All posts written by MrsControlFreak

Café Tabac – Stockholm, Sweden


It had been raining all day in Stockholm. After a visit to the magnificent Grand Palace we wandered the streets until we were soaked through. My jeans were so wet that they started to fall down. Worried that I may scare innocent bystanders, we sought the sanctuary of our hotel for a while, dried out, made a cuppa, and watched the news. But now we were hungry, and could not agree on a restaurant or even a style of cuisine. Armed with umbrellas, we ventured out once more. Tempers soon began to fray as we stopped outside every restaurant on our route, read the menu, and bickered over its suitability. Then finally, we found a haven in Café Tabac.

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Michelangelo Restaurant – Stockholm, Sweden


Situated in Stockholm’s picturesque Old Town, this family-run trattoria claims to be one of the city’s most respected Italian restaurants. It was opened in 1973 by Sicilian-born Nick Nicastro and his brother Salvatore, and these gentlemen are still running the business today.

The interior of this popular eatery is typically Italian, reminiscent of those little trattorias I used to visit with my folks in rural Italy. The walls and ceiling are decorated with reproductions of Michelangelo’s paintings. Vying for space between scenes from the Sistine Chapel are many photographs of the Nicastro family posing with famous visitors, including Luciano Pavarotti. Tables are tucked into every nook and cranny, but the atmosphere is relaxed and the staff are very friendly.

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Polpette Restaurant – Stockholm, Sweden


In Italian, the word ‘polpette’ means ‘meatballs’ – a dish Italy and Sweden have in common. Situated on a busy pedestrianised shopping street, this restaurant offers both Swedish and Italian cuisine, as well as some fusion dishes.

The interior of the restaurant is elegantly furnished; soft lighting creates a cosy ambience. The tables are closely packed together, and it seems the Swedes are even more avid in their people watching than I am, so I felt a bit like a goldfish in a bowl at first. But the amiable staff and enticing menu soon made me forget about the nosy folk at the next table.

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Freys Hotel – Stockholm, Sweden


The Freys Hotel is located in central Stockholm, a few minutes’ walk from the Arlanda Express station. It shares its name with a famous horse who won a prestigious distance race between Stockholm and Jönköping in 1895. Recently refurbished, this 4-star boutique hotel offers 124 rooms over six floors. Some rooms have balconies and there is also a sauna, although I conveniently forgot my swimsuit (still working on that elusive bikini body).

We had booked two rooms: a superior twin room and a smaller twin room. Maternal paranoia kicked in when we discovered the superior room was on the sixth floor, but the kids’ room was way down on the first floor. Hubbie pointed out that, since our offspring are aged twenty and fourteen, they could probably cope. The kids, of course, were delighted.

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Amarone, Edinburgh – UK

For Mother’s Day this year, I was treated to lunch at Amarone, an Italian restaurant housed in what used to be a city centre bank.  The restaurant claims to model its contemporary interior on a typical Milanese restaurant, and I was certainly impressed with the simple but stylish décor.  On arrival we were greeted immediately and shown to our table by a friendly member of staff.

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Pizza Express, Queen Street, Glasgow – UK

GermWe recently took a trip to Glasgow to show Number One Son the beautiful Christmas lights and bring Student Daughter home for a bath and some home cooking.  Organised as ever (or just being a control freak), I went online and booked a table at Pizza Express.  We visit this restaurant chain frequently in Edinburgh, as it is a good family restaurant which always offers special deals and tasty food.  A quick search online produced an offer for a three-course set menu at £12.95.  Anyone out there with teenagers will understand you need to save the pennies where you can.  I gleefully printed it off and took it with me.

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Cafe Andaluz – Edinburgh, United Kingdom

patterned tileAs a local, I should know better than to venture anywhere near the city centre during the Edinburgh Festival.  But I was presented with a rare opportunity to share a girly lunch with Teenage Daughter before she swans off to university and leaves me with my two menfolk.  Her eatery of choice was Café Andaluz, a tapas restaurant in swanky George Street.

The restaurant is deceptively large and softly-lit by Moroccan-style lanterns suspended from the ceiling.  The walls and floors are decorated with brightly-coloured ceramic tiles, giving the place an authentic Spanish feel. We were greeted immediately on arrival and shown to a table on the upper floor of the restaurant. Continue Reading…

La Piazza, Edinburgh – United Kingdom

High heelsHubby wanted to celebrate our anniversary with dinner at a ‘proper’ restaurant, as opposed to a child-friendly pizza chain restaurant.  I duly booked a table for the four of us at La Piazza for 5.30pm on a Saturday night.  Yes, I realise this is the time when old people and small children have tea, but I had tickets to see ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and didn’t want to be late for my long-awaited session of ogling Christian Bale in the Bat Suit.

Edinburgh is currently under siege from on-going tram works, which will hopefully be completed before I reach pension age and become too decrepit to use a tram.  At the time of writing, the road in Shandwick Place is just a big crater, with little pedestrian bridges set up at intervals along the street. We parked the car about five minutes’ walk from the restaurant and negotiated our way from one side of the street to the other, amongst large groups of confused Japanese tourists.

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Park Inn – York, United Kingdom

Angry Cartoon TVHaving decided I needed a couple of nights away on my lonesome, I used the Avios website to book a two-night stay at the Radisson Park Inn in the beautiful city of York.  The philosophy of this hotel chain is to provide guests with a ‘vibrant and lively’ atmosphere, offering a fun environment and a friendly, welcoming service. The hotels are mid-priced, aimed at business travellers and holidaymakers.

The hotel is ideally situated on the River Ouse, near the city centre.  All the major attractions are within walking distance, and the railway station is five minutes’ walk away.  I started to feel slightly anxious when I saw a group of frankly manly women sitting on the front steps of the hotel smoking and adjusting their underwear.  I politely side-stepped these ladies, avoiding eye-contact, and entered the reception area. It was dark and cheerless, not at all like the bright and happy pictures on the website.  Two receptionists were having a whispered discussion at the end of the reception desk.  While they pretended I was invisible, I quickly twigged that there was a mix-up with a booking for the group of elderly ladies sitting in a corner behind me.  It was five minutes before one of the receptionists said she would be with me in a minute. (No apology for keeping me waiting.)  Eventually, she checked me in, while on the phone to someone else.  My key card was almost thrown at me.  No eye contact, no helpful information, no smile.  Nada.  Where was the ‘friendly and welcoming hospitality’ raved about on their website?

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Carbis Bay Hotel – Cornwall, UK

Check out our first post from the latest member of the Travel Freak community – Mrs Control Freak!  Welcome to the gang!

I’ve just spent a week pottering around Cornwall with my husband and 11-year-old son.  Despite the changeable weather, we found lots to do in this lovely part of the country.

We stayed in a self-catering apartment owned by the Carbis Bay Hotel, which nestles in an idyllic cliff-side location overlooking its own beach.  This three-star luxury hotel is family-run, and has been for over 100 years. The 47 rooms are of a high standard, the reception area and hallways clad in elegant marble and lit by impressive chandeliers.

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