Blog posts detailing suggested itineraries for specific locations.

Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours

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During a trip to Vancouver we found ourselves with a day with nothing planned. To fill that day we researched what day trips we could do from Vancouver. We took a look at the map of British Columbia and one city jumped out at us, the iconic ski resort of Whistler. Even though our visit was during the springtime, we knew we still wanted to travel to Whistler.

We didn’t have a rental car and had to explore other options for reaching Whistler. It was our understanding that a train ride in Canada is a great way to see the country’s landscape. As appealing as that sounded a train from Vancouver takes an entire day to reach Whistler and we’d have to spend the night in Whistler. To keep the visit to one day we had only one practical choice, riding a bus service to our destination.

Gray Line Tour Bus - British Columbia, Canada

Gray Line Tour Bus

Gray Line Tours

A few companies offer direct bus service between Vancouver and Whistler but we opted for the tour company Gray Line. Gray Line has a 10-hour tour with stops at Whistler and Shannon Falls. We’d used Gray Line before in other parts of the world and knew how reputable a company they are. By choosing Gray Line we knew we’d have the opportunity to stop at other places besides Whistler and be escorted by a knowledgeable guide.

On the day of our excursion the Gray Line bus arrived at our hotel in the morning. Our driver/tour guide for the day was Jack, a Canadian who’d lived in Vancouver his entire life. After we got on the Gray Line bus Jack continued on to pick up the other tour travelers from their respective hotels. With everyone on board Jack made his way through Downtown Vancouver. Along the way Jack pointed out sights and added historical commentary related to the various regions we passed. At this point in our trip we’d been in Vancouver a few days. The insights provided by Jack added clarity and perspective to the sights and districts we’d seen and visited on the days prior. Once out of Downtown Vancouver the bus made its way to Highway 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, and the main road to Whistler.

Porteau Cove - British Columbia, Canada

Porteau Cove

Howe Sound - Porteau Cove Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada

View of Howe Sound from Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Sea to Sky Highway 99

With traffic being light the morning of our tour our driver/tour guide Jack made extra stops along the way to Whistler. These stops were a pleasant surprise since they did not appear on the original itinerary. The first of these stops was Porteau Cove, a provincial marine park. At Porteau Cove locals can camp by the waterfront or launch boats from the dock. Visitors to Porteau Cove see stunning views of Howe Sound, crystal blue water, and towering green trees.   Those lucky enough to visit Porteau Cove after dark can stargaze on cloudless nights. They might even have the chance at viewing the Aurora Borealis during the right parts of the year.

After Porteau Cove we made our way to our first official itinerary stop, the Squamish Adventure Centre. Those traveling through this region with a rental car will want to stop at the Squamish Adventure Centre. The Visitor Centre has information, brochures, and a booking desk for those looking to partake in outdoor activities. Those interested in the history of the First Nations, Canada’s indigenous people, will find informational exhibits throughout the Centre. In addition, the Squamish Adventure Centre has restrooms, a cafe, and a gift shop.

Squamish Adventure Centre - Squamish, British Columbia, Canada

Squamish Adventure Centre

Alexander Falls - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Alexander Falls

Whistler Olympic Park and Alexander Falls

With time still in our favor from the lack of traffic we made an unscheduled detour up a road that leads to the Whistler Olympic Park. The Olympic Park was the location for many of the athletic events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Close to Olympic Park is a waterfall called Alexander Falls. Our bus parked in a gravel lot with access to a viewing platform. Without having to hike we walked to the platform and had a direct view of the waterfall.

As we walked back to the Gray Line bus one of our travel mates pointed out something the rest of us had missed. In a grove of trees a good distance from the parking lot the tops of massive trees were swaying even though there was no breeze. Our eagle-eyed companion had spotted a black bear and her cub that had climbed up to the top of the tree. Although the bears were a good distance from the bus, we could still see them well enough from our location. To see bears in their natural habitat awed the bus full of city folks and we knew we’d gotten more than our money’s worth for this tour.

Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Village

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Hunter’s Bowl at Stonesedge Kitchen

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Roast Duck Mac N Cheese at Stonesedge Kitchen

Whistler Village

From Alexander Falls the Gray Line bus made its way to Whistler Village. The sprawling pedestrian avenues of Whistler Village beckoned us with its stores and restaurants. We’d arrived in Whistler Village at noon and had three hours to ourselves to explore Whistler. Our first order of business was lunch and for that we went to Stonesedge Kitchen. This restaurant prides itself in serving “comfort food” and it did not disappoint. We ordered the Hunter’s Bowl and the Roast Duck Mac N Cheese. The Hunter’s Bowl has venison with rigatoni, mixed in a tomato cream sauce. Besides the dishes we ordered two beers from a local brewery, Whistler Brewing Company. We had the Bear Paw Honey Lager and the Whiskey Jack Ale. The beers paired great with our dishes and we left Stonesedge Kitchen satisfied, renewed, and ready to tackle Whistler Village.

Walk around Whistler Village and you can’t help being smitten with the quaint and charming buildings. Even in springtime the chalet architecture gives you the sense you are in a snowy wonderland. You might think that Whistler Village in the springtime is a ghost town. It turns out the opposite is true as every store and restaurant was open for business with plenty of vacationing folks walking the pedestrian pathways. Even the ski lifts were operational, allowing visitors the chance to reach the top of the mountains for gorgeous views. Plus in the springtime there may still be snow on the top of the mountains and even limited skiing available.

Ski lifts at Whistler Village - Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Ski lifts at Whistler Village

Rebagliati Park - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Rebagliati Park

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Throughout Whistler Village walkways connect the various hotel properties. These non-strenuous walks take you by roaring streams and tall trees such as those found in Rebagliati Park. Around the various hotels you will find more shops and restaurants. First-time visitors will want to see the Whistler Olympic Plaza. The original use for this location was for the medal ceremonies during the Whistler Olympics. Now people come to Olympic Plaza for concerts, to hangout, relax, and soak in the surrounding views of nature. The Olympic Plaza is home to the Olympic Rings, a perfect photo spot. Near the Olympic Rings are plaques listing each of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games medalists.

Whistler Olympic Plaza - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Rings - Whistler Village, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Whistler Olympic Rings

Shannon Falls

After an afternoon in Whistler Village we boarded the Gray Line bus and began the ride back to Vancouver. Along the way, again on the Sea to Sky Highway, we stopped at a scenic viewpoint. Here we had panoramic views of snow-capped mountain ranges and fields of green trees. From the viewpoint the bus took us to the last of the scheduled itinerary stops, Shannon Falls. A short walk from the parking lot led us to a viewing platform where we could gaze at the waterfall. We were fortunate that we undertook this tour in the springtime. The recent winter’s snow had melted off the surrounding mountains. That was why the waterfalls, rivers, and creeks we’d encountered during the day’s trips were full of rushing water. Shannon Falls was no exception, and magnificent to view.

Sea to Sky Highway 99 Viewpoint - British Columbia, Canada

Viewpoint along the Sea to Sky Highway 99

Shannon Falls - British Columbia, Canada

Shannon Falls

From Shannon Falls our driver/tour guide Jack drove us back to Vancouver. Along the way he made one last diversion through West Vancouver, offering us views of local neighborhoods and the skyline of Downtown Vancouver. From West Vancouver Jack deposited travelers back to their respective hotels. Everyone one of us left the tour bus with smiles on our faces. Each of these added stops and detours made our trip to Whistler extra special. On a direct bus we’d have seen just Downtown Vancouver and Whistler Village. If you plan on visiting Vancouver and have a day with nothing planned we recommend you explore Whistler with Gray Line Tours.

