This place is gorgeous and we go every year since we discovered it. It's a really easy and unstressful drive from Faro airport and has a perfect location, perched up on a hill above the small village of Estoi with views down to the sea. Easy acess to all the great fishing villages and good shopping in Faro, as well as amazing wildlife, walks etc.
Though, during my brief stay in Bled, the weather wasn't all that consistent I would absolutely recommend going there to see the sights and swim in it's beautiful lake. While there I stayed in the affordable campsite on the lake's edge. I arrived just after dawn and, the walk down from the train station, as the morning mist curls off over a carpet of conifers which trail towards distant mountains, must be the best introduction to this painfully picturesque location. The Baroque church on an island in the blue-green lake offsets the natural beauty with an air of mysticism; this, coupled with the cliff-top castle looking over the lake, give the feeling that you're in a sublime, fantasy film set. Expect to see others swimming and rowing in the azure waters and, I urge you, don't think twice about jumping in to join them.
The perfect place for a late afternoon or evening drink is from one of the terrace cafes by the castle overlooking Zante town. Great view and you can see the lights of the town twinkling and the whole bay stretching before you.
There's a beautiful little church there which isn't always open, but if it is take a look inside at the gilding and chandeliers - it's a favourite for weddings and christenings.
You can also climb the cobbled lane up to visit the stone Venetian fortress perched on the hill. There's a rather trendy nightclub on the way up if you want to mix with the beautiful people.
Take a taxi or drive up the hill at the back of Zante town and follow the signs - there's a big car-park nearby.
Raiatea is the second largest of the Society Islands in French Polynesia. Raiatea means approx 'bright soft sky' in Tahitian and this island was the centre of Tahitian culture and religion for more than 1000 years.
It is thought that the migrations to Hawaii, New Zealand and other parts of Polynesia started from here. The main town on Raiatea is Uturoa. The best way to have a look around is to take the Island Drive which leaves from the end of the pier in Uturoa.
Stops along the way give access to the Botanical Gardens, views to Mt Temehani (the only place in the world where the white petalled Tiare Apetahi flower grows), visits to the pearl farms, motus in the lagoon and the various marae (traditional walled meeting places).
Far less touristic than Tahiti, Raiatea is defintely worth a visit.
I saw your piece on 'boutique' hostels and that you had recommended 41 Below. I've been in Bariloche for the last few weeks and can tell you that the best hostel in town is actually 1004.
It's on the top floor (10th) of the tallest building in town, which is, frankly, a bit of an eyesore from the outside. But the views from inside are something to behold, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Aside from that, it has a fantastic lounge area, balcony overlooking the lakes and mountains beyond, a really warm atmosphere and great staff. And a near-restaurant quality kitchen.
San Martín 127 (Pagano's corner) - Bariloche Center Building - 10th floor - Apartment 1004.
San Carlos de Bariloche (CP 8400) - Río Negro - Patagonia Argentina
Much more peaceful after the bustle of Tahiti. Moorea is astonishingly beautiful, and the best way to see it is to take a bus tour.
The Circle Island Tour takes you past pineapple fields, coffee plantations and flower-filled villages up to Belvedere Lookout, where you can see Opunohu and Cook's Bays.
One of the highlights is a stop off to see the little rectangular 'Marae', ancient structures which used to be sacred buildings, used as open-air temples and funeral sites.
(Picks up from all the main hotels)
A great way to see the exotic marine life if you aren't quite ready to take the plunge into the deep blue.
We went on a 'snorkel-safari' around the island, and stopped off at the Barrier Reef to snorkel around the coral. The water is crystal clear, and you also get to swim (safely) with sharks and manta-rays.
If you don't fancy getting your feet wet, try the glass-bottomed boat tours around a lagoon- you get the glorious mountain scenery above, and the colourful fishes and coral below.
Named 'trou du souffleur' by the locals, this is a fun natural landmark to visit, and is easy to spot from the coastal road.
If the sea's rough, water rushes into a cavern and shoots up through a hole in the rocks, like a geyser!
Watch out if the sea is extra fiesty - you could get wet on the viewing platform!
