Tag Archives: #europe

Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel

Have you ever stayed at a Best Western Hotel? When we associate Best Western Hotels in Australia, we remember those country roadside motels with nothing around but a petrol station and salt bush. Well that memory has just been shattered! We headed into Sofia and stayed a couple of nights at the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The Best Western Premier Hotel Range

Urban Adventure Tours

After spending five days in the seaside city of Varna in Bulgaria we awake early to the news of a 37-degree Celsius day and the knowledge of a 7 hour train ride to the capital of Sofia (such a pretty name). The train ride is no problem! We’ve done longer ones. Unfortunately, the issue is Bulgarian regional trains don’t have air-conditioning. Hence, when we finally get to Sofia, we are exhausted, and not looking forward to the public bus trip to our next hotel stop, the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel.

How did we get to the Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel?
The non-air conditioned wagons of the Bulgarian railways.

So, I break with tradition and we take a taxi to the hotel. I know we overpaid but I just didn’t care at that point. We paid 20BGN to get to the hotel. The normal price should be between 10BGN and 15BGN, so paying an extra 5BGN was no issue and the driver was so happy to make the extra money.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel

From some quick research, the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel has 155 luxurious rooms available, a bar and restaurant, a fitness area and six conference rooms. It is about 12 kilometres from the city centre and within 1 kilometre of both terminals at the Sofia International Airport.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The courtesy bus shuttles guests between the airport terminals, Metro station and the hotel.

Being a brand new hotel it is located on a new road with not much around it. Therefore, it is not the easiest hotel to get to public transport wise. Fortunately, the hotel is aware of the transport limitations and has a courtesy bus available. The hourly run bus transports its guests to and from the airport’s terminals. With a Metro station located at Terminal 2, it is easy to catch the courtesy bus to and from the airport. But make sure you book in your times. Alternatively, if you’d rather stay in for the day at the hotel, you can entertain yourself using the available facilities.

Plane spotting from Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
If you like planes and are lucky enough to have a room on the right side,. You can watch them land at Sofia.

On arrival at the hotel you enter its large lobby area, with the reception desk to the left and a lounge area to the right. Alongside the reception desk they have a business area, where you can sit and do some work in peace, if required. Additionally, further along the lobby hall are the elevators and the Barillon 1909 restaurant and bar.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The friendly staff is busy working behind the reception desk.
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The business centre office is located right next to the reception desk.
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Relax in the lobby lounge area.

The friendly reception staff promptly check us in and direct us to our Premier King Room. The Premier Room is spacious and clean, with a comfortable king-sized bed, a day lounge, a television, coffee facilities and a good-sized desk/workstation. As you can see below, the room is neatly decorated with large windows letting in the afternoon sun. Our room was on the eighth floor which had a pleasant view of Sofia airport, where it was nice to sit and watch the planes landing and taking off.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The King-sized bed in the Premier King Room. It was very comfortable 🙂
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The reverse photo of the Premier King Room

The rooms separate bathroom is a descent size and in pristine condition. There is plenty of room in the shower and the water pressure and temperature are easy to control. A large bench area allows room for your additional toiletries and make up. The rooms are cleaned daily with the hotel honouring its environmental promise, by only changing the towels when required by the guests. Best Western Hotels also supply a good range of bathroom toiletries if you happen to forget or run out of something.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The bathroom is clean and has a large bench area to store your toiletries
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
The bathroom toiletries available at the Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel

For those of you that are fitness conscious, the hotel has a 24 hour, unsupervised gym located on the 1st floor.  The gym boasts a variety of exercise equipment that will provide you with a descent workout. They also provide change room facilities and lockers if you would rather change or shower there instead of tracking back through the hotel or are there for business.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
There is a 24 hr gym on site with a variety of exercise machines.

Talking about business, the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel, is an ideal place for local and international businesses to hold functions or meetings. The hotel offers 6 conference halls with the ability to cater for 450 guests. These facilities would be ideal for events, conventions or weddings in Sofia.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Looking for your conference room? Just follow the signs.

Breakfast is served daily at the Barillon 1909 restaurant and bar from 7 a.m. They also provide continental breakfast options from 4 a.m for those guests with early morning flights.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m in Barillon 1909

Whilst there, spend your evenings at Barillon 1909 with a cocktail at the bar. It’s a welcome place to meet some fellow travellers. Otherwise, let Ivan Dmitrov and his team entertain your taste buds by having a delicious meal in the restaurant.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Have a cocktail and mingle with other travellers at the Barillon bar
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Let Ivan Dmitrov look after you with his delicious food in the Barillon Restaurant.

Head Chef, Ivan Dmitrov has created a quality menu for customers to the Barillon 1909 restaurant and bar. His menu has a good range of Mediterranean and classic European dishes and a superb balance of local and international wines. During our time at the hotel, we tried some of the dishes available, from their standard and seasonal menus. The restaurant is comfortable and the staff are pleasant and attentive to your dietary needs. In my opinion, the quality of the food was above average and would rate Ivan’s food better than most other hotel restaurants.

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Parmesan chicken with vegetable risotto
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Traditional Bulgarian Lamb Shanks
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Chicken Risotto with mushrooms, spinach and blue cheese
Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
Penne with “Calabro” spicy salami and meatballs

Overall, our stay at the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel has shattered our misconceptions of the Best Western Hotel brand. This hotel is worth the stay and the use of the shuttle bus to transport you to and from the Terminal 2 Metro station means that you aren’t too far from the centre of Sofia. The rooms, facilities and restaurant are impressive and the staff are friendly and helpful. The hotel gets a big tick from me. It would be especially good if you happen to have a layover in Sofia. The quality of service in addition to the comfort level is just what you desire when you want to have a good rest between flights.