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver - Vancouver; British Columbia, Canada

View of the skyline of Downtown Vancouver from West Vancouver

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Gray Line Tours - From Vancouver to Whistler

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Porteau Cove Provincial Park: 49.557121, -123.236311
Squamish Adventure Centre: 49.707029, -123.145871
Whistler Olympic Park: 50.139143, -123.113705
Alexander Falls: 50.135199, -123.127904
Whistler Village: 50.115743, -122.956334
Stonesedge Kitchen: 50.114190, -122.956994
Rebagliati Park: 50.115830, -122.950342
Whistler Olympic Plaza: 50.118817, -122.954993
Shannon Falls: 49.669969, -123.156460
West Vancouver: 49.334897, -123.166785
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Squamish-Lillooet D, BC, Canada
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Squamish Adventure Centre
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Squamish Adventure Centre, Loggers Lane, Squamish, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Park, Callaghan Road, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Alexander Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Alexander Falls, Squamish-Lillooet D, British Columbia, Canada
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Whistler Village
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Village, BC, Gate Way Drive, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Stonesedge Kitchen
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Rebagliati Park
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Rebagliati Park, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Whistler Olympic Plaza
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Whistler Olympic Plaza, Village Stroll, Whistler, BC, Canada
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Shannon Falls
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
Shannon Falls, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
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West Vancouver
Visiting Whistler with Gray Line Tours
West Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island

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Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau

 

Cheung Chau is part of Hong Kong’s Island Districts. Located less than an hour away from Hong Kong Island, Cheung Chau allows visitors a chance to glimpse a different side of Hong Kong.   Here in Cheung Chau is a bustling fishing village. The harbor is full of fisherman working on their boats. At the waterfront vendors sell fish at markets while restaurants serve up fresh seafood dishes. Besides seafood tourists will enjoy Cheung Chau’s narrow streets with their shops, bakeries, and food stalls. Cheung Chau may translate from Cantonese into “Long Island” yet the island itself is small enough to entice visitors for a few hours. This makes Cheung Chau a perfect island for those tourists on a time crunch but still wanting to explore one of Hong Kong’s outlying islands.

Central Ferry Pier 5 - Hong Kong, China

Central Ferry Pier 5 – Hong Kong Island

Cheung Chau Ferry Pier - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau Ferry Pier

 

The Ferry to Cheung Chau

Ferries to Cheung Chau leave from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 5. Departures are daily and either on the ordinary or fast service ferry. Ordinary service will get you to Cheung Chau in an hour while fast service will get you there in half an hour. Ticket prices vary depending on which ferry you board and if you travel Mondays to Saturdays or Sundays and public holidays. The most expensive fare is the adult fare on the fast ferry on Sundays and public holidays at $37.20 HKD ($4.80 USD). Ferries that leave from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 5 sail direct to Cheung Chau Ferry Pier.

Boats in Cheung Chau's harbor - Hong Kong, China

Boats in Cheung Chau’s harbor

Fisherman heading to his boat - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Fisherman heading to his boat

Bicycles along Cheung Chau's waterfront - Hong Kong, China

Bicycles along Cheung Chau’s waterfront

Dried Seafood - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Dried seafood for sale

Egg custard from a food vendor in Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

Egg custard from a food vendor

San Hing Praya Street - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

San Hing Praya Street

 

Arrival in Cheung Chau

The moment you disembark the ferry on Cheung Chau the famous golden arches of McDonald’s will greet you. This fast-food restaurant is on the main road called San Hing Praya Street. If possible resist this American temptation and look back towards the water where you will see an overabundance of boats and fisherman. There aren’t many docks along the waterfront and fisherman make their way back to land on floating platforms attached to shore by ropes. Cheung Chau is an active fishing village and if you are a fan of seafood you will want to save your appetite for dining options other than McDonald’s. Along San Hing Praya you’ll notice rows of bicycles belonging to the hard-working people of Cheung Chau. Cars are not allowed on Cheung Chau so locals use bicycles or small-motorized carts to travel around the island. Continue your introduction to Cheung Chau by exploring San Hing Praya Street. Here you will find shops with souvenirs and food stalls where you can buy dried seafood or desserts such as mochi or egg custard. At the end of San Hing Praya Street is Pak She Praya Road. This road is full of restaurants selling seafood and this section of town is a great place to eat a meal at if you are hungry.

Pak Tai Temple - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Pak Tai Temple

An altar inside the Pak Tai Temple - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

An altar inside the Pak Tai Temple

 

Cheung Chau Temple

From the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier turn left on San Hing Praya Street. Turn right past the playground at Pak She Third Lane. This street will take you to one of the main temples on the island, Pak Tai Temple. Walk Pak She Third Lane until you reach Pak Tai Temple on the right-hand side. The temple is open to the public but remember, be respectful inside this holy place of worship. Dedicated to the Taoist God of the Sea the temple has four stone lions that great you as you ascend the steps to the shrine. Before entering the temple notice the ornate statues of dragons at the top of the temple. Throughout the temple you will see various figurines and murals such as that of a tiger and their cub.

Steamed buns sold by a street vendor in Hong Kong, China

Steamed buns sold by a street vendor

Tung Wan Beach - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Tung Wan Beach

 

Tung Wan Beach

From Pak Tai Temple you will walk towards the direction you came, but this time on Pak She Street and San Hing Street. These streets include bakeries selling various steamed buns and food stalls selling different flavored fish balls. From the food stalls and stores take either Kwok Man Road or Tung Wan Road towards Tung Wan Beach. This beach is popular with tourists and locals alike on hot days.   After you’ve enjoyed the sun, water, and sand continue exploring the various streets around Tung Wan Beach. Along these streets are stores used by locals such as apothecaries, grocery stores, and stores selling household goods. As you walk among the streets notice the small altars dedicated to various deities.

A street in Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

A street in Cheung Chau

An altar in the streets of Cheung Chau - Hong Kong, China

An altar in the streets of Cheung Chau

 

Tai Hing Tai Road

Make your way through the various streets, heading past the Cheung Chau Ferry Pier and on to Tai Hing Tai Road. On Tai Hing Tai Road is Cheung Chau Market. Inside are various vendors selling meats, seafood, and fruits to locals. Around the market are hawker style food stalls and restaurants. Pick any of the restaurants to eat at and enjoy fresh seafood dishes such as salt and pepper crab or seafood combination fried rice.

Cheung Chau Market - Hong Kong, China

Cheung Chau Market

Salt and pepper crab - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Salt and pepper crab

Seafood combination fried rice - Cheung Chau, Hong Kong, China

Seafood combination fried rice

After your delicious seafood meal continue to explore the various streets before heading back to Cheung Chau Ferry Pier. Here at Cheung Chau Ferry Pier you will catch your boat ride back to Hong Kong Island.

