Sexy Hotels, Villas with Attitude, which are the best in the world?

How would it feel to stay at a hotel which is the sophisticated or sexier or more artistic version of your house?

This year’s Mr and Mrs Smith Hotel Awards’ committee has handpicked the world’s extra-special hotels and villas for an unforgettable stay, in some of the most amazing vacation spots. Let us guide you through this mind blowing selection!

Casa Fortunato, Lisbon

It is this tiny hotel, run by an amazing architect couple, Antonio Falcão Costa Lopes and Filipa Fortunato, situated in an Amoreiras townhouse, which made it to the top of the list, as the Best Smith Hotel 2019.

This nine-suites boutique hotel could be like your dream house! The past coexists with the present, through original tiling and timber surfaces, a nostalgic, cinematic staircase and dining room, as well as contemporary design items that make sure every detail counts.

Casa Fortunato

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Palazzo Daniele, Puglia, Italy

This 150-year-old townhouse is the most young at heart Palazzo, combining Italian art, Mediterranean hospitality and modernism. Its Italian finesse and artistry with its provincial character and long lived qualities nominated Palazzo Daniele as the Best Dressed Hotel. Do not miss out on a stay full of southern Italian temperament!

Pallazo

 

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Joali, Maldives

The World’s Sexiest Bedroom, according to Mr and Mrs Smith Awards, is found over in Asia, at the newly founded (October 2018) Joali Maldives. Sexy can be easily combined with exotic Maldives, the honeymooners’ beloved destination, however, when the above attributes fit in with an impressive art collection as well as inspiring culinary or diving activities, followed by a colonial chic beach bar, then kudos are definitely on the way!

Joali

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Euphoria Retreat, Mystras, Greece

In the pine forest of the Peloponnese, Greece’s Euphoria Retreat offers a holistic spa experience of premium quality, under the energy of the ruins of the fortified castle of Mystras, a Byzantine Empire city. The old and the new coexist in the hotel’s design (ancient patterns and earthly color code with a modern touch), as well as its spa philosophy (high tech equipment with Hellenic, Chinese and modern treatments)! And Yes, this is the world’s Most Spoiling Spa and it is your opportunity to praise yourself as you should!

Euphoria

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The Pig at Bridge Place, Kent, UK

For foodies and gourmet seekers, The Pig at Bridge Place, in Kent, UK, is the Best Gourmet Getaway. Really close to London, this estate, reinvented in the sixties, has a peasant air, exquisitely fresh cooking ingredients and the coziest area to relax and dine. Do not miss the kitchen garden with its secret patio!

The Pig

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Uxua Alma Casa Anderson, Bahia, Brazil

Modern artwork, kaleidoscopic colour effects, vintage tapestries and unique pieces of furniture, led Brazil’s Uxua Alma Casa Anderson to be named Best Smith Villa. It is Brazil in a villa, with all the boldness, beauty and exoticism the country carries!

Uxua Alma Casa

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L’Otel at Dôce 18 Concept House, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A colonial-era casa where fine tequila, local fashion and Mexico City’s artistic personalities naturally meet. Relax on the sunny terrace, by the pool, and enjoy the view to San Miguel de Allende’s scenery, from the Coolest Creative Hub, as nominated this year by Mr and Mrs Smith Awards!

Doce 18

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Maison de la Luz, New Orleans, Louisiana

What if a luxurious, luminous, lofty hotel, taken out of Wes Anderson’s movies, with large staircases and artistic furnishing and design details, as well as seductive, spacious bedrooms, had also the Best Date-Night Bar in New Orleans? Enjoy your drinks at Bar Marilou at Maison de La Luz and let others worry about driving!

Maison De La Luz

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Sands Hotel & Spa, Palm Springs, California

Stucco walls in pastel pink, exotic tiles, cacti, a perfect pool in as Californian Style as it gets! Sands Hotel & Spa in Palm Springs is rooted in the Sixties, with a vivid sophistication, charming dessert Marrakech effect and worshipped Cabanas’ aesthetics, and it has been awarded as the Best Budget Boutique! Enough said!

Sands Hotel

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Story created with passion by Beyond Limits, courtesy of Mr and Mrs Smith Hotel Awards 2019 (www.mrandmrssmith.com)

THE ISLAND OF PASSION: MADAGASCAR

Boy, oh, boy, Madagascar is so unspoiled and spectacular. Having developed in isolation—the island broke away from the main continent of Africa around 180 million years ago—Madagascar is unlike any other part of the continent. Lemurs, interesting peaks with vertical rock formations, incredible biodiversity, the avenue of Baobabs and Andaside are some of the reasons to visit the unique island of true passion.

8 nights/9 days itinerary made for YOU!!!

Discover MADAGASCAR with our Charm & Luxury Tour, an authentic insight.

Exploring the rainforest of Andasibe to meet the largest Lemurs of Madagascar. Ending at Anjajavy Le Lodge, home of lemurs, birds and other animal species; a fermented session on the quiet and magical relaxing beaches.

This itinerary covers everything which interest people in Madagascar: nature, diurnal and nocturnal wildlife, landscape, culture, sharing experience with villagers, beach, water and underwater activities …

Day 1 Antananarivo

Meet at the airport of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar; transfer to the hotel for a one-night stay.

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Day 2: Antananarivo – Andasibe

After breakfast, drive to Andasibe, where the scenery is absolutely breath-taking. In Mandraka, make a brief visit to the reptile Farm.

You are at the edge of the deep rainforest in Perinet (also called Andasibe). Your cottages are comfortable and rather a surprise to find so far away from home.

Check in, have dinner, and then join us on an evening walk into the rainforest to hopefully catch a glimpse of the nocturnal wildlife (perhaps a dwarf lemur or chameleon, maybe a fossa   if you are lucky, or maybe more if you are very lucky).  Either way, it is a wonderful experience to be in the deep rainforest as you listen to the night sounds and walk with an experienced guide.

Lemur profile

Day 3 Andasibe

Early start to hike into the forest of Analamazaotra Special Reserve, one of the easiest parks to visit, to see the Indri, the biggest lemur in Madagascar, these animals are monogamous, and do not live in captivity anywhere in the world.

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The area is also home to grey bamboo lemurs and brown lemurs, these lemurs are very shy. As well as Parson’s chameleons which can exceed half a meter in length, the Madagascar tree boa, and numerous birds including the Madagascar blue pigeon, the Madagascar paradise flycatcher, the blue vanga and the Madagascar buzzard.   This is a very relaxed and easy hike through the reserve.

