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Top Fives:

What's going on?

Well, as I was trying to pen the mini-travel guides, which you will see popping up over the coming months, it struck me that my mind is full of lists, and I'm forever comparing new experiences with old ones (some would say that's a bad thing, I know!). Anyway, here's a snapshot of my mind right now - obviously more recent trips burn brighter in the recesses of my mind, whilst further away trips may have been romanticised a wee bit. Either way, this may give you an inkling as to whether my opinions are on the same wavelength as your own.

Cheers, Paul

(This section was last updated in June 2003)


Top for drinking

  • Poland (for vodka)
  • Brussels (for excellent, fruity beer)
  • Prague (for excellent, cheap beer)
  • Dusseldorf (for excellent, slightly unusual beer)
  • Lille (for excellent, French beer)

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Top for women

  • Lithuania (Best in the Baltcis)
  • Croatia (Best in the Balkans)
  • Korea (absolutely stunning)
  • Turkey (slightly unhinged)
  • Portugal (rugged, Atlantic and stunning)

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Korean women = gorgeous!

Top for cheapness

  • Prague (for cheap beer)
  • Portugal (cheapest original-EU country)
  • Lithuania (cheap, but getting more expensive)
  • Poland (gallons of vodka)
  • Turkey (prices are merely a suggestion, and an excuse to start a lengthy debate)

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Top pubs

  • A La, Riga Old Town (for sheer out of the way mayhem in the middle of the main road)
  • Pub Medyk, Bydgoszcz, Poland (the archetypal "better pub around the corner")
  • The Scotia, Stockwell Street, Glasgow (old hometown favourite)
  • Waggon & Horses, Surbiton (a real real ale pub in Suburbia)
  • The Fairy Forest, near the Wax Museum in Barcelona (for freakiness, and being rammed with Euro-totty)

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The Scotia - A Glasgow favourite

Top beer

  • Zum Uerige, Dusseldorf (for addictiveness)
  • Branik, Czech Republic (for rarity value - best of a very good lot)
  • Mort Subite, Brussels (for fruitiness and freshness)
  • Guinness, Ireland (for saving me from an acidic lager hell)
  • Sarajevska Pils, Sarajevo (for an unexpected taste sensation)

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Top spirits

  • Killepitsche, Dusseldorf (for herbiness)
  • Becherova, Czech Republic (for being nicer than absinthe)
  • Zubrowka, Polish bison grass vodka (for not giving me nasty hangovers thanks to the apple juice)
  • Rigas Black Balsam, Latvia (as long it's in an ice cream cocktail!)
  • Laphroig, Scotland (as it tastes of Frazzles)

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Zubrowka - can do strange things to a man

Areas for great pubs

  • Altstadt, Dusseldorf ("longest bar in Europe")
  • Old Town, Riga (warm welcomes on cold nights)
  • Old Town, Gdansk (drunken lunacy under every street corner)
  • Alt Sachenhausen, Frankfurt (for ad hoc punk singing from the bar man)
  • Sinchon, Seoul (for drunken rice wine and fruit platter pub crawls)

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Top for unpredictability

  • Hong Kong (for sheer numbers of people in small spaces)
  • Poland (for drunken lunacy at every turn)
  • Turkey (a maverick country full of maverick, but very friendly, people)
  • Bosnia (for Cafe Muppet and wall-to-wall young people)
  • Iceland (for vikings who can't hold their beer)

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Iceland: unpredictable

Top for architecture

  • Gdansk, Poland (for big churches and old cranes)
  • Riga, Latvia (for a restored old town, narrow streets and lots of red brick)
  • Vilnius, Lithuania (for wide, sun-kissed-yet-cold streets and colour)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (for stunning mosques and markets)
  • Hong Kong (for modern architecture in very small spaces)

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Drinks to avoid

  • Stun Commando, Poland (makes Buckfast look sophisticated)
  • Zalgiris Midus, Lithuania (for straw-melting strengths of 75% ABV)
  • Absinthe, Czech Republic (for tasting like petrol)
  • Scrumpy, Bath (for it's sleep inducing powers)
  • Mad Dog 20/20, Milngavie (for un-necessary fruitiness)

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Warning: scrumpy can be dangerous

Places not to go back to

  • Wloclawek, Poland (for being the worst place on the planet, apart from the Warka Strong Club)
  • Teplice, Czech Republic (for not having enough pubs)
  • Rimini, Italy (for being too spread out, and too shut)
  • Paris, France (for fancying itself far too much - you're not that sexy!)
  • Marseille, France (for being too unfriendly)

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