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Cheung Chau

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Cheung Chau Ferry Pier: 22.208517, 114.028364
San Hing Praya Street: 22.209453, 114.028527
Pak Tai Temple: 22.212387, 114.027883
Tung Wan Beach: 22.210419, 114.029939
Tai Hing Tai Road: 22.205559, 114.026941
Cheung Chau Market: 22.206856, 114.028119
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Cheung Chau Ferry Pier
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Cheung Chau Ferry Pier, Hong Kong
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San Hing Praya Street
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
San Hing Praya Street, Hong Kong
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Pak Tai Temple
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
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Tung Wan Beach
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Tung Wan Beach, Hong Kong
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Tai Hing Tai Road
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Tai Hing Tai Road, Hong Kong
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Cheung Chau Market
Cheung Chau: A Hong Kong Island
Cheung Chau Market, Hong Kong

 

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Hong Kong’s Lamma Island

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Lamma Island is one of Hong Kong’s largest islands and one of the closest to Hong Kong Island. Its proximity and size is why Lamma Island is a perfect day trip for those visiting Hong Kong. Lamma Island is what you get if you cross California’s Catalina Island with Italy’s Cinque Terre. Similar to Catalina Island, Lamma Island has no cars, which makes Lamma Island a peaceful change of pace from Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Lamma Island is comparable to Cinque Terre in that both have villages you reach by foot using trails. On Lamma Island a concrete trail that takes 1-1/2 hours to walk separates the two main villages, Sok Kwu Wan and Yung Shue Wan. This trail takes you through lush hills with amazing views of the island and the surrounding waters. Besides the trail, Lamma Island has beaches that are great for hot days and restaurants that serve delicious seafood.

Central Ferry Piers - Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, China

Central Ferry Piers on Hong Kong Island

Ferry to Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Ferry to Lamma Island

The Ferry to Lamma Island

Visitors reach Lamma Island by ferry in under an hour on direct sailings from Hong Kong Island’s Central Ferry Pier 4. Depending on which ferry you board, ordinary or fast, your journey will take anywhere from 30-minutes to an hour. Upon arriving at Central Ferry Pier 4 you will buy your ticket for the ferry from the ticket booth. Fares vary for adults, children, and those over the age of 65. Besides age the cost of the fare depends on whether you travel Mondays to Saturdays or Sundays and public holidays. The most expensive ticket is the adult Sundays and public holidays fare from Central to Sok Kwu Wan at HKD $29.80 (USD $3.84). If your travel plans are flexible aim to visit Lamma Island during the weekday. On weekends Lamma Island is a popular place for locals looking to exercise on the trail or lounge on the beach.

One may explore Lamma Island starting at either of the main villages, Sok Kwu Wan or Yung Shue Wan. Separate ferries from Central Ferry Pier 4 can take you to either location. More ferries run between Central and Yung Shue Wan so we recommended you end your day at Yung Shue Wan. This way you won’t have to wait too long for a return ferry back to Hong Kong Island. Once aboard the ferry try to sit at a window seat so you can enjoy the view of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon while sailing through Victoria Harbour.

Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Sok Kwu Wan village

The Village of Sok Kwu Wan

As your ferry approaches Sok Kwu Wan you’ll realize how you are in a place much different from Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. Underneath the shadow of a small green hill lies a short row of two-story buildings. In front of these buildings various awnings nestle up along side the waterfront. These awnings belong to open-air seafood restaurants. You will exit the ferry at the Sok Kwu Wan Pier and turn right, on to Sok Kwu Wan First Street. Here you will find yourself in the midst of the buildings you saw upon your approach on the ferry. The two-story buildings house the working part of the restaurants, such as the kitchens and aquariums. Besides restaurants you will find convenience stores and shopkeepers selling dried fish. There aren’t any souvenir stores or homes in this section of Lamma Island. This village is just for seafood eating. If you are hungry be sure to eat at a restaurant and enjoy the waterfront view. Before embarking on the trail consider buying snacks and a bottle of water from one of the convenience stores for your trek.

Street in Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Street in Sok Kwu Wan

Restaurant with waterfront seating in Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Restaurant with waterfront seating in Sok Kwu Wan

Lamma Island’s Trail

With the hill on your left and the water on your right you’ll walk along the street through Sok Kwu Wan. As you reach the end of this street and Sok Kwu Wan’s seafood row you will come upon a temple. This is a Tin Hau temple, one of three on the island. Tin Hau is the Goddess of the Sea and of Fishermen, a helpful deity for locals given Lamma Island’s proximity to the water. From the temple you will continue on the main trail, known as Lamma Island Family Walk. Abundant signs throughout the trail keep you heading in the right direction, towards the village of Yung Shue Wan.

Tin Hau Temple in Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Tin Hau Temple in Sok Kwu Wan

Walking uphill on the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail - Hong Kong, China

Walking uphill on the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail

Kamikaze Grottos

The entire Lamma Island Family Walk trail is concrete. The trail goes up and over a hill and takes 1-1/2 hours to complete. After leaving Sok Kwu Wan you will pass a few dwellings but the majority of housing on Lamma Island is in the other main village, Yung Shue Wan. Just continue to follow the signs to Yung Shue Wan so you don’t wind up in someone’s backyard or off the beaten path. After you’ve walked 8-minutes from the Tin Hau Temple you will see one of several small caves on the island. Locals call these caves Kamikaze Grottos. During World War II the Japanese army had troops stationed on the island and were planning on using the caves to hide speedboats. Those boats were for future suicide attacks on Allies’ warships. Before the Japanese carved out the caves large enough to hold boats the war ended. The caves have remained untouched ever since and serve as a reminder as to Lamma Island’s status during the war.

Part of the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail - Hong Kong, China

Part of the Lamma Island Famly Walk Trail

Kamikaze Grottos, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Kamikaze Grottos

Hilltop Pavilion

From the Kamikaze Grottos you will ascend the hill and reach a scenic point with a view of Sok Kwu Wan and the Lo So Shing Port. The viewpoint with its hilltop pavilion offers benches for those looking to rest before continuing on the trail. As you continue on the trail you will soon reach the top of the hill. It is at this point you will see off the coast a massive building with three tall pillars. This building is the Lamma Power Station. The Lamma Power Station provides power to Lamma Island and Hong Kong Island. The Lamma Island Family Walk trail won’t lead you to the Lamma Power Station. During the rest of your walk you will continue to see the building until you reach Hung Shing Yeh Beach and Yung Shue Wan.

View of Pichic Bay and Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

View of Pichic Bay and Sok Kwu Wan

Hilltop Pavilion over looking Pichic Bay and Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Hilltop Pavilion over looking Pichic Bay and Sok Kwu Wan

Lamma Power Station, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Lamma Power Station

Hung Shing Yeh Beach

Hung Shing Yeh Beach is a sandy beach marred only by the garish view of the Lamma Power Station as you gaze out into water. The beach itself is popular with tourists and locals alike on hot days. There are public toilets next to the beach, ideal if you need a restroom or a place to change into your swimming suit. On one end of the beach you will find benches underneath large trees that offer generous amounts of shade. These benches make for a great escape from the sun and a nice picnic spot. After you leave Hung Shing Yeh Beach you will reach the village of Yung Shue Wan in 25-minutes.

Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Hung Shing Yeh Beach

Trees with benches at Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Trees with benches at Hung Shing Yeh Beach

View from Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

View from Hung Shing Yeh Beach

View of Power Station from Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

View of Power Station from Hung Shing Yeh Beach

The Village of Yung Shue Wan

As you leave Hung Shing Yeh Beach behind you will continue on the trail and walk past homes, both old dwellings and newer apartment buildings. This section of Yung Shue Wan is home to many foreigners. Yung Shue Wan has a much more relaxed vibe than the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. You’ll know you’re in the heart of Yung Shue Wan when you pass shops selling bakery items such as pineapple buns. There are more convenience stores in Yung Shue Wan than in Sok Kwu Wan so you can restock your water or snack supply if need be. Along with the stores you will once again find seafood restaurants, such as Lung Wah, along Yung Shue Wan Main Street. Enjoy a plate of clams in black bean sauce or salt and pepper squid to rejuvenate after walking the trail.

