Wonderful Wednesday 09/10/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Experiencing village life in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas.

2013-05-23 16.50.04India is so much more than its temples, mosques, tombs and forts; to really get to know India stay a couple of days in its rural villages. And what better place than with a view of the Himalayas?

P1030717Manali in Himachal Pradesh is a lovely place to stay. Undergoing a transformation from hippie and backpacker paradise to one of North India’s chicest holiday spots, old Manali has mantained its old village feel. And the hip restaurant La Plage makes a good lunch stop on one of your walks.

Or go to the lesser known Kumaon district in Uttarakhand and walk from village to village, stay in  beautiful restored village houses and end the trek in amazing Shakti 360° Leti.

Foto’s directly above Shakti Himalaya, others Jacobien Viets

Both regions can be reached from Delhi by car, train and flight (Manali only) and can be visited year round, although Shakti 360° Leti closes May-September.

A great way to unwind from our frenetic world!

If you are interested and would like more information, please contact me.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

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Wonderful Wednesday 11/09/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Istanbul – exotic, wonderful Istanbul.

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September is the perfect month for city trips in and around Europe and Istanbul is among my favourites. And now a major exhibition of Anish Kapoor (opened on Sept 10) adds to the lure of Istanbul.

As said by Alphonse de Lamartine, the 19th-century French writer and politician: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Constantinople,”

Built on seven hills (all topped by a mosque), the city has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires and bridges the cultures of the Orient and the Occident, both physically and metaphorically. The center of Christendom for over 1000 years and Islam’s seat for another 500 years, it has been a crossroad for trade routes in all directions.

Of course you have to visit the famous Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, but do check out some of the lesser known sights: the Basilica Cistern, a sixth century underground water reservoir, charming Ottoman Rüstem Paşa Mosque, famous for its large quantities of exquisite İznik tiles and the Dolmabahce Palace, a sumptuous palace showing off the decadence of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire (and the place where Ataturk died), with fantastic Bosporus views.

Photos Xiquinho Silva and (right) commons wikimedia

See the city from the water, either on a Bosporus cruise or just do what the Istanbullians do and hop on a ferry to the Prince’s Islands.

Wander through the Grand Bazaar (1461) – the sight of the crazy motorbike chase in Skyfall – with more than 50 streets of jewelry, textiles, leather, pottery and tiles, and the Spice Bazaar (1663), originally a stop for camel caravans on the Silk Road.

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Photo Paul Searle

Add a touch of modern art and visit the first major exhibition of Anish Kapoor in Turkey at the Sakip Sabanci Museum. The exhibition (from Sept 10, 2013 to Jan 5, 2014) is the first to focus on the artist’s stone sculptures in marble, alabaster and materials, many of which have not been seen in public before.

Finish the day in one of Istanbul many clubs, the town’s hotspots with great views of its skyline and the Bosporus.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

Wonderful Wednesday 28/8/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Sunny Valencia, catch the last rays of sunshine and explore a surprising city.

Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain but does’t feel like it. Easy to explore, with stunning old and new architecture, parks, a flourishing restaurant scene, great shops and miles of beach, Valencia is a easy going Mediterranean city.

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Wander through the Ciudad Vieja, with attractions such as Word Heritage La Lonja, a15th-century silk exchange and one of the best examples of Gothic civil architecture in Europe, Mercado Central, one of the largest food markets in Europe, in art noveau style, and of course the Cathedral. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Cathedral stands on the site of a Roman temple and a mosque, mixing Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. Between its walls, it conserves and protects not only paintings by Goya but also one of Christianity’s most important treasures, a chalice offered to the cathedral by King Alfonso V of Aragon in 1436, dating from the 1st century, which is supposed to be the chalice used in the Last Supper, the Holy Grail.

Then head over to the modern Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias, designed by Calatrava and now housing six futuristic buildings, surrounded by clear water (no swimming allowed…).

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End the day with a walk through the Turia Gardens, in an old river bed transformed into a long park, where locals walk, run, skateboard and ride bikes or a dip in the sea at one of Valencia’s beaches.

And if you are in to it, take a day trip to nearby Brunol to take part in La Tomatina, the biggest tomato throwing festival in the world. It takes place today, each year on the last Wednesday of August. Not for the faint hearted….

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

Wonderful Wednesday August 14, 2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil’s eco wonder-island, with beautiful beaches and soothing warm waters filled with dolphins and sea turtles.

Photo’s Fred Schinke and Paula Cristina (on the right).

The archipelago of Fernando de Noronha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and lies 345 km off the northeast coast of Brazil.To preserve the unspoiled environment and its delicate ecosystem, only 420 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time, guaranteeing empty beaches and tranquility. 

August sees the end of the rainy season and nature is in a state of overdrive with explosions of greenery. But the best of Noronha is to be found on and under water. With visibility up to 50 meters and more than two hundred species of fish, five shark species, sea turtles and dolphins., the island is a mecca for divers and snorkelers. And when the sea gets rough, surfers flock to the island.

While some of Brazil’s top beaches – Praia do Leão, Baía dos Porcos and Baía do Sancho – can be found on the island, the big draw are the resident spinner dolphins – they jump out of the water and spin around in acrobatic spirals – that turn up every day in their hudndreds at surnrise in Dolphin Bay. They swim inside the bay, where the sea is calm and protected, for resting, reproducing and suckling and in the afternoon move again to the high sea in search of food. Would love to see this!

Dolphins

Photo Roberto Faccenda. 

A small paradise on earth, where even the sharks are said to be friendly!

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly  series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

Wonderful Wednesday 31/7/3013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

July and August are the perfect months to visit remote Ladakh, high up in the Western Himalayas of India.

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Almost isolated from October to May, Ladakh comes to life when the snow melts on the roads to its capital Leh. It is a long ride but one of the most beautiful road trips I have ever made. And once arrived, the reward is immense: spectacular moon-like landscape, blue lakes, high altitude passes, friendly monks and buddhist temples, both near the capital and in the surrounding valleys.

And the more active can go rafting on the Indus or Zanskar rivers, ride the highest vehicle-accessible pass in the world (altough there is some dispute about this) on a motorcycle or go trekking into the remote valleys.

Reaching Ladakh can either be done by road or by flight, which is also truly breathtaking.

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For more information please contact JacobienTravels here.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly  series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.

Wonderful Wednesday 3/7/2013

Time for wonderful dreaming! Where would I want to be in the world coming fortnight?

Right now I want to escape the rain! Enough, let’s go to the driest place on earth:

Chile’s Atacama desert & San Pedro de Atacama.

on our way to Valle de LunaThe landscape is surreally beautiful. Red canyons, grassy gorges, bare volcanos, turquoise thermal lakes, lagoons and geysers. Yet some parts of the region have never received a drop of rain, or at least not as long as people have been keeping track of such things.

The small town of San Pedro de Atacama, population 2,500— attracts bohemian types to its funky adobe hotels and restaurants. They’ve been coming here for decades, looking for “unplugged” getaways before the term even existed. Recently luxury hotels have popped up for the well-heeled travelers seeking to combine adventure with scrumptious meals, swimming pools and spa treatments.

You can get there by flying to Calama in the North of Chile or by a spectacular bus ride across the Andes from Salta in Argentina. Crossing the border at 4200m is breathtaking (literally) as is the view along the ride.

Wonderful Wednesday is a biweekly  series of places, festivals, destinations, hikes, etc etc where I would like to be in the world the coming 14 days, if no restrictions would apply.