PK 22, Coastal road, Tiarei, Tahiti
This is a totally preserved preVictorian stone and slate village around the shores of Kames Bay with a lifestyle of 50 years ago. Langoustines are caught here. Kames Castle at one end has period holiday cottages in the Estate. There is a small marina, highly eccentric ancient golfcourse, old tramtrack to Ettrick Bay - a great bit of sand with 200 seals, two pubs, fish and chips, Post Office/shop, a Petanque piste and a Russian Tavern run by Russians serving Russian specialities and Russian beers, wines and vodkas. They have four guestrooms too.
The scenery of seascapes, mountains, forest and islands is simply spectacular. Curlews, oyster-catchers and seals share the beach while wild deer graze the golfcourse. This is a very peculiar place to find in the UK!
Ferry to the Isle of Bute from Wemyss Bay (pronounced "weems") on the A78 between Greenock and Largs at the mouth of the River Clyde. Trains direct to Wemyss Bay from Glasgow and either Glasgow Airport. Ferry every 45 minutes, ferry time 35 minutes.
Incredibly beautiful, quiet and calm lakes locted in the middle of the Julian Alps. Lake Bled incorporates little beaches for wild swimming, as well as designated areas for swimming plus boating, fishing and cafes. In the middle stands an island with the idyllic church of St Mary which you can reach by boat. Lake Bohinj is quieter and there are many places to access the lake and swim.
Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
It's the real deal: a gorgeous place with endlessly enthusiastic hosts in the middle of an organic lemon grove looking straight out to Capri. Aldo's the farmer, all round lovely guy, and the man who bakes you your fresh bread for breakfast from one of the ovens built into the wall (naturally one for pizzas) while you sit round the big beautiful table in his kitchen, and tells you everything about what he's growing, Naples, and his wife Matilde. And her funny habits. She pops up after work and on certain nights can cook you dinner from their local goodies, and yep, they are good, plenty of fish and home grown vegetables. And as Matilde used to run a restaurant in Sorrento, she's good at it, very good. The farmhouse is a self-restored old stone saracen watchtower with rambling extensions, and you can stay in the tower, just below the kitchen, or in a separate cottage in front with it's own lawn looking straight out to the Bay of Naples and the shimmering blue sea. There's an old fashioned plush restaurant just down the hill through the vineyards, serving divine lobster ravioli and much more. Another mile on there's the small town of Massa, or you can rejoin the crowds in Sorrento for something a bit livelier. There is splendid panoramic isolation at the Torre, but with nearby buses that head out to the pristine nature reserves of the Punta Campanella and onto the Amalfi Coast. When we left, Aldo gave us a rucksack of organic lemons and a huge grin. So recommended it's not true.
Outside Massa Lubrense, 4km from Sorrento
If you're looking for somewhere classy to stay on the West Coast The Westin St. Francis in San Francisco brings old time nostalgia to the 21st century. Located in the very heart of Union Square it is in a prime location to explore all that this city has to offer.
However if all that sounds a little too strenuous then why not stay awhile and as the saying goes "meet me at the clock". The old style grandeur shines through in the lobby of this 5 star luxury hotel. Marble doric columns all exquisitely maintained and acres of polished wood make guests feel welcome as soon as you set foot in the door.The greeting is no less warm from the staff that work here, from the doorman to reception.
The rooms are very well appointed with all the modern amenities that a seasoned traveller could ask for. Especially the Heavenly Bed, you'll be fast asleep in no time. If you can, ask for room 1132 the views across Union Square are superb.
If you do decide to "meet at the clock" then be prepared to taste some fantastic cocktails and nibble finger foods from Michael Mina. Or why not stroll across the lobby and sample this Michelin starred chefs menu for yourself. Exquisite dinner and lunch at a price that might just surprise you!
Of course you may feel the need to work off some of that excess and there is a gym if you're so inclined, or why not head to The Spa and indulge in some rest and relaxation. Treatments to suit all tastes and budgets are catered for. Whether you would like a massage to relieve jet lag or just getting your nails done - its' all here.
If you are tempted to leave this luxury retreat then San Francisco has much to tempt you with. Take a cable car to Fishermans Wharf and experience the tacky side of 'cisco. Stalls selling fresh seafood, souvenir shops and the sea lions at Pier 39. Try Boudin bakeries sourdough bread with clam chowder - delicious! But make sure you leave room for the bread. Its the best bit!
