Tag Archives: travel

Montreal- an unexpected foodie city !

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Loved all the places we ate our way though !
Friday night – Foxy. Super grill food , just deliciousness !

Saturday brunch at Olive + gourmando. We waited for 30 mins – it was so worth the wait !! Owned by the same people that own Foxy. I had a summer salad with pumpkin seeds , quinoa , cauliflower , chicken.
DH had eggs. We both had spritz. Yummy.

Dinner was at Le Mousso. An 11 course tasting menu ! Heavenly. We did the wine pairing to go along with it. Every dish was creative , well done , superbly thought out.

Sunday brunch , our last meal was at Lawrence. Loved the food , scene , vibe and the chilled out neighborhood. I ate the eggplant on a flatbread with egg. So ,so good.

I need to come back to try all the other restaurants this city has to offer. Till next time Montreal- you were fun to visit !
#canada #foodlovers #foodiecity #greatvacation

When in doubt , head to Italy ! 

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Italy is my favorite country in the world.  New York is where I wanted to live as a child , Italy (  Regions of Tuscany or Umbria ) are where I would love to retire. 

Day 1 in Milan. We checked in at the Bulgari. A true test of a hotel is what they do when they are in trouble. With that internet down , printers not working the hotel was in trouble. But with a smiling face and no stress visible they handed it like complete pros. 

We had the 4 th floor room , garden view. Very nice. 

Candy and a tamarind drink at the lobby. 


Drinks at the ever popular bar with outdoor seating. Felt like an oasis in a busy city. Loved it. 

We did lunch at convivum restaurant. It overlooks this piazza.  Everything is gorgeous here. 


We dined at the 2 Michelin star restaurant , Seta. We really enjoyed our meal. The lamb was one of the best I have ever eaten. ( At the Mandarin Oriental ) 


Day 1 – a success !! We also went to the gym – so that was great. Could slightly justify the over eating. 

Good bye Eden Rock, Hello Christopher hotel, check in at Isle de France: day 2

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So, we slept well last night in our gorgeous duplex. 🙂 We were up by 9 am, ready to go to eat breakfast. It was a vast, scrumptious spread of fruits, cheese, breads, egg, bacon, chicken sausage, home made jams, fresh pressed juices, all while overlooking the beach! 🙂 Some last minute packing and then soaking up the sun in our beautiful terrace at Eden Rock. The breakfast was just super.

We left, and as always, were lost again. I had a lunch meeting with The GM at hotel Christopher. http://www.hotelchristopher.com ( the pictures on the website have not been updated since the renovation, so perhaps my pictures sell the property better.) I would not sell this necessarily to families with young kids, as I think young kids do enjoy the beach and direct access is great to have. There are 2 beaches very close to the property that one can access. It’s a great property- very contemporary, but not cold in feeling. They have 13 rooms that have a small terrace that overlooks the Ocean. Very spacious, beautiful rooms, decorated in Asian/ Italian influenced styles. The Ocean Suites, were just spectacular- on the 2nd floor, bright, great views and unobstructed views of the Ocean. The spa is one of the only ones on the island that has treatment rooms facing the ocean. Now, thats a perfect spa ! Also, some great promotions at the property- credit for your stay to be applied daily towards food or spa. The more you stay, the more you earn. One of the more affordable rooms on the Island, but the only draw back, is that it doesn’t have a beach. It has a super large infinity pool, great views, 2 fantastic restaurants. I really liked the hotels and I had happy clients return!

After lunch, we checked into Hotel Isle De France (www.isledefrance.com/ voted 4th most beautiful hotel in the Caribbean, by Conde Naste readers) and did a site inspection. The hotel is very open in feel. As soon as you walk into the property, you feel like you are on the water, it just has a very tranquil feel. The rooms are all white and light grey.

A 3 bedroom suite # 43

We decided to try dinner at Taiwan hotel, restaurant Parci. They were orignally only serving to hotel guests, but recently have

allowed other guests. It was a great recommendation.

It’s taken close to 2 hours to upload the pics and post all this, so till tomorrow night, bon nuit! 🙂

Have you been to either of these hotels? what did you think of them? share your thoughts and feedback with me.