Continue on visiting Andasibe village that allow you to connect with the local people and to discover the daily life.

Return to the hotel for lunch and an amazing visit to Lemur Island, which is right on the property.  This is a refuge for 44 lemurs which had been kept as pets. The owner of Vakona Forest Lodge took the lemurs in and created this oasis for them, enjoy the visit, be close to lemurs.  Take a boat across a very small stream – and be greeted by black and white ruffled, and common brown lemurs. The guide will have plenty of bananas and unbelievably, friendly lemurs sit on the top of your head or ride around on your shoulders – as long as you have a piece of banana for them…

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Day 4 Andasibe – Antananarivo

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Morning drive to the capital.

Afternoon visit the city, Tana with people in an amazing variety of African, Indian and western garb, and streets choked with all manner of motorized, human-powered, and animal-driven transport.  It is a city of very faded glory that still shows signs of a more prosperous past.  There are also beautiful villas covered by tumbling bougainvillea, palm-lined avenues, Anosy Lake crowned by blooming jacaranda in October, wonderful restaurants and great shopping:  Tana does not leave anyone indifferent.

At the end of the day, enjoy a beautiful sundowner and a nice view of Antananarivo at Lokanga Boutique.

Day 5 Antananarivo – Anjajavy

Early morning transfer at the airport to catch the regular flight to Anjajavy Le Lodge (Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday), a beautiful place with bright sunny skies all year round.

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Anjajavy le Lodge (contact@anjajavy.com)

Located in the North West coast of Madagascar, on a peninsula.  Anjajavy Le Lodge is surrounded by creeks and magical beaches, to relax with sweet dream. This property is one of Relais & Chateaux member.

Uganda

Anjajavy le Lodge (contact@anjajavy.com)

Day 6 – Day 7 – Day 8 Anjajavy Le Lodge

Enjoy your free days at Anjajavy Le Lodge. Enjoy the journey to the fullest; explore the beautiful beaches and the wonderful coral reef to your heart’s content.

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Day 9   Anjajavy – Antananarivo 

Return flight to Antananarivo.

For this last day in the Capital city of Madagascar, you can choose to go to Lisy Art Gallery, or visit one of the local markets places to look for souvenirs and bargains, from this market, you can head over to a private park, the Croc’Farm, not far from the airport, not only home of the huge Nile crocodiles, the biggest predator of Madagascar, but also some animal species and various plants and flowers from Madagascar.

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The pleasant garden restaurant Coco d’Iles Taverne next to the lake serves all kind of crocodile specialties.

Simple things that make your trip in Madagascar memorable!

Appreciate the famous Malagasy hospitality. Enjoy a memorable experience of simple things like a local cooking. We want you to savor the authentic local products, get the pleasure to prepare and to cook it together.

Making experience of a local art, to get keen sense of what is artisan work looks like, make it yourself and get a story to tell with the handmade bracelet or other items you proudly wear, or the gift for your friends or family.

What better way to end a great day than with a delectable private beach BBQ on a wonderful evening!

Enjoy the visit at Vakona Forest Lodge, the only place where you can touch and feed a lemur!

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Discovering a people with incredible ancestral culture and customs

Your stay in the heart of the village will be an opportunity for you to discover this people with incredible ancestral culture and customs. Your evenings will be punctuated by strong times with the villagers; you will have the chance to participate in tromba, the invocation of ancestors and kilalaky, traditional dance.

 

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 Logo Lemur Island

TANZANIA: A Journey for a Life to Remember

Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar… The names roll off the tongue like a roster call of Africa’s most alluring destinations, all packed into one country. Resonating with hints of the wild and exotic these four alone are reason enough to justify packing your bag and heading off to Tanzania.

Within the space of several hours, it’s possible to go from lazing on idyllic beaches to exploring moss-covered ruins of ancient Swahili city states; from climbing mist-covered slopes in the Southern Highlands to trekking through the barren landscapes around Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania has managed for the most part to remain unassuming and low-key. It has also remained enviably untouched by the tribal rivalries and political upheavals that plague many of its neighbors, and this – combined with a booming tourism industry – makes it an ideal choice for both first-time visitors and Africa old hands.

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Cruise watching the Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Tanzania is an incredible country, with a quarter of its surface given over to national parks and conservation areas, over 1400 km of pristine coastline and the culturally and historically significant islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia.

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Zanzibar The Spice Island

You can follow the Great Migration in Serengeti, track the chimpanzees in Gombe or Mahale Mountains and take a boat safari on the Rufiji river.

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Serengeti Sunset

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Serengeti Migration

You can also see majestic baobab trees and huge herds of elephants in Tarangire, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site Ngorongoro Crater or spend some time in the relatively unknown Lake Natron area, a soda lake that is the only breeding ground for millions of flamingos.

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Flamingos in Lake Natron

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Elephants at Ngorongoro Crater

If you like to trek, not only you have the choice between the highest, the 5th and 9th highest mountains of Africa in Tanzania -Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru and Mount Hanang.

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Biking tour in Tanzania

You could also reach the summit of Ol Doinyo Lengai, the only active volcano in Tanzania and a sacred mountain for the Maasai, or spend a few days walking in the Pare, the Usambara and Udzungwa Mountain ranges, incredible rainforests that host endemic species not seen elsewhere in the world.

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Ol Doinyo Lengai

But there is so much more to see in Tanzania, and different ways to do so!

An incredible way to admire nature from a different perspective is with a hot air balloon!

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Hot air Balloon Safari in Serengeti

Your adventure starts in the early morning, when you depart your lodge or camp. As it is still dark, you may be fortunate to see nocturnal animals on the way to the launch site. There you will meet your pilot and witness your balloon being inflated and prepared for launch.

Rising as the sun rises, your balloon floats in whatever direction the winds of the day are heading over this wonderful area and after landing, you will celebrate in the traditional way with a toast, before heading off to a special ‘Out of Africa’ bush breakfast.

Instead of driving without stopping through the villages on your way to the parks, you can take some time to see how Tanzanians live and work in Mto wa Mbu, a unique village that is home to over 120 different tribes. You can easily move around the houses, visit the farms, schools, churches and the local market with a Tuk Tuk, a small vehicle with open sides that will allow you to connect with people and enjoy the colorful environment of the area.

