Monthly Archives: June 2016

Caribbean on travelling guide

The tiny seaside town of Deshaies (pronounced Daaaay) might look a little familiar to fans of the BBC drama Death in Paradise, as this is where it was filmed. On the main street is the Mairie (Town Hall) which flies the Tricolore and the EU flag in the Caribbean sunlight while colourful sailing boats bob on the sea beyond. There’s a myriad of cafes and restaurants – a charming mix of French patisseries and West Indian offering fresh seafood, especially lobster.

The islands

The islands of Guadeloupe offer a glimpse into old world Caribbean and yet distinct from each other. Desiderade is wild and undeveloped and the pancake-shaped Marie Galante is rural and unspoiled, filled with sugar cane.

Les Saintes, a series of eight tropical islands located around 10 km (6 mi) south of Guadeloupe, can be reached from Basse Terre by ferry.

Only two are populated and one of those is Terre de Haute, the largest of the eight islands. It is rich in tropical and marine beauty but it was not considered suitable for sugar production because of its hilly terrain. Consequently it had no slaves and locals are descended from Norman and Breton colonists and many have blond or red hair.

Food

Guadeloupe serves up some great dishes, and you can taste influences from Europe, Africa, India and America in the local cuisine.

Restaurant L’Amer in Deshais (c) Judith Baker

In Deshaies, you’ll find an incongruous mix of French patisseries and West Indian diners. There’s no missing L’Amer, painted bright orange. This busy restaurant on the main street overlooks the sea and serves Guadeloupe specialities such as fresh lobster and the aperitif Ti’punch (lemon, rum and sugar).

Beaches
Malendure beach in Bouillante (c) Judith Baker

In Basse Terre the beach of Grand Anse is simply stunning. The sand looks like a ribbon of yellow trimming in front of an emerald jungle. Imagine how beautiful the sunsets are in this scenery.

Guadeloupe’s main island has about 50 beaches with many more on the smaller islands and generally the best beaches can be found on the south west of Grand Terre and the west of Basse Terre. Les Saintes has one of the prettiest beaches in the archipelago.

Nature

The huge lagoon Cul de Sac is enclosed by a 29 kilometre coral reef, a nature reserve that contains a rich ecosystem, mangrove and swamp forest which can be explored by kayak or boat.

In the centre of Basse Terre the national parc, full of hiking trails and here you will find the magical Cascade aux Ecrevisses, a jungle waterfall. The island is home to 270 different ferns and 100 species of orchids.

Travelling in South Eastern Pennsylvania

unduhan-34Just outside Kennett Square, Longwood Gardens started life as an 18th century arboretum covering 15 acres and boasting one of the finest collections of trees in the USA. Over time it fell into disuse and in 1906 was about to be razed for lumber.

Fortunately, Pierre S. du Pont, a member of the prominent du Pont family, stepped in and purchased the land, primarily to preserve the trees. He also wanted a place where he could entertain his friends and began extending and developing the gardens. They now run to more than a thousand acres and the gardens range from formal to naturalistic.

Du Pont was fascinated by water technology and the Fountain Garden is his major achievement. It’s undergoing major refurbishment but is scheduled to reopen in 2017.

 

Chaddsford Winery

Surprisingly, Pennsylvania is home to around 220 wineries, making it the 7th largest wine producing state in the U.S. Chaddsford Winery, in the Brandywine Valley, was a dairy farm until 1982 and is now one of Pennsylvania’s oldest and largest.

Originally, 33 acres of vines were planted but they now outsource their grapes from local producers. Winemaker Jim Osborn makes a full complement of styles, both red and white, ranging from light, fresh and fruity to big, rich and earthy.

The winery is open every day for tastings and they run regular special events, bringing in food trucks and local bands to entertain.

 

Artisan Exchange

In a large warehouse on the edge of West Chester, the Artisan Exchange houses a selection of artisan food producers who lease space for kitchens and production areas. It also functions as an information exchange and they benefit from business and marketing advice from founders Frank and Maryann Baldassarre of Golden Valley Farms Coffee.

It’s very much a cooperative and every Saturday there’s an indoor market where you can taste and buy their handcrafted organic products. Next door the Levante Brewing Companybrews and serves its craft ales from Wednesday to Sunday.

 

Valley Forge National Historical Park

Valley Forge National Historical Park is the place where, in 1777, during the American War of Independence, George Washington wintered his 12000 troops. Its elevated position made it easy to defend and the demoralised army cut down trees and made shelter. By the end of February they’d constructed over 2000 huts and the worst of the winter was over. Prussian General, Baron von Steuben, arrived to drill the soldiers and Washington emerged in the spring to fight another day.

Guided trolley tours take in all points of the park, with stops at the reconstructed Muhlenberg Brigade Huts and the Isaac Potts House, where Washington was headquartered.