This experience has opened our eyes to the Best Western Brand so forget those roadside motel impressions and stay at a Best Western hotel today. Therefore, when you’re next in Sofia, and looking for a place to stay, why not try the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel
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Additional Information for the Best Western Premier: Sofia Airport Hotel

11 Brussels, Boulevard, Sofia, 1592, Bulgaria
Ph: +359 2 905 1313
Website: www.hotelpremiersofia.com

Book your stay at the Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel now with Booking.com

Prices of accommodation per night at the Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel:

Ranging from €71.00(AUD$106) – €93.00 (AUD$140) per night

Barilion 1909 caters for breakfast daily

  • from 7:00 a.m. daily

Barilion 1909 Restaurant and Bar opening times:

Main Dishes prices range from 18.00BGN (AUD$14.00) and 81.90BGN (AUD$62.00)

Opening hours 07:00 – 23:00
Reservations by phone at: +359 2 905 1313

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Wieliczka Salt Mine Tour

If you were to tell me before we started this trip that I’d be going to visit a salt mine, I may have laughed. That would be because in Australia when I think about salt mines, I picture a stark salt pan. Therefore, when we were looking for another tour to do in Krakow we wanted something less emotionally draining than the Auschwitz and Birkenau tour we did the day before. The Krakville tour operator suggested for us to go to the Wieliczka Salt Mine. So, after a bit of umming and ahhing we decided why not?

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The Wieliczka Salt Mine was listed as a UNESCO heritage site in 1978 and consists of 300kms of tunnels. The mine has been in operation since the 13th Century (that’s an old mine) and is open for visitors daily from 07:30 a.m to 07:30 p.m. The mine can be visited without a tour group, but you may have a long wait depending on the number of visitors and tour groups.

The tour starts mid-morning and our meeting point for the start of the tour is the Krakville office building in the Old Town Krakow. Once again, we are given identification stickers to ensure we aren’t separated from our group. This straight away tells us that the mine is busy. We all climb into mini vans and are driven approximately half an hour to the town of Wieliczka.

Auschwitz and Birkenau
The small office of the Krakville Tour Company in the Old Town

It’s not long before we are at the mine and climb the steps to the mines entrance. On arrival it is raining, but that hasn’t stopped the crowds from showing up. There is a large number of tour group already here and a fair contingent of lone travellers negotiating the throng of people. The mine has some additional souvenir shops and a cafe outside if you must wait for a while.

The waiting crowds have some shops to buy food before entering the Wieliczka Salt Mine
An outdoor shop at the Wieliczka Salt Mine

After a short wait, we are guided past the crowds and into the mine. We are given radio receivers so that we can hear the guide as she explains the enormity of the mine. First, we descend down 350 steps to the entry-level of the mine. Like a column staircase you’d find in a hundred-floor building we descend down and down. It is quite a work out and if you make the mistake and go to fast down, you can get quite dizzy.

Staircase in Wieliczka Salt Mine
Some of the flights of stairs going down, but these aren’t the first 350 steps.

At the bottom of the stairs the guide checks to make sure we are all alive after the workout and explains the ground rules of the tour. Like don’t wander off, as there are so many tunnels, therefore getting lost is quite easy.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
One of the many places of worship in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

As we walk through the tunnels we encounter open chambers within the mine providing a visual aid about the construction and operation of the mine. In total there are 20 chambers available to be visited. The guide explains that the workers would construct churches, halls, theatres and specific carvings as they were down in the mine for large amounts of time.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
The story of the Hungarian Princess and the lost ring.
Wieliczka Salt Mine
The main hall is hired out for special occasions.

We walk through various places of worship and are shown some of the incredible wall fresco’s etched by the workers. Photos are allowed to be taken at a small additional cost and there are photo permit places along the route. The mine also has an underground souvenir store and a large restaurant and cafeteria area.

Wieliczka Salt Mine
A formal dining area in the Wieliczka Salt Mine
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Food is available at the cafeteria in the Wieliczka Salt Mine

Overall, the Wieliczka Salt Mine is a worthwhile attraction with the website stating that tourists should allow three hours to visit the site. The temperature of the mine averages 14 degrees Celsius so warm jackets are handy. You will be amazed at the chambers and carvings done by the workers. Photos are a must so my advice is pay for the permit. So, book your tour today and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Wieliczka Salt Mine
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Additional Information for Krakville Wieliczka Salt Mine

ul. Mikolajska 8, Krakow
Ph: +48 607 750 901
Website: www.krakville.com

Cost 109PLN (AUD$38)

Trading Hours
  • Daily from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M.
  • Price includes:
  • transport by bus to and from Salt Mine
  • tour attendant
  • guide in Salt Mine
  • admission fees
  • duration 4 h

Available accommodation in Krakow

Other tours available through Urban Adventures

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Bran Castle the home of Dracula

What are the first things that come to your mind when someone mentions Transylvania? If you are like me you think of Dracula, vampires, dark nights and scary castles. Through the popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula, Transylvania has always had an intrigue for travellers. With many fans doing the trek to visit Bran Castle, commonly known as “the home of Dracula”.

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During our travels, we always had Romania pencilled in as a possible country to visit and after some investigations we decided to base ourselves in Sighișoara and do a day trip to Bran Castle. Although Bran Castle is the home of Stoker’s Dracula, Sighișoara is the actual birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration behind the character.

