Travel tips to make your holiday a gastronomic delight!

Eating out, when you are away from home, can be something of a double-edged sword. Stay on the tourist trail and you may only find high prices and food that it is a pale imitation of authentic fare. But equally, if you leave things to chance, will you be fortunate enough to discover that one gem in a hidden backstreet?

Here are a few tricks of the trade that will improve your chances of eating out as well as the locals.

Do not fall back on your hotel every day for breakfast
If you have planned a busy day, the hotel breakfast might be the best way to get off to a quick start. But make sure that you leave plenty of time during your stay for breakfast in a nearby café. If it is bustling with orders from those heading out for a day’s work at the office, the food on offer has to be genuine, sincere and designed to satisfy the healthiest appetite.

Have a packed lunch and do your research
Plan a day, early on, when you will not eat out at all. This is your day for research! Wander into town and the likelihood is that you will find a restaurant on every corner. Have a peek inside. Take a look at the menu. Is it still doing a rip-roaring trade after the lunch service has ended? By the end of the afternoon, you will have found half a dozen places you cannot wait to eat in.

Search for the market and you will find the restaurant
We marvel at the range of produce found in many European cities, and much of it is destined for the tables of nearby restaurants. Find out which day is market day in your holiday destination or, if you are fortunate enough, hunt down the town’s food hall or market. The chances are that you will be able to eat there too and enjoy the freshest meat, fish and vegetables cooked to simple local recipes.

A few dishes are better than many
A restaurant that caters for every taste may have a menu that will take longer to digest than the meal itself. If a restaurant only offers a few choices, or even just one signature dish, you can be certain that each has been cooked with a lot of love and experience. They are also likely to taste better than the same food prepared in places that at first sight might be considered far more upmarket. For example, Figlmüller in Vienna is a restaurant that built its well-deserved reputation on serving a giant schnitzel!

No one restaurant can be to everyone’s taste, but following these four simple tips should guarantee that you do not go hungry on your next trip abroad.

A city break in Ljubljana: castles and dragons!

Before we start, the Oxford Dictionary suggests you pronounce it Lyoo-blee-AR-na!

The Ljubljana Dragon, which sits astride the Dragon Bridge in the heart of Slovenia’s capital, is a sign of power, wealth and greatness – appropriate descriptors for a city whose history is dominated by its influential role as a midway settlement on the strategically important trade route that linked the Danube with the Adriatic Sea.

Since 1991, Ljubljana has been the administrative capital of the small republic of Slovenia, boasting strong cultural traditions, a rich heritage and eye-catching scenery that make it a worthy, if not unusual, city break destination. With a relaxed atmosphere and small-town attitude, but all the modern facilities you would expect of a leading European capital city, Ljubljana never fails to deliver and yields some pleasant surprises along the way.

Time to relax…
With average summer highs of 24C – 26C (75F – 79F), Ljubljana escapes the more stifling heat of the Mediterranean cities, but the ambient temperature sustains long enough to make a late autumn break a distinct possibility, with a pleasant daytime high of 16C (61F). Rows of tables spill out of the numerous cafés that line the Ljubljanica River, offering visitors and residents the chance to relax while absorbing the picturesque alabaster bridges that span its width.

Limits on traffic in the city centre make a gentle stroll through its streets a delightful experience, enabling you to appreciate the highly photogenic scenery that is dominated by graceful architecture and beautiful squares. Among the highlights that simply have to be captured for posterity on your camera are the stunning Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg), the salmon-pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, and the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town.

Stunning sweeping views
A popular starting point for many visitors to Ljubljana is the dominant medieval fortress that sits atop Castle Hill, a remnant of Habsburg rule that started in the mid-14th century. An energetic hike from the Old Town is one way to reach the summit, but alternatively you can enjoy a short trip by tourist train or a glass-walled funicular.

Entering the castle courtyard is free, where you can enjoy a relaxing coffee and cake, visit one of the many art exhibitions that are staged in the vicinity or peruse a selection of traditional Slovene handicrafts. While a tour of the castle will reveal more about its long history, undoubtedly soaking up the sweeping views of the city from the summit is one of the favourite pastimes of visitors.

A city break for every budget

Ljubljana is well-served by a wide variety of restaurants offering traditional Slovenian fare, as well as dishes that boast strong Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Accommodation is available for every budget, from high-class boutique hotels and spas to budget outfits and hostels. With a flight time from the UK of only two hours, Ljubljana is a friendly and inspiring city break destination on the doorstep of Eastern Europe.

Fuerteventura: a paradise at this time of year

Fuerteventura is a paradise island that can be enjoyed all year round, but especially out of season, when prices are lower, the breeze is cooler, and the kaleidoscopic flora and fauna on the enclave reawaken.

The oldest island in the volcanic Canary Islands archipelago, Fuerteventura rises from the waters of the Atlantic just 60 miles to the west of the African coast. With its 100 mile-long stretch of beaches, and having been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the island is the perfect place to lose your bearings.

Main Attractions
Its pristine coastline is sprinkled with over 150 sandy beaches to suit every age, drawing in beach-goers from all four corners of the world.

The warm and bubbling cyan waters of the Atlantic Ocean collide with its shores to summon waves that windsurfers and kite boarders from across the world share. Golf players enjoy acres of exquisitely designed courses within meters of their resort room, with the ocean as their backdrop, or with towering mountains overlooking the fairways.

Gourmands relish every morsel of the local Majorero cheese, the seafood served with gofio, papas arrugadas and mojo sauce, and the frangollo dessert found on nearly every restaurant menu at unrivaled prices. A local museum is dedicated to the local goats’ cheese, namely ‘Museo del Queso Majorero’.

Another, the Betancuria Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography, reveals the culture of the aboriginals known as Guanches, but there are many other museums, lighthouses, art centres, restored windmills, lookout towers and folk parks that retrace the island’s past.

Climate and Rainfall
The island enjoys the same subtropical climate as The Bahamas, Florida and Mexico, with which it shares its latitude. Thermometers here settle at about 25C (77F) throughout the year. It receives less rain than its Canarian siblings due to its sheltered position south of Lanzarote, and you can enjoy around 300 sunny days on the island per year, on average.

It also tends to be slightly cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than any of the other Spanish islands. Moreover, the water here drops to a minimum of 14C (57F) in the winter, which is comparable to average water temperatures in the UK over the summer!

Unique Attractions
The island’s natural heritage is so rich that simply enjoying a camel ride, roaming through the desert dunes of Corralejo, bird watching, sailing off on a whale-watching expedition or feeding dolphins are seen as mundane activities. This starlight reserve is also deemed one of the best places on the planet for stargazing, and there are various astronomy courses and night photography workshops for those who’d like to capture a shooting star, to observe constellations, planets and star clusters with a telescope or the naked eye, or simply to reconnect with the universe.

Those interested in palaeontology will be pleased to find that there are nearly 50 sites brimming with fossils scattered across the island. The million-year-old Cuevo de Llanos cave, the oldest one in the Canary Islands, is home to an endemic arachnid considered a living fossil. Finally, a whale skeleton towers over the Coleta shores by the salt museum, only to be outdone by that of the sperm whale skeleton by the Matorral beach, in Morro Jable.