Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

Looking for a slightly unusual dining experience in Costa Rica? Well I’ll tell you about two quirky restaurants I visited.

Tree House Restaurant – Santa Elena, Monteverde

quirky restaurants in Costa Rica
Quirky restaurant in Monteverde Costa Rica

We spotted this place on our way to our hotel in Monteverde, hard to miss really given that it has a blooming great big tree sticking out of the middle of it!

We were told a few days before by a taxi driver that Costa Ricans don’t like to chop trees down so instead build around them – roads, restaurants, whatever. The Tree House Restaurant was built in 2004 and in the middle sits a huge ficus tree!

Tree House Restaurant - a quirky dining experience in Santa Elena

We stopped at the Tree House for lunch after a morning at Selvatura Park. There’s plenty of choice on the menu. While my husband went for fajitas, I opted for a more traditional Costa Rican dish – Casado. Casado means “married” in Spanish and the dish can be best described as a marriage of food on a plate. Mine was a vegetarian version which consisted of rice, beans, tortilla, salad, veg, cheese, avocado and plantain. I quite enjoy meals where I can try lots of different things, variety is the spice of life after all!

Casado - a typical Costa Rican dish

Dining in a tree house

I don’t know how the casado fared against other restaurants, but I enjoyed it! And if I ever went back to Santa Elena I’d be sure to stop by the Tree House again.

El Avion – Manuel Antonio

El Avion - quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

I thought I’d seen it all when I visited a McDonalds in an aeroplane in New Zealand but no, Costa Rica has a restaurant with a plane too. At El Avion, the plane is the bar area and the restaurant is just behind it.

Situated in the touristy town of Manuel Antonio, the plane is kind of what initially draws the tourists attention but on further inspection its actually the beautiful sunset views you get from the restaurant that makes people want to dine here. If you’re planning on watching the sun set here then get here early as everybody else has the same idea!

El Avion - a place to watch the sun set

Sunset is a popular time to visit El Avion restaurant in Manuel Antonio

We both opted for fajitas which were nice but something didn’t quite agree with me and spoilt the evening. I don’t blame the restaurant though as hubby had the same and he was fine. Having said that though, I think if I ever come back to El Avion it would be for the cocktails!

Bit of a tourist trap but I can’t deny the sunsets were beautiful and it was lovely to spot a toucan in the distance.

Sunset view from El Avion in Manuel Antonio

Toucan in the distance

If quirky restaurants are your cup of tea then you might enjoy reading about the Alice in Wonderland Restaurant Tokyo or some of my other foodie adventures.

Quirky restaurants in Costa Rica

The Quirky Cat Sanctuary of Rome

The quirky cat sanctuary of Rome

Most people who know me will know that I’m an aspiring Crazy Cat Lady – hey even my Secret Santa gift at the office Christmas party was a crazy cat lady mug! So when I heard about the quirky cat sanctuary of Rome, I knew I had to pay a visit.

Cute cat

Just 5 minutes walk away from the Pantheon is the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary, home to around 150 cats who live in the ancient ruins. The ruins themselves are amongst the oldest in Rome (400-300BC) and are thought to be the place in which Julius Caesar was assassinated. As for the cats, they are free to wander the ruins and are very well cared for by a team of volunteers.

These Roman ruins are home to a cat sanctuary, believe it or not!

Visitors are welcome to visit from noon every day but you can’t just wander around the ruins, you can view from the street above or if you walk down the steps on the corner of Via Florida and Via di Torre Argentina you can visit the little gift shop they have down there.

Cats being cats

As well as the gift shop, there is also an indoor section of the sanctuary. This is mostly for cats that need to be indoors for health reasons, but of course other cats wander in and out of the shop part because cats pretty much do what they want don’t they?

Cat shop at Roman Cat Sanctuary

The friendly volunteer who was minding the sanctuary on the day I visited showed me and my mum into the part of the indoor bit of the sanctuary that was locked (presumably to stop cats who didn’t need to be in there getting in there). I petted a random cat who was perched on a scratching post and then he/she climbed onto me and made me have cuddles!!! It was so cute. But sadly, all good things must come to an end but the cat was having none of it.

