This month, the BTSB staff has put together another travel section to shed light on the exciting drinking culture outside of Helsinki (*le gasp*). From Barcelona to Karjaa, from Slàinte to Hölkynkölkyn, we bring you our best bar recommendations! Hootananny, Inverness, United Kingdom
Hootananny is widely advertised by locals to be the best live music pub in Inverness and many hostels recommend it to tourists. Having said this, I was genuinely surprised to find the place packed with not just tourists coming to Inverness on their way to or from the Highlands, but locals as well. The pub has two floors to accommodate the huge flow of customers. Upstairs is usually used as a concert venue and the downstairs has live Scottish music every day. The pricing is not too bad for a pub with such a reputation. They also have ceilidh nights, when anyone can join in and show off their moves in the Scottish country dancing department. So if you ever happen to find yourself in Inverness in need of a drink or two with some live music, I recommend trying Hootananny. Saturdays can be quite full, but I trust it to be less crowded during the week and earlier in the evening.
Manchester Bar, Barcelona, Spain
You know the feeling when you’re sitting in a bar, having an OK time, but the music they’re playing keeps bugging you and eventually the evening’s ruined? Now imagine the opposite: an evening that was supposed to be somewhat quiet turns into madcap partying because the DJ is a mindPod reader! The menu of bar Manchester, written on the door, includes such delicacies as Joy Division and Happy Mondays (both of which are actually from Manchester), and indie music on the whole, especially British indie, is well represented here. Three o’clock in the morning comes always too soon in this Brit-indie Mecca! Additional tip: Mojitos are awesome here, but stay away from the Caipirinhas, they’re deadly!
The Dome, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
One restaurant/bar you don't want to miss in the city of Edinburgh is the Dome. Especially the absolutely fantastic Christmas decorations are worth seeing. Don't let the sophisticated atmosphere drive you away, the bartenders are nice and helpful and especially their mojitos are excellent (although a little pricey)!
Serenpidity, Karjaa, Finland
I haven't been to many bars outside of Helsinki but the one place I can think of is Serendipity in Karjaa. I've only been there a couple of times and it's unfortunately been quite a while since I've last been there but I think the fact that I can still remember it does say something. Plus, I've enlisted the help of a seasoned Karjaa veteran to help me with the details to make sure that I don't accidentally misrepresent this place that so many Karjaa folks hold so dear. One of the things I remember most about Serendipity is the cozy atmosphere of the place. Close your eyes and think of an old-fashioned and serene place. What do you see? A fireplace? A wooden stove? Wooden furniture and candles for lighting? That's Serendipity. There isn't an electrical stove in sight nor is there a microwave so everything is made the old-fashioned way, which means some of the best and most personal hot chocolate you can get anywhere. Continuing the subject of drinks, you can get cocktails, beer from the tap, and old-fashioned tea from an incredibly long tea-list. And worry not if you're hungry because you can also get food there and, no, you vegetarians aren't discriminated against. The personal touches continue with the hamburger patties which are made by the staff themselves, and even the buns have been known to be home-made though I'm not certain whether this is still the case. There is electricity for ceiling lamps but, more often than not, candles are used instead. This is the mindset behind Serendipity; personal touches and a cozy atmosphere. The walls of Serendipity can also be adorned by the art of anyone willing to cough up a small fee, further increasing the personal and communal feeling of the place. I could go on about the other features of Serendipity (such as the upstairs area that can be rented for parties), but I'd like to instead leave you with my personal image of Serendipity. It's been over a year since I last had the pleasure of being there but I do distinctly remember sitting inside on those wooden benches during a stormy summer evening, the faces of my friends illuminated by nothing but candles. It's the kind of cozy atmosphere that is hard to find in Helsinki and the one thing most people from Karjaa miss after they move. If you ever find yourself in Karjaa, you can't leave until you've visited Serendipity. And if you really want to fit in with the Karis people, refer to it as either Serendi or Pity. That's what the cool kids do.