Tag Archives: Restaurant

Should you clean someone else’s skid marks off the toilet bowl?… And other quandaries.

24 Dec

I’M GOING to say all that needs to be said about the four days we spent in Italy at the beginning of November by talking about something else entirely.

Well actually, I’ll say two things. Venice = €7 coffee and… On what planet?

Oh wait, also… Croutons are not toast. Never ever. No matter how big they are.

Instead, as I sit in the beautifully temperate common room of our Kuala Lumpur hostel, knowing that the outside humidity of 99% is going to hit me like a ton of bricks – even worse than the sticky heat, the reality of going home is starting to sink in.

I’m being plagued by first world problems.

So as 2012 reaches its pointy end, so do our four months of (mostly) European travel, and if these crossroads weren’t difficult enough to navigate, we’ve just narrowly avoided being drowned/obliterated by world’s end.

It makes you think about a few things, no?

But instead of burdening you with my own woe-filled quandaries including debt, impending unemployment, a stupendous amount of weight gain and the fact that the European autumn has turned my skin so pale it is almost translucent, (see what I did there?) I will talk about another set of dilemmas – a more lighthearted kind.

FIRST WORLD MORAL QUANDARIES we have encountered during the last four months.

1. When you’re in a hostel/public toilet and someone before you has left skid marks in the bowl, do you clean them off so the person waiting doesn’t think it was you, or do you leave them there?
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2. When you’re borrowing Internet at [insert fast food chain name], is it okay to download the last four episodes of Family Guy as well as three seasons of Fresh Prince and Skyfall 007, thus disallowing everyone else in the restaurant from being able to load their Facebook pages for five hours?
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3. How do you decide which, if any, beggars you should give change to whilst travelling? Should you reward the guy playing the recorder for his incentive? Or how about the trio with the ‘For Beer’ sign, for their honesty? Or there’s the guy with the dog that’s just had puppies. Or the lady sitting right underneath the ATM you’ve just withdrawn cash from for a boozy night? Or to the street-kid that looks like he should still be having his school sandwiches made by his mum? Should you just give the money to a local charity that purports it will help the homeless? Or spend it on more alcohol so you can forget that these problems exist in the world?

Beggars in Krakow, Poland
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4. On long train journeys, is it okay to take up three seats in a cabin so you can sleep, when people around you are crammed together, when you know that if they had got there first, they would be doing exactly the same thing?

Nic on the train from Krakow to Budapest.
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5. Should you have a poo in your dorm room bathroom and risk stinking out the whole room for hours, affecting, possibly killing the other occupants by asphyxiation, or should you make the extra effort to climb down four flights of stairs to use the public loo?

Dorm in Bled, Slovenia.
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6. At the end of your meal when dining out, even if the service/food was very average, should you still tip? Should you have let them know during the meal, so they could rectify any problems, or does that just make you a whinging, difficult customer?

Mouldy bread on the train from Zagreb to Prague.
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7. When reviewing stays on Hostelworld, should you give a glowing review or should you tell the truth, that the hostel receptionist tried to bribe you into giving their filthy, creepy hostel with exceedingly rude staff a high rating in return for letting you sleep in a dodgy bed in a massive, full dorm for a few hours after checkout while you are sick and throwing up with a migraine?

One hostel in Prague was appalling.
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If you can help us solve any of these dilemmas or have any others to add to the list, please let us know!

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If Gluttony, Greed and Sloth are not for you, then don’t read this post. Ibiza, Spain September 3-12

14 Sep

The scene was immediately set for our ten days on the Balearic Island when the hotel barman poured our first vodka shot… Or should I say shots.
At our request for two vodka orange ‘let’s get our party on’ drinks about 10 minutes post check-in to Hotel Mare Nostrum in Playa d’en Bossa on the island’s south coast, Rico, a well groomed and sun-bronzed Spaniard nearing 40, took two bottles of the house liquor and simultaneously half filled two big plastic cups, which he topped up with juice.
We sipped, grimaced and quickly learned our first lesson about the White Isle: There is no such thing as measuring quantities of alcohol on Ibiza.

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To break down the trip chronologically would be no fun, or at least far too hard for me and tedious for you as Ibiza days and nights tend to roll into one big mess of wake, eat, drink, siesta, eat, drink, party, pass out, so I will just talk about things that we thought were interesting during our nine nights. Please feel free to leave comments about your own experiences or to let me know what I can do to improve this blog!