No trip to San Fran would be complete without a visit to The Rock. Alcatraz has been closed for many years now but visitors still flock to its spooky corridors. The night visit is especially terrifying and not for the faint of heart.
The ferries also take you across to Sausalito a small slice of the Meditteranean in The Bay. Art galleries, boutiques and the best sandwiches ever at the delicatessen 'Venice'. On your return the Golden Gate Bridge spans the straits and there are some great photo opportunities.
Once you return to terra firma explore Chinatown, Little Italy and Nob Hill as all these areas are in easy walking distance. Don't forget Lombard Street the worlds windiest road. San Francisco may seem like a long way to go for a city break but its accessability is it's strong point. Everything seems to be in easy reach and a cab ride is taken at your own risk...remember Bullitt?
Couple your trip with a stay at The Westin and if you need to escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and need a quiet oasis to recharge and regroup then The St. Francis will leave you feeling refreshed - but I'm sure that at some point you'll want to return to the Streets of San Francisco!
Situated just an hour or so drive from San Francisco, the Napa Valley is a wine and food lovers heaven. Incredible eateries and divine vineyards abound in this Californian idyll.
Napa has a vast range of wineries to choose from whether it be small and personal or the large vineyard that does escorted tours.
No trip would be complete without a visit to Yountville where Thomas Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry reigns supreme. But be warned you have to book two calendar months in advance to get in. We tried and failed miserably, so if anyone reading this can let us know about their dining experience it would be jealously appreciated.
We did, however, get a table at Keller’s Bistro also in Yountville - Bouchon and that made up in some way for our disappointment as it was superb! It is a more casual dining experience with a fun and flirty atmosphere. The menu is very much French bistro inspired with moules frites and huîtres featuring prominently. The poulet aux petit pois à la Français was simple and delicious and the braised pork cheek was declared a masterpiece. As we were celebrating birthdays, complementary signature desserts of tarte au citron and chocolate brownie ‘Bouchons’ were a welcome ending to the evening.
There are so many dining venues in Napa that you can be spoilt for choice. Local deli's with first class cheese, wine and cured meats. Fantastic breads baked on the properties with everything to go! So why not grab a picnic and take a seat in the Yountville market area. It is beautiful, with sparkling fountains and tucked away benches perfect.
If something a little more daring is your thing, then Napa Valley Aloft offer dawn balloon rides over the valley - weather permitting of course. It is incredibly serene to be floating two thousand feet over the vineyards one minute and then barely skimming the vines the next with the only noise coming from the burners used to keep us aloft. It was testament to our pilot Laura’s skill that she managed to put us down safely in a handkerchief sized field in the middle of acres of vines. A memorable experience followed by a champagne breakfast with your new found friends and fellow passengers.
There are plenty of top quality B&B's, Inn's and resort hotels to choose from for your stay. The River Terrace Inn is one of these, do choose the balcony rooms overlooking the river and take your morning coffee whilst enjoying the peace and quiet as the river gurgles by.
No trip to Napa would be complete without experiencing the Wine Train. A three hour lunch or dinner trip taking in the breathtaking vistas of the local countryside. Or, how about kayaking on the river or a trip to the Jelly Belly Gourmet bean factory? It’s not just about wine!
Napa old town has a number of mentionables too. The Oxbow Public Market has a wonderful cheese and wine tasting emporium. Run by Peter Granoff you can sit at the large bar area take a carafe of your favourite tipple and pair it with a platter of cheeses, salamis, fresh made pickles and fresh baked bread – sheer heaven. They also have Kara's Cupcakes, an Oyster bar and much more.
Pay the Bounty Hunter a visit too; it’s where the locals eat so it must be good. Speciality wines by the glass or bottle and incredible barbecued meats served at trestle tables, perfect for getting to know your neighbour.
Coles Chop House is an award winning American Steakhouse that serves some of the best Dry Aged Beef you will ever eat coupled with delicious cocktails.
There is an awful lot more to Napa then you can possibly fit in, in just a day or two. With breathtaking scenery, friendly locals and visitors alike and a diverse range of activities to suit all tastes and budgets. It is a wrench to leave this gorgeous area. They say you leave your heart in San Francisco, I left mine in Napa. I hope to return soon and claim it back.
