The experts at Insight Guides are ready and waiting to ease your travel pains. Let them show you the way to holiday heaven
Q: I’m taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (a 3,000 mile rowing race across the Atlantic – see page 17), starting in December this year. The race finishes in Antigua – can you recommend a good place to recover in style? Will North
A: Dear Will,
The small Leeward island of Antigua has a white sandy beach for every day of the year, so the tourist brochures say, and the water sparkles in every shade of blue and turquoise between the Caribbean and the open Atlantic. So it’s the ideal place to relax and recuperate after your transatlantic challenge. The Siboney Beach Club is right on one of Antigua’s best beaches, Dickenson Bay, just a couple of miles north of St John’s Harbour. This small, unassuming hotel appeals to independent travellers who appreciate good, friendly service. The décor of each suite varies: each has a tiny kitchen, but all are different and rather quirky. There are lovely gardens to relax in and the restaurant offers lots of healthy options; you can even have a massage on the beach – which we imagine you’ll need after rowing 3,000 miles.
Q: I organise a Monopoly-themed, 26-stop pub crawl in a European country every year. We travel on a Saturday morning, start at 12:00, and fly back on the Sunday evening, and it has to fulfil the following criteria: A. There must be enough unique bars within walking distance (the gap from bar to bar has to be five minutes on average), allowing 20 minutes in each. B. It has to be in a new country. So far we’ve visited London, Dublin, Bruges, Glastonbury (it counts) and Utrecht. We need a restorative dose of culture for the Sunday before we return. Do you have any interesting ideas for our next trip? Christopher Wakley
A: Dear Christopher,
We’ve consulted our editorial team, who had plenty to say on the subject of bars abroad. Our top suggestion is Krakow, which ticks all your boxes, with the added bonus that eating and drinking there is really cheap. It is said that Krakow’s Old Town has more pubs per square mile than any other city in Europe, so chalking up your 26 bars should be a doddle.
Start off your tour in the bustling Main Market Square (Rynek Glowny), one of Europe’s largest medieval squares and the hub of the city. Try the Piano Rouge, right on the square, a swanky bar with live jazz. There are many options to choose from in this area, such as the CK Browar beer hall (ul. Podwale 6-7). The other nightlife hub in Krakow is in the Jewish district of Kazimierz. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from main Market Square along ul. Grodzka, which has plenty of bars along the way. Our favourite bar in Kazimierz is Singer – a delightfully dingy pub filled with vintage sewing machines and boisterous locals. It doesn’t get much more atmospheric. Sunday’s dose of culture could be Wawel Castle and Cathedral, the Small Market Square (Maly Rynek) or Kazimierz itself – very arty with interesting remnants of wartime damage. Krakow also has some famous coffeehouses, such as Kawiarnia Noworolski on the Main Market Square.
For somewhere a little closer to home, Edinburgh is a good option (Scotland not being on your list): Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, touristy and not cheap but that will keep you moving, Royal Oak for traditional folk music late into the night; you’ll want a jig after all that whisky. Go in summer for the Fringe too. For your culture fix, what better venue than Edinburgh Castle?
I know you’ve already been to Belgium but I’d also recommend Brussels. Start off in the Grand Place at the King of Spain, then do the other bars on the square, before heading down towards the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and Place St-Gery, where the city of Brussels was founded centuries ago, now the hub of a network of old streets lined with lively bars open way into the night. In Brussels you could easily go to 26 bars and drink 26 different kinds of beer. Culture for the Sunday morning: the brilliant Museum of Musical Instruments with its 8000 showpieces.
Q: We’re visiting Ireland (the Republic of) in mid-July on a driving holiday. Apart from the usual castles, lochs and beaches, where would you suggest to visit for a more authentic and preferably less crowded viewpoint? We also both like seafood, so including this would be ideal!
A: Dear Chris,
We would suggest exploring the coastline of rural west Cork, starting in Kinsale, once a historic port and now a pretty resort known for its good seafood.
Then, go meandering along the rocky coast of Roaring Water Bay, past unique flora and fauna, through picturesque fishing villages packed with enticing hostelries.
Kinsale overlooks the estuary and is a pleasant town to stay in, where you can take a wander through its narrow streets. It’s the ideal place to enjoy the local seafood, with one of its best-known restaurants, Fishy Fishy, located on Crowley’s Pier. In the summer months, there is a glamorous canopied area that offers an atmosphere similar to that of sitting on the deck of a yacht. The prawns are delicious and the warm seafood salad is a lunchtime favourite.
Heading out of town towards Skibbereen, there are plenty of little towns and villages to visit; Clonakilty is a pretty market town with traditional wooden shop fronts and carefully tended floral displays – as a place most people bypass, it’s a nice peaceful location to stop.
Baltimore is the end of the road. It gets busy in July and August when visiting yachts join the local fleet of traditional wooden boats. Its main street commands a glorious view of the harbour and features a lively pub and café scene. Roaring Water Bay has numerous rocky islands with plenty of opportunities for visiting them.
Every month we’ll be giving away an Insight Guide for each question answered. This issue’s winners receive a copy of the the Insight Guides Destination of the Month for May, the Italian Lakes guide book (RRP £14.99).
If you’ve got a question for the Insight Guides experts, email firstname.lastname@example.org