Vlad Dracul
A portrait of Vlad the Impaler in Bran Castle.

Arguably, one of the prettiest villages in Romania, this picturesque village is home to one of the oldest medieval citadels in Romania. With its many Church’s, restaurant’s and residences located on top of a hill the colourful town oozes character.

Sighisoara, Romania
Beautiful Sighișoara, with one of the many church’s in the medieval citadel.

For our day tour to Bran Castle we opted to go with someone who knew Transylvania well. After a quick internet search about tours from Sighișoara, we came across, Emanuel Enache. Emanuel is the owner and primary tour guide for tour business, YourGuidein Transylvania. Emanuel offers his customers personalised tours throughout Transylvania, so we booked him to take us to Bran Castle. Booking was easy through his website, and he responded back quickly to organise morning pick up’s and inclusive tour information.

The Doubletree by Hilton Sighisoara
The Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara, our base for our stay in Transylvania

The tour commences at 10:00 a.m with Emanuel picking us up from our hotel during our stay the Doubletree by Hilton Sighișoara. After introductions Emanuel places emphasis on us becoming friends from the start. His point of us meeting possibly only once in a lifetime is a good excuse for us to be friends from the outset. It’s not hard to like him, with his bubbly character and charm.

Transylvania and Bran Castle
The Transylvanian countryside.

The drive from Sighișoara to Bran Castle takes two hours, which fly by as Emanuel provides us with the history of the Transylvanian region, economy and life. This insight gives us an appreciation of the Romanian people and its culture. Emanuel has no set schedule to his tours, he allows his guests to dictate when they would like to stop for lunch or rest breaks along the way.

Once in Bran, Emanuel allows us to walk around the souvenir tents and food stalls whilst he organises skip the line entry into the castle. The various stalls show off their Dracula inspired souvenirs, from magnets, coffee cups and T-shirts. There is something for everyone!

Some of the souvenirs available at Bran Castle
If you are looking for a Dracula souvenir, then the Bran Castle stall’s will have something for you!

Bran Castle is one of the seven castles of Wallachia, and although Vlad the Impaler ruled the region during his reign from 1448. It is unknown if he used Bran Castle. This doesn’t take away from the breathtaking visual of this castle on the hill. Today it is mainly a museum to Queen Marie of Romania, who lived in the castle during her lifetime.

A bedroom in Bran Castle
One of the bedrooms inside Bran Castle, the furniture was all donated back to the Castle.

The three level castle is impressive, like many castles throughout Europe, so if you like castles then have a visit, the picture of Bran castle on the hill is a good photo to show your friends. Emanuel is excellent explaining the rooms, and the history of Queen Marie and the royal family, there is some rooms dedicated to the vampire myth, but they aren’t that interesting.

Inside Bran Castle
The interior of the three-levelled Bran Castle

Overall, Bran Castle by itself is something I wouldn’t do by myself. It is a nice drive but the castle is just another castle, if you don’t have the story about it. What made this tour especially worthwhile was Emanuel’s information and conversation about Transylvania, the castle, Dracula and the vampire myth. Emanuel’s engaging personality makes is tour worthwhile. Emanuel offers plenty other tours throughout Transylvania and will pick you up from your accommodation.

Inside Bran Castle
The view from the third floor of Bran Castle

Transylvania itself is a beautiful part of Romania and a definite place to go with its history and pretty towns like Sighisoara and Sibiu. So, contact Emanuel and YourGuideinTransylvania and book your Transylvanian tour today. And tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Do a day trip from Sighisoara with Emanuel, YourguideinTransylvania to visit Bran Castle the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula
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Additional Information for YourGuideinTransylvania’s Bran Castle Day Tour

Strada Ilarie Chendi 35, Sighișoara 545400, Romania
Ph: +40 745 501 861
Website: www.yourguideintransylvania.com

Tour Information
  • Duration/Distance:

    7 – 8 hours / 282 km

    Price: 79 euro/person*

    * minimum 2 pax

    Included:

    – Pick up / drop off at your hotel

    – Transportation

    – English licensed guide

    – Permanent assistance

Available accommodation in Transylvania, Romania

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Remarkable value at the Red Trees Apartment Budapest

Budapest is a city that I feel at home in right away. I don’t  know why, but everything seems easy. After an overnight train from Krakow and a solid night’s sleep, I awake refreshed looking forward to this remarkable city. There’s something about train rides that puts me at ease. They seem to rock me to sleep like a baby. Of course, without the screaming and hollering in the middle of the night.

Red Trees Apartment, Budapest
The overnight train from Krakow to Budapest.

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For our four days, we are booked into the Red Trees Apartment. The apartment complex is a little hard to locate at first but it runs off the main tourist strip of Váci utca (street). Transport to the apartment building is easy from the Budapest train station. Public transport tickets are easily purchased from ticket machines at the train stations and bus stops.  Ferenciek Tere is the closest metro train to the Red Trees Apartment with the exit concourse within metres of Kígyó utca. Due to an early arrival into Budapest the agent Attila, is happy to meet us so we can store our luggage in the apartment whilst it is being cleaned.

Historically, Budapest is two cities Buda and Pest separated by the mighty Danube and today there is still a friendly rivalry between the two sides. The main reasoning behind booking the Red Trees Apartment was its incredible location. Right on the tourist strip and so close to transport and attractions the Red Tree Apartments was perfect.

