Budapest Experiences: Pest

Travellers keen to save some steps on the way up to Buda Castle can ride the funicular for 840 HUF (US $3.75) each way. On busy days, wait times can be up to half an hour, but it may be worthwhile if a 30-minute climb through parkland doesn’t appeal to you.

Dabble Savvy: Sit in the lowest car to enjoy the best views of Pest as you head down the hill.

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1. Spend a cultural evening at the Hungarian State Opera where the music and skill of the performers will charm even reluctant opera goers. The magnificent Neo-Renaissance style building, completed in 1884 and modeled after the Vienna Opera House, is one of the city’s most beautiful.

Dabble Savvy: Hungarians dress up to attend the opera. A simple black dress or an elegant pantsuit is a good choice. Folk Dancing is a popular Hungarian pastime and concerts are available throughout the city and even on boats which cruise the Danube. Ask your concierge for a recommendation as locations change frequently.

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2. Széchenyi Bath and Spa is one of the largest medicial baths in Budapest with18 pools in total, 3 outdoor and 15 indoor. Rain or shine, locals and visitors take to the water, enjoying the healing benefits of the thermal water and some of the city’s best people watching.

3. The lyrical Moorish Revival style architecture makes Dohány Street Synagogue one of Budapest’s most recognizable buildings. Its history makes it one of the most memorable. Built between 1854 and 1859, the fanciful decoration derived from Islamic influences. A guided tour includes the Great Synagogue, the Heroes’ Memorial Temple, the graveyard, the Holocaust Memorial and the Jewish Museum.

Dabble Savvy: Unless you wish to worship, avoid visiting on the Sabbath (Saturday) and holy days.

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ABOVE: There are no words to accurately describe the impact of the empty bronzed shoes. Echoes of the men, women and children forced to stand at the river’s edge to be shot, falling into the Danube, following World War II. Their stillness speaks volumes.

Searching for yummy noodles in Hong Kong

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Eating in exotic places and savoring culinary delights is the norm for travelling chef, Marc Matsumoto. Three of Marc’s recipes were previously featured in Issue 2: May/Jun’11.

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On a recent trip to Honk Kong, it was suggested to Marc from his Twitter followers to visit Mak’s Noodles for a bowl of noodles. Through his travels, he was unwittingly able to unearth an even more flavourful noodle.

Here’s an except from Marc’s blog The Wandering Cook.

‘Since I was in Hong Kong to research some food stories, my first day was literally crammed with a gut-busting food crawl across Kowloon. My plan was to cram in as much food as I could during the day and keep dinner light with a bowl of Mak’s Noodles. Unfortunately a very long wait at The Peninsula had turned afternoon tea into evening tea and I decided to wander around the Kowloon waterfront before heading back back to Hong Kong island.’

‘This delay along with a few wrong turns meant I showed up at Mak’s around 8:00 pm, right as they were lowering the shutters for the evening. Still not hungry, but unwilling to forgo a meal during my short visit, I wandered up and down Wellington Street checking out the food options.’

Spend a day with Dabble and Chef Matsumoto: Issue 2: May/Jun’11.

To read the complete article, visit The Wandering Cook.

Read the entire article ‘A Day with Chef Marc Matsumoto’ in Issue 2 of Dabble.

5 Non-Olympic Things to do in London

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This informative piece was written by guest blogger and travel enthusiast, Matt Long of Landlopers. He passionately imparts his knowledge of London, offering options to travellers who want take part in all that London has to offer, not just the Olympics.

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‘London will soon be reveling in the global hoopla that comes along with hosting the Summer Olympic Games. Many people will use the opportunity to add London to their travel list and explore what is truly one of the great cities of the world. While the Olympics are fine, there’s obviously a lot more to do in the city.’

To read Matt’s five favourite non-Olympic London activities, visit Landlopers.

To read more from Matt in Dabble, visit Issue 4: Sep/Oct’11.

