Probably the only floating tents in the world…?
Check out this new eco-lodge on Koh Andet Island up the Tatai River in the Cardamom Mountains. (half an hour from Koh Kong) Cambodia. Unique twelve tented floating villas amongst spectacular jungle mountain scenery. Floating swimming pool being built. Excellent food. Visit it before the rest of the world discovers it.
You have travelled 20 km since the last tourist shop. Way above the sea you round the headland and enter an amphitheatre of sculptured mountainsides as the road swoops down to the sea. A broad bay, three tavernas and a bar, beyond some old cottages, rooms to let and a few fishing boats. Inland a small chapel on a hill, small buildings among fields and olive groves. A huge gorge slices through a mountainside. That is all there is.
Before the end of the tarmac road you are already captured. The pace has slowed, time to slip off your shoes and live the moment of arriving at this jewel of retreats. A gentle swim, a quiet lunch under tamerisk trees, a sleep after.
Zakros will imprint your soul; you find your own rhythms and retreats. My favourites are: a small hidden cove with a flat rock surrounded by a gentle turquoise swell; a small shingle beach shared with a kingfisher or two; the hill top chapel reached along a dusty track then ancient stone steps, where you will find a quiet peace in the courtyard or contemplation inside, among the icons, candlewax and rickety chairs; a stroll up the gorge takes you to a shady fig tree where you can rest in solitude and breathe the aromas of hot sun on vegetation, only the scuffle and bleet of goats as background. You might walk along a thyme-scented path leading along the coast to Pelekita's cave – nobody there but you. Here you look down on the bright wind-patterned Libyan sea and out beyond the edge of Europe. Almost 3 millenia ago Minoans settled here, trading across these seas; they left a fine palace to show for it.
As darkness falls and you take your unhurried evening meal, the full moon could rise from the sea, rose turning to silver. No need for tears on leaving since you will, for certain, return.
We hired a car in Akureyri in the north of Iceland and headed east, following the coast road back to Reykjavik. Along the way we saw pseudocraters, lava landscapes, boiling mud pots, solfataras, craters filled with turquoise water, canyons, glacier tongues and turf-roofed huts. The variety of waterfalls was breathtaking, from the awesomely powerful Dettifoss to Svartifoss with its distinctive basalt columns. We clambered over the active volcano Krafla, enjoyed the majesty and serenity of the glacier lagoon at Jökulsárlón and walked around the beautiful þingvellier, site of Iceland’s ancient parliament.
Driving through the eastern fjords the sky was different around every corner: rainbows, sunbursts through the clouds, mist curling around mountains. The shifting light and colour of the sky and scenery turned ordinary holiday snaps into something special.
We stayed in cosy guesthouses, eating delicious fish meals and drinking endless coffee. We got used to the potholes in the road, the sound of gravel hitting the car and scrunching under the wheels, and the occasional concern that we had turned down a gravel track that was too much for our little Polo to cope with. By the time we reached the ‘golden circle’ of attractions near Reykjavik, we stood with the hordes of tourists waiting for the impressive Stokkur geysir to erupt, and felt that the most amazing sights were behind us.
We travelled with Discover the World, www.discover-the-world.co.uk
A bus from the centre of Marseille will take you to the head of the trails (through some unsalubrious bainlieues) that lead over craggy limestone peaks to one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful coastal features, the calanques. A little under an hour's walk will lead you to beautiful Sormiou and Morgiou, with pint sized beaches and tiny hamlets sandwiched between dramatic cliffs strewn with shrubs, cedars and maritime pines. The water is crystal clear and sheltered so that it is calmer and warmer than the open sea. On summer weekends, the calanques can get busy with daytrippers, but the rest of the time they are a picturesque treat to enjoy with only a few other people. There are other calanques more easily accessed by boat or from the neighbouring town of Cassis.
Calanque de Sormiou and Calanque de Morgiou, south of Marseille. You can drive the whole way along winding, precipitous, unpaved roads, but as the weather is usually good, it's best to walk - though remember to bring lots of water in summer time! Buses no22 & 23 run to Morgiou and Sormiou respectively from the Rond Point du Prado metro stop.
The hotel has the most wonderful location, stunning views, and is in the middle of no where - the only traffic is sheep! Food locally sourced and all furnishings modern, natural and luxurious.
Monachyle Mhor Hotel :: Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8PQ :: Tel: 01877 384622 :: Email: monachyle @ mhor.net
I cannot recommend the Caribbean city of Cartagena, on the north coast of Colombia, enough. I went for two weeks with my girlfriend and we never wanted to leave. Within the fortified old city are charming cobbled streets lined with immaculate Spanish colonial architecture, statues of fallen heroes and smiling people talking in the squares. Overhead will be baroque church steeples and domes, punctuated with colour spilling out from window flower boxes. There are superb restaurants offering fine seafood and other local specialities, a thriving, but not intimidating, nightlife and the full spectrum of accomodation, all enclosed within the walls. And the sun will be shining, but not so that you have to stay indoors, and advantage of the gentle Caribbean breeze.
Outside the old city are the white sands, green waters and palm trees the area is worshipped for. Take a boat trip to the offshore islands and see the island you'll both buy when you win the lotto! It is remarkably safe, and don't assume you will be queuing the entire time either - this is no Disneyland - you can have sweet little restaurant all to yourselves, or a park with a fountain, or a stroll atop the city wall, so romance is hard to avoid. However, if you feel like a film and a pizza, just grab a cab over to the new city and send an email home while you're at it. Definitely a winner - the most romantic place in the world.