Red Trees Apartment
The view of Pest from the Buda side.

The apartment itself is big. It consists of two large sleeping areas, a bathroom, toilet and kitchen. Coffee and sugar were supplied on our stay and the small shop next door is handy for everyday items. If you’d like a larger shop for groceries an Aldi, Spar and Tesco are close by.

Red Trees Apartment, Budapest
The large main bedroom has three large windows overlooking Kígyó Utca.

The main bedroom has three large windows each with a roller shutter to stop the morning sun waking you up too early. The large double bed is comfortable with a sofa and desk. The second living area, separated from the main room by double doors, has a double bed, and dining table.

Red Trees Apartment Budapest
The second bedroom is also the dining area.

Compared to the two main living areas the bathroom is small. It has a small bath tub with a shower head. With no ability to hang the shower head on the wall bathing is better sitting down, unless you appreciate water everywhere. The bathroom also has a good working washing machine but you will have to supply your own laundry powder. With four of us staying in the apartment, hot water was no problem.

Red Trees Apartment Budapest
The small bathroom with bath, basin and washing machine.

The apartments kitchen would not be considered as modern, but it is functional. With a gas stove, fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle we could make it a little like home. The kitchen has sufficient utensils, cutlery and plates. The only issue we discovered was that there was no igniter to light the gas stove. Thankfully the shop next door stocked lighters.

Red Trees Apartment, Budapest
The kitchen in the Red Trees Apartment, with stove, fridge and microwave.

As mentioned above the bathroom was small, but possibly the surprise of the large apartment is the toilet is tiny. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself a large person. I’m about 176cm tall and weigh about 85kgs. However, I struggled to fit in the toilet. If you happen to be a bigger person, good luck shutting the toilet door.

Overall, the Red Trees apartment was comfortable. The location is perfect, you have access to restaurants, shopping, attractions, bars and clubs. The area is safe, and the people are friendly. The apartment is located on the second floor but there is a lift so you don’t have to lug baggage up any stairs. We did notice their apartment has no television, but the Wi-Fi had good connectivity. The beds were comfortable and with the roller shutters closed, you could silence any outside noise. So, book your stay at the Red Trees Apartment today, and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Red Trees Apartment Budapest
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Additional Information for the Red Trees Apartment

Kígyó utca 4-6, Budapest, Hungary
Website: www.red-trees-apartment.go-budapest-hotels.com

Check-in:from 16:00 hours
Check-out:until 12:00 hours

Book your stay at the Red Trees Apartment now.

Prices of accommodation:

Approximate Cost per night   €70 (AUD$107)

Available tours in Budapest by Urban Adventures

Red Trees Apartment Rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Location = 10
Comfort= 8
Cleanliness = 8
Price = 8
Facilities = 7

Overall = 8

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Dining at La Grande Mamma, Krakow

Urban Adventure Tours

The old town in Krakow is always alive with tourists buzzing around taking in the history and sights. Krakow offers visitors many ways to discover this city, from Segway tours to horse and cart rides. Street stalls and boutique stores are happily selling their merchandise to happy shoppers. With the many restaurants offering a wide range of local and international cuisines.

Food vendors are everywhere throughout the city. You can try some traditional Polish cuisine, or visit a food stall in the main square barbecuing massive amounts of meat. There’s fast food franchises, if that takes your fancy, or the many fine dining choices supplying foods from around the world. With so many choices we select the Italian inspired La Grande Mamma.

With so many food options in Krakow. Try La Grande Mamma in the old town's main square
La Grande Mamma’s Al fresco seating, taken from the main square

Located on one of the corners of the main square, La Grande Mamma is an Italian inspired fine dining restaurant that offers decent quality food.  Upon entry into this old building you immediately enter the heart of the restaurant where all the action occurs. Here, there is a central preparation bench with one of the kitchen staff preparing assorted menu items.

La Grande Mamma
The preparation table in the font room of La Grande Mamma

Once greeted by the waiting staff, we are directed into one of the quieter side rooms and seated at a lovely table overlooking the square.

La Grande Mamma
One of the nicely decorated quieter rooms.

The restaurant has a decent range of wines available by the glass or bottle and their food menu is full of modern and traditional Italian cuisine. On this occasion, we selected a basic Margherita pizza, a Calzone farcito and their Filetto di maiale for our main meals. And followed that up with Creme brulee and a Meringa con mascarpone for dessert.

La Grande Mamma
The current menu at La Grande Mamma

The Margherita pizza was just a plain tomato puree on a thin base with cheese. It was approximately 30 cm in circumference, so quite large for one person, but I feel it was missing that fresh basil that garnishes most Margherita pizzas.

La Grande Mamma
La Grande Mamma’s basic Margherita Pizza. Unfortunately it was missing fresh basil.

Our Calzone farcito contained tomato puree, mozzarella cheese, ham, salami and champignon mushrooms, encased in a folded and sealed pizza base. When cracked open the heat and fragrances were wonderful. A well cooked dish, but rather plain-looking with a sprinkling of dry herbs.

La Grande Mamma
La Grande Mamma’s Calzone farcito. Well cooked, but it’s presentation needs some work!

The next plate was the Filetto di maiale, which is pistachio covered pork loin. It is served on a bed of potato puree, zucchini and red wine sauce. Beautifully cooked, the Filetto di maiale would be my pick of the dishes. Superbly balanced flavours but once again the presentation of the dish could be improved.