So here goes…

As well as extremely potent drinks, there is also a huge discrepancy in the price of alcohol across the island, depending on location and the type of establishment. We could go from ordering pints of Estrella or San Miguel (generally the cheaper Spanish brew and thus more attractive option to us!) for less than €3 at the small cafes across the road from the hotel, to paying €10+ for the same branded stubby in a club. Spirits and cocktails in the clubs fetch up to €30 each and a very small bottle of water, maybe 200mL, €8-10 and some of the clubs (Pacha definitely, others I’m not sure of) salt the tap water in the toilets, rendering it undrinkable!

But because the clubs don’t kick off until after 12 am, everyone heads to the clutter of bars or pre-party venues in their closest area, whose operators are willing to compete for patrons by allowing them to pre-tank on the cheap-ish before moving on.

We were ordering 4 cocktails (Sex, Sex, Sex on the Beach) and four shots of peach vodka for €20 at a small bar down a side street called el Mohito, where we met some really nice Libyans (it was the first holiday they had been able to take since the revolution and one of the guys had been badly injured by missile debris), some really fun Irish people and Felicity, the bar’s Pommie PR was friendly and made sure we were well looked after. Another favourite bar was the always-packed Murphy’s on the main drag near Bora Bora, where we were drawn in by 2 cocktails and 3 shots for €9 on our first night.
We were told by many people that Ibiza was particularly quiet for this time of the year, but it seemed anything but to us.

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Nic and I are pretty enthusiastic about electronic music and had our sights set on Ibiza long before we planned the Europe trip. The myth and legend that we had created for ourselves through movies, the Internet and handed-down stories from fellow ravers about what some would call the ‘seedier’ side of the island was calling out for us to test its accuracy.

I have a huge thing for late 90’s early 2000’s dance music and am a huge fan of movies like It’s All Gone Pete Tong, Trainspotting and Human Traffic. This is the scene my romantic ideas of Ibiza were based around.

We actually got to see Pete Tong’s set at Cafe Mambo in San Antonio (north coast of Ibiza). Well known for its enthusiastic celebration of the sunset… every night (similar to planes passing over Bora Bora Beach Bar, but i’ll get to that), as the daytime glare transitions to a goldy-pink glow, the waterside bar swells with revellers waiting to see that reliable orb drop below the waterline, so they can cheer, clap and get the party cranking.
In San An during September, the sun sets around 9 pm, an hour later then the south side of the isle.

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After a huge night at Amnesia for Pendulum, Nero, Feed Me and the Zombie Kids on the Tuesday, rolling home at well after 7am, we thought we would take it easy on Wednesday and check out Old Ibiza and Ibiza Town and then see this famous sunset. After eating our first proper tapas for lunch in town and meandering through the whitewash and cobble of the old parts, we met David who seemed to be a jack of all trades, working between Thailand and Ibiza, wherever he was needed. He drove us to San Antonio and in true Ibizan style, gave us his number and said he could help us out again.

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20120914-150810.jpg Ibiza Town and Old Ibiza

Cafe Mambo sits alongside the equally renowned Cafe del Mar and both are very cool and swanky looking, with prices to match. We tentatively ordered beers, then, more jovial than the minutes of sleep we had grabbed should have allowed, decided on a litre of Champagne Sangria and Nachos. Both were delightful.

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That particular night Cafe Mambo was hosting the pre-party for Groove Armada and Peter Tong at Pacha and both DJ’s were playing sets at the bar beforehand. It didn’t take us long to buy tickets for Pacha, which set us back about €47.
So that was our ‘quiet night.’

We had already been to Pacha (located in Ibiza Town) on our first night on Ibiza on the Monday to see trance god Tiesto. It is probably the most upmarket of the clubs (discotheques!) on the island. Many people dress up A LOT to go there… full on heels and dresses for the girls and shirts and proper shoes for the guys. But, you can also get in wearing the same sweaty shorts, bathers and thongs you have been traipsing around in all day, no worries – I know because I did it.

The Tiesto night was messy and I don’t remember much apart from the wicked time I was having. We had a great spot near the front of the dance floor and had the excellent company of a very sparkly gold hat and its’ owner Piete, our friend from Perth, who had flown in the day before from Holland to surprise four other Perthites, Chris, Kia, Daniel and Caity who all happened to be staying at the same hotel as us! This was one very happy accident!

Nic said that Pacha was really full that night and it’s not a very big club. On the Wednesday of ‘It’s all gone Pete Tong,’ it really did go Pete Tong for us! Included in the ticket price was a free bus to Pacha, leaving from San An at 12.30 am. We got talking to this, shall I say, unique, guy from Leicester, England and managed to miss the bus, wander around San An for more than an hour finding some other colourful characters, an awesome rave gear shop and an awesome playground along the way and then finally had to taxi it to the venue. Huge fail. By the time we got there it was packed and the club is in my opinion, pretty poorly designed with lots of stairs that are used as an extended dance floor and a thoroughfare at the same time, so there was a lot of pushing, getting hit, stood on and general disgruntledness. We really enjoyed Groove Armada’s set, but were left feeling a little perplexed about all the hype over Pacha in general.