My travel bucket list- Part 3

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My travel bucket list- Part 3

Australia (Tasmania)

The island-state of Tasmania, located 170 mi/275 km south of Melbourne off the country’s southern coast, is known as “Tassie” by the locals. It is perhaps best known outside of Australia as the home of the Tasmanian devil—the whirling dervish of a marsupial that inspired the Looney Tunes cartoon character. But to Australians, it’s a fabulous place to spend a week’s vacation. Tasmania has long stretches of uninhabited beaches, jagged (and often snowcapped) mountains, slow-moving creeks and rivers, gorges, historical sites, forests and a rugged shoreline.

You can fly to the island from Melbourne or Sydney. But if seasickness isn’t a problem, we recommend taking the ferry from Melbourne to Devonport. Then rent a car and drive to Queenstown for a boat tour up the Gordon River. On your return, drive to Russell Falls (a tropical waterfall decked with wild ferns) at Mount Field National Park, then go on to New Norfolk (eat at one of the restaurants along the Derwent River).

The next stop is Hobart, the largest city on Tasmania. Walk around this early-19th-century city to see old homes and buildings. Visit the Van Diemen’s Land Memorial Folk Museum in an 1836 mansion or the Maritime Museum in the fine Georgian-style Secheron House. Browse through the arts-and-crafts galleries, coffeehouses and restaurants in the old sandstone warehouses of Salamanca Place (Saturday street market). At night, attend a performance at the Theatre Royal (Australia’s oldest “legitimate” theater) or visit the West Point Casino. Take half a day to climb 4,100-ft/1,250-m Mount Wellington for a great view, then drive to Glen Huon (great apples, if they’re in season).

From Hobart, drive 60 mi/100 km past Eaglehawks Neck to Port Arthur, an old penal colony with another attractive view. For 57 years (1830-87), Port Arthur confined nearly 12,000 prisoners. Today, it has a museum displaying captains’ logs that list the crimes of their passengers. Tasmanian Devil Park, located 12 mi/8 km to the north, is a refuge for the ferocious wolverine-like marsupials. Overnight at the Cascades at Koonya bed-and-breakfast in the old penal colony, or return to Hobart. Hike up to Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park for a look at one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches. Next, drive north through the center of the island to Launceston, the second-largest city on the island, to see the gorge and Tamar River scenery for two nights, then fly out.

Nature lovers will enjoy hiking through Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park, near the center of the island. (Some 70 mi/110 km of hiking trails cross jagged mountains, moors, streams and gorges.) At night you might see Tasmanian devils, wallabies and other animals. During the day you can go canoeing, fishing and hiking.

Two islands in the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Australian mainland will appeal to adventurous travelers who aren’t solely interested in shopping, nightlife or the creature comforts of civilization. King Island has attractive beaches, good seafood and tasty cheeses; it rates up to a three-night stay. There’s a variety of accommodations available, primarily in Currie, the main town. Flinders Island, farther east (part of the Furneaux group), resembles King in that it has a rugged coast and good beaches. It’s also a great place to hike and hunt for various precious gemstones (most of these are near the town of Palana).

No matter when you go, take a sweater—Tasmania is cold at night and might only reach the 40s F/3-7 C during the day. The Tasmanian summer in January seems to last for about two weeks.

Non-Preferred Hotels

Cradle Mountain Lodge (Cradle Mountain, Tasmania) www.cradlemountainlodge.com.au

Saffire Freycinet (Coles Bay, Tasmania) www. saffire-freycinet.com.au

The Henry Jones (Hobart) www.thehenryjones.com

Bhutan

Bhutan is the only country in the Himalayas where the Vajrayana Buddhist culture survives intact. However, the fall of other kingdoms that represent this vibrant culture, such as Tibet, Sikkim and Ladakh, and the encroachment of globalization make the survival of this tiny Buddhist nation increasingly fragile and poignant.

In Bhutan, trekkers will find an alternative to the overcrowded trails of Nepal. Serious photographers will be impressed with the country’s traditional architecture and abundant wildlife. (Herds of yaks graze in its high-country valleys, and rare snow leopards, blue sheep and black-necked cranes can sometimes be spotted in its farthest reaches.) Others can find pleasure in the elaborate tsechus(religious festivals) that are held throughout the year at various dzongs (fortress monasteries). Nearly everyone who visits Bhutan will be awed by the unsurpassed majesty of the Himalayas.

But it’s neither easy nor cheap to visit Bhutan, which is tucked in between India and China (Tibet). No independent travel is allowed in the country—all visitors must book their trip through a state-licensed travel office or a foreign travel agent who deals directly with the government. The government charges all travelers 9,000 Nu a day, to which the Bhutanese company may or may not add its own operating costs.