Charleston’s Top 5 Travel Sites

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1. In the French Quarter don’t miss the oldest standing tavern (and brothel) in the South. The famous pirate Black Beard may have had an ale or two at the Pink House. Today, the West Indian coral stone walls (which withstood the great earthquake of1886 and Hurricane Hugo) house a small art gallery. Head across the cobblestone street to the Old Slave Mart Museum to hear an informative recorded history of the city’s slave auctions.

2. Wake early and enjoy a leisurely stroll along Waterfront Park. You’ll get a great view of the Cooper River from the pier and see the Cooper Bridge which joins Charleston with neighbouring suburb Mount Pleasant. After a long walk, stroll across Vendue Street and reward yourself with a gelato at Paolo’s.

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3. No trip to the South is complete without a trip to a plantation. Historic Middleton Place has lavish gardens which take at least an hour to explore. There is also a reproduction home on the property and a popular lowcountry restaurant. America’s only tea plantation, The Charleston Tea Plantation is humble but may be worth a visit if you’re interested. Tours take guests through the tea fields and into the factory. The gift shop has gifts to bring home.

4. Once you’ve had enough history, take a break and spend a day at the beach. Lay out in the sun at Tides Folly Beach in the West Ashley area, only a 20 minute ride from the historic district.

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5. Once you are sold on visiting Charleston, you’ll need to book a place to stay. There are several options: you can stay in a luxury hotel like the Charleston Place Hotel or the Francis Marion Hotel. For a true historic district experience, stay a few nights in a cha

Charleston’s Top 5 Travel Experiences

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“There is no better way to learn about interior design than to travel to a city with an extensive history,” says Victoria Drainville.

Eager to explore, Victoria is on a mission to find Charleston’s most unique experiences and learn more about architecture and design. She quickly discovers this small, walkable city is loaded with charming southerners and historic places.

1. The best way to experience Charleston’s rich history is by touring historic homes. Tours typically cost US$10 and are worth every penny to the history buff or home enthusiast. The Edmondston-Alston House overlooks Charleston Harbour and its tour includes the history of this illustrious Charleston family. Visit the Calhoun Mansion and you’ll feel you’re visiting an eccentric aunt whose collections are too numerous to count. The Nathaniel Russell House has a stunning three-storey freestanding staircase and trompe l’oeil crown moulding that is sure to impress.

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2. Typical to Charleston are the Single Houses, an architectural style where the main entrance appears to be on the side of the house but leads to a porch. Experience these homes firsthand through the Fall Tours of Home and Garden led by the Preservation Society.

3. There are many ways to get around Charleston, but taking a taxi isn’t one of them. Since you’re on the move anyway, why not combine commuting with a history lesson? Horse and Carriage tours, Rickshaws or even Guided Walking Tours are pleasant options.

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4. There are two great shopping areas in Charleston: King Street for Fashion and Design and City Market for souvenirs. You’ll find inexpensive crafts, sweet treats, art, jewelry and sweet grass baskets made by local artisans.

5. Theatre fans will love the offerings at the Footlight Players. Affordable and popular productions run year-round. If reading is your hobby, visit the Heirloom Book Company, a bookshop dedicated to the literature of food.

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Quebec City’s Top 5 Food Experiences

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Driving into Québec City, one feels suddenly transported to a quaint Paris neighbourhood, only with a shorter flight and way more snow. The cobblestone streets and whimsical shops are embellished with the most beautiful Christmas décor, helping our travellers to get into the spirit with ease.

1. Start the day on la rue St. Jean wandering in and out of shops, at whim. Driven by a desire to sample the city’s best pastries, Dee heads into Paillard Le Café-Boulangerie. Turns out Bill Cosby found his way there first but, thankfully, the award winning pastry Chef Sebastien Bonnefils has plenty of his melt-in-the-mouth croissants to go around.

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2. Great food experiences don’t always involve eating. A pampered visit to Payot Institute at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac for a maple sugar hand massage is a no-calorie treat. If you’re getting a pedicure, they’ll let you use their iPad, but don’t check email. Instead, it’s a great chance to catch up on your Dabble reading.