On the first Pacha night, we headed out first to the famous Bora Bora Beach Bar, which goes off between lunchtime and early morning, so, all the time basically. Drinks are pricey but the place is under the flight path for quite low flying, frequent, incoming planes and each time one rumbles overhead, the Bora Bora party goes mental, welcoming more party people to the island.

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Bora Bora beach

We found Amnesia (located in San Rafael) to provide a much better night out, but our experience was always really different depending on the lineup and the crowd. Amnesia has two rooms and an upstairs VIP area, which we managed to get into on the Pendulum night, by walking straight up the stairs with no worries! We went there three times, twice on subsequent Tuesdays for Together (Pendulum etc. on September 4, then Skrillex, Knife Party and Steve Aoki on September 11) and on Thursday September 5 for Cream, headlining Eddie Halliwell and Paul Van Dyke.
We had the whole aforementioned Perth crew for Pendulum, which was really cool.
Eddie Halliwell was a highlight for me, and Steve Aoki was boss – throwing cream cakes and spraying the crowd with champagne.
The Skrillex night was a challenge though, due to a bit of a love hate relationship with dubstep and the fact it was our ninth intense night on the Island.
Amnesia also provides a free double decker bus to and from the venue from San An and Playa d’en Bossa, but it’s not always reliable.

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20120914-150320.jpg Steve Aoki

We also had the privilege of stepping inside the heaven that is the world’s biggest club – Privilege, on our second last night to see, or experience arguably the world’s best DJ Armin van Buuren. Tucked away behind a long and winding leafy driveway in San Rafael, this superclub has a glistening turquoise (at the beginning of the night, anyway, before it is littered with bottles and other crap) swimming pool right in the centre and puts on higher quality performers and podium dancers than the other clubs. We had seen bits of Armin’s festival sets in Perth, but had never had the opportunity to see a full club set so it was a pretty amazing experience. Cosmic Gate and Texan duo Tritonal also played, so we really got our fill of trance, complete with lasers, that night.
Privilege also provides a free bus!

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We really wanted to hit up Ushuaia Beach Hotel (in Playa d’en Bossa), one of the newer venues on Ibiza and even scored free tickets to the regular Saturday night Pooldisco. I put on my best dress and everything and due to the generosity of Piete, who had left us his all inclusive hotel wrist band (free food and drinks from the bar, all the time) got started on the bar with the intention of having one at the bar and one for the road. The one at the bar turned into a few too many at the bar and I really wanted to straighten out before we left for the evening and decided to take advantage of the free dinner. I managed to lose an hour and the wrist band in the 50 metre distance between the bar and the dining room and almost ruined a pair of Nic’s shorts and a teeshirt with some badly directed ketchup.
Hence, sadly we did not make it to Ushuaia and in another blow, lost our anyway illegitimate food and alcohol privileges for the rest of our stay. I’m sure Ushuaia was crap and over-hyped anyway and that’s what I’m sticking to.

We wandered into Space (opposite Ushuaia in Playa d’en Bossa) early on our last night because we had free tickets. We went, we saw, it was quiet and unexciting, so we left. Space has a good reputation on the island, not least represented by the masses of 18-20 year old beefcake guys wearing the branded singlets, so it’s probably great when it’s cranking. The layout looked pretty good in terms of being able to see and dance.

All in all, the clubs were really fun and friendly, just as we had hoped, but as Ibiza has gained in the commercial stakes over the years, as Nic puts it, there are ‘too many dicks on the dance floor.’ The clubs are packed and like anywhere, some people are discourteous, but on Ibiza there are a lot of young guys who seem to do little else than build up their biceps, get a tan, wear few clothes and throw their weight around. Another amusing thing worth mentioning for the Aussies, is the unashamed donning of the speedo, cock-jock, budgie smuggler, or whatever you want to call it. Mainly worn in purple, luminescent pink and green by waxed and dark olive Italian men by the pool, on the beach and on the street, these tiny pieces of Lycra have to be seen to be believed. And yes, topless women are also plentiful by the pool and on the sand and sunbeds of the beaches but it’s really no big deal, which is nice for everyone.

