What a trip: Dining out with a panoramic view
By Vivienne Mackie
Part of the joy of traveling to other places is sampling the markets, supermarkets, foods and drinks — and getting to know a place through its cuisine and food culture.
For many people, the venue and atmosphere might also be important: a hushed room with white linen tablecloths and black-clad wait staff, a bright room with music, a local hole-in-the-wall, inside and outside seating. These all have a place, depending on the city and the meal.
But for my husband, Rod, and me, being able to sit outside is always desirable. If there are flowers and/or a garden, that's even better. And best of all is a view from your table — perhaps over the city or over a valley or up to the mountains or over a lake.
On one of our recent trips to Europe this year (Amsterdam, Slovenia, Croatia, Athens), by a strange coincidence, we ended up eating at three restaurants called "Panorama" in three different cities, in three different countries, each with a different view, and in Athens, the view from the hotel breakfast room qualifies as a panoramic view. The food at all of them was pretty good, too.
Take a look at these unusual or spectacular views:
— In Amsterdam, we went to Il Panorama, on the corner of Raadhuisstraat and Herengracht (Gentlemen's canal), a very pleasant Italian-style restaurant, with outdoor seating on the pavement (sidewalk).
Unfortunately, we had to sit inside as it was extremely windy that evening, but the scene outside through the huge windows was fun — watching people navigating the traffic on their bicycles — and the view from outside is over the canal.
— Bled, a beautiful town in the north of Slovenia, close to the Julian Alps, is on the edge of a large lake surrounded by mountains. We ate twice at Panorama Restaurant, part of the Grand Hotel Toplice.
An expansive roof terrace overlooks Lake Bled, with views across to Bled Castle perched high on the cliffs opposite and down the lake to the island and its church at the far end.
Each time, we were lucky enough to get a table on the edge of the terrace with clear views out over the lake. The second night, we were blessed with the sun going behind a cloud, creating a mysterious silver shape above the castle. Truly magical.
— In Dubrovnik, Croatia, the restaurant on top of Mount Srd (pronounced "surge") behind the famous walled medieval city is aptly named Panorama.
We went up in the cable car, and from the top, the view can only be described as spectacular — beyond the mountain to more mountains that are in Bosnia-Herzogovenia and on the other side straight down to the medieval city and the Adriatic Sea.
We were so high up there that we could see the city layout just as it is on maps. The only thing the layout cannot tell us from here is how steep the narrow streets within the walls actually are (not a flat layout like on a map).
Again, we were lucky to get the best table right on the edge of the restaurant terrace overlooking the city, and we voted this the "Best Lunch View" ever (so far anyway). But Lake Bled was a close second.
— In Athens, our hotel offered breakfast on the top floor. The terrace on one side had a lovely view across to the Acropolis, so it was a great panoramic view, even though the breakfast room had no special name.
Vivienne Mackie, an Urbana resident, is a freelance travel writer, among other things. She finds that learning about food is a really good way of learning about a culture. Visit her blog at viviennemackie.wordpress.com.