La Grande Mamma
A Filetto di maiale from La Grande Mamma

After the main meals were completed the efficient and friendly waiting staff cleared our plates and prepared the table for our upcoming desserts. The first dish to arrive was the Creme Brulee. Now, Creme Brulee’s would possibly be MacKenzie’s and my most favourite dessert, as we do tend to compare them against each other. When La Grande Mamma’s Creme Brulee arrived, we were quite excited to see how it stacked up against the ones we’ve had elsewhere.

La Grande Mamma
Does anyone want some Creme Brulee?

Although small in size the presentation of the Creme Brulee was better to that of the main meals. That was due to the contrasting colours used in the dish. The hard caramel cover was well done, but the actual custard base was a little grainy in texture, not that smooth consistence that is required. The flavour was okay, but not a show stopper.

La Grande Mamma
Meringa con mascarpone, we have a winner!

Our next dessert was the Meringa con mascarpone and from when the waitress placed the plate on our table, we knew we had a winner. The meringue, covered with mascarpone cream and fresh fruit was an instantaneous success. Nicely presented and delicious, it was hard not going back for more!

There are many places to eat in Krakow’s old town and the catchy named La Grande Mamma is situated in a part of the square that isn’t overrun by other tourists and street sellers. The interior is decorated well and the Italian cuisine has good flavour, but lacks the presentation. I do believe that we get the best out of a meal when they satisfy all our senses. La Grande Mamma, ticks most of those boxes, but the main meal presentation could use a little flair.

Overall, La Grande Mamma was a comfortable restaurant to attend, with a good honest food. The price is a little inflated, but all the restaurants are the same in the main tourist area of Old Town Krakow. Make sure you tip the waiting staff. Service charges are not included in the prices and it is expected if they’ve provided good service. Ten percent of the final cheque is the going rate, so if you are on a budget make sure you account for this extra expense. If you are in Krakow, visit La Grande Mamma tonight and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Looking for a place to eat in old town Krakow? Then try La Grande Mamma in the main square for decent Italian food.
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Additional Information for La Grande Mamma

Rynek Główny 26, 33-332 Kraków, Poland
Ph: +48 12 430 64 58
Website: www.lagrandemamma.pl

Breakfast Prices Range 19.00 PLN – 68.00 PLN (AUD$6.60 – $23)

Trading Hours
  • Daily: 12 pm – 11 pm

Book accommodation in Krakow with Booking.com

Book a tour in Krakow through Urban Adventures

La Grande Mamma rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =8
Atmosphere =8
Service =9
Price = 7
Food =8

Overall = 8

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Animals and Aquariums – The Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

If you have had the pleasure of travelling with children, you would know that sometimes it’s hard to keep them happy. In their minds, Museums and Art Galleries can be boring. That’s because most young children don’t appreciate looking at the ancient pottery from Pompeii or the subject and detail of Rembrandt’s The Nights Watch. Basically, unless there are dinosaurs or places with amazing interactive fun, children become disinterested quickly. They want to go to places like Disneyland,  Sea World or the other major amusement parks. But, at times we all become those little kids and desire that entertainment. Feeling in a fun and happy mood we head off for a day at the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

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After a lovely breakfast at Cafe Clave, we decide to walk the 1.1 km from our Scandic hotel to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The entrance to the Berlin Zoo

Now, if this is your first trip to Berlin, you may want to think about purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card. This transport tourist card lasts up to 6 days and covers all your public transport options. It also comes with a booklet containing discounts to many of the major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium. Additionally, it comes with that all important city map, so you can see the various tourist sites and construct your touring itinerary accordingly.

The Berlin Welcome Card covers transport and discounts to many major attractions, including the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium.
The Berlin Welcome Card Booklet

If you are short on time, you can do the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium separately. We opted to combine the two at a discounted price (See below).  Since the zoo is the larger of the two complexes we do the zoo first.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Some gardens inside the Berlin Zoo

As mentioned the zoo is large, exhibiting a wide range of animals from around the world. Our recommendation is to examine the zoo’s map provided and work out a plan of attack. That way you won’t be backtracking and possibly missing some of the animals. Of course, the information is in German so have your translating app available if you can’t read German.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
One of the zoo keepers feeding the wolves

The zoo has set times for feeding and information on the animals (again in German), but it was still interesting seeing them being fed. From wolves, elephants, gorillas, rhinos, lions, zebras and giraffes it was amazing to see the children’s young faces light up in awe of these magnificent creatures.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The majestic elephant walking around his enclosure
Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A Rhinoceros in his muddy enclosure

Finding food is not an issue at the zoo as they have a large cafe, a restaurant and many food carts scattered around the park.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
A cafe in the zoo, they also have a restaurant and food carts.

Exciting times are ahead for the Berlin Zoo as they are finishing their new Panda enclosure as they are expecting them to arrive in June 2017.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
The street entrance to Aquarium Berlin. There’s another entrance from inside the zoo.

Once you’ve finished in the Berlin Zoo make your way to the Aquarium. Here you will find an arrangement of diverse types of fish, amphibians, reptiles and creepy crawly insects.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
An iguana at Aquarium Berlin

This three-story building holds a vast quantity of fish species of assorted sizes and incredible colours.

Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
No need to search any further, I found Dory!

There is a warm, humid, central forest area that has some crocodiles, which was inviting on a cooler Berlin day. Like the zoo the aquarium has a cafe, in case you want a snack or coffee.

