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Barcelona, Spain
Susanna - Songbird Extraordinaire

What was the higlight?
Definitely the ride in the vintage sidecar through Brightside tours.  We had a lovely young frenchman, Matthieu, take us around and found out that he also does food tours through his own website foodlovertour.com. He took us to the best croissant bakery tucked away in El Born where they make a croissant that is filled with chocolate mousse......

Big night out? 
We saw a terrific guitar concert in the Palau de la Musica Catalana which is a fabulous art deco concert hall and I highly recommend it.  

Any tips for foodies?
We also ate at Senyor Parellada in El Born which serves traditional Catalan food and it was fabulous.

Best tourist attraction?
We loved the Joan Miro museum and the Montjuic park but I really wished we had had time to go to the Montjuic cemetery which looks like it has some amazing funerary art and architecture.

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Paris, France
Anna, Jason, George and Zoe - La Famille Glamoureuse

Au Pain Retrouvé 81 rue de Rennes, 6th
Classic boulangerie; Jason had a croque monsieur here the morning after several vins the night before and was revived.

Eggs & Co
: 11 rue Bernard Palissy, 6th
A gem.  The owner makes a good coffee - he told me the coffee in Paris generally is terrible, so we bonded immediately. 
I had the Eggs Norwegian and it was the best breakfast I have ever had. The eggs were perfectly cooked (orange yolk), the Hollandaise sauce was light and airy, amazing flavours, salad, perfect potatoes, chives - all superb.
 Superior muffin plus baguette to mop up. Friendly, engaging service.

Da Rosa
62 rue de Seine
Cute and gourmet, we bought some treats here but would have been even nicer to perch outside with a glass of rosé.

Café de Flore
I thoroughly enjoyed my overpriced scrambled eggs here on the first morning – the people watching is fun.  Food-wise, it was beaten by Eggs & Co (so to speak).  But the street scene and history are still glorious and I would happily sit here each morning if I was on my own.  Loved having this opposite our apartment.

Brasserie Lipp
We ate here sans enfants after a concert so it was after 10.30pm.  I was ravenous to say the least.  I loved the fact they were still serving (until 2am I think) and we sat on the terrace – perfect spot.  We had the waiters from central casting which I also loved and – bearing in mind low expectations – good service.  I had a salmon tartare with cucumber and dill – it was beautiful.  The house wine was rough.  They turned away a man in shorts.  I don’t expect gushing service, English menus or adventurous food here.  It’s the best of what it is.


Vagenende
142 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th
Very nice – authentic brasserie, more real and human than Café de Flore and Lipp.  Beautiful, opulent fit-out.  Perfect crusty bread to start and tender beef carpaccio.  We had a tall, friendly, slightly awkward waiter who had character.  We liked him and the whole experience, for an old-school brasserie meal.  Would have gone here again but wanted to try other places.


Fish (La Boissonerie)
69 rue de Seine, 6th
A beautiful lunch. Flaky fish on black rice, crisp wine, unpretentious service.  We sat up at the bar and chatted with the English bartender – very relaxed. This is still strong after our last visit 5 years ago.

Ralph’s
173 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 6th
Indoor courtyard is the highlight – serene place for lunch.  Slow, disordered service, some waiters with attitude (I can forgive this from 100-yr-old icons at Brasserie Lipp but not here).  They served lunch after 3pm (other places had closed).  We had adequate rosé, once it arrived and wonderful food – tuna burger beautifully presented and flavoursome, and salmon with vegetables; caramel popcorn was moreish with good (not great) coffee.  

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Istanbul, Turkey
RICHARD AND SUE, ESCAPEES FROM TEENAGE CHILDREN

+ Where did you stay?
Tom Tom Suites, a fantastic hotel in the Galata district with  huge rooms and super friendly staff, and The House Hotel on the Bosphorus. The rooms at the House were a bit smaller but still pretty stylish.

+ Any standout hotel features?
The House had its own boat, which was a nice way to arrive in style at seafront restaurants.

+ Best night out? 
Ulurs 29 - fantastic views over Istanbul at night, glitzy dining with the Turkish euro trash.  You go for the scene not the food.

+ Best day in?
We did a fabulous cooking class with www.cookingalaturka.com - lots of fun as you prepare and eat lunch.

+ Favourite sight?
We loved the sensory overload of the spice bazaar and loaded up on traditional (not the pink stuff you get here) Turkish delight, tea & spices.

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Thailand
TWO BRIDES FOR TWO BROTHERS (AND 6 CHILDREN)

+ What was your favourite part of the trip?

