Report Cards for May '10

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News from NETHERLANDS

Tulips B&B (Sloterkade 65, Amsterdam; phone 31 [0] 20 679 2753, fax [0] 20 408-3028) — located at the south end of Vondelpark, close to two major tram lines and very quiet.

Our canal-view room was quiet, comfy and sparkling clean. We booked online for €85 (cash only) per room per night for March 25-28, 2010. For breakfast, there’s a small kitchen area in the hall with cereal, milk, tea and coffee.

The hosts, Paul and Karen, are terrific. Paul’s map of the neighborhood and Amsterdam is excellent. Extra touches include a cell phone for visitors’ use, secure WiFi connection, and Bessen Jenever gin in the room.

We loved it and will go back.

— Nylah Chilton, McMinnville, OR

News from GREECE…

In Athens, the restaurant Aspro Alogo (4 Patrou, Athens; phone 210 32 20 551). Directions — from Syntagma Square, head west (Parliament building behind you) along Mitropoleos, staying on left side of street. Patrou will be the third cross street; take a left going up hill almost to end of street (Hermes Hotel will be in front of you). Restaurant will be on your left.

Do not be turned off by its looks. (If it’s glitz you are seeking, this is not the place for you.) It’s very basic, with a few tables inside and two or three tables crowded on the sidewalk.

We found this one of our best Greek experiences. Marco, the owner, will welcome you and will prepare whatever you might like. For us, he prepared roast chicken with potatoes and eggplant, a large Greek salad, generous amounts of hot bread (prepared with olive oil and spices) and a delicious fresh coconut cake. All of this plus both red and white wine cost €42 ($57), March 18.

For quality and quantity you will be hard-pressed to find a better meal than this.

— John Grady, Spring, TX

News from ITALY…

Est! Est!! Est!!! Ristoranti Pizzeria (Via Principe Amedeo, 4a, 00184 Rome) is family-run, and the undisputed boss is “Mama.” Just under five feet tall, she orchestrates the front-of-house staff strictly, while circulating among guests to make sure everyone is happy.

Pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, salad and wine cost about €30 ($41) for two. So good, we went three times, March 6-11!

The two small dining rooms fill up fast for dinner. Best to arrive 6:30-7 p.m.

• We took a half-day tour in Rome on March 9 that started at Piazza Navona and visited churches, fountains and piazzas mentioned in Dan Brown’s book “Angels and Demons.”

While still in the US, we booked it on the Internet with Dark Rome Tours & Walks (phone +39 0698968955) — $76.37 per person. Partly on foot, partly in a minibus, with a stop for included coffee.

The excellent guide, Roberto, explained the history and art of each place plus was able to tell us whenever the book departed from reality. The tour itself was fascinating but was made unforgettable by his energy, personality and knowledge.

We began with 12 people but finished with nine due to the awful weather (people not dressed for driving rain). The tour, which was to last only four hours, ran to five because of weather, traffic (demonstrations closed some streets) and the interest of the people, which caused Roberto to spend more time explaining things (which was wonderful, even though we were chilled to the bone).

— Florence Drake, Readfield, ME

News from ENGLAND…

My wife and I have been visiting London for many decades, and we always have an urge for good Indian curry. Having eaten in many restaurants over the years, we continue to gravitate to our favorite, which is Bombay Spice (55 Paddington St., London W1U 4HP, U.K.; phone 020 7224 0954), located off Marylebone High Street, close to Marble Arch.

On this visit, Feb. 14, after perusing the fine selection of tandoori, biryani and vindaloo dishes, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner of Madras chicken curry and chicken tikka masala. We had mango chutney and raita as side dishes, accompanied by plenty of naan bread (freshly made) and plain and pilau rice.

The whole meal cost £22 and 90p ($36), including tip — very reasonable, considering the prices in London. Open noon to midnight.

— Bernard Goodhead, La Jolla, CA

News from ETHIOPIA…

My family and I enjoyed an outstanding private tour in Ethiopia for two weeks, Jan. 8-22, 2010, booked with Sunny Land Ethiopia Tours (P.O. Box 24547, code 1000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; phone +251 912 077746). $1,450 per person.

This company tailored the trip to our interests and abilities, and we highly recommend them.

Our energetic tour guide, Tseegab Getachew (goes by “Abita”), made his country come alive for us, introducing us to great local food, unique shops and interesting birding sites. His English was excellent as he shared his extensive knowledge of Ethiopia’s history and culture.

We had booked our trip in two segments, one for the north historic loop and another for the southern parks. Abeta met us first for the north loop, and we liked him so much that we arranged for him to be our guide for the south.