Buildings in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Buildings in Yung Shue Wan

Housing in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Housing in Yung Shue Wan

Bakery in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Bakery in Yung Shue Wan

Clams in black bean sauce at Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Clams in black bean sauce at Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant in Yung Shue Wan

Salt and pepper squid at Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Salt and pepper squid at Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant in Yung Shue Wan

Once you reach the end of Yung Shue Main Street you may continue on the Lamma Island Family Walk trail. A 10-minute walk will take you to the Tai Peng San Cheun viewpoint. Or you can walk the rest of the Lamma Island Family Walk, which includes the Pak Kok Tsuen Pier to Aberdeen. This trail circles around back to Yung Shue and is another 50-minutes of walking. When you are ready to leave Lamma Island head to the Yung Shue Wan Pier to catch your ferry back to Central Ferry Piers in Hong Kong Island.

View of Lamma Power Station from Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

View of Lamma Power Station from Yung Shue Wan

Street with shops in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Street with shops in Yung Shue Wan

Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island - Hong Kong, China

Yung Shue Wan village

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Lamma Island

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Sok Kwu Wan Ferry Pier: 22.205580, 114.131170
Tin Hau Temple: 22.203795, 114.130942
Kamikaze Grottos : 22.204247, 114.127530
Hilltop Pavilion: 22.204378, 114.126472
Lamma Power Station: 22.217979, 114.107147
Hung Shing Yeh Beach: 22.218653, 114.119803
Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant: 22.226601, 114.111669
Yung Shue Wan Ferry Pier: 22.225002, 114.110643
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Sok Kwu Wan Ferry Pier
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Sok Kwu Wan Ferry Pier, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Tin Hau Temple
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Tin Hau Temple, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Kamikaze Grottos
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Cave Kamikaze, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Hilltop Pavilion
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Lo So Shing Sitting-out Area, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Lamma Power Station
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Lamma Power Station, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Hung Shing Yeh Beach
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Hong Kong
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Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Lung Wah Seafood Restaurant, Lamma Island, Hong Kong
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Yung Shue Wan Ferry Pier
Hong Kong’s Lamma Island
Yung Shue Wan Development Pier, Lamma Island, Hong Kong

 

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Oxford, Part Two

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Continued from Oxford, Part One

Tom Tower and Tom Quad at Christ Church - Oxford, England

Tom Tower and Tom Quad at Christ Church

Once you’ve eaten and shopped your way out of Covered Market the walking tour will have you continue on towards St. Martin’s Tower. The locals refer to this monument as Carfax Tower. From here you will head to one of the most popular locations, Christ Church Cathedral and College. The current popularity stems from the fact that various parts of Christ Church were the inspiration for, or actual film locations, for the Harry Potter series. You’ll first pass by Tom Tower, created by the famed English architect Sir Christopher Michael Wren, as you make your way to the entrance to the Christ Church Meadow. The path to the Christ Church Meadow is through the War Memorial Garden. After exiting the War Memorial Garden to your left will be the public entrance to buy tickets into Christ Church.

Turf Tavern - Oxford, England

Turf Tavern

Your ticket gains you access into the Tom Quad, The Great Hall, and the Cathedral. Harry Potter fans will recognize The Great Hall as the inspiration for the dining hall at Hogwarts. Once inside the Cathedral you will want to pick up their pamphlet, “A Brief Tour of the Cathedral”, as it highlights the main points of interest inside the Cathedral. Once done inside take a moment in Tom Quad to soak in your surroundings and breathe in the same air as the Oxford intelligentsia. After Christ Church the walking tour takes you past the Botanic Gardens, which has its own admissions price. You will see other colleges such as Corpus Christ, Merton, and Magdalen.  On New College Lane you will see a bridge that connects two parts of Hertford College. This bridge is known as the Bridge of Sighs, a reference to the bridge of the same name in Venice.

Lamb and Flag Passage - Oxford, England

Lamb and Flag Passage

At this point in your journey you may have a hankering for a pint or pub food. Near the Bridge of Sighs is the famous Turf Tavern, which offers a self-described “education in intoxication”. On a sign by the tavern are the words “If you’ve been to Oxford before, without visiting the Turf, then you haven’t really visited Oxford”. Even famous people have visited the Turf Tavern such as Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher, and Ben Kingsley. The Turf Tavern boasts high quality cask ales fresh from the tap. If available be sure to try a pint of the Damson Porter, a smooth on the palate dark beer. If the pub fare at Turf Tavern doesn’t pique your interest head to nearby Holywell Street and The Alternative Tuck Shop. At The Alternative Tuck Shop sandwiches are made to order for takeaway. The chicken tikka with mango chutney on a baguette isn’t spicy but cool and refreshing.

Peek Kai Tod Kraiem at Chiang Mai Kitchen - Oxford, England

Peek Kai Tod Kraiem at Chiang Mai Kitchen

From Holywell Street you will resume your walking tour on Parks Road. You will pass by Wadham College, University Museum, Pitt Rivers Museum of Ethnology, and Keble College. From there the tour will take you through the Lamb and Flag Passage, a tranquil passageway that is charming. Try to capture a peaceful moment in this section of Oxford. If time permits before leaving Oxford you can head back near Covered Market, to the pedestrian zone on Cornmarket Street. Here you can spend time at a coffee shop or explore such stores as H&M, Moss, or Zara. If you decide to have dinner in Oxford try Chiang Mai Kitchen. This authentic Thai restaurant serves up delicious dishes such as Peek Kai Tod Kraiem. Peek Kai Tod Kraiem is a plate of chicken wings fried and slathered with a Thai sweet and spicy sauce. Traditional dishes of Pad Thai and Thai Curry are tasty. At this point your day in Oxford is over and you will walk back to the train station and onwards to your next destination.

 

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Oxford

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University of Oxford: 51.756634, -1.254704
Oxford Railway Station: 51.753288, -1.269913
Ashmolean Museum: 51.755302, -1.260026
Martyrs Memorial: 51.755053, -1.258972
Radcliffe Camera: 51.753425, -1.254012
Covered Market: 51.752195, -1.256583
Christ Church: 51.750643, -1.256597
Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College: 51.754472, -1.253734
Turf Tavern: 51.754685, -1.252968
The Alternative Tuck Shop: 51.755049, -1.251845
Lamb and Flag Passage: 51.757468, -1.258492
Cornmarket Street: 51.752937, -1.258310
Chiang Mai Kitchen: 51.752020, -1.256478
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University of Oxford
Oxford, Part One
University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Oxford Railway Station
Oxford, Part One
Oxford Railway Station, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Ashmolean Museum
Oxford, Part One
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Martyrs Memorial
Oxford, Part One
Martyrs Memorial, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Radcliffe Camera
Oxford, Part One
Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Covered Market
Oxford, Part One
The Covered Market Oxford, Market Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Christ Church
Oxford, Part Two
Christ Church, Saint Aldate's, Oxford, UK
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Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College
Oxford, Part Two
Bridge of Sighs, New College Lane, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Turf Tavern
Oxford, Part Two
The Turf Tavern, Bath Place, Oxford, United Kingdom
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The Alternative Tuck Shop
Oxford, Part Two
The Alternative Tuck Shop, Holywell Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Lamb and Flag Passage
Oxford, Part Two
Lamb and Flag Passage, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Cornmarket Street
Oxford, Part Two
Cornmarket Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Chiang Mai Kitchen
Oxford, Part Two
Chiang Mai Kitchen Ltd, High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom

 

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Oxford, Part One

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The English city of Oxford takes just over an hour by train to reach from London. Oxford is most known for the University of Oxford. The University of Oxford boasts over 30 different colleges within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. Even if you are not a scholar at heart, Oxford’s architecture and serenity make for an enjoyable visit. In addition, Oxford has many eateries well worth your stomach’s time. A perfect escape from London, Oxford should rank high on your itinerary as a day trip.

