City of spas: The thermal baths of Budapest

I’ve already admitted to being fairly lazy when it came to exploring Budapest’s nightlife, but what of its culture? The city is an ideal location for a museum marathon, if that’s the kind of break you’re after, but to really understand Budapest’s culture you can quite happily eschew the lot — providing you’re willing to strip off. With thermal springs bubbling under the city, public bathing is very much in the water here, so to speak. It’s medicinal too… or at least so they say. To me all this ‘taking the waters’ business stinks of Georgian quackery. I can’t prove…

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Is Szimpla Kert the best bar in Budapest? Europe? The world, even?

  I’m sad tonight. I’m sad because tonight is one of the few nights this week I’m not propping up the bar in Szimpla Kert, the most famous of Budapest’s ruin pubs. These grungy, mostly outdoor bars have sprung up all over the city’s Jewish district in buildings that have fallen into disrepair. Szimpla Kert was the first and is still the most famous of them, but is it also the best? Obviously, I don’t live in Budapest, so it’s a question I’m not really in a position to answer – but I could have tried at least. I’m a…

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Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade

If you were determined to get a taste of traditional, rustic, eccentric old England, there are plenty of places I could recommend you go. The Nantwich cheese show perhaps, or the Tissington well dressing. But never would I have suggested you could find English country charm in London — and in zone 1, no less — until now. This bank holiday I headed to Little Venice, one of my favourite areas of the city, for a gentle, genteel and outdoorsy knees-up. The Canalway Cavalcade has been running for 20 years now, gathering barges from all over the country in the…

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7 Super Shots

This post has been inspired by two things: firstly I am taking part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots, the challenge from the HostelBookers blog to post seven travel photos I’ve taken that fit into various categories. Secondly, the Ansel Adams exhibition at London’s Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which I visited last weekend. It not only allowed me to check out some of my favourite landscape shots of all time up close, but encouraged me to work harder on improving my own photography skills. It’s closing in just over a week, so get down there fast if you want to catch it…

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Harry Potter and the muggles who wouldn’t grow up

“Harry wished he had eight more eyes… There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon….“ I was nine years old when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. It had just been awarded the Smarties prize when, as a treat, my teacher began reading it aloud to us at the end of a long day. By the time my mum came to pick me…

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