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Tuk Tuk tou

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Village Life

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Village Life

From the rainforest between Kidia and Marangu to Lake Chala and the Masaai lands on the north side -with game viewing opportunities- to the vast open agricultural spaces of West Kilimanjaro region, a 6 days biking tour will give you the excellent opportunity to explore all the different landscapes, people and animals at the base of Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro.

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Mountain Kilimanjaro: Africa’s highest and most iconic mountain

To find out how you can see Tanzania from a different point of view, contact us: www.tanzaniajourneys.com

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White Sand Beach

Tanzania logo

A Bespoke experience for serious FOOD LOVERS and PHOTO PASSIONATE people

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

Compostela, Spain

by Suki Belaustegui & Nomadic Tótem

October 4th – 16th  2019
13 days – 12 nights that will take you through the most iconic and fascinating
flavors and sceneries.

Introductory Photo

by nomadic tótem  CAMINO DE SANTIAGO 42°52′50″N 8°32′38″O

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DAY  1 – October 4th 

MEET & GREET @ MADRID

This amazing journey begins as a meeting point at one of the most beautiful and foodie cities of the world; Madrid Spain. Icon Embassy Hotel; XIX Century building beautifully refurbished and the only hotel at the high-end and top fashion designers; Serrano Street. Welcome Lecture at the hotel by Suki Belaustegui and Nomadic Tótem Gurus @ 15:00 hrs.

Participants will introduce themselves and express what they would like to learn from the workshop as well as their expectations.

Participants will bring a selection of 20 to 30 photographs of their own so that Suki can observe each person’s photographic perspective and become familiarized with their creative tendency. This will enable an analysis of each person’s potential.

There will be a tutorial on the art documentary photography, ethical and humanitarian principles and techniques to develop the art of photography using natural light in people’s homes and environments.

An audiovisual with photographs related to the work reflected in the books ”Guardians of Time” and

”Africa in America” will be projected. Emphasis will be placed on the use of natural light.

Lectures devoted to the art of shooting the magic of landscapes in outdoor contexts. Participants will study the various uses of skills and the creative possibilities to make the best photography for this journey.

As a Welcome Dinner, we will enjoy a unique culinary tour tapas experience, downtown. We will taste the flavor of this city as a local; enjoying the best Spanish gastronomy at one of the most urban-chic and trendy districts in the heart of Madrid.

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DAY  2 – October 5th 

MADRID – LEON

Breakfast at the hotel

Group transfer towards the train station to headed León.

León boasts one of the greatest historical and architectural heritages in Spain. Some of the city’s most prominent historical buildings are the Cathedral, the finest example of French-style classic Gothic architecture in Spain, the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of León’s medieval monarchs, and the Casa Botines, a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí.

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After visiting León, head to one of the most spectacular sights in the Bierzo region: Las Médulas, an old open-air mine, the largest in the whole Roman Empire, it ́s interior was once home to tons of gold. It is a huge work of engineering which permanently transformed the mountainous area into a weird and wonderful landscape that now has the World Heritage designation. We can combine the visit to Las Médulas with an exclusive wine tasting at one of our favourite wineries in the region.

After admiring Las Médulas, your transfer will take you to your hotel in Vilafranca del Bierzo, last stop before starting your adventure: the Camino de Santiago. Check in at Palacio de Canedo.

This three century-old mansion converted into a 14-room guesthouse is a breath of fresh air just off the Camino. The one site winery and canning facilities are well worth the visit. Each room is uniquely decorated and themed, some referring to lords of Canedo, making for a cozy stay amongst pilgrims and travelers alike.

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 ON FOOT

The French Way is the Camino par excellence. The Jacobean itinerary with the greatest historical tradition and the most internationally recognized one. It was already described in 1135 in the Codex Calixtinus, a fundamental Jacobean book. The book V of this codex constitutes an authentic medieval guide to the pilgrimage to Santiago. It specifies the sections of the French Way from Gaul lands and reports in detail on the sanctuaries of the route, hospitality, people, food, sources, local customs, etc. Our path will start in O Cebreiro and end in Santiago de Compostela after 8 magical stages of endless memories and unforgettable experiences.

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CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

We’ve selected the best stages of the O Cebreiro – Santiago section. We’ve adjusted the kilometers and stages so you can accomplish the route in 9 days, walking an average of 8 -15 kilometers per day at a relaxing pace, with enough time to admire the gorgeous sceneries and the stunning nature and wildlife of Galician forests.

The transportation will be at your disposal along the route, picking you up at the end of each stage and taking you to your hotel, where your luggage will be waiting for you. In the same way, it will be ready to take the participants at any time they wish to take them to the hotel; this in case some of you would like to arrive earlier and have some more free time on your own.

The route is well indicated and there are plenty of maps to follow the path with explanations about the surroundings and main places to visit; however our professional local gurus will be accompanying along the Camino to assist you in any requirement.

DAY  3 – October 6 th

O CEBREIRO – TRIACASTELA

Breakfast at the hotel

If the fog does not hide the valley, seeing the sunrise from O Cebreiro, a beautiful village with a series of pallozas (round stone houses with a straw roof) still standing and that were inhabited until relatively recently, is a privilege that the Camino gives us that one can not refuse. Today, we immerse ourselves in the land of Santiago, the land of the fog and the orballo (morning dew); Celtic castros (ancient settlements) and mines coveted by the Romans; infinite hills and fragas (old forests) of oaks and chestnut trees. A magic land that will stay in your memories.

Accommodation at Palacio de Canedo.

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DAY  4 – October 7 th 

TRIACASTELA – SARRIA

Breakfast at the hotel

From Triacastela there are two itineraries to get to Sarria: the southern one, longer, visits the famous Benedictine monastery of Samos and progresses through the leafy banks of the Oribio river; the other one advances more to the north by San Xil and goes through pretty landscapes populated by oaks and chestnut trees. In Sarria your guide will be waiting to drive you to the lovely Parador de Monforte de Lemos where you will spend the next two nights.

PARADOR DE MONFORTE DE LEMOS

The historic site of San Vicente do Pino is located in the uppermost part of the town of Monforte de Lemos. It is made up of the keep, San Vicente do Pino Monastery and the palace of the counts of Lemos, which houses the Parador de Monforte. The monastery dates back to the 9th century, although the current structure was built in the 17th century in the neoclassical style.