It is possible to visit the highlights of Oxford in just one day. To help plan out your day when you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth. This kiosk sells for around 2£ a “Quick Guide – Oxford” pamphlet and map. This guide, produced by Quick Guides Publishers, includes a walking tour that will guide you past the top sights. In the guide it states that the walk takes an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you move at a more relaxed pace or spend extra time at the various sights. Your level of interest will determine the time you spend exploring the various colleges and sights. The colleges aren’t always open to visitors so that may impact your visiting schedule. Furthermore, leave plenty of time to eat at at least one of the many restaurants in Oxford.

Ashmolean Museum - Oxford, England

Ashmolean Museum

Following the “Quick Guide – Oxford” your walk will begin at the Ashmolean Museum. The museum is a straight shot from the train station, an eleven-minute walk. From the train station continue on Hythe Bridge Street and make a left on to Worcester Street. Stay on Worcester Street and it will turn into Beaumont Street, with the museum on the left-hand side of the street. The Ashmolean Museum is Britain’s first museum, with a focus on art and archeology. Admission to the museum is free so if you enjoy museums you will want to budget in time to explore the museum. The museum is closed on Mondays, but open from 10am to 5pm Tuesdays through Sundays.

Martyrs' Memorial - Oxford, England

Martyrs’ Memorial

Opposite from the Ashmolean Museum is the Martyrs’ Memorial. This monument, and the museum, is where your walk will end so remember this location. The monument is in a central location so it makes for a good meeting place if anyone in your group gets separated. The Martyrs’ Memorial is in front of the first college you’ll see, Balliol. Balliol College is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. Continue from Balliol College to Broad Street where you will find Trinity College and various stores. Here at these shops you can buy souvenirs such as a University of Oxford sweatshirt. At the opposite end of Broad Street of note is the bookstore Blackwell, Sheldonian Theatre, and the Clarendon Building.

Radcliffe Camera in Radcliffe Square - Oxford, England

Radcliffe Camera in Radcliffe Square

As you pass through Old Schools Quad and by Bodleian Library, you’ll find yourself in Radcliffe Square. Here you will find plenty of tourists with their cameras ready. Radcliffe Square is where you will find Radcliffe Camera, one of Oxford’s most well-known sights. This round building is home to the Radcliffe Science Library. After you’ve taken your photos you’ll find the tour takes you past a few more colleges such as Exeter College, All Souls College, and Brasenose College. At this point in the tour you may find your stomach grumbling and that you’re itching for a snack. Fear not as you should find yourself on Market Street and the Covered Market.

Pieminister - Oxford, England

Pieminister

Covered Market has a slew of food stalls ready to fulfill any craving. If you are in the mood for an English dish stop by Pieminister. Pieminister serves hearty pies baked with fillings such as venison or steak. The pie dough is flakey on the outside and soft in the inside with the meat filling soft and succulent. The meat pie is placed on top of mashed potatoes with gravy pored over for the final touch. For dessert have a fresh baked cookie from Ben’s Cookies. One of Ben’s Cookies may be bought for just under 2£. For sale are cookies made with milk or dark chocolate and classics such as peanut butter or oatmeal raisin. Besides food stalls Covered Market has merchants selling fresh flowers, and butchers selling meats such as sausages and English lamb liver. You will find coffee shops, clothing stores, and even a cobbler. A wide variety of shops and food options are available for your browsing pleasure at Covered Market.

Continued in Oxford, Part Two

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Oxford

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University of Oxford: 51.756634, -1.254704
Oxford Railway Station: 51.753288, -1.269913
Ashmolean Museum: 51.755302, -1.260026
Martyrs Memorial: 51.755053, -1.258972
Radcliffe Camera: 51.753425, -1.254012
Covered Market: 51.752195, -1.256583
Christ Church: 51.750643, -1.256597
Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College: 51.754472, -1.253734
Turf Tavern: 51.754685, -1.252968
The Alternative Tuck Shop: 51.755049, -1.251845
Lamb and Flag Passage: 51.757468, -1.258492
Cornmarket Street: 51.752937, -1.258310
Chiang Mai Kitchen: 51.752020, -1.256478
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University of Oxford
Oxford, Part One
University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Oxford Railway Station
Oxford, Part One
Oxford Railway Station, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Ashmolean Museum
Oxford, Part One
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Martyrs Memorial
Oxford, Part One
Martyrs Memorial, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Radcliffe Camera
Oxford, Part One
Radcliffe Camera, Radcliffe Square, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Covered Market
Oxford, Part One
The Covered Market Oxford, Market Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Christ Church
Oxford, Part Two
Christ Church, Saint Aldate's, Oxford, UK
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Bridge of Sighs - Hertford College
Oxford, Part Two
Bridge of Sighs, New College Lane, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Turf Tavern
Oxford, Part Two
The Turf Tavern, Bath Place, Oxford, United Kingdom
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The Alternative Tuck Shop
Oxford, Part Two
The Alternative Tuck Shop, Holywell Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Lamb and Flag Passage
Oxford, Part Two
Lamb and Flag Passage, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Cornmarket Street
Oxford, Part Two
Cornmarket Street, Oxford, United Kingdom
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Chiang Mai Kitchen
Oxford, Part Two
Chiang Mai Kitchen Ltd, High Street, Oxford, United Kingdom

 

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Dining in Windsor and Eton

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Windsor and Eton makes for an ideal home base for those looking to stay somewhere other than London. By staying in Windsor and Eton one has the luxury of experiencing a different side of England and still be near London. Windsor and Eton has two train stations within walking distance of one another allowing you to reach London by train within thirty to sixty minutes. Besides London, Windsor and Eton as a home base allows for visitors to reach other cities in the South West region of England. Places such as Bath, Oxford, Reading, Salisbury, and Winchester are close train rides away.

A few factors make staying in Windsor and Eton appealing to tourists. Neither town is too large, and you can easily get around both by foot. Although Windsor and Eton are separated by the River Thames a bridge connects the two towns. Windsor receives a fair number of tourists because of Windsor Castle. While Eton is busiest when their boys’ boarding school, Eton College, is in session. After the boys are in their dorms and the tourists have gone back to London, Windsor and Eton are quiet towns. The English charm of Windsor and Eton are not the only appeal to these towns. Several dining options are available, covering a wide variety of cuisines. Listed below are a few of the best restaurants in Windsor and Eton.

Castle Cod

Surrounding Windsor Castle are restaurants that reek of tourist traps. Castle Cod is smack dab in the middle of this row of restaurants but it’d be a mistake to lump it in the tourist trap category. If you’re craving traditional British fish and chips you won’t want to ignore this restaurant. Service is fast and efficient and the fish and chips are classic. The fish is tender with the batter as crispy as the fries. Castle Cod is family friendly and a great place for a quick meal after your tour of Windsor Castle.

Back side of Castle Cod - Windsor, England

Back side of Castle Cod

Fish and Chips at Castle Cod - Windsor, England

Fish and Chips at Castle Cod

Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar

Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar offers classic English cuisine in a charming setting. A must on any trip to England is to have scones and Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar serves scrumptious scones. The scones are served with Windsor Cream Tea, strawberry jam, and fresh clotted cream. Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar’s menu includes a traditional English breakfast. The traditional English breakfast is a hearty meal of two sausages, ham, scrambled eggs and toast. Another satisfying and filling meal is the Jacket potatoes, served with your choice of toppings. For those with a sweet tooth order one of their specialty hot chocolates. The drink is so decadent you won’t want to reach the last drop.