Visiting the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary in Rome

Eventually I did break free but I did feel guilty for cutting short our cuddles. However I did buy a calendar from the shop as the money goes straight back in to feeding and caring for the cats.

Torre Argentina is a wonderful place for a short visit and I would definitely recommend it to all animal lovers! For more information take a look at the Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary website.

The quirky cat sanctuary of Rome

For more feline inspired blog posts take a look at my photos of cats around the world or read about that time I visited a cat cafe in Tokyo.

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The quirky cat sanctuary of Rome - something not to be missed for all those crazy cat folk out there!

Ripley’s Believe it or not London

Ripley's Believe it or not London
Vampire woman and Lizard man

If you’re in London and looking for something weird and wonderful to do then look no further than Ripley’s Believe it or not at Piccadilly Circus.

Ripley’s is home to over 700 artefacts, many of which were collected by Robert Ripley himself who was an explorer, collector, presenter and cartoonist! Ripley travelled to 201 countries collecting exotic treasures – everything from tribal masks to shrunken heads – all on display right here!

Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy at Ripley's Believe it or not London
Portrait of Robert Ripley made from candy

There are also many modern exhibits such as a portrait of Kate Middleton created from lipstick kisses on canvas, Michelle Obama from bottlecaps and a portrait of Amy Winehouse produced from broken CDs which actually looks alot like my A level art project (just the concept, that is, Amy wasn’t famous back then).

Amy Winehouse - A Shattered Life by Victor Ramos. Portrait of Amy Winehouse created from CDs on display at Ripleys London.

You can also find a recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted onto a grain of rice, images created on burnt pieces of toast and there’s even a painting done by a horse – it doesn’t get much more random!

As well as quirky art, there are also animal oddities such as a two-headed calf. Plus there’s a chunk of the Berlin wall and the world’s oldest beer, brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an ancient Egyptian tomb!

The World's Oldest Beer - brewed from 5000 year old hops found in an Ancient Egyptian tomb!

There are wax figures of astonishing people like Johnny Eck – a talented man whose torso ended just below the waist, Earl Hughes – the heaviest recorded man in history and Robert Wadlow – the tallest human being ever.

Figure of Ribert Wadlow - tallest man ever. Ripley's Believe it or not London.

You can also find a container filled with ice cold water which you can dip your hand into to experience the temperature of the water when the Titanic sank, which I mentioned in my Wonderworks Orlando post. Another thing similar to Wonderworks is The Black Hole, which is basically a tunnel you walk through but while the bridge is still, the surroundings spin making you feel all kinds of dizzy and sick.

Ripley's Believe it or not London

There’s something for everyone at Ripley’s, one of the coolest things in the culture collection is the Eagle Coffin. In Ghana, funerals are colourful celebrations of the deceased person’s life and coffins are custom designed to represent a person’s hobbies, job or even status. Eagle coffins are reserved for the most honoured chiefs.

Eagle coffin from Ghana - on display at Ripley's in London.

There are many many other weird and wonderful things to see here which I haven’t mentioned but I will say, make sure you visit the Mirror Maze and the Impossible LaseRace at the end!

Mirror Maze at Ripley's London
Mirror Maze selfie!

Also, before you go, check out some different ticket websites online as there are discounts to be had!

If you liked this post then I guarantee you will want to know about Wonderworks Orlando and Puzzling World Wanaka.

Inamo London – the future of restaurants

Inamo is an Asian fusion restaurant situated in Soho, London. We went there for my birthday because –

a) I love Japanese food


b) They have an interactive ordering system – this is the future, people!

It might not be a new thing, but I certainly haven’t seen it anywhere before. There are no printed menus at Inamo, instead it is all projected onto your table and you can place your order digitally. You can also keep tabs of exactly how much you have spent, which is particularly handy if you are dining in a large group, rather than dealing with the whole messy splitting the bill situation. The only annoying thing about the interactive function was that I kept accidentally adding things to my order that I didn’t want, but it was easy enough to remove them again before ‘sending’ our order.