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DAY  5 – October 8 th 

SARRIA – PORTOMARIN

Breakfast at the hotel

Sarria is very close to the mythical and last 100 kilometers, the minimum distance that you have to walk on foot to win the Compostelana. The stage does not disappoint either the first-timer or the seasoned pilgrim. It offers countless villages, good examples of Romanesque, asphalted rural tracks, rural paths and corridors, medieval bridges and rustic footbridges.

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DAY  6 – October 9 th

RIBEIRA SACRA – HEROIC WINEMAKERS

Breakfast at the hotel

Today if you want, you take a rest of your walking adventure and immerse in inland Galicia. Discover the incredible boat tours along the River Sil and River Miño canyons and enter a different world. Imposing locations with beautiful monasteries which, far from the madding crowd and protected by the mild climate of these lands, have for centuries devoted their time to God and grapes. As an optional choice you can keep walking to continue adding your personal kms to reach the 100km and get the Compostelana. The transportation will pick you up after your walk.

The rivers Sil and Miño, with canyons measuring 500 meters in depth, are dotted with tiny vineyards on steep slopes that require a heroic effort. Something unique that can only be found here. The Ribeira Sacra is the birthplace of the legendary “Amandi”, a wine that was so treasured by the Romans that they considered it the “gold of the River Sil”. A wine that centuries later the Benedictine monks produced exclusively for the wineries of the most refined popes.

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DAY  7 – October 10 th

GONZAR – PALAS DE REI

Breakfast at the hotel

The stage is divided by the Ligonde mountain range, which in turn divides the basins of the Miño and Ulloa rivers. The path goes along modest, provincial and even national roads. However, the journey brings good examples of Romanesque churches, including the possibility of diverting to Vilar de Donas to visit San Salvador, old pilgrim hospitals and the valuable Lameiros cruise.

From Palas de Rei you’ll be transferred to your next hotel: Pazo de Brandeso.

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Pazo de Brandeso. Check in. An old residence of the galician bourgeoisie of the early 17th century 1620 is more than just a rural tourism hotel. The atmosphere an spaces of a bygone era remain intact. The rooms, corridors, halls, dining rooms and library of the Pazo de Brandeso are decorated with antique furniture and pieces of art, bronze sculptures or magnificent marble fireplaces, all of which give the hotel a palatial atmosphere.

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DAY  8 – October 11 th

PALAS DE REI – MELIDE

Breakfast at the hotel

We divide the Palas de Rei – Arzúa stage in two, as it is the most difficult and demanding stage in the Camino. You’ll cross the river Roxán, follow a path surrounded by eucalyptus and oak trees to San Xulián do Camiño, cross a spectacular forest with trees embraced by rock and twisted branches and admire a gigantic basket that, like the ‘hórreos’ (local granaries), was used to preserve corn.

Melide is a great place to try Galicia’s classic dish of octopus. Once in Melide we will taste its famous ‘pulpo a feira’ or octopus at a legendary ‘pulpería’ where we will met the owner and share her story over a delicious meal.

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DAY  9 – October 12 th

MELIDE – ARZÚA

Breakfast at the hotel

From Melide the Camino crosses several streams and follows a forest track bringing you to the village of Boente with its church of Santiago. Next is the pretty medieval village of Ribadiso and finally the town of Arzúa, a cheese making village with the important attraction of rural and active tourism, especially in the vicinity of the reservoir of Portodemouros.

We will visit one of the local artisans that produce Arzúa cheese, learning how’s produced and tasting some of its varieties.

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DAY  10 – October 13 th

ARZÚA – PEDROUZO

Breakfast at the hotel

We’re close to Santiago, only 40 km, so we will divide this last segment in two days. A pleasant walk through the already familiar eucalyptus tree forests and green fields defines the day. At the end of the stage you’ll pass by a memorial to Guillermo Watt, a pilgrim that died in the Camino in 1993.

DAY  11 – October 14 th

PEDROUZO – SANTIAGO

Breakfast at the hotel

Today you’ll make the final journey into Santiago. You will have a short morning drive to Pedrouzo, where you’ll start your walk. Your next point of interest is Lavacolla, where pilgrims used to wash themselves in the river in preparation for their arrival in Santiago. Rows of tall eucalyptus trees line your journey to Monte do Gozo (“Mount of Joy”) and it is from here that will catch your first glimpse of the Cathedral of Santiago.

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When you arrive in the city, you will get a chance to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s

architecture and delight in the wonderful atmosphere of this spiritual and cultural mecca.

Explore Santiago de Compostela. Millions of people from all over the world come to this city every year, many of them reaching the end of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route. Its historic center has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

In Santiago, gastronomy is an active part of the culture of the city. There is a spectacular array of restaurants, bars and taverns, with prices to suit every budget – quality is what they all have in common. Here you can eat well – and plenty. You can taste regional products like the freshest seafood you could possibly imagine, artisanal charcuterie, cheeses, wines, liquors… Our local foodie gurus will recommend you to explore the market and later taste its best produce at some of the local restaurants and little corners inside the market.

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Accommodation for 2 nights @ A Quinta Da Auga Relais and Chateux. A beautiful boutique hotel placed in a historical restored building. This hotel is one of the most charming hotels in the northwest of Spain. You can enjoy the gastronomy of the region at its unique restaurant and relax your mind and body at its luxury spa. This is a unique hotel, surrounded by nature with 10.000 m2 estate by the Sar riverside.

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DAY  12 – October 15 th

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

9 am to 1:00 pm: Breakfast at the hotel and free morning to have time to work on your photos from the previous days that you will show in the afternoon for the feedback of your work.

3:00 to 7:00 pm“Studio session” Last day of the workshop. We will be fully engaged in selecting, editing and analyzing the best photographs of each participant. At the end of the workshop, the best photographs will be presented as part of each participant’s portfolio.

As a Farewell dinner and to celebrate that you’re officially a pilgrim and a nomadic.photographer we planned for you a very special culinary experience, at the best restaurant in the city and beacon of the tradition-avant garde fusion in Galician cuisine: Casa Marcelo 1* Michelin.

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DAY  13 – October 16 th

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

Breakfast at the hotel. End of Services.

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SEBASTIAN SUKI BELAUSTEGUI

Documentary Humanitarian Photographer. Experiential Photography Workshop Instructor.

His work has being published in books and magazines, including National Geographic (Cover February 2005), Time, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Unicef, and Travel & Leisure. Additionally he has held numerous workshops, lectures, and exhibitions in museums and art galleries throughout the world, including: Bhutan, India, China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, The United States, México, Argentina, Perú and Cuba.

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by nomadic tótem CAMINO DE SANTIAGO 42°52′50″N 8°32′38″O

explore local. travel beyond www.nomadictotem.com

AN EPICUREAN PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNEY

CAMINO DE SANTIAGO

by; Suki Belaustegui & Nomadic Tótem

October 4th – 16th, 2019

Rate per person in double occupancy.

€4,350 euros.

Rate per person in single occupancy.

€4,900 euros.

Package Includes:

  • 12 days of tutoring in documentary photography theory, practice, selection and analysis with Sebastián Suki Beláustegui.
  • Welcome dinner Local Tapas Experience in Madrid.
  • AVE fast train ticket-touristic class from Madrid to Leon (one way).
  • Private transfer in minibus during the program. Camino de Santiago.
  • Accommodation in each hotel mentioned in the program. 12 nights.
  • Breakfast and lunch daily.
  • Farewell dinner at Casa Marcelo1* Michelin Star Restaurant.
  • Guided hiking tour through Camino de Santiago as mentioned in the program, with professional tour guides.
  • Boat tour along the River Sil and River Miño canyons and Amandi vineyard.
  • Hiking poles rented.
  • Local Taxes.

Package Excludes:

  • Services not specified in the itinerary.
  • Tips and meals not mentioned.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Airline tickets.
  • Airport transportations. Madrid airport – hotel / Santiago hotel – airport.
  • Water and hiking gear.

**ITINERARY IS SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY UNTIL THE MOMENT OF PURCHASE AND CHANGES WITHOUT NOTICE** Limited Availability to 14 pax. First come first served basis.

 This is a quotation only and is subject to availability as no reservations have been made. Because of the nature of hotels and the travel industry, it is not always possible to secure the hotels and lodges listed in the itinerary. Nomadic Totem will endeavor to secure the hotels listed in your itinerary. However, Nomadic Totem reserves the right to secure the next best available option or an upgrade in the event that the original hotels are not available or overbooked.  

  

BANK DATA (International wire transfers):

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THE MOST AMAZING EXPERIENCE: THE SON DOONG CAVE IN THE QUANG BINH PROVINCE OF CENTRAL VIETNAM.

Son Doong Cave is in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in the Quang Binh province of Central Vietnam. Only recently explored in 2009-2010 by the British Cave Research Association, the cave has only been open to the public since 2013.

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The world’s biggest cave has overwhelmed once more with an incredible 2-hour live broadcast that aired on the 2th/13th May on ABC’s Good Morning America and can still be found online. Once again Son Doong gets the spotlight, but there are numerous and wonderful cave systems in the area, many of which, including Hang En and Tu Lan, can be visited with A-Class Travel.

 Please kindly access this link for MSNBC‘s video:

GEOLOGY & SIZE OF SON DOONG CAVE

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam contains the oldest karst system in Asia, between 400-450 million years old. Hang Son Doong itself is relatively young, with the analysis of sediment dating it to be only 3 million years old.

Formed on the edge of a fault zone, Hang Son Doong has been carved out by the mighty Rao Thuong River as it erodes away the limestone, forming the enormous tunnel beneath the Annamite Mountains. Giant sinkholes, known as do lines, have collapsed sometime up to 300’000 years ago, creating massive openings to the outside world. Cave pearls the size of baseballs have been formed by water dripping from the ceiling.

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The first expedition had been halted by an 80m high calcite barrier, which was jokingly dubbed the ‘Great Wall of Vietnam’. It wasn’t until their second expedition in 2010, when the Great Wall was finally climbed, and the end of the passage was found, that Hang Son Doong was determined to be the largest cave in the world.

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At over 5 km long, with sections reaching up to 200m tall and 150m wide, Hang Son Doong is large enough to house an entire New York City block, complete with 40 story skyscrapers. With a total measured volume of 38.5 million cubic meters, this comfortably surpasses Deer Cave in Malaysia, which was considered to be the previous record holder. Stalagmites up to 80m high have also been surveyed, the tallest ever encountered.

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Son Doong Cave Expedition is world-renowned tour product offering the very best caving opportunity for the very active adventure traveler! With a team of cave experts from the British Cave Research Association you’ll be deep in the wild jungle of Vietnam discovering the most amazing natural environments.

Our Son Doong Expedition is available with weekly departures. It is advised to book in advance as this is a popular tour and we are strictly limited to 10 guests per departure.

Some brief information about the Son Doong Expedition:

Duration: 7 days/6 nights

Adventure Level: Hard (60 km +) for physically active guests.

Availability: Weekly Departures (Feb to Aug, we close the cave from Sept to Jan)

Small Group Tours: 10 guests per departure

Minimum Age: 18 years old

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Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact Mrs. Giang at

ACLASS TRAVEL at giang.hh@aclasstravel.com.vn or phone number (+84) 4 3927 4288.

 

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THE 11 STUNNING CASTLES IN EUROPE YOU SHOULD VISIT AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFETIME

Not only do they offer the chance to climb spiraling stairways to the tops of the battlements, castles offer secretive passageways, unusual decoration, breathtakingly spectacular views and the chance to relive the past. Modern skyscrapers and luxury resorts don’t hold a candle to the raw power projected by a gigantic castle. Castles are fun to explore because they’re full of surprising rooms and terrifying dungeons, but some castles are so gigantic, or intricately designed and built, that our minds are blown just thinking about them.

Many of these castles are in Europe, the fairy-tale home of castles in popular culture. Explore below the 10 most mind-blowing castles of Europe, that are so different, so complex and so beautiful that we can’t believe they were built by humans.

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1. Scaligero Castle, Sirmione- Lake Garda – Italy

"Sirmione, Italy - April 27th, 2011 - Tourists visiting Scaliger Castle (Castello Scaligero) in Sirmione, on Lake Garda, Italy during spring break."

Located in the town of Sirmione on Lake Garda (north Italy), the Castello Scaligero gets its name from the rulers of Verona, whose power extended all the way to here in the 13th and 14th centuries. It’s not just modern-day visitors who find the castle beautiful—in 1786, Goethe was arrested for making suspicious-seeming sketches of the castle! The only access to the castle is through the drawbridge as the other sides of the castle are surrounded by water. Part of the lake is also enclosed by its walls, thus making it one of the best examples of lacustrine architecture.

Garda Lake with its beauties can be visits with a daily excursion departing from Venice, or this region can be a perfect destination for a 3 days Incentive, always in combination with Venice or with Milan and others northern Italy Lakes, Maggiore and Como lake.

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2. Kamyanets-PodilskyiUkraine

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Kamyanets-Podilskyi with its Castle and Historic center from UNESCO World Heritage list has the most places of architectural interest in Ukraine after Kyiv and Lviv.  Situated in western Ukraine just 1.5 hours away from Chernivtsi local airport, Kamyanets is tourist mecca for travelers. Marvelous medieval fortress was described as “a stone flower on the rock” by famous Ukrainian poetess. Impressive Khotyn Castle also located 25km from Kamyanets. In the Castle you can make special MICE-event.
Besides castles you can see here natural canyons making unforgettable impression.

To get the most from this wonderful city, you should visit it during festival, which take place here almost all year round! Annual Cossack Games and festivals, which include the open hot air ballooning championship of Ukraine, car racing and various music, art and drama festivals, attract thousands of local tourists.

For special experience try Ukrainian highest bridge for bungee jumping ~75m high over the river, also you can drive armored vehicles BRDM-2, BRDM and 4×4.

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3. Monemvasia Castle – Greecemgate

Visiting Monemvasia, the medieval castle town on the southeastern coast of the Peloponnese you feel overwhelmed by this magical place’s rawness, wildness, history and profound romanticism. Try to visit the castle in spring, summer and autumn, both with company and alone, as Monemvasia is an all-year destination, ideal for all emotional states.

Its uniqueness and its fairytale atmosphere remain as true as ever. Its history is written on the walls around you as you as you stroll inside the small alleys along the castle. The sense of isolation felt on this legendary rock, cut off from the coast of the Peloponnese by an earthquake in 375 AD, adds to the wonder.

As a natural fortress, it was inhabited and soon became a strategic fortress claimed the Byzantines, Franks, Venetians and Ottomans. Neither museum-like nor artificially fabricated, Monemvasia is Europe’s only castle that has never ceased being inhabited.

Behind the limestone with which it is built, around 15 people are permanent residents, but many more come and go daily. As for visitors, that goes without saying.

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4. Carlowrie Castle – Scotland

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Carlowrie Castle with its location close to Edinburgh airport and the city centre makes it an ideal location for bringing people together.  The Castle and its 32 acres of grounds provide you with the space and tranquillity to relax and escape the city. With flexible space for receptions, board meetings or private dining, we pride ourselves on designing and delivering an exceptional and bespoke service for each client.

Spend the night in one of our twelve luxurious bedrooms. All rooms are individually styled, spacious with nine in the Castle and three in the renovated Gate Lodge. The ensuite bathrooms feature handmade, roll top baths, marble tiles, underfloor heating and walk in showers. Wake up in your very own Victorian castle with modern essentials such as WiFi and satellite television. Guests can then relax in one of our many rooms from the Marble Lounge to our Bar and Piano room serving from Full Scottish Breakfast to evening dinner.Picture2

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5Aragonese Castle, Ischia IslandSouth Italy

"Castello Aragonese in Ischia Ponte, on Ischia island near Naples, Italy. Many little boats in the sea."

Sitting on the volcanic island of Ischia (the most developed and largest of the islands in the Bay of Naples), Aragonese Castle is accessible from Ischia by a small bridge. Amazingly, it dates from the 5th century and was built to protect the area from pirates and still looks as dramatic now from the surrounding mainland.

From the outpost of the Syracuse Greek Hiero I to the conquest of Alfonso of Aragon, from the splendour of Vittoria Colonna’s wedding to the English bombing in 1809, from total abandonment to recovery through the intuition of a farsighted Ischian lawyer: twenty-five centuries of history between churches, convents, prisons, lush gardens and breath-taking views,

suspended between the sky and the sea in a timeless atmosphere.

Ischia is renowned for its curative spas. Ferries and hydrofoils connect Naples to Ischia.

Ischia today is famed for its thermal spas, manicured gardens, and unshowy, straightforward Italian airs – a feature also reflected in its food. Ischia is a refreshing antidote to glitzy Capri.

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6. S. Jorge CastlePortugal

Lisboa1 (1)The Castelo de S. Jorge – National Monument occupies a privileged area of the old medieval alcáçova (citadel) and consists of the castle, ruins of the former royal palace and part of the neighborhood for the elite.

The fortification, built by the Moors in the mid-11th century, was the last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby, and the elite city administrators whose homes are visible today in the Archaeological Site.

After Dom Afonso Henriques conquered Lisbon on October 25th, 1147, to become the first king of Portugal, the Castelo de S. Jorge began its golden age as home for the royalty. The old Moorish period buildings were modified and enlarged to receive the king, his court and the bishop, as well as the Royal Archives in one of the castle towers. Once the Portuguese kings had transformed the Castelo de S. Jorge into a royal palace in the 13th century, it was chosen to receive many notable Portuguese and foreign figures, as well as hold festivities as well as coronations during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

10 IMPORTANT MOMENTS AT THE CASTELO DE S. JORGE

  • 7th – 8th c. B.C. | BEFORE THE CASTLE • The first settlements
  • 11th c. | FOUNDING OF THE CASTLE • The castle and Moorish quarter
  • 12th c. | THE CHRISTIAN RECONQUEST • The transition from the Moorish to Christian worlds
  • 13th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • The castle and the royal palace of the alcáçova
  • 14th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • The Torre do Tombo and the Crisis of Succession
  • 15th – 16th c. | ROYAL RESIDENCE • Court life and the last king at the castle
  • 17th – 18th c. | FROM ROYAL RESIDENCE TO MILITARY BARRACKS
  • 18th c. | EARTHQUAKE OF 1755
  • 19th c. | THE CASTLE AS MILITARY GARRISON
  • 20th c. | THE CASTLE – A NATIONAL MONUMENT – Restoration work from 1938-40

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7. Alcazar Castle – SPAIN

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The Alcázar of Segovia is in the city of Segovia (Castile and Leon, Spain), and is classified as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The castle doesn’t fit the mold of most castles in Spain, which were constructed as fortresses and is rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of two rivers near the Guadarrama mountains. It is reported to be the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World and were decorated with great luxury and beauty by Mudéjar painters and artists.
Built in 1122, the castle has served as a royal palace, a state prison, a Royal Artillery College and a military academy since then. It is currently used as a museum and a military archive building. The castle can be visited and allow visitors to enjoy views over Segovia and the countryside.