Scones, strawberry jam, and clotted cream at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar - Windsor, England

Scones, strawberry jam, and clotted cream at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar

Full English breakfast at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar - Windsor, England

Full English breakfast at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar

 

Jacket potatoes at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar - Windsor, England

Jacket potatoes at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar

Specialty hot chocolate at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar - Windsor, England

Specialty hot chocolate at Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar

 

Cote Brasserie

For fine French dining head to Cote Brasserie. Cote Brasserie is ideal for couples as this restaurant exudes a romantic setting. The restaurant is in a two-story building next to the River Thames. You may sit inside or outside, with or without a view of the river. Begin your meal with a bowl of French Onion soup. Main courses include traditional dishes such as Beef Bourguignon, Breton Fish Stew, and Steak Frites. End your satisfying meal with dessert such as Crème Caramel, a silky smooth flan. If you are at Cote Brasserie for dinner enjoy the view of Windsor Castle lit up at night.

Cote Brasserie - Windsor, England

Cote Brasserie

French Onion Soup at Cote Brasserie - Windsor, England

French Onion Soup at Cote Brasserie

 

Flaming Cow

If you have a hankering for grub that will remind you of being back in America head to the restaurant Flaming Cow. The Flaming Cow cooks up mouth-watering hamburgers made with 6oz beef patties and various toppings. You can order hot dogs that are as large as the hamburgers and just as tasty. Compliment your meal with fries and a milkshake. The Flaming Cow’s relaxed atmosphere is magnified with a mural painting of a large cow scaling a building, a la King Kong, with planes buzzing around the cow.

Brunch Burger at Flaming Cow - Windsor and Eton, England

Brunch Burger at Flaming Cow

Cuban Hot Dog at Flaming Cow - Windsor and Eton, England

Cuban Hot Dog at Flaming Cow

Viva L’Italia

A drawback to visiting Italy is that it ruins Italian food for you in your home country. Nothing compares to how Italian food is prepared and how it tastes in Italy. Viva L’Italia is an exception to the rule. When you eat at Viva L’Italia you might forget you’re in Windsor and think you’re in Rome. Viva L’Italia is a family run business and the staff make you feel at home the moment you enter the restaurant. For starters select one of the various pizza breads. The pizza bread is the size of a personal pizza and baked to perfection. Fans of pasta need to order the spaghetti alla Bolognese. The Bolognese is a homemade recipe that takes up to eight hours to prepare, but arrives at your table after you order it. Another delicious dish is the Penne al pesto alla Genovese. You won’t go wrong with any dish you order. In every mouthful you can tell that the chef uses the freshest ingredients to prepare the dishes.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese at Viva L'Italia - Windsor, England

Spaghetti alla Bolognese at Viva L’Italia

Penne al pesto alla Genovese at Viva L'Italia - Windsor, England

Penne al pesto alla Genovese at Viva L’Italia

 

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Windsor and Eton Dining

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Castle Cod: 51.482139, -0.606466
Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar: 51.485531, -0.607787
Cote Brasserie: 51.486554, -0.608648
Flaming Cow: 51.486169, -0.608652
Viva L\'Italia: 51.483463, -0.608641
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Castle Cod
Dining in Windsor and Eton
Church Street, Windsor, UK
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Chocolate Theatre Cafe Bar
Dining in Windsor and Eton
The Chocolate Theatre Co Ltd, Thames Street, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Cote Brasserie
Dining in Windsor and Eton
Côte Brasserie - Windsor, High Street, Windsor, United Kingdom
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Flaming Cow
Dining in Windsor and Eton
Flaming Cow, Eton, United Kingdom
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Viva L'Italia
Dining in Windsor and Eton
Viva L'Italia, Thames Street, Windsor, United Kingdom

 

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London Cuisine Scene

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Through the years England’s cuisine has earned a reputation. The belief was that English food was bland and boring. It is possible that centuries ago English food was tasteless and why to this day people still believe this. Contrary to that notion today’s London has a booming dining scene just as any other major international city. London is home to a variety of different and exciting cuisines. You can eat well regardless of your budget with delicious food accessible through out the city. There are plenty of choices beyond just the traditional pubs to find a good meal. For those struggling to decide between the various dining options the selections listed below showcase a few of the many sides of flavor available in London.

Borough Market

Borough Market Information - London, EnglandIf you are looking to sample a variety of different foods you will want to visit Borough Market. The site of the current Borough Market has had a market there since as far back as the 13th century. The current iteration dates back to 1756. Although Borough Market has existed for a while, a few decades ago it was not even being mentioned in most guidebooks. It wasn’t until recently that Borough Market has become a worthy stop for travelers and foodies. An outdoor location, located under railway lines and beside a church, makes Borough Market an excellent informal eating experience.

There are plenty of options for a quick bite to eat, especially Monday through Wednesday when the market is open for lunch. One such place is Balkan Bites, which serves bourekas, a crispy baked pastry made with fillings such as potato and onion or spinach and cheese.   Another place for a quick quality meal is Le Marché du Quartier which serves succulent duck confit in either a sandwich, wrap, or salad. If you’re looking for a place with seating visit Fish! Kitchen for their traditional fish and chips. For dessert stop by Whirld for a delicious piece of handmade fudge.

Balkan Bites Bourekas at Borough Market - London, England

Balkan Bites Bourekas

Le Marché du Quartier's duck confit sandwich at Borough Market

Le Marché du Quartier’s duck confit sandwich

Dishoom

Dishoom - London, England

Various dishes available at Dishoom - London, England

Various dishes available at Dishoom

Dishoom likens its decor and style of food to that of a Bombay Cafe. To be honest upon first stepping into Dishoom the decor is more reminiscent of a New York diner. Except instead of sandwiches Dishoom cooks up a variety of Indian dishes. Each dish is prepared with an exquisite attention to detail and the correct balance of flavors. For an appetizer try the Keema Pau, a mix of lamb and peas you slather on top of a buttered roll. Fans of butter chicken from traditional Indian restaurants will want to order Dishoom’s Chicken Ruby. The Gunpowder Potatoes won’t shoot your taste buds but they will melt in your mouth. Add a side order of roti or naan to complete your meal. For those with dietary restrictions Dishoom’s menu includes dairy-free and gluten-free dining options and a children’s menu.

Rock and Sole Plaice

Fish and Chips at Rock and Sole Plaice - London, EnglandWhen visiting England one must have a traditional meal of fish and chips. Rock and Sole Plaice is one of the oldest and best fish and chips restaurants in London. In the Covent Garden district, Rock and Sole Plaice has been serving up fish and chips to locals and tourists since 1871. Rock and Sole Plaice is informal dining and great for families, groups, and anyone who wants to eat quality fish and chips not served on newspaper. Rock and Sole Plaice has two floors of seating which allow for plenty of room for every customer. The restaurants aquatic vibe extends to the walls, which have drawings of the various creatures living under the sea. A few different fish are available to choose from when ordering the fish and chips, including cod and haddock. Whichever fish you select know that it will arrive cooked to perfection. The batter on the fish isn’t doughy, but light and crispy. A side of chips, better known as fries, accompanies the fish. A variety of condiments are available to enhance your fish and chips meal.

 

The Tea House

The Tea House - London, EnglandEngland is synonymous with tea and a great souvenir for those back home is English tea. The problem is that many tourist shops will sell overly priced generic teas to unsuspecting tourists. An alternative to tourist tea is to visit The Tea House. The Tea House is in the district of Covent Garden. The moment you walk through the doors a sense of peace washes over you. You no longer hear the noise from the street outside and the tranquility allows your nose to pick up the various aromas wafting towards you. Take your time and peruse the many teas available to choose from on the shelves. There are jars with loose tea for you to sniff to help you with your choice. The teas can be bought in small or large quantities. Buy tea for yourself so when you are back home you can brew a cup and find yourself transported back to the tranquil feeling that is The Tea House.