Sun destinations easy to get in UK

unduhan-33As the days are darkening earlier and the sun is shying away from our skies, we know this is the onset of freezing temperatures and dreary grey skies. So why wait for next summer? Grab your shades and start planning your warming rays way before then.

We suggest five easy-to-get-to-from-the-UK destinations where you could be relaxing in the sun by teatime.

1Lanzarote, The Canaries

The island of Lanzarote is part of a clutch of islands called The Canaries – that make up the Spanish archipelago and is ideal for beach lovers. Peurto Del Carmen is notorious for its heady nightlife, and those that prefer a bit more quiet and elegance head for the beautiful beaches at Famara and Papagayo.

Putting aside the beaches, the volcanic island of Lanzarote puts on quite a show away from the coastline too.

 

The stretches of black volcanic rock landscape is trimmed by a chain of multi-hued mountains only broken by the green of the odd cactus plant that has managed to flourish.

The dark shades of the landscape offer a sensational contrast with the low-rise white-washed towns that have sprouted up along the coastline. There is the odd dash of colour courtesy of painted window panes usually, green or brown but overall the island has been protected by the kind of tourism that demands high rise architecture.

This is thanks to the initiative taken by celebrated artist and designer Cesar Manrique who insisted on maintaining the island’s natural beauty. Often his architecture works with it and he created some amazing homes by integrating them into the rock face of a volcano. Famously, hollywood actor Omar Sherif had one built for him in Nazaret which he lost to the developer in a bridge player.

 

2Tenerife, The Canaries

Tenerife, the largest of the seven Canary Islands, has a year-round spring-like climate and an impressive mountainous landscape that makes for an ideal getaway especially if you like to ramble. But the island has a surprising secret.

Best known for its debauched night life, it’s worth raising an eyebrow at what naturalist Alexander von Humboldt said when he climbed Mount Teide, the largest peak in Spain: “I have never beheld a prospect more varied, more attractive, more harmonious in the distribution of the masses of verdure and rocks, than the western coast of Tenerife.” Teide National Park has been named a Starlight Tourist Destination, which means low pollution and a pristine night-sky superb for star-gazing.

 

3Paphos (Pafos), Cypru

This ancient harbour is a town of two halves. Here’s why: its lower part, Kato Pafos, has neon lights, bars and heady clubs and its upper part Ktima, is calmer, where locals live and work.

Yet Pafos is where you will find the island’s most fascinating archaeological sites and is famed for being the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love at Petra tou Romiou. The town’s forest has probably the most spectacular scenery on the island and the Pafos Mosaics, a compelling meze of intricate and colourful mosaics is a pleasure. It tells of all sorts of hedonistic stories including the famous tale of Narcissus.

The main attraction is the Tomb of the King’s, a Unesco World Heritage site around two kilometers from Kato Pafos. It’s a bit of a misnomer, as these tombs do not have a single royal resident, at all but they do look grand therefore where dubbed so.

Holidays in Barbados

When it comes to going on winter holiday we could do worse than follow Sir Cliff Richard’s lead to Barbados because for winter sun, this tiny island is a classic! The hurricane season ends in November after which the island is showered in sunshine for 10 whole hours a day. And this winter, you won’t find bluer skies, balmier days or more beautiful beaches at such good value as is currently available (Thomas Cook Airlines offer return flights from £399.99).

For the young at heart, St Lawrence Gap is the place to party. Nightclubs, reggae clubs and discos throb along this strip into the wee hours. The Ship Inn is a favourite among the locals looking for some RnB. The nearby capital city of Bridgetown, though pretty bland during the day, buzzes with energy after sundown. For a more serene sojourn head for the West Coast where a sleepy ambience combines with heady sunny days and the moist Caribbean air to offer a rejuvenating holiday. Barbados may be tropical, lush and holiday manna, but there are things you may find familiar. They drive on the left, enjoy horse racing, speak English and they don’t like cricket – they love it!

Where to eat

Probably the best eaterie on the west coast is The Cliff, a favourite of Tony Blair. The restaurant is so refined you would feel out of place if you didn’t dress for the occasion. Set on a cliff-top, you can hear the waves kissing the sand and feast your eyes on a superb coastal vista while you enjoy your meal. The Fish Pot, located opposite the Little Good Harbour hotel is a rustic fish restaurant famed for the freshness of its catch. To get there you’ll have to catch a boat that drops you just offshore and then wade through shallow water to get to the restaurant.

Dealing with money when travelling

Money can be a huge issue when you travel in a group, especially in the likely event that you don’t all have the same amount to spend. When you’re travelling together, and everything ends up costing a little more than you’d expect, this can be the cause of tension.