If you only have a few days and are starting in New York City, I might suggest following US 1, a highway which goes from Maine to Florida Where available, you can choose to take US 1A (also known as Alternate US 1 - it's not a contiguous highway) for a more scenic coastal route. From New York, you can head north into New England (cool days, chilly nights in April). Or, for warm weather, head south from New York along the Mid-Atlantic coast into the South and all the way to Key West, if time permits.
Some of the best American regional cuisine is located along the East Coast. Most of the seasonal diners, crab shacks and lobster pounds will be open by April, but not yet crowded. My personal favorites include: the Maine Diner in Wells, Maine; Essex Seafood in Essex, Massachusetts; Durgin Park in Boston, Massachusetts; Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room in Savannah, Georgia; the Dixie Crossroads in Titusville, Florida; and Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House in Miami Beach, Florida. There are simply too many to list; you need to get the Roadfood book or see their website. Happy travels and happy eating.
The west of America has some of the most awe-inspiring scenery I've ever seen. If time is very limited, fly into Vegas and drive down to the Grand Canyon, north rim, via Bryce Canyon or Zion National Park. Not only will you get a taste of life on the road here, I guarantee you'll be blown away by the landscape. You can find motels or lodges on National Park land for little money ($50 (£25) a night will get you a decent place) and all the crappy diner food you could ever want.
Newport is a small Pembrokeshire coastal town located within Pembrokeshire National Park, Britain’s only coastal national park. The surrounding scenery is stunning and Newport is a great access point to the Pembrokeshire Coastal path. The town itself is very small but has enough restaurants and pubs to allow you to dine in a different place each evening on a week’s holiday. We particularly enjoyed Llys Meddyg and Mochyn Drwg - most towns of this size would struggle to have one restaurant of this quality. We stayed at a lovely comfortable cottage called Bury Bach just outside town.
We were going to visit Oman and wanted to use four days for a snapshot of the country. Arriving in Muscat is a shock as frankly it’s so much cleaner than our cities. We visited the Sultan Qaboos Mosque on the way in and it is a jaw dropping experience – a mélange of different Islamic styles that perhaps because of the space do not overwhelm. However, that apart, for us the best was out of Muscat and our safari through the mountains and desert. They are so barren that each village seems as though it could be the only one – but no, around a corner there would be another one. Camping in the desert gave us the chance to lie back and drink in millions of stars above in an almost religious experience. It’s difficult to get used to so many shades of brown but in their own way, they are beautiful. A great visit for non-touristy experiences.
Totally unexpected – green in the heart of Arabia. We travelled at the start of October for casual birdwatching and a beach holiday. We got both but also a little part of Arabia that contradicts practically everything written about the Middle East. The mountains were covered in trees and coastal birdlife extraordinary. Our lasting memory was the bucolic surroundings and total contrast from the cities of Egypt and desert of Jordan.
Country house previously owned by artist John Ruskin. Near to Lake Coniston, so, if it's a nice day, combine with a walk along the lakeshore or even up nearby fell Coniston Old Man.
A few miles outside Bishop, California on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas, in the Inyo National Forest, there's a place called the Schulman Grove, which is the site of some of the oldest living things on planet earth - the 4000-year-old Great Basin Bristlecone Pine trees.
The oldest known one (which is not marked, to protect it) is nearly 5000 years old. At about 10,000 feet altitude, look for the Schulman Grove visitor center, about an hour's drive outside Bishop.
Without a doubt, this is the most magical place I have ever been in my life. If you stay for sundown and don't camp, be prepared for a really windy, dark drive down the mountain.
A working farm between Tiverton and Barnstaple - really lovely family site for relaxing. If you're a walker, it's a good spot for walking the moors or equally for local walks.
West Middlewick Farm, Nomansland, Tiverton Devon Ex16 8NP, www.westmiddlewick.co.uk , 01884 861235
Minas Gerias is truly an amazing world of its own, with a fascinating baroque grandiosity that has been preserved for over two centuries.
There are many small villages and historic cities that are a reflection of the prosperous mining boom of the early 18th century. This vast economic wealth transformed the region and resulted in the Brazilian Golden Age, a movement purely distinct of the Minas Gerias state.
When you walk down the cobble-stoned streets lined with ornate cathedrals painted in pure gold, imposing colonial mansions, and intricate fountains you’ll be transported back to one of the most prosperous times in Brazilian history.
The mountains, prehistoric caves, rivers and national parks of the area are also great places to experience the natural beauty of this historic region.
Over a hundred islands, sunny weather (the locals call it 'The Winterless North'), and a generally relaxed disposition make the Bay of Islands a perfect place to visit.
Reliable winds, safe anchorages, and stunning viewpoints mean that any sailing trip is going to be amazing. There's quite a few old seadogs living in their boats in the Bay, taking people out for a day or a few days - the best way to see the islands.
Fantastic area. Beautiful scenery, great little villages, pubs and shops. We stayed in a couple of cottages we found on the Lovetoescape portal - loads to choose from. Why holiday abroad when the exchange rate is bad, home has so much to offer.
This large area of parkland and forest stretches from the eastern edge of Chamonix up to the Argentière valley. It's a peaceful haven for family picnics and strolls. It's a popular spot for hikers and cyclists as they continue towards Argentière and Vallorcine. You can also watch the paragliders take off and land on the parkland which surrounds Lac du Bouchet, there is also a fountain just beside the main road from which you can sample free and fresh-tasting mountain water.
From Chamonix train station go straight ahead down Avenue Michel Croz, then at the end of this road turn right onto Rue Whymper. Go straight across the roundabout. Pass the library on your right-hand side and keep going straight for about 500m and Lac du Bouchet is on your left-hand side.
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