A spacious holiday studio with a view of both the Vieux Port and Notre Dame de la Garde. The place is one of a few apartments run by Romain who was full of advice on where to go.
In the evening the place is buzzing with all the seafood restaurants and bars.
For daytime activities take the free ferry boat a few steps away at Place Aux Huiles across to the Hotel du Ville (no quicker than walking but a lot more fun) and explore the Panier district or take the 83 bus to the Prado Beach.
Place Aux Huiles
Romain - Tel: +33 6 77 94 34 50
We have just taken the plunge and bought a caravan to tour France. Our first stop (of decent length) is in a beautiful village called Le Bar Sur Loup. We found a great campsite that will let us stay with our dog along the gorges, aptly call Les Gorger du Loup.
Because it is half an hour from coastal towns such as Antibes we are close enough to get to the beach but far enough away from all the commercialism.
Five stars all round
We went to Camber Sands one long weekend intending on staying only a few hours, but ended up staying the whole day and watched the sun set turning the glistening sea a multitude of beautiful blues and greens. From the giant sand dunes laughter could be heard from children adventuring along the vast, desert-like sand which stretched miles out until the sea gently hugged it's edge. Seeing the sun's rays glinting on the sea with gold streaks, feeling the soft sand and having the cool water flow calmly over your feet is definately an unmissable experience, which made the holiday unforgetable.
Camber sands,East Sussex
A small medieval hill town in the North Alentejo region of Portugal, a delightful place for a holiday with its 14th century castle, Gothic doorways, small white houses and cobbled streets. A place where you can step back in time from the era of the Romans and Visigoths to the Moors and Christian crusaders.
Don't forget to visit the 13th Century synagogue and covered fountain in the famous Jewish quarter.
One of our favourite places in Portugal.
The surrounding countryside with the mountain range of the "Serra de São Mamede" with its abundance of flora and fauna is a great excuse to get out the walking boots.
Littlehampton is a pretty little town just a two-hour drive away from London. This is the perfect destination for a family outing. It’s got tradition, entertainment and beautiful scenery for the loveliest getaway break. It has been a port since Roman times portraying the historic side of this resort. It doesn’t just have this traditional side because it holds a very modern nightlife. Although it may not be the liveliest it’s definitely worth checking out. The gorgeous beach spreads out to be a wondrous aspect of the town and during popular holidays it can be hard to find a spot. There are always beach chalets to rent which are lined across some of the beach. The harbour is another must see part of Littlehampton and its limits stretch to six miles. I love to walk down this harbour because of the amazing scenery and the interesting sites along the way down. For more fun you can go to the oyster pond. It acquired its name because the fishermen used to store large amounts of oysters in the pond. It was converted into a boating pond in the late 1870s which will entertain the kids. If your feeling peckish there is no need to look elsewhere as it holds many popular fish and chip shops reaching up to five stars. In my opinion is the best way to end a summer’s afternoon in the happy town of Littlehampton.
Littlehampton Town Council,
Telephone: 01903 732063
It's a lovely place to just chill out with your friends and family. It's big, relaxing and beautiful. As you step onto the deep, warm sand you feel as though you are in heaven because of the elegant sinkable sand. I have been to lots of local shops, amusement stores and some amazing restaurants. There's something for everyone. It's the no.1 place to be during the holidays so why not give it a try!
Address: Camber Sands Holiday Park
Address 2: New Lydd Road
Town: Camber, Near Rye
County: East Sussex
Postcode: TN31 7RT
Country: United Kingdom
One of the islands which make up the Hawaiian chain is Oahu, home of Honolulu and Waikiki. One of the thing all tourists should do is get a trip around the island, whether clockwise or anti-clockwise. The best way to do this is to hire a car (you can do it by public transport) but with local car hire rates very cheap ($39/day for us) a car is the way to go. Do not try this via scooter though, they are not allowed on the freeways or highways. The advantage of a car is you can stop when and where you like, to take a break, take a picture or grab something to eat. Driving also gives you access to the famous surf beaches on the top side of Oahu.
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