Cocktail and beer on the interactive tables at Japanese/Korean restaurant, Inamo in Soho, London

The other awesome thing about the interactive tables is that you can change the tablecloth, so to speak, by choosing different funky patterned backgrounds AND you can play games on your table – hubby and I had a couple of games of Battleships and Ping. Good fun while you wait for your food!

Funky patterns as digital tablecloths - the future of restaurants at Inamo Soho
Funky digital tablecloths

To begin, my husband ordered a Japanese beer while I decided to try one of the cocktails. I ordered the Ringoberi Mojito – rum and apple juice muddled with mint, sugar and blackberries. Yum!

The food at Inamo is kind of like Asian tapas, in that they bring it to you when it is ready, rather than the whole starters followed by mains deal. We decided to order the weekday set lunch menu of 2 courses for £10 and then share them so we get to try different things, as well as some tempura prawns from the normal menu because I discovered in Japan that I only really like prawns when they’re in a Japanese tempura!

We went for the rainbow maki (beetroot, pepper and cucumber sushi), which was alot smaller than sushi I’ve had elsewhere, but oh so beautifully presented!

Rainbow maki and a game of Battleships. Interactive dining at Inamo in London
Rainbow maki over a game of Battleships

We also ordered the Korean chicken wings which had a bit of a kick to them and were quite messy. If you’re going to Inamo on a first date or for a business meeting, do NOT order the chicken wings, there is no way to eat them in an attractive or professional manner.

The chicken wings were brought out alongside the tempura prawns, kind of as a second course after the maki. The tempura prawns were delicious and presented in a little wooden box with a side of Thai mango relish.

Tempura prawns and Korean chicken wings - Inamo Soho, London - an Asian fusion restaurant with a twist!

For our ‘mains’ (for lack of a better word), we both chose the teriyaki salmon which came with rice. The salmon was nice but I didn’t think it was that special, I think I was expecting more flavour. The funny thing was, when the waiter brought over our dishes he handed us one salmon and one curry, apologising that the kitchen had made an error, the curry was on the house and our other salmon was on its way. I think I actually enjoyed the curry more than the salmon! I don’t know what was in the curry as we couldn’t find it on the menu but we got lucky there!

Teriyaki salmon at Inamo in London
Teriyaki salmon
Curry from Inamo in London - Asian fusion restaurant
Our free curry!

Even though the dishes appeared to be small, we were absolutely stuffed afterwards so didn’t get to sample any of the restaurant’s dessert menu which sounded quite interesting – Baked Alasparkla in particular – baked alaska with a sparkle, hello!

Inamo Soho, also has a sister restaurant in Covent Garden, but both restaurants can get quite busy so it’s best to book in advance. However, we didn’t find it too busy visiting on a Friday lunchtime.

Inamo London - Asian fusion restaurant in Soho

Good food, good service but the winner was the futuristic and funky tables which I reckon will be everywhere before you know it!

If you liked this post you might enjoy my others about food, London or Japan.

3 fast food burgers you must try in New Zealand

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – New Zealand make the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. Infact I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so many in the space of three and a half weeks!

So without further ado here are my best burgers in New Zealand…

3. The World’s Coolest McDonalds, Taupo

I kept reading in all the leaflets I picked up in the i-site tourist offices that the McDonald’s restaurant in Taupo was a must-visit attraction. Now to name Maccy D’s as a tourist attraction I thought was quite odd so figured it must be pretty special, so naturally when we arrived in Taupo at lunchtime we headed straight there.

Just what makes the Taupo McDonald’s claim to be the “world’s coolest”?

The massive aeroplane outside it, that’s what!

Best burgers in New Zealand - The World's Coolest McDonald's

The World's Coolest McDonald's has an aeroplane that you can sit and dine in!