On the brighter side, your trip is usually free of the hassles associated with travel in other countries in this region, as the fee covers lodging, food, tours and comfortable transportation in well-maintained buses, SUVs or cars. The fee also includes a guide with whom you can plan your itinerary.

Preferred Hotels

Amankora – www.amanresorts.com/amankora

Uma Paro – www.uma.paro.como.bz

Caribbean (Jumby Bay, Antigua & Peter Island, BVI)

This private island is quite hilly, and it has several secluded beaches that are worth seeking out—Deadman’s Bay is the most famous. It’s the home of the Peter Island Resort and Yacht Harbour, one of the Caribbean’s most luxurious and exclusive resorts. The facilities are nestled along the edge of the north shore, leaving the rest of this 8-mi-/13-km-long island completely undeveloped.

Nonguests are welcome to visit the island. It’s an extremely popular overnight anchorage for the yachting crowd. You can dine at the beach restaurant or elegant Tradewinds Restaurant (advance reservations required at both) and use the beaches. Just remember to respect the privacy of the hotel guests and refrain from using the resort facilities.

Ferries run regularly between Peter Island and a dock just east of Road Town, Tortola.

Preferred Hotels 

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort – www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/jumbybay

Peter Island – www.peterisland.com

Iceland

Iceland’s stark, pristine scenery has been shaped by fire and ice: More than 200 volcanoes and numerous glaciers form the country’s landscape. It’s a frozen land that’s always letting off steam. Its U-shaped valleys, jagged lava fields, monstrous icecaps, hot springs and geysers have carved a rugged, bizarre landscape you won’t see anywhere else on Earth. But you don’t need the fortitude of a Viking to enjoy Iceland. In fact, you can experience many of its extremes in relative comfort. During a recent trip, we swam outdoors in a naturally heated pool just feet/meters away from a glacier.

Despite its relative isolation and untillable terrain, Iceland has one of the highest standards of living in the world (with sky-high prices to match). Tourists began to flock there in the 1990s, realizing that it’s actually a destination in its own right rather than just a long layover on connecting Icelandair flights. The country is considered part of Europe, and it is a popular vacation and conference destination for Europeans.

Icelanders, like many islanders, are self-confident and reserved, but once you break the ice, so to speak, they are among the friendliest in the world. Of course, they, too, have their extremes. Although weeknights in Reykjavik, the capital city, are usually quite sedate, the wee hours during the weekends (particularly Friday nights) can get downright raucous as stylishly dressed young people observe a rowdy party-on-the-streets ritual known as the runtur, or circuit.

Iceland is in the midst of an economic boom, with building cranes all over the capital, Reykjavik, though it has slowed down a bit because the country is having difficulty financing the expansion. As Reykjavik becomes more like other large cities, visitors will need to travel outside the city to find the essence of the country.

India (Madhya Pradesh Lodges)

You have been to India, done the usual Rajasthan, or Kerela/ South India trip, then this can be an interesting option.

Preferred Hotels 

The Oberoi (Mumbai) – www.oberoihotels.com

The Oberoi Gurgaon (New Delhi) – www.oberoihotels.com

The Oberoi New Delhi – www.oberoihotels.com

The Taj Mahal Hotel (New Delhi) – www.tajhotels.com

The Taj Mahal Palace (Mumbai) – www.tajhotels.com

Non-Preferred Hotels (Safari Lodges)

Baghvan Pench Jungle Lodge – www.tajsafaris.com

Banjaar Tola Kanha Tented Camp – www.tajsafaris.com

Mahua Kothi Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge – www.andbeyondindia.com

Pashan Garh Panna Wilderness Lodge – www.andbeyondindia.com

Madagascar

Madagascar, the world’s fourth-largest island, is full of oddities and rarities. If you’re partial to lizards, for example, you’re in luck: You’ll find more than half the world’s species of chameleons there. You’ll also find more than some 70 species of lemur, a family of wide-eyed, long-tailed primates that are exclusive to this one island. Madagascar’s biodiversity also embraces some 220 endemic frog species, while more than half of the 210 breeding birds occur nowhere else in the world. And every year scientists discover new species of plants and animals in its deserts and forests.

But if Madagascar is a nature lover’s dream, it can also be a traveler’s nightmare. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world—three-quarters of its 17 million people live on less than US$1 a day. Though warm, wet and fertile, the island produces barely enough to feed itself—one in 10 children there is chronically malnourished.