Overall, both the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium are wonderful places to visit in Berlin. By using the Berlin Welcome Card, we had a 25% discount on the combined price, so great value for money. There is enough fun and intrigue for children to enjoy the day. The zoo also has a large playground area, so your children can burn off some extra energy if required. Visit the zoo and aquarium today and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Want a place to take the family in Berlin! Head to the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium for a day of fun.
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Additional Information for the Berlin Zoo and Aquarium
Berlin Zoo

Hardenbergplatz 8, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.zoo-berlin.de

Opening Times
ZOO CASH POINT
1. January – 26. February 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
27. February – 26. March 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
27. March – 24. September 9:00 am – 6:30 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
25. September – 29. October 9:00 am – 6:00 pm 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
30. October – 31. December 9:00 am – 4:30 pm 9:00 am – 3:30 pm

*Note:

The Zoo closes at 2 p.m. on 24 December.

Please note that the ticket offices close approx. one hour before the zoo closes. The animal houses close 30 minutes before the zoo itself closes.

Aquarium Berlin

Budapester Straße 32, 10787 Berlin
Ph. +49 30 254010
Website: www.aquarium-berlin.de

Opening Times
AQUARIUM
1 January–31 December 9 a.m.–6 p.m.

TICKETS – Berlin Zoo and Aquarium

Aquarium & Zoo – Separate ZOO & AQUARIUM Combination
Adults 14,50 € 20,00 €
Children
4 up to 15 years
7,50 € 10,00 €
Small Families
(1 adult and his or her children up to 15 years)
25,00 € 33,00 €
Large Families
(2 adults and his or their children up to 15 years)
39,00 € 50,00 €
Concession*
students, apprentices, ALG I+II recipients, the severely disabled and their accompaniment, accompaniment if explicitly required on the disabled visitor’s ID
10,00 € 15,00 €

 

Welcome to Berlin Card

For more information on the Welcome to Berlin Card , click here

Book accommodation in Berlin via Booking.com 

Book UrbanAdventures guided tours in Berlin 

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Lovely Lucca and the Terrace of Perfumes

Urban Adventure Tours

Since the girls left we have been travelling around Italy with no real plan. I know it sounds a bit unusual, living and organising accommodation on the fly. We always knew we were going to wing it and see where the tide takes us. This way we are not tied down. If we meet someone on the road who says “You have to go to this…. place”, then we could book it the next day and we’re on our way. The beautiful town of Lucca was just one of these places. A good friend said since you’re in Italy, you must visit Lucca. So, we did. In doing so we had to organise a place to stay and luckily for us we stayed at the Terrace of Perfumes.

Terrace of Perfumes
Lucca was the home of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini

The Terrace of Perfumes is an agent run apartment available through Booking.com and AirBNB. Located just outside the old city the Terrace of Perfumes is close to supermarkets and local restaurants.  Being an apartment they do prefer stays 3 days or longer.

Terrace of Perfumes
The tree-lined walking path on top of the old town walls.

We were met at the apartment on check in by the apartments owners Mauricio and Valeria and their apartments agent Alessandro. The apartment is situated on the first floor and upon entry you notice how clean and beautiful the apartment is.

Terrace of Perfumes
The bedroom

This one bedroom apartment consists of a large bedroom which overlooks the street, a lounge area, a fully functional kitchen, bathroom and a balcony area which has that all important washing machine and clothes line. They have thought about everything to make your stay as carefree, relaxing and enjoyable as possible.

Terrace of Perfumes
The fully functional kitchen, is stocked with everything you need for your stay.
Terrace of Perfumes
The long thin bathroom with shower cubicle in the middle of the room. Surprisingly water is well contained between the shower curtains.
Terrace of Perfumes
The private balcony with washing machine and clothes line. It’s a good place to have breakfast.

Mauricio and Valeria are exceptional hosts and ensure we are settled and welcomed with a basket filled with some produce and a bottle of delicious Chianti. They have a compendium about the apartment and helpful information about Lucca and its must see places and things to do.

Terrace of Perfumes
Mauricio and Valeria’s welcome basket.

We really enjoyed our time in Lucca, walking the thin cobbled streets surrounded by hundreds of year old buildings. Visiting the home of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini and indulging in some of that Italian cuisine. International tour hosts, Urban Adventures offers four incredible tours around Lucca for you to try. So, take a trip to Lucca, experience a tour and book the Terrace of Perfumes. Don’t forget to tell them Simon from Ourworldineview sent you!

Looking for accommodation in Lucca? The Terrace of Perfumes is the ideal place to stay.
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Additional Information for the Terrace of Perfumes

Via Borgo Giannotti 389, 55100 Lucca, Italy
Website: Nil Available

Check in: 15:00 hrs
Check out: 10:00 hrs

Book your stay at the Terrace of Perfumes now with Booking.com

Prices of accommodation:

Ranging from AUD$90 – AUD$110 per night

Terrace of Perfumes Rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Location = 8
Comfort=10
Cleanliness = 10
Price = 10
Facilities =10

Overall = 9.5

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Breaking our fast at Cafe Clave – Berlin

Urban Adventure Tours

Berlin has been full of surprises, from the landmarks, the people, the history and the cost. It has surpassed all of our expectations. Staying at the Scandic Berlin Kurfürstendamm hotel has been a pleasure and with a good restaurant that serves breakfast and dinner, it would be easy to stay in and eat there every day. But being a little more adventurous we opted to do some investigating around the neighbourhood to see what other places are close by to have breakfast.  You know, sometimes you just want to go somewhere else to eat! After a leisurely stroll along Augsburger strasse we came across this lovely little place called Cafe Clave.

