1. GREAT GUIDE IN ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- writes Katlin in Vancouver (WA), USA -- After reading her excellent reviews in Journeywoman, my husband and I hired Sermin Utku for two full days of touring in Istanbul. She was amazing. We visited mosques, museums, the Grand Bazaar and much, much more. We enjoyed lunches with her and learned about Turkish culture and how to navigate the city on our own. She also helped us avoid all the people trying to sell us rugs and tours that weren't of interest. Our visit was incredibly enriched by her knowledge and skills as a guide. She is a wonderful person, too! Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's another 20 archived women-centered tips about Istanbul. Click here!
2. WIFE AND HUSBAND OWNED RESTAURANT IN PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO -- writes Margaret in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- I would like to recommend Layla's Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta. Layla's is owned and operated by Isabel (born in Mexico) and her husband Rodrigo. Their wonderful chef is Mario. This team spent several years learning the restaurant trade in the USA and Mario attended the Culinary Institute of
America in New York. Layla's is a small, air-conditioned, clean and nicely-appointed restaurant in a local neighbourhood, yet close to the Malecon (boardwalk) area of Puerto Vallarta. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is a Mexican/International fusion and Mario likes to experiment. Ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible. Isabel and Rodrigo welcome you like family. English is spoken which is an added benefit. Website: www.vallartadaily.com/laylas-restaurant-puerto-vallarta-mexico/
3. MY PACKING SECRETS -- writes Jean in Madison, USA -- I'm a retired flight attendant. For travel to Europe I take two pairs of slacks and one or two skirts and top them with jackets /blazer/cardigans. Now here is my #1 packing secret. Before departure look In Goodwill Shops, The Salvation Army retail outlets and other thrift shops for notch collared blouses (almost any size works). With a pinking shears cut them into 'Dickies,' then wash and iron them using spray starch. Layering these dickies under a sweater or jacket is a nice, neat look and will take you anywhere. Here's my 2nd packing secret. Use this math formula: number of days of trip divided by two, minus one, equals the number of outfits needed. For example: A ten day trip is 10 divided by 2 = 5 - 1 = 4 outfits. Along with walking shoes, undies and sleepwear, a scarf or two, and some jewelry you will have everything you need.
4. MORE PACKING ADVICE -- writes Kathy in Austin, Texas -- I have not yet seen this tip on Journeywoman's website but we found it very useful on our trip last year. Balloons are Inexpensive and take little room in your suitcase. Instead of packing blow up hangers for hanging our laundry we took some long skinny balloons (like those used for creating balloon creatures). Prior to travelling we filled them with air, did not tie them up, and then let the air out so they would be ready for use. Along the way, when washing shirts we slipped the balloon through the sleeves and then hung the laundry to dry. Works perfectly every time.
5. YOU'VE READ THIS TIP BEFORE BUT TAKE NOTE AGAIN -- writes Carolyn from Ann Arbor, USA -- As a solo woman traveller I try to take as many safety precautions as possible. I always carry a rubber door stop in my luggage. It stays in my bag from trip to trip. It's easy to pick up at the Dollar Store. These door stops are small, portable and it takes only a minute to slip one under your door for a good worry-free night's sleep. Remember, in some hotels or B&Bs there are no chain locks and you never know who else has a key to your room.
6. WONDERFUL BED AND BREAKFAST IN PRAGUE --writes Sandra in Vancouver, Canada -- I'd like to recommend a wonderful B & B we stayed in in Prague last June. The Lida Guest House is run by two brothers and their wives. Their full breakfast kept us going for the day. Still, there were snacks and drinks available anytime. Our room itself was lovely including a french door onto a big grassy area at the rear of the building. Two of us shared the room and it never felt too small. Lida Guest House is a short walk to the subway and two stops to the centre of town. We were there for a few days before our scheduled tour started and it allowed us to get over jet lag and see some parts of town we wouldn't have seen otherwise. Our hosts arranged for a pick up from the airport and later drove us to the hotel when our tour started. Website: Lida Guest House
7. CASUAL AND HEALTH CONSCIOUS FOOD IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- writes Bonny in Phoenix, USA -- In my Arizona area I love the local chain of casual and health conscious restaurants called, 'Pita Jungle.' They serve Mediterranean and Lebanese food and I love everything on their menu. You can also enjoy great vegetarian choices like Black Bean Burgers and Lentil Fetoosh Salad. A must try if you are in this part of the United States. Website: www.pitajungle.com
8. DRIVING IN FRANCE? -- writes Lyz in Vancouver, Canada -- I want to advise other JourneyWomen with rental cars in France to prepare your money ahead of time for France's toll roads. There is not one system for paying tolls on France's autoroutes. Sometime you throw change into a net. Sometimes you insert coins, cash or credit card and sometime you pay a real person. It is important to know that the automatic tolls don't take Canadian credit cards, despite what my French friends told me. Once I learned this I kept on hand coins (1 or 2 euros, plus smaller change) and bills in the 5 or 10 euro size. Unfortunately this didn't work at one toll where only credit cards were accepted so had to ring for attendant while cars backed up behind me. But ... c'est la vie.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please don't go to Paris without this list of restaurants from our Journeywoman archives. Click here!