Politically, the situation in the country has improved since 2001, when a disputed election threw Madagascar into chaos. President Marc Ravalomanana is opening up the country to foreign investment and trying to stamp out corruption and bad governance after years of mismanagement. Plus, the 2005 animated film Madagascar generated a lot of worldwide interest in this country off Africa’s southeastern coast.

So there is hope for Madagascar, especially in the area of ecotourism. It has an exceptional variety of landscapes, from coral isles and virgin coastlines to baobab forests and craters. All of Africa has one variety of baobab tree, for example, and Madagascar has seven, as well as 19,000 species of plants—a world record.

However, Madagascar continues to face ongoing problems—flooding in early 2005, regular cyclones (in 2004, cyclones destroyed an estimated 120,000 structures, left 240,000 people homeless, and killed and injured scores more) and drought conditions in some areas.

The country is also constrained by lack of infrastructure (there are only about 3,700 mi/6,000 km of constructed roads in a country the size of France) and good hotels. So although tourists are heading there in ever-increasing numbers.


Myanmar

Myanmar presents a dilemma. On the one hand, it has a timeless beauty—it feels like something out of a dream. It’s one of the last remaining places where you can catch a glimpse of Old Asia—of men and women in traditional longyis walking beside golden pagodas and dilapidated colonial buildings as horse carts and vintage taxis ply the streets. On the other hand, the group of generals who rule the country have combined some of the worst aspects of Old Asia with some of the less admirable aspects of their more modernized neighbors. Their contradictory impulses—to keep the country closed and tightly under control while desperately attempting to lure foreign investors and travelers—make for a very unsettling place.

The government’s reluctance to admit problems was evident in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. Despite independent reports to the contrary, the government initially denied that the country had suffered any damage. In fact, though Myanmar’s rocky shoreline was spared the serious damage that killed thousands in Thailand, Indonesia and India’s Andaman Islands, there was some destruction in the Irrawaddy Delta south of Yangon. All told, 86 people were confirmed dead, more than 5,000 people were left homeless, and several fishing villages were destroyed.

We think that adventurous open-minded travelers who choose to visit Myanmar, despite and because of the repression of its people, will find the experience both memorable and haunting. To gain the broadest insight into the country’s people and their culture, we do recommend traveling beyond the capital and the major tourist sites to explore the multiethnic diversity of this ancient land.

Preferred hotels

The Governor’s Mansion (Yangon) – www.governorsresidence.com

There is a trip that the OEH has, by boat, called “THE ROAD TO MANDALAY”. Contact me for details.

New Zealand

Myanmar presents a dilemma. On the one hand, it has a timeless beauty—it feels like something out of a dream. It’s one of the last remaining places where you can catch a glimpse of Old Asia—of men and women in traditional longyis walking beside golden pagodas and dilapidated colonial buildings as horse carts and vintage taxis ply the streets. On the other hand, the group of generals who rule the country have combined some of the worst aspects of Old Asia with some of the less admirable aspects of their more modernized neighbors. Their contradictory impulses—to keep the country closed and tightly under control while desperately attempting to lure foreign investors and travelers—make for a very unsettling place.

The government’s reluctance to admit problems was evident in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. Despite independent reports to the contrary, the government initially denied that the country had suffered any damage. In fact, though Myanmar’s rocky shoreline was spared the serious damage that killed thousands in Thailand, Indonesia and India’s Andaman Islands, there was some destruction in the Irrawaddy Delta south of Yangon. All told, 86 people were confirmed dead, more than 5,000 people were left homeless, and several fishing villages were destroyed.

We think that adventurous open-minded travelers who choose to visit Myanmar, despite and because of the repression of its people, will find the experience both memorable and haunting. To gain the broadest insight into the country’s people and their culture, we do recommend traveling beyond the capital and the major tourist sites to explore the multiethnic diversity of this ancient land.

Preferred Hotels

Blanket Baywww.blanketbay.com

Sofitel Queenstown www.sofitel.com/Queenstown

The Langham, Auckland – www. auckland.langhamhotels.co.nz

Well, that’s all I have for now.. 🙂 happy reading. Thank you to my friends at Signature, for their support as always.

Contact me to set up a vacation for you.. 🙂

My Bucket list of places one MUST visit- Part 2

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My Bucket list of places one MUST visit- Part 2

Ok, hope you enjoyed reading about some of the places on list 1.

Moving on , I would say Peru is a hotspot right now.