Clave Cafe
A chalkboard with a selection of menu items available at the Cafe Clave.

Look before you pop in. Cafe Clave accepts cash only as they don’t have EFTPOS facilities available. But don’t let that sway your choice to dine there or not, the prices are fair and the food is scrumptious.

Cafe Clave is a relatively small cafe with a few tables inside the shop with some outdoor seating also available. We took up residence at a table close to the windows. The tables are your normal everyday cafe tables with leather seats inside and wicker seats outside. They also have a window bench seat complete with cushions. A fact that decided where we were going to sit.

Cafe Clave
The window seat became our residence for the morning.

The menu on offer is small with enough choices available to elicit a considered decision. We choose the Bacon and Eggs, a croissant with jam and a Pain au Chocolat. We also ordered a fruit smoothie, cafe latte and a flat white coffee to wash it all down.

Cafe Clave
Our drinks order, a Cafe Latte, a fruit smoothie and a flat white

The food arrived quickly and was consumed just as quick. The Bacon and Eggs were a little small for my liking, a larger amount of bacon would have been perfect. It was cooked well, with a little crunch and the eggs were fluffy with a smooth consistent texture.

Cafe Clave
Bacon and Eggs, a little more bacon would have made it perfect.

The freshly supplied croissant was served with a choice of condiments from honey and various jams. The pastry was flaky and warm, easy to separate.

Cafe Clave
French Breakfast, a croissant with a choice of condiments

Finally, the supplied Pain au Chocolate was filled with delicious chocolate and good to the last bite.

Cafe Clave
A Pain au Chocolat

Cafe Clave is open for all three meals and has a broad selection of wines on their shelves. They also have a selection of cakes available, so have a look in their display to see what they have for you today.

Cafe Clave
Wine anybody……
Cafe Clave
..then how about some cakes?

Overall, Cafe Clave was a pleasant change from a breakfast in a hotel. The waitress servicing us was lovely and looked after all her many customers with equal aplomb. With food available all day at a reasonable price, I could easily see myself going back when next in Berlin. The only things I would change would be to add a little more bacon with the eggs and to install EFTPOS as not everyone carries cash with them these days. You don’t want to miss out on additional customers because they don’t have any cash on them.

So, if you are near Kurfürstendamm or Augsburger strasse, head to Cafe Clave. Have a meal,  or just some coffee and cake and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Breakfast in Berlin, try Cafe Clave on Augsburger Strasse
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Additional Information for Cafe Clave

Augsburger strasse 25, Berlin, Germany 10789
Ph: +49 176 32569887
Facebook: Cafe Clave

Breakfast Prices Range €1.30 – €6.90

Trading Hours
  • Mon-Sat: 8 am – 10 pm
  • Sun : 9 am – 5 pm

Looking for a place to stay in Berlin. Book here

Cafe Clave rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =7
Atmosphere =8
Service =8
Price = 9
Food =9

Overall = 8

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Plenty of Food at Peter Pane – Berlin

Urban Adventure Tours

On our first day in Berlin, we had already organised the Urban Adventure tour – Storyline of Berlin. And after 5 hours of listening to Sara explain everything we needed to know about the history of Berlin we were feeling hungry. Sara pointed us in the direction to get cheaper food, so we headed off to discover a bit more of Berlin. During our travels, the girls spied a hamburger place called Peter Pane Burgergrill Bar that looked popular. And always being a bit partial to a hamburger we decided to give it a go.

On entry into the large establishment we could see that it was extremely busy, with most of the tables already buzzing with people chatting over their lunches. We were greeted by one of the wait staff and escorted to a comfortable table for four.

Peter Pane
Inside Peter Pane Hamburger restaurant

The interior of the restaurant is quite modern. The walls are a sky blue colour, with timber plant boxes with small plants extending to the woven wooden ceiling. There are birdcage light fixtures and the whole combination gives the restaurant a Neverland feel. Tables at various levels throughout the restaurant add to the setting. Each table has comfortable stool or bench seating.

Peter Pane
A table alongside the planter boxes. Gives it that Neverland forest feel.

As Peter Pane is a hamburger place the menu has a good selection of available burgers. We couldn’t go past the €9.50 lunch special.  The special consisted of a burger served with fries or salad. But that’s not all the deal also came with a cold drink to have with the meal and a hot drink to have after. What awesome value!

We ordered the Klasik, a Kase Speck, a Rotbackhen and the Feenflugel burgers. The Klasik is your normal everyday burger containing a succulent beef patty, lettuce and tomato. My Kase Speck is the Klasik burger with Bernstein Cheese and Bacon. Our Rotbackhen is a vegetarian burger with a grilled tomato and olive cutlet, topped with mozzarella, rocket and sun-dried tomato. Finally, the last burger called the Feenfugel has a piece of grilled chicken, topped with avocado, young spinach and mango-chilli chutney. All four burgers were beautifully prepared and well presented. We consumed them eagerly and washed it down with a local German cola brand called Fritz-Kola, which was quite nice.

Peter Pane
The Kase Speck
Peter Pane
The Klasik
Peter Pane
The Feenflugel
Peter Pane
The Rotbacken
Peter Pane
Fritz-Kola is a local German cola, which tastes pretty good.