M – We stayed at the D2 in Chiang Mai and it was the most fantastic hotel, the location was just brilliant as we all felt confident to go exploring the night markets, as well as the Thai massages, the bars, shops, temples and sights. All was just sublime after the pace and smog of Bangkok. Elephant riding and rafting were delightful, as was the trip to the temple at the top of the mountain. I had secretly hoped that we would find Segways to ride somewhere, and Chiang Mai was just the place for it! It was so much fun, and the other road users were ridiculously gracious and accommodating of us as we all zoomed around the streets of the most wonderful city.

+ Where did you all join up?

B - We stayed at the Napasai in Koh Samui, in two adjoining villas with seven bedrooms between us –we were wondering what to do with so much space!

M - It felt like a kingdom all of its own, and was beyond stunning. I had seen the maps and floor plan on the web site, but had presumed the photos were just the 'best take' on the place - it didn't register that the web shows a mere snippet of the luxury and opulence.

B - We were high up on the cliff, and quickly worked out that it was 106 steps from the front door down to the pool level. All that exercise was good for us, but a bit hard when the days were very hot.

+ How was the beach?

B - Chaweng was a much better beach, but there seemed to be thousands of people on the beach and hawkers selling their wares. We’re not full-on beach people, so we were really happy with our pools at Napasai. The main resort area with infinity pool was just gorgeous. The grounds were beautiful and it was good to know the kids were safe to wander around the resort.

+ How were the kids with Thai food?

B - The breakfasts were sensational, and the staff were so gentle and attentive. We cooked for ourselves on a couple of nights – which was fun, but we really enjoyed eating at the restaurants down at Fisherman’s Village The pick of these was the “Happy Elephant”, which was great for both us and the kids.

+ What did you take away from the trip?

M - perhaps the things that are still foremost in my mind are the sights and smells of Bangkok, and Chiang Mai where we saw so much poverty. We engaged in many conversations with the children re our perceptions, and reflections of local life and the Thai standard of living, and we felt ridiculously 'rich' - perhaps this is a commmon conversation for westerners in Asia, but for us it was new. 

 

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USA
Peasant Food of the US

NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Shake Shack for burgers and dogs.
Russ and Daughters for bagels and lox. 

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Garrett Popcorn is a legend - corn, caramel or
The Chicago Mix of corn AND caramel.

AUSTIN, TEXAS
Salt Lick BBQ for ribs, ribs or ribs 

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Roast chicken salad at Zuni Cafe 

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
Pralines from any of the old school candymakers,
it's magic conjured from butter and brown sugar. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
The Mighty Mannix Margarita at My House.
Does that count as a snack?  

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St Tropez, France
Martin, Georgina and Le Petit Garcon

+ Where did you stay?

St Tropez hotels usually come at two ends. Extremely expensive or stay somewhere else. 
Hotel des Lices, sits at a very reasonable price and conveniently is in town near the shops and the Places des Lices, has a heated pool and plenty of parking.

+ What did you like best about it?

It was quiet and well situated. By which I mean close to the important institution called ‘La Tarte Tropezienne’- a local and epic patisserie.

+ What was the highlight? 

People watching from the restaurants at the harbour, Saturday morning food markets at Places des Lices.

 

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All over, USA
LISA, LAWYER AND KNITTER, EVAN, CAGE FIGHTING AFICIONADO

Craziest sight you saw?
Lady Gaga's meat dress at the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio......which is now basically jerky.

Quintessential New York Moment?
The filming of an episode of The Good Wife in the lobby of our hotel.

Best Thing You Ate?
A six course meal at Picholine in New York.

What Most Surprised You?
That the four and a half hour drive each way from Vegas to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was TOTALLY worth it.

Anything you wished you'd done but didn't?
Visited the MOMA in New York (and had cocktails at their rooftop bar......) (ok, it was more about the cocktails than the art).

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Paris, France
Bindy, author, Tim, musician, and Grace, Jem, and Zoe

First time to Paris?
No, my sixth, Tim’s third and our children’s first.
But we saw it in a whole new light with the kids.

What did the kids love the most?
Zoe loved the metro, Jem loved going up the Eiffel Tower
and Grace loved watching all the pickpockets.

Any tips for parents in Paris?
Give the kids at least one thing to track down in a museum;
buy a museum pass to save waiting in queues, and go first thing
whilst they’re still perky. Lure them with promises of pickpockets to watch.

Where did you stay?
In a gorgeous 2 bedroom apartment in the 7th where we could watch
the lights of the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour from our open window.

Most underrated sight?
Our best find was a gorgeous park in the 16th opposite the excellent
Musee Marmottan, complete with pony rides and antique carousel.

What always draws you back?
Berthillon icecream. Melon and white chocolate, but really any flavour will do.