Lake Titicaca, which straddles Peru’s border with Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world—and one of the most beautiful. The Inca ruins of Machu Picchu, which would be stunning anywhere, are truly spectacular in their Andean setting, high above the Urubamba River. And Cusco, once the center of the Inca empire and now a vibrant gateway to Inca ruins, is also high in the Andes.

Yet even at sea level, Peru can leave you breathless. With unspoiled beaches, coastal desert, deep canyons and dense Amazon jungle, its variety of natural wonders is astonishing.

Then, there are the cultural treasures. The contrast between old and new runs throughout the land: Poncho-clad indigenous peoples walk their llamas through modern cities, past Spanish cathedrals built on the foundations of ancient Inca ruins. Giant, stylized designs were etched in the earth by the Nazca—a great pre-Columbian civilization.

Peru is where pre-Columbian culture reached its most graceful peak. Like the Parthenon in Greece or the Pyramids of Egypt, the Inca and pre-Inca ruins of Peru provide an unforgettable glimpse of the genius of a lost world.

FACTS

Peru ranks among the highest places in the world in biodiversity, with 84 of the 104 known life zones on the planet found in the country.

Peru is one of the countries in the world with the largest variety of orchids—2,800 classified and as many as 3,000 unclassified.

Peru has some of the world’s best waves for surfing, and Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich was ranked the No. 1 female surfer in the world in 2004.

Peru is one of the world’s largest asparagus producers and exporters, but the vegetable is rarely eaten by Peruvians.

Lima’s metropolitan area population accounts for close to one-third of the nation’s total population.

With more than 1,800 species of birds—more than in all of North America and Europe combined—Peru is a mecca for birdwatchers.

Ok, some of the hotels:

Country Club Hotel (Lima) – http://www.hotelcountry.com

Hotel Monasterio (Cusco) – http://www.monasteriohotel.com

Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (Machu Picchu) – http://www.sanctuarylodgehotel.com

Miraflores Park (Lima) – http://www.miraflorespark.com

Palacio Nazarenas (Cusco) – http://www.palacionazarenas.com

 This is an amazing tour to do, if you can, and I can hook you up with it :
Another fantastic way to do this region, is on the Orient Express Train, from Cuzco to Macchu Picchu.

http://www.orient-express.com/collection/trains/hiram_bingham.jsp

Some info on Machu Pichu:

Machu Picchu, at an elevation of 8,000 ft/2,450 m (much lower than nearby Cusco), has the most spectacular setting of any ruin in the world—even those who aren’t normally excited by archaeology will be impressed. This Lost City of the Incas is a place everyone must see at least once.

Unknown to the outside world until Yale’s Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911, Machu Picchu sits on the spine of a ridge 2,000 ft/610 m above the rushing Urubamba River. Capping the end of the ridge is Huayna Picchu, a soaring peak that offers a challenging climb—and a bird’s-eye view of the complex as a reward. Once atop Huayna Picchu, linger for a view of the surrounding misty green-clad mountains and you’ll understand why the last Incas chose to hide there.

Machu Picchu’s grassy central court is surrounded by almost 200 houses, palaces and temples built from perfectly fitted stone blocks. Especially notable are the Temple of the Sun (the only round building), the Temple of the Three Windows (trapezoidal openings), the Sacristy (full of mysterious niches) and the Intihuatana (Hitching Post of the Sun). Stone and earth terraces (designed for farming and defense) descend the mountain around three sides of the city—the fourth side is a sheer cliff.

To get to Machu Picchu, take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, a trip of 70 mi/115 km northwest. The ride itself is an adventure—it leaves Cusco in the early morning, climbs switchbacks, descends into a valley and passes through villages before reaching its destination. Many travelers prefer to take the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes—it’s cheaper and faster. From the Aguas Calientes station, buses cross a boulder-strewn stream and takes visitors up 14 switchbacks to (expensive) Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (rooms must be booked months in advance), adjacent to the entrance.

You can see the ruins on a day trip from Cusco, but you’ll miss the eerie, misty sunset and an even more magical sunrise over the ruins if you don’t spend the night. An overnight stay is best done at the village of Aguas Calientes, which has hotels from budget to luxury standards.

If you’re feeling really fit, you could reach the ruins via the famous Inca Trail, an ancient pathway that passes through cloud forests, gorges and ancient Inca outposts before descending into Machu Picchu. The number of hikers on the Inca Trail is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists plus guides and porters), and everyone must be accompanied by a government-certified guide. (Many outfitters in Cusco or Lima can arrange this, but reservations must be made four months in advance.) It takes between two and four days to reach Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail. The Inca Trail is closed during the month of February for maintenance.

