When a friend asked for recommendations for places to eat and things to do in a number of European countries recently I realised that I had been to almost all of the places on his list. So, rather than keep my opinions confined to a small group of people on facebook, I figured it would be worth writing an entire blog post – here goes.
In general I love just being in a new city and the old towns are fascinating. I like to seek out local museums rather than the big ones (although some of the bigger ones are worthwhile) and I also like to go to a local supermarket to see what kinda stuff the locals buy and eat.
- Rijksmuseum, definitely worth seeing. If you are pressed for time, just go in and look at the Milk Maid and the Night Watch.
- Tour the canals, takes you around to most places and is very good value
- Amsterdam museum, I do love a local city museum and this one is lovely
- The Museum of Bags and Purses has a fascinating collection and was a gem of a find for me
It’s been too long for me to be able to offer reliable eatery recommendations, but in general you’ll be getting things like Stroopwafels, Profertjes and the like. You can have fairy bread in the morning and it’s considered breakfast. Tea does not come with milk unless you ask specifically for it. Mind the trams, they’re on the wrong side of the road for a Melbournian and it can be quite disconcerting. Also, bikes have right of way over pedestrians.
- The world heritage listed Cathedral of Our Lady is stunning, make sure you hear the bells they are probably the prettiest I’ve ever heard.
- It’s also pretty cool if you can see some of the ships on the river, just a short hop from the central old city. Think Yarra with a cruise liner running down the middle.
- The Meir is the main shopping street and has some gorgeous buildings
- The castle, Hat Steen, on the river is a maritime museum, but in front of it is a statue to one of the giants who used to guard the river.
- You can do a tour of the sewers, I never got around to it – they suggest you take wellies.
- Antwerp means “throw hand” and you can see in front of the Town Hall a statue depicting the throwing of a giant’s hand into the river by the hero Brabo.
- The Irish Times on the Grote Markt is a lovely pub.
- Central Station is quite possibly one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, and if you have more than a couple of days in Antwerp is a good place to get a train out to Bruge
- Rubenshuis is worth a look, aside from being Rubens’ House it is a fine example of the homes from Antwerp’s height
- Sir Anthony Van Dyke is a really lovely restaurant in a 15th century street, the chef gave up his michelin stars when people started killing themselves over them and has made the restaurant cheaper and more intimate as a result, fabulous food and the most romantic atmosphere but you do have to book. At the very least, walk down the street cos it’s gorgeous
- Popoff has amazing desserts
- Zuidterras is a lovely restaurant with a view of the river
- Belgium claims to be the home of the French Fry and the acknowledged home of them in Antwerp is Frituur N°1 – locals have them with mayonaise.
- River Kwai is a lovely thai restaurant, nice ambience
- De Vagant would have to be my favourite bar in the world so far. They serve over 200 different gins. There’s a restaurant upstairs, but I like to just order a few different fruit flavoured gins and the cheese and salami board. Once you’ve found a few gins you like, the shop over the road is where you can buy
In general, waffles taste best from Antwerp IMHO, you can get them everywhere but some of the cafes are supposed to be better than others (my favourite appears to be closed boo), you’ll also find muscles are big as are snails (yum!). I haven’t been here in a few years but I’ve no reason to believe that any of the restaurants have diminished.
- the Römerberg is lovely and is the home to the old town house
- the Opera House is also very pretty
- the Natural History Museum is worth a look. They have a male dingo on display, Christian got very excited that he was able to say “as dry as a dead dingo’s donger”
- definitely stop by the Kleinmarkthalle an undercover market. YOu can get some eats there
I tend to pass through Frankfurt more than I stop as it’s on the way to Christian’s family in Fulda. I did see a great Botticelli exhibition in the art gallery a couple of years back.
- a half day trip to Pfaffenhoefen is in order if you like to knit
- the English Garden is just a big park, unless you have plenty of time I wouldn’t place it high on the list however I would go to the southern tip of the English Garden at Prinzregentenstrasse where you’ll see scores of people leaning over a bridge to cheer on surfers on an artificially created wave in the Eisbach.
- watch the Glockenspiel at Marienplatz
- climb to the top of St Peter’s Church for amazing views
- a tour of the Residenz is worth doing, it’s a beautiful building (and features in the most recent Three Musketeers movie)
- Viktualienmarkt is the market area and is a must
- Have a meal at the Hofbräuhaus, it’s a must-do
- for something a bit posh, Dallmayr is like the Harrods food hall of Munich
- Schuhbeck is the big-wig chef in Munich, he has a restaurant – I’ve eaten at some circus/restaurant thing which he did and the food was amazing. You’ll also see spice shops by him which have some great combinations.
- Vapiano is a good solid Italien which you’ll find in a number of cities on the mainland, good for when the German zoo-on-a-plate approach gets too much
- Augustiner Beer Hall does awesome Weisswurst which is a veal sausage served with pretzels and sweet mustard and which must be ordered before noon. (peel the skin off the sausage). Generally served with beer, if you don’t want to drink that early order the Apfelsaftschorle. This is one of my highlights when I visit Munich.
- Weisses Brauhaus is a great place for lunch and near Marienplatz. It’s a very typical traditional German eatery, much like the Augustiner
- There’s also BMW World which I’ve never been to
Munich is the centre of the stereotypical Germany you see on postcards. Most of the rest of Germany resents that, but it’s a great fun place to be. Most of the restaurants will do an English menu and you’ll see a lot of pork.
- the Scotch Malt Society has a fabulous restaurant but you need to know a member in order to get in. Luckily you do.
- Holyrood Palace is definitely a must do – as is the walk up to the Castle from there.
- Starbucks on Princes Street has amazing views of the castle
- avoid the Grassmarket for restaurants, they tend to be high priced
- the Caley Sample room does gorgeous food, as does it’s sister the Cambridge Bar (burgers)
- Rosslyn Chapel is a good distance by bus but worth the trek
- The Sheep’s Heid Inn is one that Mary Queen of Scots stopped at
- St Gile’s Church has a great history
- Do a tour of the city that takes you into the underground bits, spooky but very interesting
Definitely one of those cases of too much to choose from here!
I’m going to come back to this post and update it as I remember new places to go to…