Bill's Travel

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Olympos, Turkey

Turkey is a great place for a beach holiday in the Mediterranean and a nice place to get away from the package tours is Olympos. This comprises of a collection of complexes of wooden bungalows and tree houses that are a magnet for young Turkish people and Australian backpackers. There is a beautiful (if a little stony) beach and to get to it you pass through the ruins of the ancient Greek port of Olympos.

We stayed at Bayrams Tree houses for two weeks. They are not really tree houses but they are very nice little wooden huts. Some of them dorms, some are bungalows with en suite shower and toilet.

The best bit is the Orange grove. This is a place to hang out under the Orange trees, to eat meals, drinks from the bar. The Turks play backgammon and smoke water pipes while the Australians Skype their friends back home using the free wifi. There are elevated wooden platforms with carpets and cushions for hanging out.

For the adventurous there are excursions, several places running diving trips with boats out of Kemer or Ardrossan, leisurely 4 day boat cruises, rock climbing or kayaking trips etc. There are also the "eternal flames" for an evening trip.

Of the "tree house" places we liked Bayrams as it is quite close to the beach. There is a free shuttle bus, but its just more convenient, and it has an informal more relaxed and less commercial feel. The people are really friendly and helpful and we had a bungalow with two rooms a double and a twin for two adults and two children for about 100 pounds a night including breakfast and dinner. The food is great for vegetarians and probably ok for meat eaters too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

St Simeon's Hotel, South Kennsington

I needed to stay a week in South Kennsington to go to a conference at Imperial College London. I booked in a hurry on Expedia and ended up at St Simeon's Hotel 38 Harrington Gardens, South Kensington, London SW7 4LT. I paid about £87 a night over 4 nights. Harrington Gardens is a beutifyl street of grand old houses, until you get to the end where the grand old houses look a little tired and there is St S's.

The rooms I saw were all rather odd shapes, hemmed in by the fabric of an old building and no doubt also by building regulations. My room was over full of furniture. Two beds one large and one very small, the large one with no room on either side to get out. A TV but no desk or table. A shower and toilet. The shower was adequate if old fashioned (no thermostat) and the shower curtain did not fit so the floor flooded. The (window) curtains lacked any curtain hooks and were ties somehow to the rails and did not slide. The bed was clean and comfortable.

The whole place was rather eccentric. Imagine a group of aliens had landed on earth with a vague idea of how a hotel should be based on some scant research. Perhaps they picked up Fawlty Towers and other TV programmes from their planet. But many details gave them away. For example there was a kitchen available from after breakfast until 9pm for the use of the Guests! One could make ones own tea and coffee there. There was a fast wireless internet that was included in the price (it was hinted you need a room close to reception for it to work, and as my room was ground floor that was fine).

Breakfast was the biggest give away of the alien origins. As a ruse the staff of the hotel pose as people from distant European countries such as Hungary and Romania as a cover for their strange accent and extraterrestrial behaviour.

The Continental Breakfast consisted of a selection of bread - this could include muffins, bagels, sliced bread, crumpets etc. I say selection. But the selection was made for you, as was your seat, by the waitresses. And then there was two types of jam that were clearly not made of any fruit known on earth, Not unpleasant but impossible to identify. The coffee was genuine earth coffee so they did that research right. A request for cereal elicited a blank look. They dont have breakfast cereal on the planet zog. My table-neighbour asked for juice. Specifically she tried for orange juice -- surely a staple of continental breakfast the continent only. Usually served with small hard white euro rolls. But no. The juice de jour was strawberry juice! The next day it was rasberry. At no time was any of the usual juices served. In fact it was very nice and appeared to be freshly made by squeezing fruit. These Zogians taking it very literally.

All in all and interesting cultural experience. So if you want to volunteer for the Earthling study programme of the Zoggian Scientific Academy, you like strange but nice juice and would like to make your own tea while visiting South Kennsington see if you can get a better deal at St S's than me and it might be worth it. If however you are an American with fixed ideas of what constitutes a Hotel, go to Holiday Inn.

Friday, August 08, 2008

B and B near Lorton, Cockermouth, Lake District

We spent a couple of nights at The Old Homestead at Byresteads an old farm house converted to a Bed and Breakfast in Cumbria. It is between Cockermouth and Lorton, at a farm with views over fields with sheep and goats. We stayed in their largest room with a four poster bed. It was spacious and comfortable, and the whole place very tastefully decorated. A sympathetic modernization of very old farm buildings, with exposed natural beams and modern natural wood floors.

The proprietors Zen and Jayne were friendly and helpful with advice on where to walk and to see red squirrels. While veganism was new to them (bring your own soya milk) the vegetarian breakfast was very nice.

We didn't want the traditional scruffy room in a tatty old house B and B, and this is certainly the luxury end of the market.

It turns out that at the moment the best place to see red squirrels is at the Osprey Viewing Point near Bassenthwaite, that is the lower view point at Dodd Wood. We saw the ospreys too.

For dinner, if you are vegetarian, I presume the Quince and Medlar is very good, as it was fully booked (and we forgot to book in advance). We went too the Tarantella instead. While not explicitly catering for vegans they were happy to adapt to this and other specific requests and we enjoyed it.

On another evening, after a long walk, if you are hungry and want to eat early try happy hour at the The Royal Bengal Indian & Bangladeshi Restaurant near the main car park. We had starter, main course and desert for under £10. The food, surroundings and service were very good.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Rennaldburn, Eskdalemuir

We stayed a weekend at a Farm House called Rennaldburn in Eskdalemuir near Samye Ling Tibetan monastery in Scotland. The location is beautiful near a waterfall with a view over the valley. The old farmhouse has been renovated using natural materials and you almost feel the banisters and window ledges are still growing. It even smells woody. Amazing library in the sitting room with open fire. The children were very happy, especially as our son got to play with the owner's son of a similar age, who has the most amazing three story tree house.

It is rented out as self catering (for vegetarians) and is a great place to stay with the family while visiting Samye Ling that does not usually have children staying over night. Although of course we go there to the Cafe for hot chocolate and soya-milk cappuccinos!

Some links

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Academgorodok, Novosibirsk

Akademgorodok, academic town, outside Novosibirsk in Siberia is world renowned centre for scientific research. I am here to do some mathematics. Like most scientific visitors I am staying at the Golden Valley Hotel "Zolotaya dolina". The hotel's website is a bit out of date and not very inspiring. Actually the hotel is quite nice and has two features important to me in a hotel. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu and there is internet access (100 Mb wired) in the rooms. The staff are friendly and mostly speak English. There is a supermarket and other shops almost next door to the hotel.