Coming back to the Space singlets, each of the clubs has its own empire of memorabilia and attire and in between the bars, cafes, Spar supermarkets and restaurants, Playa d’en Bossa is crammed with their respective shops and a whole bunch of other shops selling anything and everything ‘Ibiza.’ I’m half proud and half devastated to say that I did not buy one souvenir from Ibiza, but I really wanted to buy everything! I’m trying to convince myself that the memories will last longer than a midriff ‘I heart Ibiza’ singlet.

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Ok this has gone on far too long and we haven’t even started on the food. All I can say on the matter is that while Ibiza is a tourist-central haven of sloppy English Breakfasts, hamburgers, chips and pizza, there is decent food to be had and we were very well fed the entire trip.

There are so many other things to be said about this magical island that I either haven’t spoken about or discovered myself. This is a place Nic and I will undoubtedly return to.

    EATING – here are a few of the meals we ate in Ibiza…

HOTEL BREAKFAST – Hotel Mare del Nostrum, Avinguda de Pere Matutes Noguera Playa d’en Bossa
Rating: 2.5/5
Price : €5

Buffet Breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, baked beans, pastries, biscuits, muffins, fruit, cereals, toast and preserves, hot drinks and juice. It sounds a lot better than it was. Good for hangovers, but the hot food was tepid at best and the quality wasn’t great. Okay for what we paid though.

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LA GRIFERIA – Avinguda de Pere Matutes Noguera, Playa d’en Bossa
Rating: 4.5/5
Price : Tapas €4-6, meals €10-15

We ate Tapas of Potato Bravas, Spicy Green Peppers, Chorizo in Cider and Chicken Skewers here. In contention for the best meal we ate on Ibiza. Eating the peppers was a game of whether you would get a hot one or not, which was actually quite fun. Chorizo was probably the best I’ve had here yet.

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CAFE MAMBO – Carrer de Vara del Rei, Sant Antonio
Rating: 3/5
Price : €12-36 for mains.

We ordered Nachos for €12. The photo doesn’t do them justice but there was two types of cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Really really satisfying.

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MUMAK – Calle Porreres, San Jose
Rating: 4/5
Price : €9-20 per main, most could be shared.

Mumak is a gorgeous little oriental inspired beachfront restaurant near Bora Bora. Some of the outdoor tables double as day beds! On the waiters suggestion, we ordered the Chicken Wok (€15 I think) and some vegie samosas for €7. Both were presented beautifully and tasted equally good.

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TAPAS CAFE (can’t remember name) – Ibiza Town
Rating: 3/5
Price : €2.5-3

Traditional Spanish Cuisine. we ordered Tapas of Spanish omelette, a pork dish and chicken skewers. After another cafe in town ignored us because we couldn’t speak Spanish, the owner of this small cafe was really helpful. I think the food had been sitting out all day, as the cafe was quiet and there were some dodgy bits in the meat, but overall it was a nice introduction to tapas.

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JET CAFETERIA – Carrera de la Playa d’en Bossa
Rating: 3/5
Price : €6-10 per main

I had a pizza and Nic had chicken schnitzel with chips. Tourist food. Tasted good hungover.

CAFETERIA SAN CERIACO IBIZA – Avinguda de Pere Matutes Noguera, Playa d’en Bossa (opposite hotel)
Rating: 3.5/5
Price : €7-11 per main

We shared Vegetable Paella and nuggets and chips. This place also caters to tourists with quick, cheap fast food meals. The Paella was really yummy and was served with a wedge of lemon.

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CAFE 2 OPPOSITE HOTEL – Avinguda de Pere Matutes Noguera, Playa d’en Bossa
Rating: 3.5/5
Price : €3-10 per main

We ate here twice, first for hamburgers with egg, bacon and chips, which was edible but the meat was very pink! The second time I had Pizza and Nic had chicken in pepper sauce, chips and risotto rice. Basic home style tourist food again – cheap, but Nic’s chicken was particularly nice.

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IL PUNTOGELATO, Playa d’en Bossa
Rating: 4.5/5
Price : €4.5-6.5 per crepe

Ice-creamery and crepe shop. We had crepes here twice and they were delicious! The first time we had the famous Nutella, Helado (ice-cream), platano (cream) and then we came back for Fresca Frutta (fresh fruit), helado, platano. I would highly recommend this place.

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    HOTEL

Hotel Mare Nostrum

Pros: Good Atmosphere, big rooms, nice pool with heaps of sun beds, great location close enough to the action to walk, but far enough away to sleep well, Nice staff.

Cons: No fridge in the rooms, bar closed at 11 pm, rooms weren’t cleaned very well and the air conditioning was a bit dodgy.

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    TIME SPENT SO FAR…

In the air: 22 hours.
Total travelling including flights, buses, airport time: About 43 hours.