Lockdown is becoming harder and harder, especially mentally; while it feels like we are maybe over half way through it, it doesn't feel like we are on the last lap yet either. Writing anything about travel currently, that is positive and not filled with caution or a multitude of caveats is tough too. I could write about looking to the future, but sometimes it seems so unclear; so instead why not just slip back into some good old fashioned nostalgia? Hence for this post I am going to think back to my own top 7 favourite spots to have a beer, maybe like desert Island discs, but based on beer rather than records!
I am not thinking of places where the beer is necessarily cheaper or better or hip nor about drinking vast quantities. Rather just times and places where more by chance, I have been able to sit back, chill, feel like the world has stopped for a few minutes and I would say something like; be able to commune with the Cosmos, or some rubbish like that. However, that would be the beer talking! For me it is a beer, but for you it might be an alternative tipple or a group of memories linked by a non-beverage based theme altogether.
The descriptions are going to be quite short, because rather than self indulgently go on and on about me, what I am hoping to do, is get you thinking of a theme that might link together a few of your own half forgotten special memories. A happy file of things to lodge in your brain for these difficult times, so pour yourself a beer, or whatever, and get thinking!
Place: Seven Stones Pub, St. Martins, Isles of Scilly. UK
Time: 1990's - Present
Beer: Probably a pint of Tribute
Why: Okay so I am biased, because I grew up there; but it is hard to think of a beer garden with a better view, where you can sit on a Summers day and discuss whether the vista looks better with the tide in or out. Just Google it and click on images for some other perspectives.
Beer: Not really important, but probably something like Heineken
Why: I was lucky enough to have the chance to travel to Uganda back in 1999. Things were very different back then, collecting paper vouchers from the newspaper every day for a month, for a half price ticket with BA to Entebbe and flying on a 747 for the first time. I stayed in Kampala the capital, but also had the opportunity to go on a bit of a safari in the West of the country. Due to some trouble the previous year in the vicinity of the hotel from an armed insurgency group called the Lords Resistance Army, there were very few tourists about and I think we were the only ones staying at the hotel. This meant I had the whole pool, see below, to myself and could just surreally swim up to the bar and order a beer from the barman, then take in the views of the Nile and Africa stretching out of sight beyond. Doing some internet research 20+ years later looks like the hotel is there, hope this means things have picked up over time and helped with local jobs etc.
Place: Gravity Bar, Guinness Storehouse Brewery, St. James's Gate, Dublin
Beer: Take a wild guess!
Why: When in Rome dear boy. Where are you going to get a better glass of the black stuff? Even if you don't agree, it is still a pretty good pint, not to mention the view from the seventh floor Gravity Bar of Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains beyond. The pint was included in the entrance ticket; so effectively a free beer, even better!
Place: Playa Blanca Bus Station, Av de las Canarias, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote
Beer: San Miguel
Why: Walking too far from the hotel along the seafront in the heat with no shade from a merciless sun. Then waiting for a bus to save the walk back, finding someone selling small but perfectly cold glasses of ice cold beer for a € at the bus station and getting to sit on a plastic chair chair in the shade while we waited. It might not sound like much but rarely did a beer taste better. It is on google street map here, if you want to look at the minimalist architectural charm of Playa Blanca's public transport hub. However, it felt like Ice Cold in Alex.
Beer: Duff Lite
Why: You have to be a Simpsons fan for this one, but instead of Harry Potter inspired Butter Beer at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade; go to the re-creation/recreation of Moe's Tavern instead; where the attention to detail is just as good. Turn up at 11:00 AM, opening time, it should be quite quiet. Leave your family first in a long attraction queue and tell them you are going off to research another ride. However, make a detour and drop in for a cold glass of Duff Lite, then rejoin them at the front of the queue later and try not to smell of beer. Selfish bad parenting that Homer would be proud of.
Place: Kioni, Ithaca, Greece
Why: On honeymoon in Kefalonia. From memory take the tiny cheap hire car over on the ferry to Ithaca, drive around the North of the Island, the views were amazing; ridiculously picturesque. At some point the road runs out and you are on the waterfront in a small place called Kioni. The only thing the cafe has left is some kind of rice cheese-ball things and beer in those tankards they pull out of a freezer pre-frosted. Sit at a table right on the edge of the tiny harbour and look downwards to see fish swimming about in the clear water below; they seem to like cheese rice balls as well. Probably could never find this place again, even if we tried. The spot I think is here on Google Street View, and below more of the Ithacan coast.
Place: Al faro di Portofino Lounge Bar, Portofino, Liguria, Italy
Beer: Can of Diet Coke, that was €5, not sure what the beer was!
Why: Took the ferry to Portofino, which seems to have an amazing capacity to absorb wave upon wave of the super-rich and super yachts, rubbing shoulders with the little fishing boats and the day trippers. However, you can follow the footpath away from the crowds up the hill to the castle and then beyond out to the end of the peninsular, where just below the lighthouse is a tiny outdoor bar squeezed into the cliff. You can see miles of the Ligurian coast on either side and then far out to sea in front of you; check out the link for the bar here. It feels like you have reached the end of the world.
And just one extra for the road...
Why: Easy to get to via Eurostar, Christmas Markets, tucked away cosy bar, a beer that has to have it's own stand. If the stand becomes to complicated to use then you have had too many!
Thanks for staying with me until closing time, stay safe and look after your happiness. Would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments.