tourism increased in Shkoder the owners created five comfortable timber panelled rooms. Our room for our short stay has a scenic river view, a queen bed, television, air-conditioner, small desk and wi-fi.
Each room has a small accompanying bathroom, with a toilet, basin and over the floor shower (no separate shower cubicle). The bathroom is clean with sufficient hot water and pressure.
Still under construction the hotel is undergoing various improvements, these works did not affect the outcome of our stay or pose any issues. Travel Vataksi is associated with the hotel with an office in the car park of the hotel. Have a look and see what tours they have on offer. Maybe a riverboat ride along the rivers or a trip to the Adriatic Sea is something you might want to do.
Every morning, the hotel provides a set breakfast plate for its guests. Make sure you advise of any allergies prior so they can cater accordingly. The staff is friendly, with some members having limited English, but communicating wasn’t an issue as they would often summon the English-speaking staff to assist.
In the evening, the hotel comes alive with many locals dining at their popular restaurant. Servings are large and of good quality. The restaurant boasts an Italian trained chef who produces some wonderful food. With modern music playing throughout the dining area, a playground for the children, and an intoxicating view of the river. It is a superb place to watch the evening sun set.
Alternatively, if you’d rather not be too close to the river and prefer a mountain view the Vataksi groups second hotel called Shpija Gjyshit or “Grandfather Hotel” is located approximately 1km uphill from Hotel Vataksi. Also still under construction the rooms are larger than those found at Hotel Vataksi and the views are increasingly spectacular.
In my opinion, Shpija Gjyshit is a slightly more refined product, with swimming pool, larger rooms and better bathrooms. The restaurant looks out across the valley and the whole hotel reminds me of an Austrian chalet on the side of the mountain.
Although, located on the outskirts of Shkoder the Vataksi Group have two comfortable hotels available. It is a good 30 – 45 minute walk into the city centre, but as we like walking it was a good way to start an active day. Alternatively, the hotel can organise a taxi, which are quite cheap into the city. Personally, I would recommend a taxi, or hiring a car to access Shpija Gjyshit as it would be a pretty tiring and steep walk to its position on the side of the mountain.
Overall, both hotels are comfortable and affordable. Honestly, there are better rated hotels in the city centre but of course they are more expensive. Travellers on a budget that are looking for a little more style will appreciate the rooms especially at Shpija Gjyshit. The restaurants and staff are pleasant and it was kind of nice to look out the window at Hotel Vataksi and watch the wildlife along the river. So, book your stay at the Hotel Vataksi or Shpija Gjyshit today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
If you’ve had the chance to visit Skopje in the Republic of Macedonia, you would know it’s the city of statues. But if you haven’t had the chance to go, then what’s stopping you! Skopje, has statues everywhere! In the squares, in the parks, on the bridges, in the buildings and on top of the buildings. That’s right, Skopje has run out of places to put statues on the ground so they put them on top of their buildings. It is an amazing phenomenon, and one you shouldn’t miss.
For our second part of our stay in Skopje we are staying in the family run Hotel 7. Hotel 7 is a two star hotel with seven rooms available. The rooms are clean with private bathrooms and come with breakfast included. Being a small hotel, they have a coffee station in the hall, so everyone can help themselves. Comfortable and excellent value for money the hotel is only a 15 minute walk from the city or a quick bus trip. The closest bus stop is across the road next to the hospital.
Breakfast is available from a little bakery next door to the hotel. They have a range of delicious Byreks and other baked goods on offer. I enjoyed the meat Byrek, which tastes a lot like an Aussie pasty.
The staff is happy to advise about what there is to do in Skopje and where to go. In total, we spent 7 nights in Skopje and was able to fill in our time well. So, here’s a few things we did.
Join a walking tour
Skopje Walks offers a free walking tour in the city centre of Skopje daily from 10 a.m. This is a terrific way to get your bearings in this quirky city and learn about the trials and triumphs the Macedonian people have faced. The meeting point is the Memorial House of Mother Teresa.
Head up to the Millennium Cross
Skopje is home to the largest cross in the world, standing at 66 metres and looking out across the city, it’s either a day hike or a ride on the local bus. Once there, capture some stunning photos of the city and landscape. To get there, catch the number 25 bus from the bus station to the cable cars. Alternatively, you can grab a map and hike up to the top.
