Con le mani

A blurred picture of the old gent who sits in charge (front of house) at the tiny but perfectly formed Lo Sdrucciolo just around the corner from the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Watching us struggling to capture the garlicky tomato mix tumbling from our bruschette al pomodoro, he decides to abandon his accustomed seat by the … More Con le mani

Lunch with Giovanna

The mid-afternoon hour is burning hot, and the busy streets of Florence are stifling, even in the shade. We seek a late lunch, a light bite washed down with something cool. So we slide into the seats of a sheltered café terrace tucked to the side of Borgo degli Albizi. We are alone. Why? Because we … More Lunch with Giovanna

Mohamad’s Berlin

Our guide shakes our hands, and introduces himself with a smile. His name is Mohamad, and he is from Syria. He doesn’t disclose his surname, and when I ask if I can take photos of the tour he is about to give, he says, “Of course, but please none of me.” (he doesn’t say why, but … More Mohamad’s Berlin

Bis gleich, Berlin

Crikey, today we go. Time to make a plan. Three nights in Berlin with two (too cool for school) 15 year old boys (men?) and my brother. There is much ground to cover – Berlin is a big city (population 3.5m) with a complicated, turbulent history (not just 20th century), and a 21st century reputation for creativity and innovation. David Bowie … More Bis gleich, Berlin

24 hours in London – chat, clues and comedy

By the time we reach the River Thames, No. 2 has taught me everything I need (or want) to know about sharks (we’ve been travelling for just 35 minutes). A chill wind whips up, so I tug my scarf tighter. My son stands at the river’s edge, moving breezily on to the subject of the seals which (apparently) splash in the murky dark depths below us. So start … More 24 hours in London – chat, clues and comedy

No Paella in Valencia

It’s not all about paella in Valencia – arroz (rice) can be rustled up a hundred different ways. And Paella Valenciana will be adapted to suit the season and region – and kitchen. But we eat none of it, much to our surprise. Because we stop in these places instead: Bodega Casa Montaña (for the ultimate classic tapas) Ubik Café (for a bit of … More No Paella in Valencia

Café Sant Jaume

It’s a good feeling when you stumble upon a travel gem without even trying. Café Sant Jaume is our small find in the old quarter of El Carmen – only later do I read of its enviable reputation as one of Valencia’s best bars. On the café terrace in the late winter evening, people sip cocktails, cervezas and wine. We step … More Café Sant Jaume

Bodega Casa Montaña

Bodega Casa Montaña has achieved legendary status in legion guides and little black books. Many proclaim it to be Valencia’s top tapas bar, and it’s certainly one of the oldest. It opened its doors as a grocery store in 1836, establishing itself by selling wine and oil to merchant ships moored in the nearby port. The bodega’s reputation for keeping an excellent and extensive wine cellar endures today. And the food is … More Bodega Casa Montaña