French Polynesia: 

It’s surprising how close a visit to French Polynesia comes to fulfilling the ideal of paradise. The islands, which include Bora Bora, Tahiti and Moorea, are still largely quiet and move at a slow pace outside Papeete, Tahiti’s busy capital city. The lagoons of French Polynesia are still amazing shades of blue or green; the mountains still rise dramatically above the sea.

And though the residents of French Polynesia may spend more time buzzing around in SUVs than paddling outrigger canoes, they still (cliched as it may sound) spend an inordinate amount of time humming or singing, and many wear flowers in their hair.

But as with most things beautiful, French Polynesia isn’t easily had as a travel destination. A (decidedly chic) thatch-roofed bungalow there can cost you 68,400 CFP a night or more, and there are few bargains to be found in dining, activities or transportation. However, those who can afford a vacation in the islands of French Polynesia aren’t likely to be disappointed. And were it not for the travel price tag, you might be tempted to stay forever.

Still super popular with honyemooners, this is a more undiscovered island- Tuamotus.

Tikehau Pearl Resort – http://www.pearlresorts.com/tikehaupearlbeachresort

Kia Ora – http://www.eu.hotelkiaora.com

Kia Ora Sauvage – http://www.eu.hotelkiaora.com

Some info on Bora Bora, a great place to end your honeymoon,

Lagoon with view of Mount Otemanu

Hyperbole seems to surround Bora Bora, French Polynesia. (Locals often refer to it with a singular “Bora.”) Author James Michener called Bora Bora “the most beautiful island in the world,” which may be a stretch, though its steep mountain peak and brilliant lagoon certainly are beautiful.

More recently, Bora has been targeted by some travel writers as the French Polynesian island where tourism has gotten out of control—too many hotels, too many people, too much traffic. Apparently too many hotel rooms were built too quickly, however, for the global economic slump of the late 2000s saw several major resorts close their doors and shutter their over-the-water bungalows for lack of sufficient business.

The island, 160 mi/260 km northwest of Papeete, does get a lot of visitors (many of them from Europe and the U.S.), but it’s still a far cry from a Cancun- or Florida-style buildup. (Some of the bustle results from the fact that Bora is rather small compared to larger tourist islands such as Moorea.) The amazingly clear blue-green water alone is enough to satisfy most visitors.

Black pearl boutiques and fancy restaurants line the road south from Vaitape, and frugal travelers may feel out of place. Yet snorkeling among the myriad lagoon fish near Matira Point is free, and in a half-day you can easily peddle a rental bicycle the 20 mi/32 km around the island.

hotels

www.hilton.com/BoraBora-Nu

www.fourseasons.com/BoraBora

http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/borabora

http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/…/borabora-thalasso

Moorea:

One of French Polynesia’s “big three” tourism islands, Moorea sits right next door to Tahiti, 12 mi/20 km northwest of Papeete and just a five-minute flight from the international airport or a 20-minute ferry ride from Papeete’s harbor.

Despite their proximity, Moorea is quite different from the capital. There’s no urban buildup (in fact, the populated areas are villages more than towns), and the large island absorbs its many visitors with few signs of stress. With a turquoise lagoon, several bays and steep mountains, Moorea ranks with Bora Bora in the looks department. All in all, it’s a terrific place to spend three nights, though many devote a week or more to the island.

Hotels

http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/intercontinental/en/gb/locations/moorea

http://www.pearlresorts.com/moorea/

Ok- to be continued!

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My bucket list of places one MUST visit!

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My bucket list of places one MUST visit!

Argentina- Mendoza: South America’s napa Valley

The old colonial section of Mendoza, Argentina, was destroyed by fire and earthquake in 1861, so there’s not much that’s unique to see in this city 610 mi/980 km northwest of Buenos Aires. It is, however, a bustling place with leafy boulevards and a wonderful climate, thanks to its location at the foot of the Andes.

The main attractions are the weekend artisans market on the Plaza Independencia and the 170-acre/69-hectare San Martin Park. However, the surrounding area also is worth seeing—beautiful Andean scenery (including Aconcagua, which at 22,835 ft/6,960 m is the highest peak in the Americas).

