Rapps Café, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, England

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Rapps Café is next door to the Kings Grill and both places seem to have the same owners – I’m not sure if they share a kitchen. Both a just a few minutes walk from the sea front.

We visited Rapps for lunch and it was pretty good. They ask that you place your order and pay in advance at the counter which makes tipping at the end difficult – not sure if the same applies in the evenings.

The interior is more restaurant than café.

The Grilled sea bass fillet £11.95 served with a warm potato, chorizo and olive salad, rocket and balsamic was good, although there probably too many olives. I’m still not completely convinced about chorizo and fish, even though it is a popular combination these days.

Tap water was free. Wine by the glass not expensive.

Rapps is certainly a nice place to visit if you find yourself in Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Rapps Cafe
11-13 Milton Street
Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Cleveland, TS12 1DH

https://www.rappscafe.uk/

Tel: 01287 625354

thekingsgrill.saltburn@gmail.com

Opening times
Mon: 09:00 – 15:00
Tue: 09:00 – 23:00
Wed: 09:00 – 23:00
Thur: 09:00 – 23:00
Fri: 09:00 – 23:00
Sat: 09:00 – 23:00
Sun: 09:00 – 15:00

Closed Christmas day and Boxing Day

Food serving times
Mon: 09:00 – 15:00
Tue: 09:00 – 14:30 / 17:30 – 21:00
Wed: 09:00 – 14:30 / 17:30 – 21:00
Thur: 09:00 – 14:30 / 17:30 – 21:00
Fri: 09:00 – 14:30 / 17:30 – 21:00
Sat: 09:00 – 14:30 / 17:30 – 21:00
Sun: 09:00 – 15:00

Jadoo Indian Restaurant, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire, England

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I heard that Jadoo had been taken over by the same family that run the nearby Spices Indian Restaurant (that I like but haven’t reviewed). The previous owners weren’t very good at running the restaurant.

Jadoo has an elegant look and feel. The waiter was friendly and we asked for papadoms and dips – as I imagine does every person who visits an Indian restaurant in the UK.

A large Cobra beer was £4.50.

We ordered some classic Indian dishes:
Chicken Korma £9.40
Lamb Rogan £10.40
Chicken Tikka Masala £10.90

The sides were quite expensive for the area:
Keema Rice £3.95
Pilau Rice £3.30
Keema Naan £3.65

We were planning to share the dishes and expected the curries to be in the centre of the table and we each have a plate. As it was, each dish was plated and given to the person who chose it and that made sharing difficult. The curries were also oddly-presented, with large pieces of meat in the centre of sauce.

Lamb Rogan

Chicken Korma

Chicken Tikka Masala

The food wasn’t bad, but we would have preferred classic curries, served the traditional way. This particularly true for the lamb, which benefits from being marinated and cooked in the sauce to tenderise it.

We asked for the bill and although it seemed a bit high, paid without paying much attention. I asked to keep the receipt (only to help me with this review) and the waiter advised that he’d need to print a copy as that receipt was for their records. A receipt never arrived and so on leaving I requested one – there’s something suspicious about a restaurant that doesn’t want to provide a receipt.

Looking at the receipt later, I may have discovered one reason why the restaurant didn’t want me to keep it. We were charged £3.40 for four papadoms and £3.40 for the dips! That’s outrageously expensive and is obviously a disguised cover charge. I wish I hadn’t left a tip now.

I won’t be returning to Jadoo, over-modernised food I could live with but the rip off papadoms/dips finished the place for me. I’m also going to check the nearby Spices restaurant to see if they operate the same scam.

Jadoo Indian Restaurant
9 Milton Street
Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS12 1DH

+44 1287 626262

Website currently isn’t working

Hampton by Hilton Hotel, Gatwick Airport North Terminal, England

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We stayed here in June to catch an early morning flight departing from the North Terminal. This was our first stay as we’ve previously stayed at the Hilton South Terminal. The Hampton North beats Hilton South hands down!

The Hampton entrance is directly from the North Terminal and you’re at the reception desk and room in minutes. Contrast this with the Hilton South, a long walk from the terminal and another long walk from reception to your room.

Check in was friendly and they were also able to print a document we emailed them without any issues nor cost. As Hilton Diamond, we were upgraded and also offered a choice of snacks from the snack bar.

The room was clean and functional and had a king-size bed.

The bathroom had a walk in shower.

The view from the room was interesting.

There isn’t an executive lounge, but the Hilton South lounge isn’t much to write home about.

My partner left early for her flight – the EasyJet check in is steps from the hotel entrance.

