Author Archives: Karen Bryan

About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels

La Cabana Restaurant in Benalmadena

La Cabana restaurant is situated on the Prom in Benalmadena. After walking down from Benalmadema railways station through the market and Parque de la Paloma, we were ready for sit down and some food.

We were attracted by the 10 Euro three course set menu at La Cabana, The price also included bread and a drink.

My Scampi starter was beautifully presented.

Our son Gary had the Tuna and Tomato Salad as a starter.

My Pork Chop main course was tasty.

Gary thought that his Calamari was good, but the batter was a bit too thick.

For dessert, I had Ice Cream and Gary had Chocolate Brownie.

I thought that at 10 Euro for a three course set menu including a drink, that La Cabana offered good value for money, in a pleasant location. Our waitress was lovely, very friendly with a constant smile.

Review of Sky Lodge Perth Scotland

I stayed at the Skylodge Perth in Scone on a Saturday night in late May 2017. I searched for the cheapest single room in the Perth/ Blairgowrie area on the HotelCombined price comparison website. The Perth Skylodge was by far the cheapest. I found a single room for £27 on Laterooms.com.

When you turn into Perth Airport, you take the first turn to the left to reach the Skylodge. There appear to be quite a few industrial units and domestic dwellings on the site, so it wasn’t that easy to spot the Sklylodge on the signs.

Check-in is in a separate building which looks a bit like a portacabin. There were no spaces left at the car parking area closest to my room, so I left the car near reception.

My single room was in a single storey block.

The room was nicer inside than the exterior had led me to believe.  There was a pine chair, desk and a small bedside chest of drawers. However there was nowhere to hang my clothes, so initially I laid them out on the bed. Then when I went to bed, I hung them on the back of the chair.

The single bed was comfortable. I didn’t try the free WiFi. I had a good mobile broadband signal. A notice in the room advised that the WiFi was only suitable for checking emails and light browsing.

The shower room wasn’t great. It was small and there wasn’t a towel rail or a shelf for toiletries.

I knew that I’d arrive at the room in late evening, so it didn’t bother me that’s it’s located outside Scone. But if you want a short walk to a choice of pubs and restaurants, Perth Skylodge won’t suit you.

Check-out time was pretty early 10.30am.

For the price of £27 on a Saturday, Perth Skylodge offered clean, quiet accommodation.  My main recommendation to improve the room would be to add some hanging space.

Click here to check availability and price for Skylodge Perth.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on display in Alloa Library until 18 August 2017. It’s free to see this wonderful pictorial history of Scotland in Alloa.

Below are photos of some of my favourite pieces.

Bank of Scotland founded 1695

Home Weaving, Reeling and Spinning

Listen to the surge of the sea

George Smith founds the Glenlivet Distillery 1824

Paisley Lady

The Great Depression 1930s

Scots in India

William Wallace and Andrew Moray 1290s

The formation of Scotland

The wild wood and its fauna 8500BC

Orkney and Shetland ceded by Denmark to Scotland 1469

Fingal’s Cave

The first Edinburgh Festival 1947

North Sea oil licences granted 1965, Aberdeen, Nigg Bay

Linwood beings production of Hillman Imp

The Great Scottish Tapestry will move to the Verdant Works in Dundee, where you can it from 26 August until 22 October 2017. However, you will have to pay an admission fee to enter the Verdant Works.

Top 7 Places to Drink Beer in Europe

Europeans have some of the best beers in the world. In fact, it is absolutely possible to base one’s entire holiday on a holiday surrounded by Europe’s diverse breweries. The reason for this is that Europe’s oldest and best breweries are in some of the most stunning cities that Europe has to offer. Some examples of the countries that offer Europe’s better beers are: Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, The Czech Republic, and France. These respective countries require Euros, Danish Krone, and Czech Koruna. Even though these countries are quite close to the UK, it is wise to exchange from GBP before leaving the UK in order to get the best exchange rates. If you’re going to a Euro country, take a look at the Asda euro rate. When dealing with less frequent currencies such as the Czech Koruna, it is best to order your notes early so that they are ready in time for your departure. Here are seven diverse, yet divine places to have beer in Europe:

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the leading beer destinations in the world. What is wonderful about Prague is that there are many tours that are dedicated solely to beer tasting. In fact, it is possible to hire a private guide to tour you around Prague’s best breweries. U Fleku is a great place to experience Medieval Czech food and beer while beer tasting in Prague. The brewery was opened in the sixteenth century and has been in continued operation ever since.

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is a great place to enjoy a smaller European city that has intimate bars and restaurants. Within these bars, it is possible to find some excellent beers that have been in production for centuries. One of the highest rated bars in Antwerp is surely The Kulminator. This bar has 800 different beers to choose from that are mostly from Belgium. This is the ideal place to relax at for hours and enjoy high level beers.