9. EAT WELL WITH LOCALS IN ROME -- writes Gerry in Madison, USA -- Recently I was in Rome and read about a restaurant named, Ristorante Maccheroni. We found our way to it and had both a lunch and dinner there. It's located close to Campo Fiori (in the historical center of the city). It's not a very big place but there are also some tables along the perimeter, outside. The staff is really great, the food wonderful and the prices, fair (not too expensive, at all). We loved it both times and enjoyed the mix of locals and British diners seated around us. The funny thing is I was just re-reading my copy of 'Living in a Foreign Language' by Michael Tucker (published in 2007) and read about Maccheroni there, too. My advice is that this small eatery is truly worth seeking out. Address: Piazza delle Coppelle, 44, 00186 Roma.
10. EAT WELL WITH LOCALS IN MODICA, ITALY -- writes Deborah in Cambridge, USA -- My tip is that I found a fabulous, local, Sicilian restaurant in Modica. It's called, Osteria dei Sapori Perduti and it serves authentic Sicilian food. The evening we were there we were part of a good mix of locals and tourists. For effect they give you the menu written in dialect first but then help you with your choices. I think my three courses and a half liter of wine came to under 25 euros and was it ever good! Address: Corso Umberto I, 228, 97015 Modica RG, Italy
11. SAVE MONEY ON FOOD WITH THIS TRAVEL ITEM -- writes Janet in Vancouver, Canada -- While traveling on the Amtrak train from Tucson to San Antonio, I noticed two Asian girls using a mini Japanese rice cooker plugged into an electrical outlet in their seating area. We ended up sharing a hotel room and they used this cooker every night to cook simple meals. It was a great way to keep expenses down when you're backpacking. If you google 'travel rice cooker' you'll find dozens of manufacturers listed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I googled this product and while I found rice cookers that would work when travelling by car, I couldn't find a small enough one (sold in North America) that would fit in a backpack. There were some sold in Japan though. Hopefully some of you will be luckier than me. I love this concept of a mini cooker.
12. A RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION IN MADRID -- writes Sylvana in São Paulo, Brazil -- While I don't live in Madrid I have family living there so I visit almost every year. Each visit I go back to a restaurant called, 'Cornucopia' which is located at calle Navas de Tolosa, 9, within walking distance from Puerta del Sol (in the city centre). Best way for me to describe it? I would call it, 'affordable creative contemporary Spanish cuisine.' Their website lists their menu and hours. Give it a try! www.restaurantecornucopia.com/
EDITOR'S NOTE: If you'll be travelling in Spain, this archived article is packed with tips about Barcelona. Click here!
BONUS TIP - EXCELLENT FISH RESTAURANT IN VENICE, ITALY -- writes Monica in Venice, Italy -- This is a very small but particular restaurant: the owner and the setting just make it stand out from many other restaurants in Venice. The name of the restaurant is Ae Cravate which means The Ties and to live up to its name the place is literally covered with ties, hanging on the walls. To make it even more particular the place does not have either a fixed menu or a paper menu. The recipes on offer vary every day and they are displayed on a blackboard outside the place. Then, if you manage to get a table, 'cause the place is always pretty full, the owner comes and tells you what is on offer that day. This assures you will definitely have fresh ingredients in your food, since the recipes are prepared according to what's on offer in the market that day. They mainly cook fish, so don't go there if you don't eat fish. Ae Cravate is very small, around 20-30 seats, so make sure to book or be prepared to wait. I recommend a mixed fish platter and their home made cakes. Delicious! Please remember it is closed on Sundays. Address: 35/37 Santa Croce, at the end of Fondamenta Minotto, literally 200 metres from Trattoria Alla Rosa Dei Venti. Tel: 041 528 79 12
EDITOR'S NOTE: Here are six more recommended restaurants in Venice. Click here!
FOR OUR NEXT NEWSLETTER WE ARE LOOKING FOR TIPS ABOUT -- Melbourne, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand. Please include your first name and the city you live in along with your tip. The prize which will be drawn at random is a newly published women's travel book (that's all I will say about it now). We're looking for advice about small hotels, bed and breakfasts, museums, things to do, coffee houses, restaurants, book stores, etc. Of course we'll share everything we receive with all of you! Send your tips to email@example.com. Put 'Australia and New Zealand' in the subject line.
PAST LINKS -- If you didn't read 'Best Tips for December' CLICK HERE, 'Best Tips for November' CLICK HERE
For oodles of more travel tips