St. John’s Terrace http://www.stjterrace.it/ street: Via Gabi 7, Appio Latino, 00183 Rome email: info @ stjterrace.it phone: +39 335 63 96 671
We were in Rome for the first time last month and it left quite an impression. Actually, it started leaving an impression before we even got there – shopping for accommodations took my breath away. I knew that it would be expensive, but the types of places that I usually look for were well beyond what I will spend per night. It quickly became clear that hotels were out of the question, so I started sifting through B&Bs and vacation rentals. That’s how I found St. John’s Terrace. Continue reading →
For our last minute trip to the Veneto, we stayed at Ca’ de Memi, which I found in a rather roundabout way. I knew we wanted to stay near Roncade in order to pick up wine from Castello di Roncade. But I didn’t want to stay there; we stayed there last time and, while we enjoyed it, I wanted to sample some other offerings of the region. Continue reading →
Frommer’s steered us toward this restaurant. Well, that, and our tendency to roll iconoclastic, food-wise. I mean on Christmas and Easter, we typically go to an Indian or Kurdish food restaurant (or visit Turkey). So in a city famous for its Islamic and Catholic influences, we had lunch in the Jewish Quarter.
I wouldn’t say that it’s out of our price range, but we did decided to make our lunch here the priciest meal of the visit. It was certainly fancier than any other restaurant we visited in Spain, and I felt kind of underdressed in a tee shirt with cartoon characters on it, even though the rest of the clientele were in jeans and sweaters (no ties or suits or anything like that) for lunch. When we arrived and asked for a table (instead of a seat at the bar, which he also offered us), the maître d’ snorted a bit. Sorry bud, you’re in a tourist zone, recommended in a tourist guide book, and I am…a tourist. With money to give you. If you let me.
But that was really absolutely the only hint (and it was nothing more than that) of unpleasantry. Everything else about this place was lovely. Even the waiter. We negotiated languages first:
¿Habla Vd. ingles?
No, por desgracia.
OK, no hay problema. Geht das mit deutsch?
Lo siento — ¿frances?
¡Ay, qué lástima! OK, probamos nuestro español…una botella del Paso a Paso, por favor.
And we got this lovely wine. So far, so good. Really good. Pretty darn tasty good. And it was the second cheapest one on the wine list at 12€.
I started off with a fantastic gazpacho, mixed on the table in the bowl in front of me from stuff our waiter poured from a champagne flute, a whole cherry tomato, chopped onions, and green peppers. Positively delicious — even the cherry tomato, and for me, that’s saying a lot. My main course was some bonless cut of Sephardic Lamb with sweet & sour sauce, dried fruit and nuts. Very tender and flavorful. Also loved the baby asparagus and the sweet fruit chutney on the side, hiding under my roasted potato.
Sarah started off with a salmonejo — a tangy, tomato-based thick soup with hard-boiled eggs and chopped jamón in it. It was actually too much flavor for an appetizer. She had to call me in to bat clean-up on it. For the main course, she went with Iberian pork in a mushroom sauce.
Dessert was lovely tiramisu and profiterols.
Summing it up: if you’re in Córdoba for lunch, this is a great place to splash out a little. The “Wintergarten” room we ate it was very pleasant — both rustic- and modern-feeling at the same time. Thanks to Frommer’s for the tip on this one.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this hotel. After looking at several options on booking.com, the Hotel Alminar had the combined advantages of great location (one minute walk to the Cathedral), great rating on booking.com and TripAdvisor and the right rate. That said, I don’t put that much stock in TripAdvisor reviews, but it’s useful for cross-checking.
Arriving in the early evening, we found the hotel pretty easily and were greeted by the very friendly desk staff, who got us checked in and gave us some good dinner suggestions. The hotel itself is in a small building in a very small street and the “lobby” and breakfast rooms take up as little space as possible. We went up to find out why – the modern room with dark wood ceiling beams and white and beige decor was quite generously proportioned! There was plenty of room for us to take off backpacks and put down our suitcase without jockeying for position. It was even easy to walk around the bed. The amazement continued into the bathroom – a nice, roomy shower cabin, fully enclosed with glass wall and door, a spiffy sink, all made out of one piece of transparent glass and pretty beige and gold tilework. The room also had a good-sized closet with safe and minifridge in it and a small bench, perfect for holding the suitcase. The bed was just okay – two twins pushed together – and the pillows were a little meager. To our delight, though, there was in-room wireless, easy to connect to with a strong signal. The room was immaculate and very comfortable.
The next morning, we went down to the breakfast in the tiny breakfast rooms. Again, given how generous the guest rooms are (and there are some located on the ground floor), I understand why the breakfast area is so small. They manage to provide seating for up to 12 guests at once. There was coffee available from an automat (not adequate), juices, milk, cereal, bread, sliced meats and cheeses, yogurt and fruit. They also had a very strange “toaster” that consisted of a carousel part and a grill-like part, neither of which toasted the bread beyond “tastes sorta stale.” So, we were less than impressed with the hotel’s spread. Luckily for us, it cost guests 6€ each for breakfast, so for the following days, we just opted out.
We asked one of the desk attendants for some help in planning our time in the region and she truly went above and beyond. We told her about our plan to go out to Granada to see the Alhambra, a three-hour train trip each way. In spite of having repairmen there asking her questions, answering the phone and working with a trainee, she took the time to really lay out the pros and cons of our plan and even told us that the information we’d picked up at the tourism office was 3 years out of date! Given our short stay, she suggested Córdoba as an alternative day-trip. It was only one hour each way and, in her opinion, the town itself is nicer than Granada. All in all, she must have spent 20 to 30 minutes with us just going over our options and said over and over again, “Please come to us with any other questions! We are here to help!!”
I would definitely recommend the Alminar to anyone staying in Sevilla. The rate we paid for a double was 90€/night, not including breakfast. Checkout time was noon and the desk staff was happy to hold our bags until we were ready to head for the airport. Another important point – the building is accessible to the disabled. There are no thresholds on the floors, there is an elevator and a gentle ramp at the street door. In Europe, this is a rare find in a medieval core.
Heading further South and East from Burg Hohenzollern towards, we stopped in Ulm for the night at Hotel Restaurant Löwen. Sarah found it through booking.com. Our expectations were rather low, since we just wanted a place to sleep, and initially didn’t plan on eating there or exploring Ulm (native Franks and Bavarians had warned us that Ulm is not worth exploring), but I guess we were just lucky because this place was super. The price, at 112€ a night for a double with breakfast the next morning, was a little more than we like to spend, but just having cheaped out at Hôtel Aux Trois Roses, we could afford it. And it seemed like it was worth more than 112€ anyway.
Our room was very modern in design — lots of ultra-euro shapes and angles and surfaces, including a solid glass sliding door for entry into the bathroom, a fixed glass sprayguard half enclosing the shower cabin. When we asked about the WiFi network, the reception clerk apologetically handed us an ethernet cable (haven’t seen one of those in awhile!), because the signal wasn’t strong enough in our room. I thought that was a nice touch; usually you just get “well, it works in our Lobby…”
We ended up eating there that night and were very impressed with the atmosphere and attitude of the staff and quality and value of the food. This was my favorite breakfast spread of the road trip; a waitress came around to ask if we were sure we wouldn’t like some individually prepared eggs. And when I said “yes, thanks, one over-medium for me please,” she whispered in a mock-conspiratorial tone “Two is customary…are you sure you wouldn’t you like two?”