A good friend of mine lives on a hill above Victory Hill. I always enjoy visiting him, but never enjoyed dodging the potholes on Ekareach Street after the stoplights on the Hill. A couple of months ago, it was even worse because they were laying pipes on the side of the road. When I went up to see him a few days ago, everything had changed. The road is wide and smooth now.
Looking back towards the stoplight on Victory Hill
Glancing to my left, I noticed that the road past the bars had been paved, too. I turned around for a closer look and was stunned. It was so much more appealing looking, I felt drawn to it, so I took a slow cruise down a road I used to avoid.
I usually only go to the Hill at the end of the month when I’m running low on money. There are some good restaurants there where you can get a decent meal and a beer for $2.50. Although it was looking shop-worn, I used to go to the Corner Bar sometimes, too, because no one went there and I could watch a movie on one of their big screen TVs. The Corner Bar closed awhile back. The new owners have given it a facelift and it looks bright and cheery now.
I decided to make that my dinner spot that night. I chose spaghetti carbonara. It wasn’t nearly as good as the home made spaghetti at Spaghetti House, but I’ve been told the French food is very good, so I’ll try that next time.
As I made my way back to the main road after dinner, I noticed another new place. Raphael’s Tavern advertises itself as a wine bar and restaurant, offering “authentic Italian cuisine.” I decided to try that the next night, but they were closed, so I went around the corner and ate at a Russian place, Olivier, next to the tall skinny hotel near the stoplight. I chose cabbage rolls and steamed vegetables. Both were excellent and so was the wine.
I’m in serious danger of making the Hill my new hangout now. Yesterday afternoon I was supposed to meet a friend up that way, but he was running late, so I took another ride down the main drag looking for some place to pass the time. Instead of turning right on Restaurant Row (or whatever it’s called), I turned left. Amazingly, the area around a formerly derelict swimming pool had been renovated. The new owners re-tiled the pool and turned it the area around it into a kind of all-in-one café, restaurant, relaxation area. I just had a soft drink, but plan on returning for lunch or dinner soon. It was just so relaxing sitting there listening to the music and watching this guy painting a mural.
And here’s a bigger picture. The building going on in the background looks like it’s at the site of the old Papagayo, opposite the Corner Bar.
After having a couple of beers with my friend at his usual hang out, I headed back up the road and noticed Raphael’s Tavern was open. I wasn’t too hungry, so I just had a snack. It was as good as Papa Pippo’s on Otres Beach, but not as far away from home. Two nights later, I tried their home made spinach and cheese ravioli. It was just as good as the Spaghetti House’s. Different, but equally good.
I was the only customer when I got there, but that’s often the case because I eat earlier than most. I was happy to see it filling up not long before I finished my meal and even happier to see that Metal Heart across the street had been closed down. I stopped going to The Look (now gone) because of the music he played at high volume. With no competition, I was able to enjoy the much mellower music playing in the background at Raphael’s.
We’ll see what happens, but things are looking good for the Hill. It used to be the main backpacker’s area, but the backpackers shifted to Serendipity Road, Otres and the islands, leaving the Hill to the girlie bars. It was too bad, because being on a hill as it is, the area gives you a different environment. I always thought it had a lot of potential, but for awhile, it really went downHill. Well, from my point of view, anyway. One of the members of our writing group is writing about his observations of life after dark on the Hill and from his perspective, it sounds fascinating. Seedy, but fascinating and very funny unless you happen to be the one who is the target of a ladyboy’s wrath.
Personal prejudices aside, I reckon there’s room for everyone on the Hill. I’m hoping it continues to offer something for boring people like me and gives the night owls a place to roam as well.