The country’s best ski resort, Las Lenas, is in Mendoza province but is actually six hours away from Mendoza city. Nearby is the Christ the Redeemer Statue and the Puente del Inca, a natural stone bridge 150 ft/45 m long and about 90 ft/25 m high. Mendoza is also the wine capital of Argentina (there’s a nice wine museum and hundreds of vineyards), and winery and tasting tours range from routine bus itineraries of the most commercial wineries to intimate top-shelf tastings in historic bodegas.

Recommend these hotels:

Park Hyatt Mendoza – www. mendoza.park.hyatt.com

Las Cavas – www.cavaswinelodge.com

Entre Cielos – www.entrecielos.com

CHILE

If you are into hiking/ nature, then Ushuaia is another great place, south of CHILE.

Most consider Ushuaia to be the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia’s port is a common stopover for visits to Antarctica.

The port itself, at Avenida Maipu 510, is wholly given over to commercial shipping. Passengers disembarking there generally head straight for the city proper, as there are no tourist facilities at the port terminal itself.

The city grew around a prison, whose prisoners helped to build the town and the foundation for theTren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train), the southernmost railway in the world. The railway connects visitors to Tierra del Fuego National Park.

Other attractions in Ushuaia include wildlife (penguins, birds and orcas) and nearby ski areas. The ski areas often keep the lifts running in summer for hikes to a nearby glacier.

The city experiences misty and foggy conditions for much of the year, so rain protection is a necessity for visitors. Be aware that the city also experiences strong winds. Warm clothing is necessary even in summer months, when average high temperatures don’t rise much above 47 F/14 C.

HOTELS:

Ushuaia: Los Cauquenes – www.loscauquenes.com/en

If you want to explore Patagonia region, here are some hotels:

CHILE :

Punta Arenas/Patagonia region: 

Explora en Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico – www.explora.com/explora-patagonia/hotel-salto-chico

The Singular – www. thesingular.com

A cruise can be a great idea:

Cruceros Australis – www.australis.com

BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—sensuous, chaotic, sophisticated, open and friendly—is one of South America’s gems. The Cidade Marvilhosa (Marvelous City), as Brazilians call it, displays a unique blend of contrasts: old and new, tremendous wealth amid crushing poverty, an urban metropolis nestled around mountains and a huge forest.

All of Rio de Janeiro is symbolically embraced in the outstretched arms of Cristo Redentor, the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio, making it the first South American city to host the Olympic Games, and tourism to Brazil is expected to increase significantly. Rio will also be an important host city to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The finals are expected to be played in an upgraded Maracana stadium.

Rio is undergoing major infrastructure improvements, in efforts to upgrade its transportation system and adopt environmental initiatives in preparation for the Olympics. According to the Brazil Tour Operators Association, hotel capacity will more than double. Football stadiums are being rebuilt, world-class sports facilities are being designed, and the historic quarter and port area are being rejunvenated.

Rio de Janeiro plays host to what some call “the biggest party in the world” during the four-day holiday that is Carnival, which takes place just before Lent in February or Early March. Street parties take place throughout the city and the colorful samba schools parade through the city’s Sambadrome to the sound of heavy drum beats.

But if the buzz of the city becomes too much—during Carnival or otherwise—there’s always an easy escape: to the beautiful coast or to the lush Tijuca Forest that surrounds Rio de Janeiro’s mountainous slopes, where you can hike, bike or jump under a waterfall.

Hotels, my fav is Fasano!

Caesar Park Rio – www.caesarpark-rio.com

Copacabana Palace – www.copacabanapalace.com.br

Hotel Fasano Rio – www.fasano.com.br

Hotel Santa Teresa – www.santa-teresa-hotel.com/en

The St. Tropez of the southern hemisphere:

Buzios (east of Rio)

Buzios (pronounced BOO-zee-ohs) is a pricey, attractive resort area jutting into the Atlantic on the Cabo Frio Peninsula 125 mi/200 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro. The resort is made up of three settlements (Armacao, Ossos and Manguinhos) surrounded by nearly 30 idyllic beaches ranging from long, wide and crowded sweeps of sand to small secluded coves. Watersports include surfing, windsurfing at Ferradura (Horseshoe) Beach, snorkeling (Joao Fernandes and Joao Fernandinho beaches) and swimming. Sunbathers can avoid tan lines at Azeda and Azedinha, the resort’s two topless beaches.

A tiny fishing village completely off the beaten track, Buzios was “discovered” by French actress Brigitte Bardot when she was touring the area in the 1960s, and it has been popular for years with wealthy Brazilians and Europeans. Development is continuing at a controlled pace: New buildings have a height limit of two stories and are designed to blend in with local surroundings—a neat trick for million-dollar villas in what was once a fishing village. Most lodging is in small pousada-style accommodations. Book as far in advance as possible, because it can get busy.

