Some quick tips and pointers (mainly of where to drink) from a few cities I’ve visited in the last couple of years: San Francisco, Las Vegas, Copenhagen, Mumbai and Goa. It is by no means comprehensive, but hopefully at least a tiny bit helpful…
Sunny, laidback and steep was what I was expecting of San Francisco. What I found was something more edgy, cloudy, but still steep (geographically and price-wise).
There are of course scores of bars to choose from, these are three that stood out for me:
- Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, Fairmont Hotel
Experience a tropical thunderstorm indoors, complete with rain and lightening, at this tiki bar. Get there for happy hour for tasty tropical libations at a reasonable price. You may find yourself standing if you’re not staying for dinner. We chose to move on across the road to…
- Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins
This piano bar offers panoramic views of the city from the hotel’s 19th floor. Think low lights and the murmur of conversation over the tinkling of the ivories.
- Charmaine’s Rooftop bar and lounge
The name sums it up. We sipped cocktails around a fire pit on the terrace.
Other San Francisco tips:
- Visit Sausalito on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge to watch the sun gleaming on the water. I had fish tacos at the Bridgewater Cafe then amazing vegan peanut butter ice cream from Pick me up chocolate.
- If, like us, you don’t manage to book an Alcatraz tour well in advance, you can still get to the island by booking a hop on hop off bus tour. It’s worth the trip (plus you can get good photos of the city from the island and ferry).
Disneyland for grown ups is how we summed up Vegas, with its replica Eiffel Tower, Venice canals, pyramids etc. It is what it is.
There’s a dizzying array of places to choose from. For a blingy setting for your drinks, with lots of nearby dining options try:
- The Chandelier, The Cosmopolitan
Drink well thought out cocktails while sitting in the middle of a multi-storey chandelier.
Las Vegas tips
- Depending on your priorities and budget, I would recommend getting out to the Grand Canyon. We splashed out on a helicopter ride, with a stop off to look out over the Colorado River. We did this instead of going to a show or gambling (though I did splash out $3 on a roulette machine).
- If you like unusual landscapes, head to the Valley of Fire State Park, for its huge sandstone formations.
Unfortunately my first day in Copenhagen was tarnished by the torrential rain that welcomed us and also my wallet being pilfered. It’s also an expensive city, but pretty and the people are friendly. And by the end of the weekend I had been reunited with my wallet (minus cash but still with cards) so thank you to all the people involved in getting it back to me 🙂
The bar I would recommend is:
- The Jane
This woodpanelled bar is still quiet at 10pm, but by midnight opens up into a busy club filled with Copenhagenites.
- It’s easy to get to Malmö by public transport. We went by train and came back by bus over the famous bridge. It’s not worth paying for a tour. Two countries in a day!
- Go to Tivoli Gardens. We didn’t, which I regret.
The best part of Mumbai for me was spending time with my friend who was living there. I had hoped to be more dazzled than I was, but I did like the vibe of:
- Cafe Marina, Sea Palace Hotel
A rooftop bar for cocktails, food and the Indian breeze.
- Be prepared for the fact that Mumbai is pricey. There are bargains to be had at Colaba market even though prices will be inflated for tourists even after haggling. You can pick up edible goodies and silver jewellery for a decent price in the supermarkets and shops around Colaba.
- Bandra West in the north of the city is full of hip bars and Bollywood stars if that’s what you’re after.
We were in Goa in the run up to an election, which meant all bars and clubs stopped serving alcohol and effectively closed around 10.30pm. This just meant evenings out started and ended earlier, which actually wasn’t a bad thing. But it also meant certain clubs didn’t open at all. One that did was:
- Club Cubana
This multi-level, mainly open air, club in the hills has a swimming pool and fire ‘performer’ – we could see the flames from the road below the next day. The cover charge includes drinks (from a limited selection) so please drink responsibly .
- There are plenty of places to eat and drink by Baga beach, though some shacks shut up shop outside of the main tourist season.
- If you’re partial to port and cashew nuts, Goa is the place to make your purchases. You can also pick up pretty homeware at the night market.
- Controversial opinion: the nightlife is probably better in Goa, but the beaches are not as idyllic as Sri Lanka’s…(full disclosure: I’m of Sri Lankan heritage).