Munich, Germany

Munich offers fantastic beers all over the city. That being said, there is one restaurant that truly stands out in terms of high level quality is Augustiner, which is a brewery and restaurant that has been in business since 1328. Beer lovers looking to try some of Germany’s best, will greatly enjoy what Augustiner has to offer. Lastly, if travellers would like to sit outside on a warm day, it is wise to venture to the Hirschgarten, which has been in operation since 1791 and can fit up to 8,000 guests. Here, tourists will be able to order great beers with a pretzel on the side.

Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is full of European bars to experience. Many have a rich history such as the Au Bon Vieux Temps that has been there since 1695. Here, you will be able to venture through small historic alleys and enjoy a high-quality pint of beer where many individuals have throughout history.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam primarily has Belgian beers; however, for the true beer lover, it is important to know that there are several craft breweries that have been popping up in Amsterdam that are surely worth a sample. One example is Proeflokaal Arendsnest, which is a bar that features only craft beers from the Netherlands. This craft beer scene will likely be growing in the coming years in Amsterdam, which will be exciting to see how it develops.

Ghent, Belgium

SAMSUNG

Ghent has its own local beer culture for being a small town in Belgium. De Dulle Griet is a great local spot to investigate that has over 250 different beers that are both local and international. The medieval interior makes for a pleasant atmosphere while sampling local Belgian brews inside.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg is a unique locale on this list; however, it does have a distinct culture with a strong German influence making for great beers for travellers and locals to enjoy. Recently, the Craft Beer scene has taken off in Strasbourg, which has allowed bars like Au Brasseur to reopen their doors since the 18th century with a new twist in the 1990’s.

A Reminder to Consume Alcohol Sensibly

When taking a holiday that is inspired from beer tasting, it is highly recommended to try the beer, but to not consume them in excess. To truly get a taste of what beers taste like, it is recommended to try not more than six during one tasting day. This way, you will remember which beers were your favourite and will be more health conscious while you are travelling.

Final Remarks on the Subject

When looking for ways to experience Europe in unique ways, it is highly recommended to take a holiday that is inspired by the distinct breweries that Europe has to offer. By doing so, you will learn a great deal about European history while simultaneously tasting wonderful beers. Just be sure to exchange your GBP before departing the UK so that you are in the position to have the best possible exchange rate for your wonderful tour of European breweries from eras past.

 

An Amsterdam Food Tour by Withlocals

As one of my friends is thinking of visiting the Dutch capital, I decided to have a look online to to get some ideas for her on things to do in Amsterdam. I thought that going on a couple of tours would give her an introduction to the city, and be an opportunity for her to meet some fellow travellers.

I saw that Withlocals offered a great selection of tours and activities in Amsterdam e,g. an urban farming bike tour, private vintage shopping and homemade gourmet dinners.

Withlocals is an online platform which directly connects travellers and hosts, enabling travellers to book affordable but unique experiences with locals as their private guide. It’s always good to see a city with a local who can offer you their insights into their home town. This helps travellers avoid falling into the tourist traps.

I thought that my friend would enjoy tasting some great food on the Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour by Withlocals. The tour includes five food tastings per guest. This tour is in the Pijp area, which lies south of Centraal Station.

Below is a guide to the itinerary, but the tours can be personalised to suit your preferences.

Stop 1

The first tasting is at the best fish seller in Amsterdam for a piece of delicious Kibbeling (fresh, fried fish usually served with garlic mayonnaise or tartar sauce) or authentic herring (often served with a sprinkling of raw onion).

Stop 2

Next it’s a visit to Cuyp Market, which is the largest daily outdoor market in Europe. Started in the early 1900s, it is now home to over 300 stails, where you can buy everything from food to souvenirs.

Stop 3

The next food on the itinerary is a warm Stroopwafel (syrup waffle). This consists of two thin layers of baked batter with a sweet filling between the layers. The Stroopwafel originated in the Dutch city of Gouda.

Stop 4

Then it’s time for a relaxing drink at a new Collective Cafe, where rather than items being priced, you can pay what you feel the food and drink is worth.

Stop 5

This is a walk around the Pijp area, which is now considered pretty hip.The area was originally built in the 19th century to provide low cost housing for the ever increasing population. The southern part of Pijp, which includes the Diamond neighbourhood, was constructed later, in the 1920s. Several of the streets are named in honour of Dutch painters including Van Gogh, Ruysdael and Jan Stein. The Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan lived in the area.There’s a small red light district by the Ruysdaelkade canal.

Stop 6

Next you will tuck into a Telo Kabeljauw (fried cassava with salted cod) and Baka Bana (fried plantain served with peanut sauce) at a Surinamese-Javanese family owned restaurant.

Spot 7

Your tour is rounded off with a cheese platter at the Gollem beer-cafe. Holland is famous for it cheeses, such as Edam, Leerdammer and Massdam. You may also be tempted to purchase one of Cafe Gollem’s own ales to accompany your cheeses.

As you can see, Amsterdam’s food is very cosmopolitan, with influences from many different cultures.

You can choose which private guide you would like to lead your Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour. Olav, pictured below, is described as a rock star chef, who is also a biologist.