I had the decent buffet breakfast, which I think is free for all guests – I wasn’t asked for my room number. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few people waiting for their flight in the North Terminal sneaked in for a free breakfast! The Hilton South charges for breakfast unless you book a breakfast included rate or have Hilton Gold or Diamond status.

I’d booked a taxi to collect me from the hotel. There’s a short corridor that leads to the hotel car park and taxis can pick up there – 15 minutes free parking.

I’d definitely recommend this hotel if you are flying in/out of Gatwick North. In fact, I’d almost be tempted to choose it if I was flying in/out of Gatwick South as the walking distance is about the same.

Hampton by Hilton
Longbridge House North Terminal,
Horley, RH6 0PJ, United Kingdom

TEL: +44-1293-579999

http://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/hampton-by-hilton-london-gatwick-airport-LONGNHX/index.html

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Kingston upon Thames, England

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The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel is quite new to Kingston. We decided to stay there one Saturday night in June 2018 as we were meeting friends in nearby Surbiton.

The hotel was in the news recently as the extended family of Meghan Markle stayed there during the Royal Wedding – they weren’t invited to the wedding. Apparently Meghan’s nephew Tyler Dooley, 25, admitted to the doorman at the nearby Bacchus nightclub that he had a knife and tried to hand it over. He was with his girlfriend, brother TJ and his mother Tracey. The UK newspapers loved the story and chased the family into a cleaner’s cupboard at the hotel.

Check in was friendly. We were upgraded as Hilton Diamond members plus given a voucher for two free drinks at the bar. We were also given two delicious cookies.

The room was pretty good.

As was the bathroom.

The view from the window.

The hotel is just a minutes walk, via a small tunnel, to the Bentall Shopping Centre. Then less than ten minutes to the river, with plenty of riverside restaurants and bars to choose from.

As Diamond members, the breakfast was included – I think it was around £14. The buffet was pretty good, although I was disappointed to see that premium items, such as eggs benedict were chargeable – if I had paid for breakfast then I’d be pretty upset about that.

It was a hot day and so the restaurant windows had been opened – and that’s never a good idea when there is a buffet and flies can then get in.

We were given a late checkout (1.30pm).

We enjoyed our one-night stay and would definitely consider returning.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
1 Skerne Road,
Kingston upon Thames
KT2 5FJ,
United Kingdom

TEL: +44-203-0960099

http://doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/united-kingdom/doubletree-by-hilton-hotel-london-kingston-upon-thames-LONKTDI/index.html

Sala Azahar Lounge, Seville Airport, Spain

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The Sala Azahar Lounge is the only lounge at Seville Airport and so is used by various airline business travellers, elite card holders and priority pass holders.

The part of the lounge that was open was really small and almost all the seats were taken.

The food and drink selection was probably the worst I’ve seen in an airport lounge, well except in Cuba. Only beer, wine, soft drinks and hot beverages were available – no gin, whisky, vodka.

The only food was in small pre-packed containers, such as this lamentable Caesar Salad – the dressing is a standard size, the only part that they couldn’t miniaturise!

The Wi-fi required users to enter their email address and was effectively the same as the free airport Wi-Fi.

I noticed that there was an area cordoned off at the lounge entrance.

I asked the lady at the lounge reception why this hadn’t been opened up as the lounge was full – she replied that they didn’t have enough staff to service the extended area.

A really terrible lounge and I told them so – they actually dared to leave feedback cards! Contrast this with the excellent lounge at Venice Marco Polo airport which shows how things can be done.

http://www.aena.es/en/sevilla-airport/vip-lounge.html

Czech Repubrick, Prague, Czech Republic

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Czech Repubrick is a Lego model exhibition located in the basement of Hamleys* Toy Store Prague.

I love Lego! Doesn’t everybody love Lego? When I was a kid, Lego just came in boxes of bricks, baseplates and wheels – you invented something every time. These days, there seem to be more pre-designed sets with instructions to build a specific model.

We visited 5.45pm on Saturday 23rd June. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be busy – as it was there were less than 10 visitors while we were there. This may have been because I’d chosen a perfect time, or could be a mixture of lack of awareness and a high ticket price (CZK 290 per adult if bought at the door).

The Lego model displays are numbered and so it’s easy to self-navigate around – which is handy as you aren’t offered any guide on entry. They’d made good use of a giant safe door, left by the bank that previously occupied the building – a model of the Bohemia Crown Jewels.

There was a fantastic model of Saint Vitus Cathedral – someone spent 1800 hours building that and certainly didn’t have any instructions.

The place felt more museum than family attraction – perhaps because it was so quiet, or perhaps because the majority of the models are static and not interactive. The model of Prague Airport in Terminal 2 of Václav Havel Airport is a good example of a great model with plenty of interactive features.