 

 

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London Cuisine Scene

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Borough Market: 51.505446, -0.091080
Dishoom: 51.512430, -0.126909
Rock and Sole Plaice: 51.514820, -0.125177
The Tea House: 51.513648, -0.124741
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Borough Market
London Cuisine Scene
Borough Market, London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
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Dishoom
London Cuisine Scene
Dishoom, Upper St Martin's Lane, London, United Kingdom
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Rock and Sole Plaice
London Cuisine Scene
Rock & Sole Plaice, Endell Street, London, United Kingdom
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The Tea House
London Cuisine Scene
THE TEAHOUSE, Neal Street, Covent Garden, London, United Kingdom

 

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Sightseeing in London

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In the course of my travels the first international city I could envision myself living in was London, England. I initially selected London as a destination to visit most likely for the same reasons many Americans do. There is an immediate sense of familiarity. Part of the roots of America can be traced to those same English streets. Several buildings and streets remind you of American cities such as Boston. Although they say loo instead of toilet, no language barrier needs to be overcome. The biggest hurdle to American’s visiting London is that cars drive on the other side of the road. Even that isn’t a big issue as they’ve written on the pavement which way to look to cross the street. A trip to London is a good gateway to further international travel.

Deciding on traveling to London is the easy part. The difficult part is deciding which sites to visit if you will be in London only a few days. An entire paragraph can be written just listing out the sites to visit. Any trip to London has to include a plan of action. After a couple visits to London my goal with this article is try to simplify the sightseeing landscape. I hope that the suggestions I’ve written below will help you decide what to do during your trip to London.

The London Eye

London Eye - London, England

If you’re looking to take aerial photos of London your top three choices are the London Eye, The Shard, or St. Paul’s Cathedral. If your time is limited my suggestion is to choose the London Eye. St. Paul’s requires climbing a narrow staircase while The Shard’s entrance price is the most expensive of the three choices. The London Eye is a Ferris wheel that provides aerial photos of The Palace of Westminster. The Parliament buildings, which include Elizabeth Tower and the “Big Ben” bell, are one of the most recognizable sites in the world. For photos it’s impossible to capture the entire building from street level since the buildings are just too big. Since the London Eye is just across the river it allows you the opportunity for that photo you crave. The risk of rain in London is always high, but within a London Eye capsule even your rain soaked photos come out beautiful. If you’re scared of heights an alternative for a photo that captures The Palace of Westminster is on a cruise on the River Thames.

Views From London Eye - London, England

View from a London Eye capsule. The photo on the left side was taken when it wasn’t raining, the photo on the right side was taken when it was raining.

The Theater

A visit to the theater in London makes for an enjoyable afternoon or evening. For historian buffs a good choice is Shakespeare’s Globe. The building is a replica of the original Globe that premiered many of Shakespeare’s works. The current Globe allows one to watch a Shakespeare play just as it was centuries ago. Another choice besides the Globe is The West End, home to world-class play productions. With runs of popular musicals and dramas it can be difficult choosing which one to see. Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is a solid choice. The Mousetrap’s first performance was in 1952 and ever since it has continued to be performed. The Mousetrap is the longest running play in the world. When you watch the actors in The Mousetrap you become a part of that history.

Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap at St. Martin's Theatre - London, England

Abbey Road

Even if you’re not a Beatles fan chances are you’ve seen their famous Abbey Road album cover. The fab four stride with confidence through the crosswalk. Many Beatles fans enjoy traveling to London to reenact the album cover. To those who have never been to London the album cover’s crosswalk looks unique. One of the sobering moments upon arriving in London is that other crosswalks look the same as Abbey Road. In fact, making the trek out to Abbey Road can be disappointing for many people. For starters it’s a thirty-minute journey from the center of London (Trafalgar Square). The actual Abbey Road crosswalk looks the same as the surrounding crosswalks. What makes Abbey Road different is a ton of graffiti on the walls of the nearby recording studio and on the Abbey Road street sign. With nothing else of note in the region one could recreate the album cover anywhere in London and get the same effect in a photo. If you are pressed for time and not a die-hard Beatles fan you could skip visiting the actual Abbey Road.

Abbey Road - London, England

The real Abbey Road.

10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street is where the British Prime Minister lives. Similar to the White House in Washington, DC the building is gated, has a ton of security, and your chances of seeing a political figure are slim to none. Unlike the White House one cannot stand in front of 10 Downing Street. The government building is on a narrow street blocked off from pedestrian access. There is no lawn in front from which you can view it yards away. The clearest view you have is that of a crowd of tourists trying to peek through the gated bars to see something of note. If a crowd of tourists sounds fun then hail a black cab and head to 10 Downing Street. If you don’t enjoy crowds you should have no hesitation in avoiding this site.

Downing Street - London, England

The only view tourists get of 10 Downing Street.

Harrods

If you love shopping then visiting Harrods is more than a must it’s a life calling. Even if you are someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping a quick visit to Harrods is an essential part of visiting London. The department store is humongous and you can shop for a variety of products within its walls. You can buy clothes, books, electronics, toys, jewelry, and food. A large department store means you can lose track of time and unintentionally spend hours there. In fact, like a casino in Las Vegas, finding an exit in Harrods is difficult. It’s as though the people behind Harrods want you to spend as much time as possible in their building. The longer you stay the higher the chances are you’ll find something to buy. To maximize your time as you enter Harrods be sure to pick up one of their maps. The map will help you find an exit and locate the departments and merchandise you are most interested in exploring.

Harrods - London, England

 

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Sightseeing in London

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London Eye: 51.503324, -0.119543
The Shard: 51.504382, -0.086279
St Paul\'s Cathedral: 51.513845, -0.098351
Palace of Westminster: 51.499480, -0.124809
Shakespeare\'s Globe: 51.508076, -0.097194
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap: 51.512858, -0.127646
Abbey Road: 51.536791, -0.183003
10 Downing Street: 51.503364, -0.127625
Harrods: 51.499405, -0.163234
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London Eye
Sightseeing in London
London Eye, London, United Kingdom
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The Shard
Sightseeing in London
The Shard, London Borough of Southwark, United Kingdom
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St Paul's Cathedral
Sightseeing in London
St. Paul's Cathedral, London, United Kingdom
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Palace of Westminster
Sightseeing in London
Palace of Westminster, London, United Kingdom
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Shakespeare's Globe
Sightseeing in London
Shakespeare's Globe, New Globe Walk, London, United Kingdom
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Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap
Sightseeing in London
St. Martin's Theatre, West Street, London, United Kingdom
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Abbey Road
Sightseeing in London
Abbey Road, London, United Kingdom
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10 Downing Street
Sightseeing in London
10 Downing Street, Downing Street, London, United Kingdom
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Harrods
Sightseeing in London
Harrods, Brompton Road, London, United Kingdom

 

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Sonoma Valley Wine Trek

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A nice alternative to Napa Valley is nearby Sonoma Valley. Not as congested as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley can offer a more relaxed wine tasting experience. Highway 121 and Highway 12 are the main roads that will enable you to visit the wineries in this region. Listed below are the places worth visiting to make the most out of your time in Sonoma Valley.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Champagne caves at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards

Champagne caves at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

As you make the drive to wine country you’ll notice a change in scenery and see less buildings and more vineyards. Although the view has changed your mind may not be prepared for the day’s events. A busy mind won’t be able to enjoy a day of wine tasting to the fullest. The best way to alter your mindset is to have your first stop be at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. On Highway 121 this vineyard isn’t located next to other wineries, which gives it a sense of remoteness. Gloria Ferrer doesn’t offer traditional tastings (better known as flights). Instead, it offers visitors the choice of a variety of sparkling wines, white wines, and red wines purchased and sampled by the glass. You should order a glass of sparkling wine as most of the wineries in the region do not offer sparkling wine. Plus, Gloria Ferrer makes the best sparkling wine not called champagne. If you are ordering a glass of the sparkling wine try the Blanc de Blancs. The best part of Gloria Ferrer, besides their sparkling wine, is their outdoor terrace. The terrace offers views of sprawling vineyards and hillsides. As you sip your glass and enjoy the view you’ll notice none of the noises of the city. Before you know it you’re relaxed and ready for your day in wine country. If you are so inclined, Gloria Ferrer offers tours on how their wines are made and their champagne caves.