Visit Matka Canyon and Cave
Not too far out of the city is picturesque Matka Canyon. Catch the number 60 bus to the last stop and walk to the Matka Canyon Hotel. Here you can either hike the walking path, catch a boat or kayak down the river. Visit the limestone cave and take in the tranquility.
Hop on the Skopje City Tour Bus
If you’d rather ride the Skopje City Tour Bus, and see Skopje in comfort. The bus runs from 11 a.m – 5 p.m daily. Visit there Facebook page for more information.
Explore the Old Bazaar
Whilst in the city centre, it is a must to explore Skopje’s old bazaar. Walk through the cobbled stoned streets and browse the selection of goods on sale. The bazaar contains museums, bars and restaurants serving traditional Macedonian food.
Watch a game at Philip II Arena
If you are an avid fan of sport, then check out if the main stadium is hosting any games. The home of teams FK Vardar and FK Rabotnički, visit their websites to see if a game is being played. Otherwise visit the popular park alongside the oval and have a drink or ice cream.
Play Spot the Statue
With so many statues scattered around the city, play a game of I-spy with friends spotting the quirky and intriguing statues. Can you find the begging statue, or the girl playing the harp?
Skopje is one of those fun cities that puts either a confused look or a smile on your face. With not many major hotels present in the city, you might find it easier to obtain accommodation at the family run hotels like Hotel 7. Although rated as a two star this little hotel is excellent value for money. With a private bathroom, coffee facilities and breakfast included, you can’t go wrong. Close to public transport, with friendly helpful staff. Book your stay today, and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you.
Albania is making inroads into becoming the Balkan Peninsula’s next big tourist destination. A country which was isolated from the rest of the world by its brutal dictator, is now modernising and accepting foreign investment to improve its attractiveness as a tourist destination. Our first stop in this developing country is where most travellers will start their journey in Albania. The thriving capital city of Tirana. Whilst here for five relaxing days, we stayed at the luxurious Sheraton Tirana Hotel.
To be honest with you when we initially talked about Tirana, we had no idea about the history or culture of Albania. Of course, we knew it was in Europe. Somewhere! But pictured a more rural and rustic type of lifestyle. You know, horse and carts, with farmers and their families working the land and living in little mud-brick cottages. What we didn’t expect was for the city to be a modern metropolis, with many other new buildings under construction. I know that sounds a little sheltered, but we didn’t know that much about Albania.
To set the record straight. Tirana is a modern city, with a vibrant cafe, bar and restaurant culture. Experience this by heading into the old communist quarter. You will find the youth of the city, sipping coffee and chatting about life in modern coffee shops and bars.
Our accommodation, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel is the only major branded hotel in Albania. Its facilities and staff are exactly what you’d expect from a Marriott/SPG grouped hotel. Quality. The hotel has hosted many famous dignitaries like Hilary Clinton and the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Therefore, you never know who you might bump into during your stay.
The hotel is located an easy ten minute walk from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Yet, somehow the hotel feels secluded from the rest of the city. This might be because it backs onto Tirana’s popular Grand Park, with Mother Teresa square and the University of Arts and Polytechnic buildings next door.
On arrival to the hotel we are welcomed by the hotel’s concierge and directed to the reception desk. From first impressions, you immediately feel relief as a wave of comfort washes over you. The lobby area is large and well decorated which leads to the hotel’s superb Infinity Bar and business corner.
The Infinity Bar is a great place to relax and have a beer, a cocktail, coffee or glass of wine. For those food and wine connoisseurs, I suggest trying their small tasting plates with matching wines.
We are quickly checked in, and make our way to our Deluxe King-sized room on the fifth floor. The room is large with an extremely comfortable King-sized bed. In fact, it was so comfortable, one day we wanted to stay in bed all day. Alas, that didn’t happen, because we had so much to do, but we wanted too!
The luxurious room also has a single lounge seat, glass table, a decent sized desk and chair, telephone, a fully stocked mini bar and television offering various channels. In-room security is also available with each room having a small safe. WiFi is also available in all rooms with excellent connectivity.
The separate bathroom contains a shower, toilet, basin and a decent sized bath. Rooms are serviced daily and although there are clean, the multi shaded tile colour inside the shower makes the shower area look less than flattering. Sheraton Hotel supplies its own brand of toiletries to use which are restocked daily or on request. An environmental conscious hotel, the Sheraton gives guests the option of foregoing servicing of their rooms in return for 450ALL (Albanian Lek), 500 SPG points, or a donation to a charity per day.