Overall, Peter Pane Burgergrill Bar is a good place to stop in relax and have a meal. Their burgers are beautifully made and terrific value incorporated with their €9.50 meal deal. Peter Pane has approximately 17 stores across Germany, so visit their website below for additional locations. The menu prices don’t include a service fee. Therefore, make sure you leave a 10% tip if your dining experience is worthwhile. Try Peter Pane Burgergrill Bar the next time you want a delicious burger and tell them, Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Additional Information for Peter Pane Burgergrill Bar

Friedrichstraße 101, 10117 Berlin
Ph: +49 30 20679063
Website: www.peterpane.de

Burger Prices Range €6.40 – €11.90

Trading Hours
  •    Mon-Sun from 11 am until late

Looking for a place to stay in Berlin. Book here

Peter Pane Burgergrill Bar rating: 1-10 (1=very poor, 10 = excellent)

Decor =10
Atmosphere =9
Service =9
Price =10
Food =9

Overall = 9.5

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Do you want to go to Disneyland Paris?

As a family, we have had some wonderful adventures. We have been lucky enough to take our girls to many overseas destinations. So, why not let them choose some of the things we do! In 2015, we did a trip to Hong Kong and the girls selected to go to Disneyland. We spent two full days there and they were hooked. Therefore, when they first heard we’d be visiting France on this journey they were definite that they wanted to visit Disneyland Paris and do it all again.

Disneyland Paris
The front entrance into Disneyland Paris

After looking at our schedule we decided that this time we would only spend a day at Disneyland. With the theme park only opening at 10 am we could take our time getting there. From our accommodation at the B&B Hotel Paris Porte de la Villette we jump onto the Metro to Chaussee d’Antin La Fayette. From there we take the 5-minute walk to the Auber RER station and purchase our train tickets for Disneyland Paris. Disneyland is about 45 minutes out of the city in Gare de Marne la Vallee Chessy. The cost of the train ticket from Auber to Disneyland is €15.20 one way per person.

Once arriving at Disneyland Paris, if you haven’t purchased your tickets, then head over to the ticket office. Just so you are prepared the Parks offer various entry options.  Now, you would have just heard me mention “parks”, because Disneyland Paris contains two parks; Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. You have the option of visiting one or both parks. We of course decided to visit both.

Disneyland Paris
A bronze statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse after entering Walt Disney Studios

Excitedly we entered Walt Disney Studios and had a look around. Our first stop in the park was to visit the animation theatre. Here we discovered how the Walt Disney studio created their animation and creature effects.  Only lasting about 10 minutes is gives us some valuable information about animated production and set design.

Disneyland Paris
Watch how Disney Studio’s creates their animations in the Art of Disney Animation theatre.

Much of the Walt Disney Studio’s areas are based on a certain theme. Be it Ratatouille, Toy Story, Lilo and Stitch or Armageddon, the sections have rides and theatre shows based around these popular Disney Studio titles.

Disneyland Paris
People moving into the Toy Story themed area. Look there’s Buzz Lightyear.

We found that it was quite easy to fly through Walt Disney Studios and quickly moved to the Disneyland Park.

Disneyland Paris
The girls out the front of the impressive Disneyland Park entrance.

Like the Studio, the Park is separated into defined areas. There’s Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland. These lands are separated by a central plaza and main street containing the various Disney retail and food outlets. Also scattered throughout the park are food stalls and restaurants.

Disneyland Paris
One of the many Disneyland souvenir shops.

A family could easily spend a day or two exploring these two sites. We spent most of our stay in Disneyland Park and whilst there probably tried out every ride and feature available. Unfortunately, some of the park is still under construction, with a Pirates of the Caribbean area still being developed. Saying this though doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the park.

Disneyland Paris
The Pirates of the Caribbean ship. It wasn’t accessible the day we were there.

Now for the important detail, which will determine if you elect to stay or go to Disneyland Paris. The cost… It can be expensive, we were there for a twelve-hour day and spent close to €600 for a family of four. So, I would consider that an expensive day out.

Disneyland Paris also has accommodation available in their hotel, with room packages including access to the Disneyland Parks. So, it may be a better option to book your accommodation at the hotel and access the parks that way. This way you don’t have to worry about transport to the parks and accommodation in Paris. Likewise, you could find some cheap accommodation in Marne-la-Vallée and just worry about tickets into the park.

Although expensive, we had an awesome time at Disneyland Paris. Disneyland holds some fascination and wonder to people of all ages. It is an extremely fun day, although sometimes you may need to line up to access the more popular rides. They offer a “Fast Track” ride option which costs a little extra, where you are given a time to go on a particular ride. This way you can have fun elsewhere in the park and when your time gets closer you just go to the fast track lane and hop onto the ride.

Disneyland Paris
As the night sets in, it’s finally time to call it a day.

Overall, Disneyland Paris is an amazing place. My recommendation is that if you are planning on going, make sure you have saved your pennies. But sometimes, spending quality time and enjoying a fun-filled day is more valuable than the cost. Because I know, these memories will last forever. Therefore, when you are in France, pencil in Disneyland Paris for a day or two, enjoy an incredible experience and tell them Simon from Ourworldinreview sent you!

Disneyland Paris
Tiggr and Eeyore having a photo with the girls
Additional Information for Disneyland Paris

77777 Marne-la-Vallée, France
Ph. +33 1 60 30 60 53
Website: www.disneylandparis.com

Price
  • Prices range from € 42.00 – € 223.00 for Passport ticket entry
  • Full ticketing information available here
Opening hours
Disneyland® Park

10:00 to 23:00

Extra Magic Hours

8:00 to 10:00

Walt Disney Studios® Park

10:00 to 18:00

Book accommodation near Disneyland Park, Marne-la-Vallée.

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