— Ann Cabot, Austin, TX

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News from NETHERLANDS

Tulips B&B (Sloterkade 65, Amsterdam; phone 31 [0] 20 679 2753, fax [0] 20 408-3028) — located at the south end of Vondelpark, close to two major tram lines and very quiet.

Our canal-view room was quiet, comfy and sparkling clean. We booked online for €85 (cash only) per room per night for March 25-28, 2010. For breakfast, there’s a small kitchen area in the hall with cereal, milk, tea and coffee.

The hosts, Paul and Karen, are terrific. Paul’s map of the neighborhood and Amsterdam is excellent. Extra touches include a cell phone for visitors’ use, secure WiFi connection, and Bessen Jenever gin in the room.

We loved it and will go back.

— Nylah Chilton, McMinnville, OR

News from GREECE…

In Athens, the restaurant Aspro Alogo (4 Patrou, Athens; phone 210 32 20 551). Directions — from Syntagma Square, head west (Parliament building behind you) along Mitropoleos, staying on left side of street. Patrou will be the third cross street; take a left going up hill almost to end of street (Hermes Hotel will be in front of you). Restaurant will be on your left.

Do not be turned off by its looks. (If it’s glitz you are seeking, this is not the place for you.) It’s very basic, with a few tables inside and two or three tables crowded on the sidewalk.

We found this one of our best Greek experiences. Marco, the owner, will welcome you and will prepare whatever you might like. For us, he prepared roast chicken with potatoes and eggplant, a large Greek salad, generous amounts of hot bread (prepared with olive oil and spices) and a delicious fresh coconut cake. All of this plus both red and white wine cost €42 ($57), March 18.

For quality and quantity you will be hard-pressed to find a better meal than this.

— John Grady, Spring, TX

News from ITALY…

Est! Est!! Est!!! Ristoranti Pizzeria (Via Principe Amedeo, 4a, 00184 Rome) is family-run, and the undisputed boss is “Mama.” Just under five feet tall, she orchestrates the front-of-house staff strictly, while circulating among guests to make sure everyone is happy.

Pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, salad and wine cost about €30 ($41) for two. So good, we went three times, March 6-11!

The two small dining rooms fill up fast for dinner. Best to arrive 6:30-7 p.m.

• We took a half-day tour in Rome on March 9 that started at Piazza Navona and visited churches, fountains and piazzas mentioned in Dan Brown’s book “Angels and Demons.”

While still in the US, we booked it on the Internet with Dark Rome Tours & Walks (phone +39 0698968955) — $76.37 per person. Partly on foot, partly in a minibus, with a stop for included coffee.

The excellent guide, Roberto, explained the history and art of each place plus was able to tell us whenever the book departed from reality. The tour itself was fascinating but was made unforgettable by his energy, personality and knowledge.

We began with 12 people but finished with nine due to the awful weather (people not dressed for driving rain). The tour, which was to last only four hours, ran to five because of weather, traffic (demonstrations closed some streets) and the interest of the people, which caused Roberto to spend more time explaining things (which was wonderful, even though we were chilled to the bone).

— Florence Drake, Readfield, ME

News from ENGLAND…

My wife and I have been visiting London for many decades, and we always have an urge for good Indian curry. Having eaten in many restaurants over the years, we continue to gravitate to our favorite, which is Bombay Spice (55 Paddington St., London W1U 4HP, U.K.; phone 020 7224 0954), located off Marylebone High Street, close to Marble Arch.

On this visit, Feb. 14, after perusing the fine selection of tandoori, biryani and vindaloo dishes, we enjoyed a sumptuous dinner of Madras chicken curry and chicken tikka masala. We had mango chutney and raita as side dishes, accompanied by plenty of naan bread (freshly made) and plain and pilau rice.

The whole meal cost £22 and 90p ($36), including tip — very reasonable, considering the prices in London. Open noon to midnight.

— Bernard Goodhead, La Jolla, CA

News from ETHIOPIA…

My family and I enjoyed an outstanding private tour in Ethiopia for two weeks, Jan. 8-22, 2010, booked with Sunny Land Ethiopia Tours (P.O. Box 24547, code 1000, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; phone +251 912 077746). $1,450 per person.

This company tailored the trip to our interests and abilities, and we highly recommend them.

Our energetic tour guide, Tseegab Getachew (goes by “Abita”), made his country come alive for us, introducing us to great local food, unique shops and interesting birding sites. His English was excellent as he shared his extensive knowledge of Ethiopia’s history and culture.

We had booked our trip in two segments, one for the north historic loop and another for the southern parks. Abeta met us first for the north loop, and we liked him so much that we arranged for him to be our guide for the south.

— Ann Cabot, Austin, TX