The Sheraton Tirana Hotel has approximately 150 available rooms, from standard rooms to luxury suites. All are homogeneously decorated and look as comfortable as our deluxe room. The two roomed suites are perfect for families as extra beds or cots can be added to keep everyone together.
With summer temperatures in Tirana reaching between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius, you will come to love the Sheraton Tirana Hotels pools. We spent two afternoons cooling off and relaxing by the outdoor pool. It would be easy to waste a day or two relaxing by the pools ordering food and drink from the O2 pool bar. The crystal clear pools were so refreshing with sunbeds strategically placed for the best rays.
If fitness is more up your alley, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel has a manned fitness area available. Let the instructor help you with a program or work out by yourself. They have a variety of exercise equipment at your disposal. Alternatively, if you’re feeling some muscle tightness the hotel has a Thai masseuse contracted to help their guests recover.
The hotel isn’t short of food options for its guests. Breakfast is served daily in the Metropolitan restaurant. Other food options are available to be purchased from the Infinity Bar, O2 pool bar or Il Pomodoro restaurant in the hotels mall area.
In the evenings, let Head Chef, Davide Concas inspire your palates with his standard or special seasonal menu. Once again, match your choices with some of the quality wines available. I couldn’t go past his roasted leg of lamb with wine braised spring onion and mint yoghurt, matched with a beautiful Cadet D’OC Cabernet Sauvignon.
We also ordered a succulent beef fillet with baby potatoes, glazed vegetables and a red wine sauce, grilled octopus and herbed falafel. For dessert, we tried Davide’s homemade vanilla ice cream and his Winter Pudding. The meal was delightful and sated our appetites.
For SPG Platinum members the Club Lounge looks like a wonderful place to spend a few hours. With access to premium internet services, snacks and drinks throughout the day and dinner served at night. This peaceful area is a good place to catch up on some work or with each other.
Overall, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel is a terrific place to stay whilst in Albania. The quality of the SPG/Marriott product and service levels are excellent. The concierge is always helpful with tips on places to visit and the best way to get there. They have an AVIS car rental office on site which offers day tours to other Albanian cities. Or stop at the souvenir shop to buy some presents for relatives back home. The hotel is connected to a small mall area with a few stores, a bank, coffee shop and cinema complex. Alternatively, relax by the pool, or take a walk through the Grand Park. There is always something to make you feel like you’re on holiday.
With plenty of things to do and visit in Tirana, the Sheraton Tirana Hotel will look after you and make your stay worthwhile. Although, a little more expensive than other hotels in Tirana, you can’t go past the quality and luxury of the hotel. So, make Albania one of your stops in Europe. Book your stay at the Sheraton Tirana Hotel and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for the Sheraton Tirana Hotel
Skopje and the Republic of Macedonia are a city and country trying to hold on to their identity. The people are friendly and the city is evolving daily to rediscover who they are. You see Macedonia, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is in dispute with Greece over the right to be called Macedonia, due to the historical and cultural significance of the name. Yet, the people of the Republic of Macedonia are proud about their young developing country since declaring independence in 1991.
For our first trip to the Republic of Macedonia, we find ourselves enamoured and at times confused by the styling of the city. Skopje, as one of our guides aptly suggests has copy/paste syndrome. In a city where Mother Teresa was born and lived for the first eighteen years of her life, you will find a multitude of enormous statues and monuments found in other countries. Like the bronze bull statue from Wall street, to the Macedonian “Arc de Triomphe” Porta Macedonia. Skopje seems to borrow landmarks from other countries and erects them somewhere with the city.
Nevertheless, this quirky syndrome and love of statues adds to the intrigue and charm of Skopje. During the first part of our stay in Skopje we are at the Hotel Vlaho, which proves to be a lovely boutique hotel about 2.5 kilometres from Skopje’s City Centre and the large Alexander the Great statue.
With seventeen rooms and six apartments, the Hotel Vlaho offers five different types of accommodation. The hotel is located in a handy area within walking distance from the centre of the city. The surrounding suburb also has various supermarkets, bars and local restaurants around.