The aeroplane is genuine vintage too, not just some fake model fashioned to make McDonald’s a bit quirkier. The plane was built in 1943 and after serving time with South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, among others, it eventually retired and has been at McDonald’s since 1990.

We decided we wanted to sit in the plane to enjoy our meal so thinking that it would be quite busy up there, I headed off to grab us a table while my husband ordered. Turns out I was the only one up there because it was so hot! Everyone else was taking advantage of the air-conditioning in the main restaurant.

Well, I wasn’t completely alone, this sparrow kept flying in and out, grabbing a few fries left behind by previous diners.

Fast food eating sparrow

The plane still has its original cockpit that you can peer into and there are also story boards on the walls just outside the cockpit for aviation buffs to learn about the aeroplane’s history.

The cockpit of the plane at The World's Coolest McDonalds.

Inside the World's Coolest McDonald's

The food itself I have to say is pretty standard. Typical McDonald’s really, I enjoyed it but the main reason Taupo McDonald’s makes the list is because of its fun factor!

McDonalds in Taupo New Zealand - you can dine in an aeroplane!

2. Fergburger, Queenstown

Fergburger is world famous, quite a feat considering it only has one branch and that is located in Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand. Cited by many as a tourist attraction in its own right and featured in the likes of Lonely Planet, you will see the queue for Fergburger before you see the restaurant itself!

The mob outside Fergburger, Queenstown

Curious to see what all the fuss was about we headed there for lunch one day. We were queuing for around half an hour and then our order came about 15 minutes after that. Crazy! We were there around 2pm so had anticipated that we could be waiting a while. If you don’t fancy the wait, then Fergburger is open 21 hours a day so you can get your Ferg fix at a slightly less busy time.

Fergburger - A Queenstown attraction in its own right

Fergburger started in 2001 as a hole-in-the-wall on Cow Lane, it is now located on Shotover Street and has expanded with two businesses next door – Fergbaker, a bakery selling pies, pastries and cakes etc (which also happens to be where they bake the buns used for the burgers) and also Mrs Ferg, a gelateria.

Burger and fries at the legendary Fergburger
The cockadoodledoo burger and fries

We didn’t try the bakery but we did visit the gelateria twice, once for hot chocolate and once for gelato. There aren’t really any queues for Fergbaker or Mrs Ferg so some people queueing for a Fergburger did end up dropping out and opting for a pie or something instead.

The queue for Fergburger in Queenstown New Zealand
The queue stretching outside Mrs Ferg’s and Fergbakery

Was it worth the wait? Well we did end up going there twice. But note – there aren’t many places to sit so be prepared to dine alfresco. Plus the burgers are also pretty huge so we shared fries between the two of us.

Best burgers in New Zealand - Fergburger, Queenstown
Dining alfresco for my first Fergburger – The Fergburger with cheese

1. BurgerFuel, all over NZ

BurgerFuel is a New Zealand gourmet burger chain that began in Auckland in 1995 and can be found all over New Zealand’s North Island (with a handful of stores in the South Island). They also have branches in Australia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but sadly not the United Kingdom.

BurgerFuel, New Zealand

BurgerFuel are particularly famous for their amazing aioli sauce and also the ‘doofer’ – a cardboard device for holding your juicy burger. The restaurants are kitted out in a funky purple theme and the burgers all have names like ‘Bastard’ and ‘Bio Fuel’.

We ate at one of the Auckland branches and one of the Wellington branches. My first BF was the ‘V-Dub Vege’ and I would go as far to say that it was the best veggie burger I’ve had to date! Normally I find veggie burgers quite dry but this was delish washed down with a bottle of New Zealand’s famous L&P Lemon & Paeroa and a side of spud fries with aioli – my mouth is watering just thinking about it! I can’t remember what my second BF was but no doubt it was something cheesy!

L&P plus a V-Dub Vege at BurgerFuel New Zealand

But seriously BurgerFuel, when are you coming to the UK??

There you have my best burgers in New Zealand of the fast food variety (if you can count Ferg as fast?!). Have you ever eaten at any of these places? Or if not, where in the world would you find your best burger?

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