As befits an upscale resort, there are many fine shops and excellent restaurants (international and Brazilian cuisine). Be sure to sample grilled fish, fresh from the sea, on the beach—it’s a special, inexpensive treat.

Hotels:

http://www.viladeste.com.br/english/index.asp

https://www.casasbrancas.com.br/?

No trip to Brazil is complete, without a trip to Iguassu falls.

It’s fantastic if you can see it from both sides, Argentina and Brazil.

Stay at the National park, private off hours access, with Orient Express

http://www.hoteldascataratas.com/web/ogua/hotel_das_cataratas.jsp

Another idea, is to go WEST of Rio, to Paraty. There are no beaches here, but its gret for hikes. A trip to a beach is a 10 m boat ride.

Hotel:

http://www.casaturquesa.com.br/casa_ing.asp

To be continued…. 🙂

Day 5- Florence , here we come! :)

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Santa Croce church was our meeting point after a breakfast feast. We went to a leather and mosaic factory.
The mosaic art was created in the 16 th century by the Medici family. It was used as inserts in panels , table tops etc. They use beeswax to join these pieces together. They start with an idea- portrait , canvas etc then create a template and apply to the solid piece of slate and then just cut out with an old bow. On the weekends they go to look for stones in the hills of Florence.

   

The mosaic workshop we visited was “I Mosaici di lastrucci”.

Its on Via dei Macci, 9, -51022.

http://www.imosaicidilastrucci.it/index.php?i-mosaici-di-lastrucci-firenze

More info is on the previous post.

                               

   

       

The leather school”Scuola Del Cuoio”  http://www.scuoladelcuoio.com/index.html –

There was a dormitory that was abandoned and converted to a leather school for the orphans. The Fransicians decided to train them in the leather crafts. This was in the 13 th century. This was near a tannery as it was close to water. They uses to cover their manuscripts in leather. The family owned a leather workshop in 1932. It was specialized in artisinal leather.
In 1950 the leather workshop moved here, to this location. There is a workshop and an international school. The leather is all Italian. We met 2 of the 3 sisters who are the owners of this workshop.

       

After this, we had a little bit of free time to walk around, so I walked a little bit of this fantastic city!

      

Villa San Michele Site Inspection

http://www.villasanmichele.com/web/ovil/villa_san_michele.jsp

Built in the 15 th century. 1808 was a monastery then converted to a villa. A French owner bought it but it was destroyed in 1942 after the war. In 1952 it was converted to a hotel.

This was the 2 Nd OE hotel in Italy. Designed by Michaelango. The suite ( Michangelo is 70 sq mt and connected with 2 double suites) .
There are 2 classic doubles ( overlooking the gardens) ,10 superior doubles and 8 deluxe double rooms.
In 1994 the outside was built until 2003. There are 3 categories. Very large 40 sq mt. Private terrace or garden.
In 1994 after the major refurbishment the dining hall was covered and they were able to create the indoor restaurant.
Junior Executive deluxe, deluxe and junior superior. The lomonata suite has a plunge pool. There is 1 bedroom suite , then 2 garden suites.The chapel -deluxe double used to be the chapel of the hotel.
Total 46 rooms.

There is no spa but all treatments can be arranged in the rooms and there is an open space spa area for massages overlooking the city.

The cooking school works on Mon , Wed and Sat. The rate of the school  is 200 euros pp plus tax. During peak season there is a symphony of pasta , a 3 day stay who will prepare typical pasta and then other chefs come to prepare food and demonstrate.
  

    

  

The Last Supper 

      

  

  

 

  

  

  

The meal was perfection. This was our last dinner before we left.

The next day, we headed back to NYC on Alatalia, which was absolutely fabulous being on their flat beds. A great flight and service. I would highly recommend it.

Popular honeymoon destinations from 2011

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So, its December already, a lot of married and happy couples later, I am happy to share some popular destinations booked this year for honeymoons.

-French Polynesia with Bora Bora being the highlight of most people.

-Hawaii for the more adventurous

-Costa Rica for eco friendly and very active

Other destinations that are on my list of places to suggest, would be:

Turkey

Morocco

South Africa

Necker Island for someone seeking something exotic ( for Celebrations week in October)

Maldives

Europe- there are so many fantastic choices here

Bon Voyage !