Other guides include Bauke, the bohemian historian, Erika, the storytelling jeweller and Dina, the joyful chef. Each of the guides is featured in a video, which you can watch to help decide which one you’d like to lead your tour.

I think that my friend would select Erika, as she loves custom made jewellery.

Amsterdam’s Favourite Food Tour can be personalised to your own taste and interests. It costs from 35 Euro per person with eight participants, 44 Euro for four and 60 Euro for two. You can select a day (the tour is not available on Sundays) and start time from 10am through to 3pm.

Add It Up Exhibition by Jac Leirner at Fruitmarket Gallery Edinburgh

The Add It Up exhibition featuring the work of Brazilian artist Jac Leirner runs until 22 October at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh.

Much of Leirner’s work is constructed of everyday objects. Below are my favourite pieces in the exhibition.

Leveled Spirit consists of 38 spirit levels.

Blue Phase is made of 50.000 obsolete Brazilian bank notes, which are threaded together.

Metal, Wood and Black consists of rulers.

My photo of Little Light, which contains more than two miles of copper wire with a light bulb at one end, doesn’t really do justice to the installation. The patterns and reflections on the copper wire are much more evident in real life.

120 Cords is very colourful.

On the ground floor of the Fruitmarket Gallery, there are also some watercolours by Jan Leirner.

On the first floor, there are several pieces made with the products of Leirner’s former smoking and drug taking habits. The three narrow pieces pictured below are made of rolling papers and their packaging.

Below is my favourite of three Crossing Colours works.

Centre Pompildou Malaga Spain

As I ascended towards Gibralfaro Castle in Malaga, I was curious about the coloured glass cube that I could see near the port. The following day, I decided to investigate. It turned out that it was an installation at the Centre Pompidou Malaga.

I found seat in the shade to do some research on the Centre Pompidou Malaga. It opened in 2015 and is the only branch of the Pompldou outside France. I reckoned that it was worth paying the 7 Euro entry fee to see the permanent exhibition, housed in the basement, which focuses on art from 1905 to the present day.

Below is a selection of my favourite pieces.

Stavinsky by Erro (an Icelander based in Paris)

Dora Maar by Antonia Saura

Chapeau a fluers by Pablo Picasso (born in Malaga)

Architecture and Morality by Glenn Brown

I Saw a Woman Crying by Rineke Dijkstra (video of Liverpudlian school kids giving possible reasons for the tears)

The Frame by Frida Kahlo

Self Portrait by Francis Bacon (he looks miserable)

Dimanche by Marc Chagall

El Caballero Espanol by Eduardo Arroyo

Le Mannequin by Alain Sechas

Incubated by Daniel Burden (looking up a the cube from the basement)

Barbed Hula by Sigalit Landau (suffering for art?)

The Girls of My Life by Zush

Femme objet by Peter Klasen

Souvenir de Voyage by Rene Magritte

Formatrice by Victor Brauner

Ghost by Kader Attia (131 foil figures)

Couple by Pablo Picasso

The Irish Jig by Jean Dubuffet

I really enjoyed my visit to the Centre Pompidou Malaga. If you’re into modern art, I recommend that you visit.

Caminos de Exilio Outdoor Photo Exhibition in Malaga, Spain

The Caminos del Exilio (Paths of Exile) outdoor photography exhibition is located in muelleuno shopping centre, close to Centre Pompidou Malaga.

The exhibition was organised by the French Institute of Spain.

The photo above, depicting migrants wrapped in foil, was hauntingly similar to the Ghosts installation by Kader Attica (photo below) on display at the Centre Pompidou Malaga. which I had visited the previous day.

I found the Caminos de Exilio photography exhibition in Malaga very moving. It made me appreciate my comfortable, settled life in the UK all the more.

A Sense of Place: 20th Century Scottish Painting at the McManus Galleries Dundee

15′A Sense of Place :20th Century Scottish Painting‘ runs until Autumn 2017 at the McManus Galleries in Dundee.

The exhibition features works by Scottish artists, predominantly of landscapes.

Below are photos of my favourite works in the exhibition.

The Lovers by John Bellamy

Island by James Howie 

Loch Tulla by John MacLauchan Milne 

Rain on Princes Street by Stanley Cursiter 

Mediterranean Hill Town by William McCance

Ode to the North Wind by William Johnstone

St Tropez by John MacLauchan Milne 

A Lowland Church by J D Fergusson

A Cottage in Fife by George Leslie Hunter 

Terraced Fields Gran Canaria by Anne Redpath

Denhead Farm by James Morrison

Green and Blue Boats by Joan Eardley

Skye Fisherman – In Memoriam by Will MacLean 

Window on the Sea by Ian Fleming

Outside the Garden by Ronald Forbes

Full of the Warm South by J D Fergusson

It’s free to enter the ‘A Sense of Place: 20th Century Scottish Painting’ exhibition. McManus Galleries are open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday from 12.30pm to 4.30pm.