The Whitsundays is a special spot in the world, and sure, Airlie Beach is a fun place to spend a night or two, but really everyone is there to get out on the water and soak up the beauty of this part of the Great Barrier Reef. We went on a 3 day/2 night cruise with Whitsunday Blue, and it was a perfect few days to really see how beautiful the area is. Bring a couple of friends, and a bottle or two of Champagne and you are in paradise….
Santorini, possibly Greece’s most picturesque island, is nothing short of paradise, and the scenic village of Oia, is famous for its breath-taking sunsets. Because of this, getting a good spot to watch the sun slowly sink beyond the horizon can be difficult and Oia can turn into a bit of a zoo each evening. Rather than fighting the throngs of tourists, why not head to Lioyerma Lounge Cafe Pool Bar, enjoy a drink and a dip in the pool before enjoying the magical spectacle that happens every evening.
In northern Vietnam 170km from Hanoi lies Ha Long Bay, one of the most scenic places I have ever visited. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this place deserves 2-3 days to enjoy the serene, calm karst landscape of countless large and small islands of different shapes and sizes rising abruptly from the sea. There are also caves, small secluded beaches and floating fishing villages not to mention the sunsets, sunrises and starry nights. With countless cruises to choose from, the Dragon Pearl is a good option as a fairly new 3-deck Chinese wooden junk with fully equipped en-suite cabins, a bar, restaurant, outside dining area and sundeck.
Cinque Terre, built on a rugged and steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the sea in north-west Italy, is actually my favourite place in the world. A bold statement I know, but one which I stand by. Choosing my favourite of the “five villages” is a difficult task, but I have decided on one – Manorola. For now I am lost for words as to where to begin describing this place, so instead will just post these pics.
Picked up in a sawngthaew from your hotel, once at Baan Thai Cookery School you don pretty aprons and bandanas, and head straight to the local markets to buy weird and wonderful fresh ingredients. On return to the cooking school, prepare to eat! To start, a Thai “welcome pack” consisting of chilli, peanuts, coconut, dried shrimp, ginger and shallot self-assembled in a cone leaf of some sort, accompanied by some sticky rice and banana and mangosteen. Next we cooked up one of my favourites – chicken and cashew nut, immediately followed by a spicy noodle salad and chicken in coconut milk soup. We used little green chillies for this, how many was up to the individual punter. After a brief 30 minute break which involved lying on the floor under the fan propped up by those Thai triangular pyramidal cushions, soon enough it was back to the grind to make some red curry paste. This involved finely cutting up heaps of herbs and roots and then grinding them up in a heavy duty mortar and pestle until we had dead arms. Before we knew it we were back sweating up a storm in front of an oil-filled wok frying up fish cakes and cooking red curry chicken. A kilo or 2 heavier, we were then escorted home. Fantastic day, but my hot tip is: Don’t eat the day (or 2) before.
Asilah (or أصيلة، أرزيلة in Arabic) is an attractive fortified town in northwest Morocco which still has all ramparts and gateworks fully intact. Dating back to 1500 BC when the Phoenicians used it as a base for trade, Asilah is now a popular seaside resort town, hosting annual music and arts festivals. Approximately 3 km south of Asilah lies Paradise Beach, a wonderful wide stretch of sand and surf. For some peace and quiet head to this tranquil and pristine spot which really does live up to its name, especially if you have it all to yourself in the off season.