3. Next, find a seat at the bar and prepare for a cocktail experience at the St. Laurent Bar & Lounge on the main floor of Le Château Frontenac. The bar boasts amazing views of the St. Lawrence River and a roaring fire to warm the body and spirit. Try the signature ice wine martini, made from local wine.

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4. Seeking a truly French meal? Then make your way to la rue St. Jean to Le Moine Échanson. This restaurant comes highly recommended from locals, who tend to be demanding gourmets. Every dish is paired with a wine recommendation. Be sure to make reservations if you want to enjoy this unique culinary experience.

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5. For a night out on the town, grab your sexiest pumps and head to Savini Resto-Bar / Vinothèque on Grande Allée. Share a pizza with friends and dance the night away.

The Best Beaches in Europe

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Travel journalist and adventure junkie, Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com, slows down to enjoy a more relaxing travel experience that the beaches of Europe have to offer.

Whether it’s a secluded bay with emerald surfs slamming on sandstone cliffs, or wide stretches of golden sand glimmering with turquoise waters, Europe has a constellation of beaches that makes summer alone worth living.

Here are 3 of the 8 beaches Nellie believes are the best in Europe.

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Also known as Shipwreck bay, this cove is the trademark of the island and one of the most famous in Greece. Huge vertical cliffs surrounding the white sand creates a paradisical stretch of islet. It can only be reached by boat (leaving hourly, here’s how to create your dream holidays without breaking the bank with Hostelbay passes), from Porto Vromi. Greece is one of Europe’s most popular summer playground, so avoid the crowd by hitting the beach in April or end of September.

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Las Islas Cies, Galicia, Spain

Voted by the Guardian as one of the best beaches in the world, the island 92 s main stretch of powdery white sand is as calm as a lake. The wild and stunning island of Islas Cies is protected by the goverment as a national park, restricting the number of visiting tourists. There is only camping available on the island, so this keeps any form of intervention minimal. This is one of my personal favourites.

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Patara, Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Dunes, dunes and more dunes. This rare stretch of beach is backed by the golden dunes and the Taurus mountains. Due to the strict conservation efforts, there are no buildings around, keeping the beach in unspoiled conditions. The beach is one of the few remaining beaches in the world, where the Loggerhead turtles still come to lay their eggs between May and October.

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Discover the other 5 of Nellie’s 8 of the Best Beaches in Europe.

Welcome to Bourbon Street

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There’s always a lively crowd on Bourbon Street.

If you’re mining for big personalities and unique characters, then Bourbon Street is pay dirt. From the sublime to the surreal and everything in between, the action (and the alcohol) never stops.

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Dabble Savvy

United Cab, which uses only licensed drivers, provides the most reliable ride in town.

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ABOVE This street performer has the blues.

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ABOVE A soleful jazz performance.

Seattle’s Top 5 Travel Experiences

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“Seattle is like cozying up with a great cup of coffee on a rainy day—comforting, energizing and a feeling of coming home,” says our travel expert Anne Taylor Hartzell.

1. Get up close and personal with Seattle’s waterways in a kayak at Aqua Verde Café & Paddle Club on Lake Union. Quench your thirst after a day of paddling with a signature prickly pear margarita and enjoy watching the parade of boats navigate the Montlake Cut that connects Lake Washington to Elliott Bay.

2. Hop the Elliott Bay Water Taxi from Pier 55 to Alki Beach in West Seattle for a breathtaking view of Seattle’s skyline. Go for a stroll along Alki Beach Park’s 4km path and take in the beauty of Puget Sound. Grab fish and chips for dinner and light a beach fire pit at dusk.

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3. Rent bikes at Recycled Cycles and bike the Burke Gilman Trail. Stop along the way at Gasworks Park for a picnic with spectacular views of Lake Union.