We found the best way to get to the hotel from the central bus station is to hop onto the number 5 bus and head to the Kapistec Bus Stop about 6 stops from the bus station. Skopje, has a card system for their public transport (much like the public transport cards in Australia). Although, the green kiosks are hard to come by, there is a large yellow container like building in the central station that you can buy or top up cards. I recommend not using the automatic machine in the bus station, as it is easily vandalised and may not distribute your card after payment. This happened to us, but after some phone calls and talking to the manager of the transport system, we finally were given a replacement card. Avoid the hassle and buy from the manned kiosks.
On arrival to the Hotel Vlaho, we are greeted straight away by the staff at the reception desk located at the front doors. Behind the reception desk is a comfortable lounge area, with a drink fridge and television. We did spend some time in this area during our stay and found the area pleasant. The hotel offers each guest a coffee on arrival which can be that kick-start you need after a long tiring journey.
After check-in, we hop into the lift and head up to our deluxe room. The deluxe room contains a double bed, a large television, coffee and tea facilities, a desk and bar fridge. The room is quite spacious and we drop our gear and freshen up.
The adjoining bathroom is modern and clean, and the shower is a decent size with water pressure and quantity of hot water being excellent. Rooms are serviced daily by the hotel staff where the cleanliness is maintained.
The hotel offers breakfast with your stay, with the restaurant downstairs from the reception area. Breakfast is served daily from 07:00 a.m – 10:00 a.m with a fair option of food choice available. It’s an all you can eat buffet, so you can eat as much as you like.
The apartments are across the road from the hotel and there is an outside patio area in the driveway to relax in. For those arriving by plane, the hotel offers an airport transport service. Make sure you contact the hotel before arrival to organise your lift.
We enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Vlaho. Although a little outside of the main city centre, it was an easy 25 minute walk into the old bazaar. Alternatively, we also caught the bus into the city which takes about 10 minutes. A kiosk is located near the bus stop, which the hotel staff directed us to. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with a working air-conditioner and a stocked mini bar. Good for those midnight snacks. On a couple of occasions, we had to wait for housekeeping to finish cleaning our room, but it wasn’t an issue with the lounge area downstairs.
Overall, Hotel Vlaho is a decent place to stay, so book your holiday today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Who doesn’t love a good burger? Be it a veggie burger or a traditional burger, there is something about them that we can’t resist. We found out about Skaptoburger by pure chance. During our stay in beautiful Sofia, we decided to discover the city and its cuisine by going on a food tour.
Tour company Balkan Bites, offers visitors to Sofia a free food tour. That’s right, a free food tour! This was a fantastic way to see Sofia. Whilst, showing you the history of the city they also take you to five restaurants to sample what they have on offer. It was during our tour that we were introduced to Skaptoburger.
Not too far out of the city centre, Skaptoburger is a burger restaurant located at 20 Tsar Shishman Str, Sofia, Bulgaria. Now, be careful as you walk by, as it is a small shop containing about six tables and seats around 30 people and can be easily missed. It can become quite busy, so takeaway might be the best option if you can’t get a table.
So, what makes Skaptoburger so popular? The fact that it has won Sofia’s “King of Burger” Award for two consecutive years is a good indication that their burgers are well received. Plus, the ability to have a good craft beer to wash it all down, makes it a perfect place for me to eat.
On this occasion, we were able to get a table and perused their menu for the burger of our choice. They have eight burgers available from their award winners to their veggie burgers. We decide to order the Skaptoburger burger and the 2016 award-winning Chessus.
The Skaptoburger burger consists of ground beef, crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapeno, red onion, iceberg lettuce, tomato and their special hot burger sauce. A delicious burger with a hot tangy aftertaste. A perfect example of a classic burger.
The play on words named Cheesus, contains ground beef, double cheddar cheese, bacon, pickles, tomato and iceberg lettuce, topped with mustard and tomato sauce (ketchup). I can see why this burger was named the King of Burgers, a little messy to eat, but a wonderful mix of flavours. Simply a gem of a burger and a must try!
Skaptoburger makes great burgers. I would rate it right up there with Fergburger in Queenstown . Thinking about it, it might be the best burger I’ve had! I know big call right! But based on value for money and the exquisite taste it would be close. My recommendation is when you are in Sofia, head to Skaptoburger and try one of their award-winning burgers and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!
Additional Information for Skaptoburger
ul. “Tsar Shishman” 20, 1000 Sofia Center, Sofia, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 87 788 8688 Website: www.skaptoburger.com