My favourite tapas bar in Barcelona

Tickets, Barcelona, Spain.

Tickets is a tapas bar headed by Ferran Adria who ran elBulli and is arguably the greatest chef in the world. Set up like a theatre with a ringmaster type character as the door person, the place has a buzzing atmosphere. Between three of us we ordered probably two thirds of the tapas on the menu which was a huge amount of food, but every dish was worth it! Some of the highlights included fried egg with truffled duck fat and potato foam, Ferran Adria’s famous Olives (looks and tastes like an olive, but isn’t – it just explodes in your mouth!), rabbit taco in salmorejo sauce, catalan cream rolls, warm lava cake with raspberry sorbet, and the Animated Forest. All washed down with some cava, a bottle of red and some Tokay to finish, this top notch meal came to the grand total of about 85 Euros each. So if you know you’re going to be anywhere vaguely within the vicinity of Barcelona, be sure to swing by Tickets. Plan ahead though – you need to book online exactly 60 days before (the online booking form opens midnight Spanish time, and it books out within an hour). Hands down the best value meal of my life!

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My favourite Italian B&B

Villa Monica, Sorrento, Italy

We stayed for 3 nights at Villa Monica last September, and have since been discussing how and when we can get back there. Staring down from the hills of Sorrento onto the Amalfi Coast and ominous Mount Vesuvius directly opposite, this small B&B not only has beyond description vistas for a small price tag, but the owner Pasquale is what makes this place really memorable. He will drive you in and out of town when you need (while telling a good old joke or two), he will recommend great restaurants nearby, and he will even make you a great cappucino in the morning. But don’t just believe me, believe everyone else. And be sure to book ahead.

My favourite viewpoint in Paris

Ciel de Paris, Tour Montparnasse, Paris, France.

No, my favourite viewpoint in Paris is not from the top of the Eiffel Tower, nor Arc de Triomphe, nor even from the foot of Sacre Coeur (although that does come in a close second), but it is in fact from the top of Tour Montparnasse. It is not an attractive building itself – in fact 2 years after it was completed the construction of skyscrapers in Paris was banned! However, once you make your way to the 56th floor of this building, rather than fork out 13 Euros for the privilege of standing on their panoramic floor, why not head opposite to Ciel de Paris and instead spend your money on a tasting flight of champagne while enjoying the view. With floor to ceiling glass, directly in front of the Eiffel Tower, and a champagne in hand while the sun sets, there is nothing quite like it.

 

 

My favourite pintxos bar

A Fuego Negro, San Sebastian, Spain.

In the core of San Sebastian, the Parte Vieja (Old Part), you will find A Fuego Negro. This tapas bar is a diamond in the rough of San Sebastian bars (which are all pretty good and fun anyway). But A Fuego Negro, an ambient bar of dark decor highlighted with red accents,  is a standout in that it serves “Nuevos Tapas” which loosley translated means “not the same shit you get in all the other tapas bars”. With cool hip hop playing and helpful staff who will politely try to understand your poor Basque before handing you an English menu, you can try the likes of ceviche with pomegranate foam, olives with vermouth gel, Playboy bunny (rabbit) with garlic, and frozen cheese with anchovies. Get your fix of tortilla de patatas, stuffed peppers and croquettes elsewhere. This place is where you will find the best pintxos in San Sebastian, if not Spain.