Albe Hôtel Saint-Michel, Paris, France

After a bit of a train delay on the RER B I arrived at Gare de Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame. I then proceeded, as is my way, to lose my bearings and go in completely the wrong direction and exit the station 500 metres from my hotel. If I’d actually looked at the signs, and exited towards Notre-Dame I would have surfaced, by way of a lift, about 50 metres from my hotel. But in the end I had to haul my luggage up the stairs and double back about 450 metres.

Arriving around 10am my room was clean and free, and I was able to checkin.

First impression was that the room was small, but, in hindsight, I didn’t notice the size of the room as the week went on. It was large enough for one person. Walls are a little thin so you will notice your neighbours.

There was a large, and very comfortable, double bed with decent pillows.

The bathroom came with a shower and was a decent size. Though, if you have a late shower you were fighting for hot water with the other guests.

Next to the bed there is a full length window that opened out onto Rue De La Harpe which is a busy street. I was on the second floor and, apart from Friday and Saturday nights, when it was very noisy, I was able to leave the window open to get some fresh, and at times, very cold air.

The TV is a small monitor mounted just above the writing desk, so not the most convenient to watch.

The wifi in the room was woeful though. I had to resort to using my mobile connection a couple of time to be able to do anything 🙁

I opted to pay for breakfast which was a basic, self service continental breakfast. Bacon, eggs, breads, cereal, pastries along with juices, tea and coffee. For €15 it was a great investment to be able to have a full tank for exploring Paris.

Hotel is in a great location and I would have no qualms with staying here again. The hotel is right on top of Gare de Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame metro and RER station. Also a 5 minute walk from Cité metro station a, and 10 minute walk from Châtelet mega metro station. Notre-Dame Cathedral is a 5 minute walk, and there are 100 restaurants and plenty of bars within ~500 metres of the hotel… as I said, it’s a great location.

The view from my room shows the quaint Parisian street the hotel is on.

Just a word of warning, Gare de Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame station is a den of pick-pocketing thieves. As I was leaving to head to Amsterdam, two dodgy Africans tried to pick pocket me. I was lucky enough to notice that I was being sized up while I waited on the platform so was able to keep my whits about me and scream at them as they made their move. Fucking scum!

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Fatt’s Place, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Just down the road from The Hart hotel is Fatt’s Place, a bar with a decent beer selection, good food choices, and quite well priced.

I visited Fatt’s last time I was in Hong Kong and, as I had to check out of my hotel at 1pm and wasn’t flying out of Hong Kong until midnight, I decided to pop in for lunch and a couple of beers so I didn’t get wet during the passing rain.

The bar itself is quite small. Maybe 15 metres by 15 metres and probably has less than 25 tables. It opens directly onto Hart Avenue. At the back is the bar and to the right the kitchen. As is normal there was table service.

For my meal I decided on a Chow Yun burger which is a 150g beef burger with guacamole and hickory smoked bacon.

The real surprise is the beer list,  how extensive it is, and how good the beers are!

I started off with a bucket of refreshing Hoegaarden as it was warm (29) and humid due to the rain. It was only then that I noticed other tables ordering some more “exotic” beers and decided to go a little more up market.

I then settled down for a couple of Duvel’s and a Chimay Blue before deciding that I needed to stay sober enough to get to the airport for my flight to Paris.

The beers were superb and the burger tasty and filling and the prices for the burger and beer was very reasonable.

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Hung Lee Kitchen, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

After checking in at Hart Hotel I wanted to revisit a close by restaurant I’d previously visited by the name of Hung Lee Kitchen.

It was probably close on 8 or 8:30pm by the time I walked in. The restaurant was still busy but there were spare seats so I was quickly seated in a booth and given a menu.

I immediately ordered a long neck of Tsing Tao while I decided what I wanted to eat.

By the time my bottle of beer arrived I’d decided to have a combination of crispy roast pork and roast goose with a bowl of white rice.

Quite quickly my dishes arrived and I dived into two of my favorite meats.

Goose is a relatively expensive meat but it’s certainly worth the extra cash.

Hung Lee Kitchen is certainly worth a visit if you like good Chinese food and are in Tsim Sha Tsui.

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Hart Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

After the quick train ride on the Airport Express from Hong Kong International Airport to Kowloon station followed by a short taxi ride I was at my hotel in the bustling Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood of Kowloon.

Hotel reception is on the 10th floor, so up I went in the lifts that looked like they were being refurbished. The reception area has a modern, industrial feel and the staff were friendly and efficient.

Access to guest floors needs you to swipe your access card which is good as the lifts open up almost directly onto the street on the ground floor. There is, however, an art to swiping your card and pressing the floor number. I just employed the swipe, press, swipe, press method until my floor was selected.

The rooms are very small. I had 2 double beds which took up probably 70% of the wooden floor space.

In the corner of the room is the “bathroom” that consists of  a clear glass door that opens into the toilet cubicle. Given I was in a double room, if you were sharing you’d want to know the other room occupant very, very well, as there’s no privacy while you’re sitting on the crapper.

To have a shower you proceeded through the toilet cubicle into the shower cubicle, and then closed the second clear glass door behind you.

If the curtains in the room windows were open the inhabitants of the the building opposite would get a quite regular, and very disturbing, eyeful. The only saving grace is that it was almost impossible to open the curtains as that required me to climb over one of the beds to get access to them.

The walls between the rooms are quite thin and you can hear everything that your neighbours say and do.

On the plus sides, the hotel wifi was excellent and you can’t fault the location. Walking out of the lifts you have access to hundreds of restaurants and you’re only a 5 minutes walk from the bustling thoroughfare of Nathan Road (and the associated touts 🙁 ).

For a quick, one night stopover with easy access to transportation, food and shopping this is a decent place.

But if I were staying in Hong Kong for more than a night I would find the rooms too claustrophobic and would need to stay elsewhere.

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Curry Vault, Melbourne, Australia

It had been a little while since I’d been to the Curry Vault in Bank Place but having seen an episode of the Travel Channel show Food Paradise International (episode Hot & Spicy Paradise 2) that featured the Curry Vault’s Lamb Vindaloo I decided that I had to visit again.

The publicity must have worked as at dinner time on this Monday public holiday there were a fair few people already enjoying their meals when we arrived.

I mentioned the TV show when I ordered our beers and soon the owner was at our table talking with us about the show and the lamb vindaloo that was the topic of the show.

While I like spicy food, it can’t be over the top stupidly spicy. Luckily the lamb vindaloo can be ordered in a number of intensities. There was no way I was going to try what they had cooked on the show, so we went for a mild version.

Along with the vindaloo we ordered onion bhaji for starters and a chilli chicken for a 2nd main. We also got a couple of servings of rice and garlic naan.

The onion bhaji, and complimentary poppadoms, were dispatched is record time and then out came the mains. The smells of the spices were sublime and it was with trepidation that I tasted the vindaloo expecting my tongue to recoil in horror. I was pleasantly surprised by the mild spiciness and overall great taste.

The chilli chicken was mild as well which made for a great meal that you could actually taste rather than just assaulting your taste buds.

One starter, two mains, two naans and rice were just the perfect size for the 2 of us.

Curry Vault would have to be one of the better Indian Restaurants in Melbourne. If you are in the CBD then you should have a meal.

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