4. Eat your way through Seattle with a Savor Seattle food tour. Our guide, Ezra, dazzled our taste buds and our brains with an insider look into the savoury food and rich history of Pike Place Market. Several tours are available to sample food from Seattle’s diverse specialty food shops, artisans, and neighborhood restaurants. Every tour comes with a 10–15% VIP card good for discounts at food partners around Seattle. Tours start at $39 per person.

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5. Take flight over Seattle in a Kenmore Air float plane to take in Seattle’s natural beauty with the Ultimate Seattle City Tour. Feel the rush as you lift off in a vintage bushplane from Lake Union to fly high above Sleepless in Seattle houseboat communities, magnificent lakeside and seaside estates of the city’s rich and famous, and bird’s-eye views of the majestic Mount Rainier. $89 per person.

Seattle Coffee and Donuts

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Despite being the birthplace of Starbuck’s Coffee, or perhaps because of it, Seattleites prefer to root for the little guy—the indie coffee house that sees coffee preparation as an art form. They roast their own fair trade beans out back, grind them to order, then create miniature works of art in froth that only last as long as you have to sit, sip and savour the creation. Here, the term barista is a smart career move, and coffee is serious business.

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Indie Coffee Houses

In a city buzzing with tech start-ups it’s not unusual to find CEOs (of a company of one) working off a café’s WiFi for hours at a time. Best geek ‘offices’ are Fuel in Madison Park and Zoka in Greenlake. For a straight-up good vibe, Zeitgeist in Pioneer Square is our pick, with Victrola Coffee Roasters and Espresso Vivace on Capitol Hill a close tie for second. For an artists’ hang-out try All City Coffee in Georgetown. For great food to go with your specialty brew, Le Pichet near Pike Place Market and her sister establishment, Café Presse in Capitol Hill, do fine French fare in a Euro-cozy atmosphere.

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Donut City

We love Mighty-O Donuts who recently took home top honours in a national Food Network Challenge event. In true Seattle style they are 100% organic and mighty tasty. The flagship store of a Seattle favorite, Top Pot Doughnuts is a must-do to get them fresh and hot.Try a Feather Boa for a bit of donut glamour. Grab a bag of mini donuts from Daily Dozen Donut Company while you wander Pike Place Market.

Best Places for Cruising: Africa

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More and more African ports open up each year to tourists. But the best one remains Cape Town. Visit a winery, a shanty town, a penguin colony or take the cable car up Table Mountain.

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Make sure to purchase a hand-painted ostrich egg, which makes a great souvenir of your trip. If you have a chance during your cruise, go on safari but make sure you bring a camera with a good zoom and adjusts well to dusk and dawn shots.

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The ultimate trip of all is Victoria Falls which can be done in 3-5 days as an overland tour. Victoria Falls borders Zambia and Zimbabwe, plus Botswana is close by if you want to check several countries off your bucket list.

Heather’s Cruise Line Pick: Silversea offers several shorter African voyages.

For more great places to cruise, check out Best Places for Cruising, Issue 4 Sept/Oct 2011.

Guest Post by Heather Visser

Best Places for Cruising: Asia

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The countries in Asia offer a rich mix of diverse culture in a relatively small area. Enlighten your senses as you take in all the sights, sounds, and smells and feel the excitement of the fast-paced cities that literally never seem to rest. Prices are very reasonable for everything from massages to souvenirs. You can’t beat the famous sites there too.

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China offers an intriguing mix of old and new from the Great Wall and Ming Tombs of Beijing to the modern city of Shanghai with its high speed MagLev train which reaches speeds of almost 600 km an hour. Xian is a short and worthwhile flight from Beijing to see the Terracotta Warriors.

And don’t forget Hong Kong with all of its colourful markets to explore. China also offers fantastic scenery with a boat ride along the Li River and a visit to Guilin, located on the river’s West bank.

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Heather’s Cruise Line Pick: Regent has smaller ships that can get into the smaller ports in Asia which will save you a lot of travel time to the big cities.

For more great places to cruise, check out Best Places for Cruising, Issue 4 Sept/Oct 2011.

Guest Post by Heather Visser