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8. Charlottenburg Castle – GERMANYberlin_Castle Charlottenburg (3)

Discover the magic of the rococo at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palace – completed in 1699 and once a royal summer residence. Today it is the largest and most magnificent palace in Berlin. Sophie Charlotte, the first Queen consort in Prussia, was not only an accomplished musician, playing the harpsichord and singing Italian opera, but also strolled through the grounds here with her friend, the renowned scholar and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. When she died, only 36 years old, the palace and surrounding area was named Charlottenburg after her.  Sophie Charlotte, a great lover of the arts, invited poets, philosophers, musicians and artists to join her at her “court of the muses”. Even her husband King Friedrich I could only visit if she personally invited him.  The castle is not only famous for its classical concerts and the spectacular Christmas Market in December but is a great event location as well.

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9. Malbork Castle – POLAND

Medieval Malbork Castle, Marienburg Fortress of Mary, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pomerania, Poland, Europe

The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork is a 13th-century Teutonic castle and fortress located near the town of Malbork, in Poland. It is the largest castle in the world measured by land area and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was originally constructed by the Teutonic Knights, a German Roman Catholic religious order of crusaders, in a form of an Ordensburg fortress. The Order named it Marienburg in honour of Mary, mother of Jesus. In 1466, during the division of Prussia into eastern and western parts, the castle and town became part of western Royal Prussia, a region of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. It served as one of the several Polish royal residences, interrupted by several years of Swedish occupation, and fulfilling this function until the First Partition of Poland in 1772. Following Germany’s defeat in 1945, the land was reassigned to Poland.

If you’re looking up how to visit Malbork Castle, you’re most likely already in Gdansk, Poland. We spent about a week in Gdansk and found that it was a great base to explore the Tricity and surroundings. Despite the 60 km distance, Malbork is very easy to get to from here and there’s no need to spend extra money on an organized tour when you can save your pretty pennies and plan the day yourself.

Castle of Knights

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10Karst Castle – Slovenia

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A mere few kilometers from Postojna Cave, the Karst world offers an unforgettable experience in the fairytale world of knights. The impregnable medieval marvel has been perched in the middle of a 123-metre-high cliff for more than 800 years. Behind the largest cave castle in the world, there is a network of secret tunnels, from where the knight Erazem of Predjama would set out on his plundering expeditions. The world’s largest cave castle, listed as one of the Guinness World Records, tells a picturesque story about the times when comfort had to give way to safety, and when the clatter of weapons would often drown out troubadours’ songs. It is so special and unique, it ranks among the ten most fascinating castles in the world. ETC Adriatic using this location for special events and medieval team buildings.

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11Chateau de Berne in Provence, France

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In the heart of the true Provence, off the beaten track, a road makes its way through the ancestral vineyards of the wine estate of the Château de Berne.

The 18th-century Château de Berne is located on a 1235-acre forest & vineyard estate in the Var hinterlands. It’s located between the villages of Lorgues and Flays in Provence, France.  You enter the property via a small country lane & when you get inside you are surrounded by vineyards and beautiful views. You can smell the grapes, flowers, and trees as you walk around. The Château is both secluded and full of life, this is a place to slow down and unwind. Provence is a very fertile, sun-drenched part of France, that’s why the grapes and so much produce is grown there.

The domain has been practicing the art of producing wine for over 3 centuries. They are true artisans producing over a million signature square bottles per year, red, white and rosé. There is something for everyone! They grow many grape varietals and with expert crop growers and blenders, very tasty wines are produced. The hotel offers wine tastings and guided tours of their cellars.

For dining there are a few options, each taking advantage of seasonal, local produce. Options include Le Jardin de Benjamin (a Michelin star restaurant), the Bistrot in the cellar (a bit more casual), the Table de Chef (you in the kitchen watching the Chefs) or test your skills with hands-on learning at the cooking school.  Chef Benjamin Colomba and his team create all kinds of magic in their kitchen and we savoured quite the gamut, paired with the domain’s wines of course!

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VIBRANT COLORS, LIVELY MUSIC AND ENDLESS SPECTACLE. WHAT IS THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS FESTIVAL, THE UNDOUBTEDLY MOST INTENSE AND MESMERIZING SHOW?

Everybody knows about the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but does everybody understand how it really works and where things are happening? Well here is how:

A word of history: Carnival is an ancient pagan feast that can be traced back to 4000 AD. Revived in Italy, it spread around the world and Brazil was no exception.
Carnival means: “goodbye to the flesh” and is the last festivity before the beginning of the 40-day Quaresma or Lent: 40 days without eating meat!
And of course, Brazil was able to turn this farewell happening into the biggest show on earth.

The carnival is commemorated all over Brazil, and though other cities like Salvador or Olinda, host important carnivals, being mainly  spontaneous gathering of people in the streets, contrary to these places, Rio exhibits a a big spectacle being televised worldwide.

Where:
And even though the street carnival or blocks in Rio are once again becoming just like the popular festival it once used to be, gathering UP TO tens of thousands of people in Copacabana and Ipanema, the main spectacle remains the carnival parade taking place in a specially constructed open air stadium, called the Sambodromo or Sambadrome, at about 15 km from Copacabana and Ipanema, in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

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When:
The Carnival parades always start on the Saturday before Mardi Gras and officially ends on the Saturday after Mardi Gras. For 2019 this means from 02nd of March through 5th of March. The different participants, or Samba Schools, are organized in much the same way as soccer divisions: first comes the second division with the secondary groups (grupos de acesso). They will parade on the Saturday before Mardi Gras. Then comes the first division with the special groups or Grupos Especiais and they will parade on Sunday and Monday before Mardi Gras. On Mardi Gras, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday there are no parades. Every year the loser of the first division
will make place for the winner of the second division, and finally, Saturday after Mardi Gras, the 6 winning schools will have their final showdown during the Champions parade.

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How:
Every day there are around 6 schools parading and every each of them takes around 1h30 to cover the 700 meter long Parading avenue of the Sambadrome. The parade starts around 20h00 and finishes in the early hours around 06h00.
Sambadrome seating and tickets

Seating:
The Sambadrome is divided in sectors. Each sector has a grand stand with free seating (concrete steps in fact), front boxes on the parade level (A,B,C and D) and finally covered suites or lounges. We recommend sectors 4 to 9, which offer the best views and generally sector 9 is used for the foreign visitors who wish numbered (concrete) seats.