The Amusement Park (not based on anywhere in the Czech Republic) had some buttons to push and some carousels would rotate.

The park also had a roller coaster that ran every 15 minutes.

Here’s a video of the rollercoaster.

Along the side wall were some interactive models – buttons opened this car’s doors and spun the wheels.

For this Rock Concert display, a button started the concert music video, but none of the figures moved around – I suppose I’m asking too much really.

There was a marble track that looked really fascinating – sadly it wasn’t working.

There was an impressive life-size Terminator.

And even more impressive ‘Sally’ figure from ‘Nightmare before Christmas’

The model of the proposed new home for the Czech National Library – known locally as ‘The Blob’ or “Chobotnice” (The Octopus) with design by Jan Kaplicky – shows how versatile Lego can be. I still don’t think the actual building should be constructed though!

The Dancing House is a modern building that I do think fits well into the Prague landscape.

Would have been fun if the trams moved in the model though.

Jested. I love the design of that building and also stayed in the hotel there one time. Look closely (when you visit not at this photo!) and you’ll see that the model maker also included all the detail of the statue Alien by Jaroslav Rona.

The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock were nicely done.

I like to challenge the Czech Repubrick model builders to re-create a larger version of the Astronomical Clock in Lego, with all moving parts matching the original – and I mean when the original has completed it’s repairs.

There was a fun room where you were shrunk into a Lego world – and you could move the Lego around. There were some Lego-style hard hats on the viewing platform and these would have been fun to wear in this room – maybe also some fake Lego hands.

There was a camera obscura room, where images from exterior pinholes were projected onto a screen. To be honest it wasn’t that impressive and I have a feeling most visitors wander in, find the room dark and wander our again.

Our visit lasted about 45 minutes – exit is via a small gift shop with oddly-few Lego sets available. You can continue from there to visit the excellent Papilonia Butterfly House, also in the basement of Hamleys.

We enjoyed our visit, although I think there are rooms for improvement; more enthusiastic staff could be on hand to assist with the displays, interactive pieces and answer questions, a Lego builder on call to repair broken displays and a bit more model movement added. I also think the price is a little high – halving the price would most likely treble the visitor numbers.

But if you love Lego – you should go! There are plenty more models than I featured in this article.

Czech Repubrick
Inside Hamleys Toy Store
Na Příkopě 854/14
110 00 Nové Město

Hours: 10:00 – 20:00

Adult: CZK 247 online CZK 290 door
Children up to 100cm: Free
Family 2+1: CZK 580 online
Family 2+2: CZK 730 online

https://www.czechrepubrick.cz/en/home

Phone: 730 529 612

  • Note that the apostrophe was dropped from Hamleys name around 1911, when they started to be referred to as Messers Hamley Bros. That lasted until about 1920, when the branding became Messrs Hamleys (without the apostrophe). Soon after, it became just Hamleys.

 

9000 Avios for around EUR 25 – Iberia Plus promotion closes 24th June

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25th June update: All everyone can do now is wait 10 days and see if the points appear in their Iberia Plus Accounts. After that the next challenge will be finding award availability before December 1st 2018.

24th June 2018 update: I’m reading stories about how whole families have purchased ten tickets each – mostly on the Santander – Madrid route. As the lowest-priced tickets get harder to find, some have commented that it would be possible to purchase a fully-refundable ticket for January 2019, get 9000 Avios and spend them before December 2018, then refund the ticket. I’m starting to feel sorry for the marketing person at Iberia who came up with this offer – I’m sure they thought it looked good on a whiteboard!

Iberia have released a promotion that seems almost to good to be true: Book any one-way flight on Iberia/Iberia Express and receive 9000 Avios in your Iberia Plus account. Points must be spent by 1st December 2018.

I found one-way flights Santandar – Madrid in January 2019 for EUR 24. Note that you don’t have to fly on the flight to collect the bonus Avios.

9000 Avios, plus a service fee of around EUR35, should be enough for a European return flight in economy. And as Iberia is part of One World, there is the possibility of a London-Prague return on BA for EUR 60.

Their offer is only available until Sunday 24th June and if you don’t already have an Iberia Plus account then you may be cutting it fine. If you do register a new Iberia Plus account, use the same address details as your other One World loyalty cards – just in case your able to transfer the points out of Iberia Plus.

The deal is here: https://www.iberia.com/gb/offer/iberia-plus/win-a-trip-with-avios/

The cheapest fares I found were SDR-MAD in January 2019. Next cheapest were MAD-PMI in February 2019.

