Kingfishers overtake the little boats that chug past the Sultaniye mud baths and round a final bend of the Dalyan River in Turkey to reveal the 2,500 year old limestone rock tombs carved by the Lycians high up on sheer sandstone cliff walls. Our guide explained this was so the souls of the ancient kings of nearby Caunus, who were laid to rest here, could be wafted away by winged sirens. There are restaurants opposite, good to enjoy at night while the striking and extremely photogenic site is floodlit.
Mimosa and jacaranda gave way to walnut, apple and cherry orchards as we climbed.
Kasbah Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains can only be reached on foot or by mule. I chose a mule, and friendly Berbers guided me along a river valley where women washed clothes and gathered firewood. We stopped for mint tea in a village house, admiring brightly coloured carpets hung from walls above the narrow alleys.
The Kasbah is perched high like a fortress, surrounded by snow covered mountains, a gentian blue sky and a view to a distant waterfall. With warm sun and a cool breeze on my face, I devoured tagine of lamb and the sweetest ever oranges. I envied those staying, with their wood burning stoves and deckchairs.
I had discovered Shangri-La – not surprisingly, Toubkal has stood in for Tibet. I wanted right then to do the long trek to the top of Toubkal – at 4167 meters the highest mountain in North Africa. But it was Christmas Eve and time to return home.
Day trips can be arranged to the Kasbah with a pick up from your hotel in Marrakesh.
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Consuegra announces itself from a distance with an elegant line of white windmills perched along a hilly skyline, in the otherwise endless plains of La Mancha in the heart of Spain. An excellent base for exploring the historic town with its medieval castle and peaceful square - complete with nesting storks - is La Vida de Antes, its gracious rooms set around a central courtyard. At up-and-coming restaurant Alfar, Antonio the young owner told us about the local saffron industry and recommended local dishes and wines. But it is the photogenic windmills and their association with Don Quixote that are the real attraction.
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