That’s why it is important to be prepared, for everything. That means using the following budgeting advice so you can enjoy the scenery and the continent, rather than worrying about the euros in your wallet, or in your friends’.

1Decide on a rough budget beforehand

Chances are you all have a different amount of access to money. It’s not really fair on the skint one if you go off all the time flashing the cash, yet at the same time you can’t let that person hold you back if you want to spend on doing things.

You need to accept and acknowledge that you have different budgets and goals when it comes to travelling in a group. If you decide on a rough daily budget, it will help everyone to plan and work out what they can and can’t do.

 

2Understand each other’s different budget

Once you’ve decided on a budget, try to stick to it. Don’t call your mate out if they bow out of anything for financial reasons. Let them work to their own budget and do as they wish. You’re not all going to want to spend the same amount or do the same things – respect that. Don’t cause tensions in the group by bringing attention to your friend either, or get all offended if they do it to you.

 

3Keep a written record of what you owe and are owed

You might not be bothered about a few euros here and there, but chances are there’ll be someone in your group who will be.

Keeping a written track of everyone’s spends makes everything fair. There’ll usually be someone in a group who feels like they’ve paid out more – a manual or electronic record help you all keep up to date.

The Splitwise app can really help with this. Use it to record everyone’s spends and set it to equal up electronically at the end.

 

4Relax, and have a buffer

When you’re travelling in a group it can be difficult to keep a hold of your finances. I know from experience that you’re tempted to drink and eat more, thanks to the mere suggestion of a bite to eat or quick drink when perhaps you didn’t actually need one. Soon, in a group, that will escalate.

I can guarantee though, these will be your best travel times. Make sure to have a bit of a financial buffer put away so you don’t balk at the bar bill from a brilliant night when it comes to paying your fair share.

great place in Iceland for travelling

Yet you would have to burn some serious rubber to get all the way around the 832 miles that encircle this sub-arctic island. It passes pretty snow-capped mountains and brooding cloud topped volcanes, eye-watering boiling sulphur mud pools, tortured lava plains, thunderous waterfalls, jagged icebergs, and dozens of glaciers.

Driving around Iceland Ring Road in Mazda MK 5 icon convertible (c) Sharron Livingston

And I drove all around it heading north from Reykjavik then returning back there heading south in a mad-cap two-day junket in a dinky Mazda MX 5 icon convertible. Call it a test drive.

First things first – Blue Lagoon Spa

Starting in Reykjavik, Iceland’s largest city and the world’s northernmost capital, I hopped into my roadster for a 47km detour to Grindavik to the Blue Lagoon outdoor spa. I knew a relaxing dip into its placid bright blue mineral-rich waters and swish under its waterfall would set me up for the gruelling two-day drive. As a bonus, ater when the sky was at its darkest I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights with its curls of luminescent green. What a prelude for my driving bonanza!

Check out the city church – Hallgrímskirkja

I was behind the wheel early the next morning making my way through this low-rise city where the tallest building is the dramatic Hallgrímskirkja, church, the biggest in Iceland. It’s worth noting how something made completely of concrete could look so interesting; almost like a space ship about to take off. Incidentally, the view from the top stretches the entire city and is the only place you can enjoy this.

Away from city limits – vast isolation and scenery

Stopping at traffic lights with quaint heart shaped red lights, then turning onto One, the road opened to a shock of a wilderness hemmed by dark, brooding mountains. There were hardly any other cars around and not much sign of human life.

The road snaked through undulating landscape and sometimes after a swerve or curve a clutch of red roofed cottages or a lone wooden church would appear. Yet with so few people around, I wondered how these houses of prayer filled their pews.

There were plenty of nonchalant sheep though who seemed unperturbed by passing traffic. At times fields would be hosting smallish Icelandic horses – a regional breed that are sometimes as small as donkeys.

Within the nooks and crannies of the land you can see strings of waterfalls

Within the nooks and crannies of the dark rugged or moss covered hills and tors, strings of waterfalls cascaded catching the light on their way down. It’s a recurring feature which adds movement to the stillness.

Bizarre sculptures, such as a giant red chair (taller than a human being) or a giant man randomly turned up to add humour to the bleak vastness.

A glacier on a Snæfellsjökull volcano

Glaciers are a recurring feature along One. These are masses of glacial ice that look like stretches of white on the higher echelons of the mountains. The most famous is the one atop the 700,000 year old Snæfellsnes volcano. Fans of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne will have read about it as the doorway to the centre of the earth.

Iceland’s second biggest city – Akureyri

Most towns along the route are pretty dull. Not so Akureyri (dubbed the capital of North Iceland) was different. Iceland’s second largest city had a hint of Monaco about it. With only 18,000 inhabitants, there is no big city vibe, but plenty of visual charm. It sits at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord with colourful homes built on the waterfront with a snow-capped alpine backdrop.