Imperator

This is the name of restaurant that we visited in St Petersburg.  It was a strange restaurant, mainly because we were the only people in it.  The DK Travel Guide states the following:

The Strelka has a number of restaurants but none of them can match the Imperator for price.  Tucked away in the basement of the Academy of Sciences, next to the Kunstkammer, it serves the usual mix of European and Caucasian cuisine, with the slightly odd addition of Mexican dishes.  The small non-smoking room should be booked ahead.

The first part is certainly true – the prices were very reasonable.  I’m not quite sure what ‘Caucasian cuisine’ entails but the menu was certainly very varied.  The meal itself was pleasant, if not exceptional, but the service was fantastic.  We had already eaten a few times since arriving in St Petersburg and the service had been pretty poor each time.

English: Saint Petersburg (Russia), Old Saint ...

St Petersburg

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Photographing the Snow in Russia

St Petersburg was very, very cold.  Thankfully, we had packed accordingly, with numerous leggings, thermals and socks.  Even so, my hands did become painfully cold on a number of occasions.  Taking my gloves off to sort out the camera was always a bit of a struggle!

However, I’d say it was worth it.  St Petersburg was beautiful in the snow and while my photography doesn’t do it justice, it might give you a little idea of what a winter weekend in St Petersburg has to offer.

P1020141

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Long-Haul Flights: Love or Hate?

English: Long Haul to JNB

It is only in the last few years that I have stopped hating long-haul flights.  I think it was the boredom that I found really frustrating.  And being so uncomfortable that you can’t possibly fall asleep.  I would end up feeling so tired and irritable that even the films available didn’t have a chance of cheering me up.  Add in an abysmal meal and that probably explains my hatred.

So what changed?  Because in the last few years I’ve come to quite enjoy long-haul flights – which probably isn’t a bad thing, having spent 23 hours on three different flights to travel from Hoi An to Heathrow last year.

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Eating Italian Food in Vietnam

I know, I know.  When in Rome and all that.  But is it so wrong to want a little bit of Rome in Vietnam?  I understand that it’s important to eat local food when abroad, but does that mean I can’t indulge in an epic spag bol in Hanoi?

The Italian restaurant in question is El Mediterraneo and the food was AMAZING.  It isn’t just me who thinks so either – TripAdvisor has numerous equally positive reviews (although it also has a few rather scathing comments dotted about).  I don’t in anyway regret choosing to eat there because it was a lovely meal and I really do love Italian food.  But, now, looking back, I can’t help but think that it was a little bit strange to visit an Italian restaurant in Hanoi.  It wasn’t as though we had weeks and weeks available in which to sample the Vietnamese cuisine, so I wonder whether I should have been more experimental (it was, after all, me who insisted on having an Italian meal).   In total, we visited this restaurant twice, although we did spend a few days away from Hanoi in between visits.  If I recall correctly, I also had a cheese and ham toastie in Vietnam.

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Booking Accommodation: Arrive & Find or Plan Ahead?

Travel Guides

Travel Guides (Photo credit: Vanessa (EY))

I intended to write predominantly about the wonderful city that is London.  However, I can’t actually remember the last time I went into central London.  Definitely this year.  The end of January maybe?  I suppose that isn’t too long ago.  It honestly feels like forever.

Having consulted my diary, it doesn’t look like I will be going anywhere in London until the 1st March (and more on that later – I’m incredibly excited about a visit to a particular restaurant!).  So, until then, I will be writing mainly about my upcoming travel plans.  But if it’s London you’re after, then no need to worry because March is packed full of outings!

I thought I might write about booking accommodation.  Now I know that a lot of people just sort it out when they are arrive, but this has always filled me with a bit (Read: a lot) of fear.  Are you an ‘arrive and find somewhere’ person, or a ‘booker-in-advancer’?

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Travelling with a Control Freak

Map of Switzerland, published in a 1913 Baedek...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)*

Travelling with a control freak is, I imagine, really difficult and perhaps not that much fun.  I wouldn’t know.  Probably because in a travelling duo, I am the control freak.

With the exception of the Russia debacle, I am relentlessly organised before a trip.  Every destination is thoroughly researched.  Every journey is googled using a number of booking websites, stop overs and airlines.  Travel forums are inundated with my questions.  And while all of these things are immensely time-consuming, I really enjoy the researching and organising stage.  So, at this point, any travelling companion of mine can consider themselves pretty lucky.  I will happily provide them with all the information on the chosen destination, including a thorough break down of costs.  But more on that later.

So what about the actually travelling, you know, that bit between leaving home and returning?  That’s perhaps where being a control freak is a less beneficial characteristic.

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