Here are some terms and conditions that are relevant:

  • You must book on the Iberia website for a flight operated by Iberia or Iberia Express – so don’t book a codeshare flight operated by BA or another One World carrier.
  • For each flight booked, Iberia say that 9000 Avios will be credited to your Iberia Plus account within 10 days of the booking, not the flight.
  • You don’t need to take the flight but you can’t cancel the flight and ask for money back.
  • You need to spend the Avios on award bookings by 1st December 2018. If you’re used to additional reward availability as a BA Gold, you won’t see this as a new low-tier Iberia Plus member.
  • Iberia say that if you transfer the Avios to your BA account, your Iberia Plus account will show a negative balance – but I guess if you only opened the account for this promotion, you may not care. Not sure if Iberia would try and claw the Avios back again though.
  • Maximum Avios from this promotion is 90,000 – so you can book ten flights.

This certainly looks like a good offer, although you can never be sure how it will play out. For example, if there are thousands of people with lots of Avios, you may find it difficult to redeem them before 1st December 2018. Nonetheless, I’ve booked a few Iberia flights just so I didn’t miss out.

There is also one extra possible bonus: If the flight, that you never intended to fly, is cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation under EU rule 261/2004.

Royal Alcázar of Seville, Andalusia, Spain

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The Royal Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. The palace and nearby Cathedral were registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as their official residence in Seville. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

We arrived mid afternoon and found a long line outside – this was to purchase entry tickets. There wasn’t any wait for pre-purchased online tickets. So I went on the site with my phone and bought two tickets for almost immediate entry (EUR 12.50 per person).

The large Palace and Gardens were beautiful. In some strange way, the place reminded me of Portmerion Village in Wales.

If you’re sightseeing in Seville then it should be second on your list; number 1, the Plaza de España and number 3, The Cathedral.

Pictures at the end of this article.

Royal Alcázar of Seville
Patio de Banderas, s/n. 41004 – Sevilla

October to March:Monday to Sunday 09:30 to 17:00.
April to September: Monday to Sunday, 09:30 to 19:00.
Closed on the 1st and 6th of January, Good Friday and the 25th of December.

http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/english-version/

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Seville Cathedral), Andalusia, Spain

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The 16th century Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville. It is apparently the third-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church. Since the world’s two largest churches (the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica) are not the seats of bishops, Seville Cathedral is still the largest cathedral in the world.

Entry is EUR 9.00 per person – we found out later that this also provides entry to the Salvador Church – wherever that is. It’s possible to book online, but there wasn’t a queue.

It’s certainly an impressive church. If you’re sightseeing in Seville then it should be third on your list; number 1, the Plaza de España and number 2, Alcázar palace.

Pictures at the end of this article.

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See
Av. de la Constitución
s/n, 41004
Sevilla
Spain

Visiting hours:
Monday from 11:00 to 15:30 pm
Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 to 17:00
Sunday from 14:30 to 18:00 hours.

http://www.catedraldesevilla.es/

Las Setas de Sevilla, (Mushrooms of Seville also known as Metropol Parasol)

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Las Setas de Sevilla (mushrooms) is a wooden structure located at La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, Spain. It was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011. The structure is huge; 150m long x 70m wide and 26m high.

The mushrooms completely fill what could be a pleasant square – they would be more impressive in a larger open area where they be viewed from a distance.

The mushrooms didn’t look like they were made from wood – everything looked like metal or some other man-made material.

I like some modern buildings. I’m fine with the Louvre glass pyramid for example. But the mushrooms are out of place here and I’m sure the residents of the surrounding buildings don’t appreciate the view from their windows.

The cost to build was originally estimated at EUR 50 million, but is now said to have cost EUR 100 million. It seems a lot for what is a giant folly, imposing itself on the surroundings, without much architectural merit.

Nonetheless, as tourists, we felt duty bound to visit and take the elevator to the top. The price was EUR 3 per person and apparently included a free drink from the bar at the top. We reached the bar and found this sign:

So much for the ‘free’ drink – they’d be better not to offer anything because I immediately felt cheated.

The walkways around the top were impressive, although if I had to climb stairs, rather than take the elevator, I would have been disappointed. I’ve pasted pictures at the end of this article.

Sevilla Mushrooms
Plaza de la Encarnación, 14, 1ºB
41003 Sevilla – Spain

Sunday – Thursday: 10.00 – 23.00
Friday & Saturday: 10.00 – 23.30
Access to the viewpoint is in the basement next to the entrance to the Antiquarium
The ticket office closes 30 minutes before closing time

info@setasdesevilla.com

https://setasdesevilla.com/?r=1&A=1600