Cline Cellars

Cline Cellars Vineyard and Winery

Cline Cellars Vineyard and Winery

Cline Cellars has their tasting room on the first floor of a two-story building. The building appears to have been someone’s home in an earlier life. As such you feel right at home when visiting Cline Cellars. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable on the wines being offered. Two favorites to be sure to sample are the Cashmere White and the Lodi Zinfandel. The tasting room has a gift shop where you can shop for Cline specific merchandise and wine related items to take home. After you’ve completed your time in the tasting room walk around the grounds. You can capture nice photos of the vineyard lanes and a large pond with a fountain.

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and The Olive Press

Statue at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Statue at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Across the street from Cline Cellars is their sister properties of Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and The Olive Press. If the name Jacuzzi conjures up images of pools and spas you are correct. Members of the same Jacuzzi family established the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. A walk around the grounds gives you access to views of the vineyards and a fountain statue made in the Italian style. On the grounds is an event hall with wine casks lined up against the wall and more statues. Inside the tasting room you have two tasting options, wine or olive oil. Jacuzzi wines are top-notch. For white wine sample their Arneis and for red wines their Barbera, Montepulciano, and Aglianico. The tasting room includes a section reserved for The Olive Press. The Olive Press sells extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegar, and other condiments such as mustards, tapenade, herbs, and spices. Olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold individually or pre-mixed in various tasty combinations. Visitors may taste the olive oils and balsamic vinegars on pieces of bread or crackers. Be sure to try the Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Fig Dark Balsamic Vinegar, and the combinations of Lime Olive Oil & Coconut Balsamic Vinegar. The Basil Parmesan Dipping oil is delicious. The Olive Press has a second location in Napa at the Oxbow Public Market.

 

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Sonoma

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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards: 38.223579, -122.472183
Cline Cellars: 38.214360, -122.458272
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards: 38.214680, -122.453840
The Olive Press: 38.214664, -122.454012
The Olive Press: 38.301309, -122.281902
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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sonoma, CA, United States
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Cline Cellars
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Cline Cellars, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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The Olive Press
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
The Olive Press, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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The Olive Press
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
The Olive Press, 1st Street, Napa, CA, United States

 

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Three Dining Options in Napa Valley

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There are two things Napa Valley does not lack, wineries and restaurants. With so many dining options it might be difficult for visitors to decide where to eat a meal. To help make your decision we have selected three restaurants we recommend. These restaurants each offer a quality dining experience and are each unique in their own way. Know that whichever restaurant you choose after your meal you will have a happy belly. In alphabetical order we present to you:

Ad Hoc

Front of Ad Hoc - Yountville, CA

Front of Ad Hoc

Chef Thomas Keller is best known for the French Laundry and Bouchon, both very respected fine-dining establishments. In Yountville he expanded his culinary prowess by opening another restaurant, Ad Hoc. What sets Ad Hoc apart is what makes this place a decision-phobic person’s dream. Ad Hoc offers just one menu for every patron. There is no need to hem and haw between two dishes that interest you or worry that your neighbor ordered a better meal. The menu changes daily, but the Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a reoccurring entrée, and a crowd favorite. Each meal has a set price and includes a starter (such as soup or salad), the main entrée, a cheese plate, and dessert.

Ribeye with carrots at Ad Hoc

Ribeye with carrots at Ad Hoc

Reservations are recommended and if you want a preview of what your meal will be you can find the day’s menu on their website. Come with a hearty appetite for the portions are large. Don’t worry though, you can take your leftovers home to enjoy another day. Ad Hoc is on a street made for walking so after dinner work off your meal with a nice stroll.

Gott’s Roadside

Gott's Roadside - Napa, CA

Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s Roadside is casual dining at its finest. The immediate vibe upon entering Gott’s is that of an old-fashioned American Drive-In. If you’re a fan of burgers you will be highly pleased with any of the ten different hamburger options. Each hamburger is made with a 1/3-pound meat patty served on a toasted egg bun. Hamburgers aren’t the only dish Gott’s Roadside serves. You’ll find classics such as French Fries, hot dogs, sodas, and milkshakes. A closer look at the menu and you’ll find that Gott’s is an American establishment with an updated twist. You can order dishes such as salads, fish tacos, and sandwiches. The Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos are a good choice. The tacos are made with crunchy cabbage, fresh tuna, and a big slice of avocado along with a spicy mayo sauce. Gott’s serves a variety of wines and beers.

Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos at Gott's Roadside

Ahi Poke Crispy Tacos at Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s Roadside has two locations in Napa Valley, one in St. Helena and the other in Napa, part of the Oxbow Public Market. There are two other locations as well in California, one in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and the other in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village.

Morimoto Napa

Toro Tartare at Morimoto Napa

Toro Tartare at Morimoto Napa

When the food you cook grants you the title of being an Iron Chef you know you’re a damn good chef. Chef Masaharu Morimoto is an amazing chef and world-renowned for his culinary skills. Morimoto Napa is the first West Coast restaurant Chef Morimoto opened. It is in Napa’s downtown riverfront. Reservations are available for either lunch or dinner. The restaurant itself has a modern design but wooden tables create a comfortable atmosphere. Outdoor seating offers a nice view of the river.

Chirashi Bowl at Morimoto Napa

Chirashi Bowl at Morimoto Napa

With an Iron Chef’s backing the food you will eat will be of the highest quality. The attention to detail is shown in how the food is prepared and its presentation. For example, when the Toro Tartare appetizer arrives at your table you’re hesitant to dig in right away. You don’t want to mess up how the toro, wasabi, and nori paste are laid out. The Kakuni, pork belly, melts in your mouth. There is an extensive list of sushi and sashimi. If you are unsure which sushi or sashimi to select order the Chef’s Combination. If you want to sample a few different fishes a good choice is the Chirashi Sushi Rice Bowl. Remember to leave room for one of their unique desserts, such as mango pudding or tofu cheesecake.

 

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Napa Valley Dining

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Ad Hoc: 38.399180, -122.358529
Gott\'s Roadside - Napa: 38.301215, -122.281906
Gott\'s Roadside - St. Helena: 38.501911, -122.465471
Morimoto Napa: 38.296854, -122.283423
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Ad Hoc
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Ad Hoc, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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Gott's Roadside - Napa
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Gott's Roadside, 1st Street, Napa, CA, United States
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Gott's Roadside - St. Helena
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Gott's Roadside, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Morimoto Napa
Three Dining Options in Napa Valley
Morimoto Napa, Main Street, Napa, CA, United States

 

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