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Snowbird, Utah, USA
Richard, Ski Dad, Tom, Boarder, Sabine, Downhill Princess

Best run:
Primrose Path starts steep and powdery, but then turns into a natural half pipe as you hit the treeline.  The half pipe forces you to ski beautifully as you glide from rim to rim

What made your jaw drop?
The top of the gondola, at 11,000 ft, with awesome mountains as far as the eye can see and Salt Lake City down in the valley below.  Then look up - what's even more awesome is seeing some of the more determined skiers hike to the top of the mountains and launch themselves down a vertical chute.

What was the crowd like?
Except for the couple of days when we had a fresh few of feet of powder overnight, there was no one and we  skied straight on to the lifts.  Even on the powder days, it was only first thing at the main gondola that there was any semblance of a crowd.

Scariest moment?
My first ungroomed black diamond in knee deep powder.   Crashing in powder is more frustrating than scary, the landing is nice and soft, but on a steep powdery slope, it's murder trying to get your skis back on.

Best way to relax?
After a hard day of keeping up with the kids on the slopes, a deep tissue massage at the Cliff Lodge Spa (ask for Andre), followed by a Cutthroat Pale Ale (Utah's finest) and steak at the Steak Pit


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Seminyak, Bali
Rob, 52, Musician, Perri and Jane, teenage dream queens

I awoke on my first day……..

 Feeling really guilty about having breakfast at 9am when usually I would have been up for hours, then pretty delighted when the fresh squeezed pineapple juice arrived.

Stayed at:

Villa Bali Bali in Umalas, which was palatial and won immediate Facebook bragging rights from the girls, and Villa Kipas in the midst of Seminyak, which were cool digs central to everything the girls wanted to do ie shop and hang out at Ku De Ta.

Most painful moment:

Realising that I am too old to keep up with the girls on a horse, and I should have just stayed in the villa with my guitar and a crate of Bintang.

Scariest moment:

Finding out our flight home might have been cancelled by a volcano ash cloud. Although it wouldn’t have been a bad place to be stranded, Perri picked up a case of Bali Belly –so I’d had about enough of unplanned eruptions. 

Did you surf?

Nope, although I was happy to watch others surf. Mostly to ensure they didn’t try and pick up my girls. Next time however I'll go back with a bunch of similarly geriatric mates and we can hit the waves.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tom, 40-something, Neurologist

+ Most breathtaking sight?

Iguazu Falls - vast and quite unpsoilt by tourism

+ Quintessential South American Moment?

After being unable to score an early morning check in to my hotel, sitting down with a crowd in front of a television to watch Argentina play its first match of the 2010 World Cup

+ What do Argentinians eat?

Would you like steak with your steak? Or maybe some steak?

+ Best finds

At the risk of sounding shallow, both were clothing: Guido Moccasins in Recoleta, and a fab Argentinian men's jeans label, bizarrely called Bowen London.

+ Scariest moment

Realising that there was only room for one pair of Guido moccasins in my luggage, and on my return, that Bowen London don't have mail order!

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Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Martin, 39, Banker

+ Where?

Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot- Atlas Mountains (just outside of Marrakech) Morocco.

+ Who with?

The Blonde 

+ Magic factor?

Rooftop drinks on the top of the Kasbah - snow capped Atlas mountains in the distance, braziers glowing in the cool evening air, the scent of the rose petal filled pool below, Kir Royale in hand.

 + How were the digs?

Magnificent infinity pool in lush gardens, exquisite service, tastefully decorated rooms (ours was the one Branson first stayed in when he bought the Kasbah).

 + Most wonderful experience?

It was either popping the question in the gardens under a moonlight Moroccan sky or the 2 hour massage overlooking the snow melt river and the Berber village. Actually, I have just been informed it was the former.

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Tasmania, Australia
Hobart

Carolyn - Lawyer
Rob - Environmental Consultant
Mac - almost 3
Ragamuffin

+ Most memorable activity

Behind the scenes pre-opening tour of the new Museum of Old and New Art - elemental, breath taking, cavernous yet intimate - even before the art has been installed. Must get back there when it opens.

+ How were the digs?

Our pavilion (Sidney) at Moorilla Estate was thoughtfully designed and kitted out, with Aesop toiletries, an extensive selection of Moorilla Estate's finest (and Moo Brew for the big boy), interesting books and magazines, Luna Gallery throw rugs to cosy up in and a stunning view across the Derwent. 

+ Most delicious thing to pass your lips

The Moorilla Estate Brut Rose. Some came home with us and now I have to make the difficult decision about whether to share it with the hordes at Christmas or to keep it all to myself!

+ Regrets - I've had a few

That we didn't stay longer and didn't find time to use the heated indoor pool. And that I didn't buy more of the Brut Rose.

+ Was it kid friendly?

Surprisingly, yes. The staff were very welcoming (and tolerant) of the antics of an almost three year old boy, there were lots of rabbits to chase and things to climb on and the pavilion had plenty of room. A large lawn just outside the restaurant provided ample space for running and the pool (had we used it) was definitely kid friendly.