Sīmīt are everywhere in Istanbul. Simple, sesame-encrusted bread rings. Some call them the Turkish bagel. Sold from stationary red-painted government-owned carts, and from men who roam, swirling them on a stick, carrying them in baskets, setting them down on makeshift trestle-tables, or balancing them niftily in wicker trays on their heads – they are impossible to escape. Arranged in impressive towers and pyramids, the jengo … Continue reading The Humble Sīmīt.
We can see the Bosphorus at the end of our street. It’s like living at the seaside. A five-minute walk and we’re at the ferry terminal; but that’s not counting the ten minutes we need to cross the road. Traffic in Istanbul is awful. A seething mass of buses, dolmuses, cars, sunshine-yellow taxis, all tooting and hooting, swerving, impatient to be somewhere. Most folk just … Continue reading Istanbul. The Morning Commute.
When I heard about Budapest’s cafe history I was in pastry heaven. At one time the city was bursting with around five hundred cafe’s. How I wish I’d been able to see it then, before wars and communism changed things so. The cafes were visited by all and sundry. Ordinary folk, at weekends for a spot of the latest news with coffee and cake; while … Continue reading Kávéház in Budapest.
The Orient Express. The very name conjures glamour and intrigue. Black tie donned counts wearing monocles. Countesses with cigarette holders and gold-capped front teeth. Servants and trunks. Finery and frippery. Decadence and dosh. But we were not on the real Orient Express. We were hurtling across Europe on a budget; travelling from Paris to Istanbul – hoping for some of the luxury at a fraction … Continue reading The Budget Orient Express.
Normally when we’re in the Charente we do nothing. We hang out with the animals and leave the place only to go to the supermarket. This time was a bit different. We discovered the two-hour French lunch-break and the menu du jour. One day we popped out to buy a baguette. ‘Should we stop for coffee’, I asked Jim, even though the cafe was named … Continue reading The Menu du Jour.
We have just completed a house-sitting in the delightfully named Buntingford – it’s as if the flags are always out, and the town is in a permanent state of excitement – but, in spite of it’s name, we were not looking forward to our visit. Previously, Sophie and Bobby, our two Labrador charges, lived in the New Forest. (Out of Season. Out of Time.) When … Continue reading Buntingford.
Tokyo’s obsession with cats. ‘Hello Kitty’, cat-ears in pop culture, maneki neko lucky cats, the home of the original cat cafe – Japan is seemingly obsessed with moggies, and Tokyo is no exception. There are temples dedicated to cats. In a small corner at Gotokuji there are hundreds of lucky cat figures, their little arms raised in greeting. Small ones perched on stone ledges, looked … Continue reading Hello Kitty!
Eating Out in Tokyo. There are shops selling them on nearly every corner. Movies have been made about them. They’ve got Michelin stars. There are even museums dedicated to them. Jim could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m talking noodles. Noodles – simple bowls full of goodness – seem quite complicated to me. There’s such a lot of choice. Ramen, udon, soba… At … Continue reading Noodles!
Amsterdam is a ‘feest voor het oog’ (sight for sore eyes, as the Dutch say) but it’s not a cheap city to visit. Unless you know where to look. We’ve all been there – strange place, hungry, but no idea where to go. Tourist traps abound in Amsterdam. But the following are my favourite places: nice places – with a good atmosphere – where you can eat at … Continue reading On A Budget? Eating Out In Amsterdam.
Our third Airbnb address in as many months was in Bos en Lommer. Or BoLo as it’s called nowadays. There is nothing much in BoLo. Most tourists probably never venture this far west but maybe that in itself is enough of a reason to give it a go. At first glance it appears uninviting, nondescript even, but delve a little deeper and BoLo doesn’t seem … Continue reading Bos en Lommer. Not Your Typical Amsterdam.