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Tickets:
Carnival tickets, as the rest during the carnival period, are not cheap. The good sectors/seats are expensive and the pricing works a little bit like the stock exchange market: the more demand the higher the prices and vice versa. This means that prices can change on a daily basis and the sooner you book the more chance you have to get good seats. It is not uncommon to have total sell out.

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Lodging during Carnival
As throughout most of Brazil during the Carnival period, hotels in Rio de Janeiro apply a mandatory 4- or 5-night carnival package. These package are expensive and although some prices seem (and are effectively) absurd, all hotels during this period tend to be sold out completely. The packages are generally applied from Friday (01/03) before Mardi Gras until Wednesday after Mardi Gras (06/03). Some hotels offer discounts if you book a very long time in advance. Reservations are only made after 100% payment, and once the bill has been settled there will be NO REFUND!

Champions Parade, a cheap(er) alternative:
There is, though, a way around these expensive packages without missing the Carnival completely: The Champions Parade. This parade held on Saturday after Mardi Gras (9th of March for 2018) is nothing more than the 6 winning schools from the Special groups and the winning school from the secondary groups parading one last time. Most hotels don’t apply any special rates for this period. Those who do, apply a mandatory 2 night package, but at rates far below the expensive main carnival packages.

Parade and participate personally:
And of course you can also participate in the carnival and parade in the Sabadrome with the school of your choice.
The fees therefore start around 100 US per person and are limitless with the most famous positions generally occupied by personalities or socialites.

Incentive opportunities:
Needless to say that such an event is a perfect occasion for an incentive group in the sign of carnival. Plenty opportunities and possibilities there.

Safety:
Contrary to the popular believe, the carnival period in Rio de Janeiro is not a moment of erupting violence. People are rather relaxed and just want to have a good time: at which Brazilians are especially very good. Off course whenever you have big gathering of crowds it is important to be aware of your surroundings. The access
tickets we sell to the Carnival parade at the Sambadrome are all with transportation and guide included and therefore within the Sambadrome your passenger’s safety is assured.

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Carnival is a once in a lifetime experience that everyone should witness, like it or not, it will never again leave you! Get to try this once-in-a-lifetime event using the services of an expert:

 

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WHAT COULD BE YOUR NEXT FAVOURITE INCENTIVE DESTINATION?

Here is what you probably know: Amsterdam is a liberal city, rock ‘n roll city,  it rains a lot, everyone cycles and has more canals than Venice. It is easy to view Amsterdam in cliches, but venture beyond the rouge glow and find a dynamic metropolis with a village heart.

FIVE REASONS WHY AMSTERDAM IS YOUR NEXT INCENTIVE DESTINATION

Here is what you probably know: Amsterdam is a liberal city, rock ‘n roll city,  it rains a lot, everyone cycles and has more canals than Venice. It is easy to view Amsterdam in cliches, but venture beyond the rouge glow and find a dynamic metropolis with a village heart.

In the past couple of years Amsterdam has smartened up its act, with art galleries, stylish boutiques and buzzy cafes opening up. The big museums have reopened after years of improvements and the city is renowned for its thriving festival scene.

What is new to know? And why is Amsterdam your next incentive destination?

  1. Amsterdam’s Assets: Where can you go for a company escape that has world-renowned art museums, vibrant nightlife, cool upcoming neighbourhoods and unique architecture?
    Amsterdam Redefined’s choice: To make sure keeping all the participants of the group engaged and enthusiastic, creating an itinerary that includes the different aspects Amsterdam has to offer is key.A tour through the Red Light District? Yes we can! Not the standard one but a tour where we enter a private house in the district to hear the incredible stories of the family who once lived here.Only half an hour biking outside of Amsterdam you can enjoy the polder and windmill landscape. A whole different scenery and what’s more ‘Farm to Table’ than enjoying a lunch in between the grasslands and cows in a farmers garden?
    Farmers lunch
  2. Small Village feeling: Flat, compact and easy walkable you get a fairly good overview of the city without using a lot of transfers.
    Ams Redefined 1566
    Amsterdam Redefined’s choice: Instead of getting in and out of coaches bringing you from one activity or venue to another. Why not use Amsterdams finest asset and use a private boat on the canals as a transfer to get from A to B?
  3. Booming restaurant & hotel scene:
    Amsterdam’s hotel scene is eclectic and characterful with a few new properties opening up each year and also existing hotels are smartening up their act.The Dutch food scene is enjoying a culinary renaissance and Amsterdam is fast becoming Europe’s most exciting and varied eating destination.
    Jakarta amsterdam
    Amsterdam Redefined’s
    choice: Always looking for the best suitable hotel fitting the target group we love to use local hotel brands and international chain hotels alike. As the local government is banning coaches out of the centre, logistics are getting more and more a priority in order to give the guests the best experience.
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  4. Where to party?
    There is no lack of festivals and festive days in Amsterdam. No matter what time of the year you visit there’s always something going on whether you’re into dance music, food or art. Gay Pride, Kings day, a thriving music festival scene in the summer
    Kingsday
    Amsterdam Redefined’s
    choice: A once in a lifetime experience to incorporate one of the festivities into an itinerary for the young-at-heart groups. We arrange your private boat to be in the middle of it all or we make sure your group has their spot reserved on the VIP deck. For a group who likes it private, we know the perfect location to organise your own company festival.
  5. Good vibe city
    Ranking in the top lists of the ‘Quality of living’ index and the ‘Work-life balance’ study we can conclude Amsterdammer’s, as the locals are referred to, figured out how to enjoy life.This is what you feel when visiting the city.4ffa0d74-a6e7-419e-8080-c81e55decb47
    Amsterdam Redefined’s
    choice: Chatting with the miller of a windmill, meet the local retired policeman who spend his lifetime working in the city centre and shares his knowledge and amazing anecdotes. Listen to a passionate talk of a local artist who gives you a sneak peak in his gallery. We feel this is what creates lasting memories when traveling.

     

By Willemijn Derks, Femke Alderden

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DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU CAN SEE FLOATING PAGODAS AND A PARADE OF FASCINATING CELEBRATIONS?

Processions, devotion, traditional costumes, music and even boat races. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is one of the biggest annual events in Asia, occurring every year around the month of October. Let’s discover more about it!

FOLLOWING A KARAWEIK: A MYTHICAL BIRD, THE SYMBOL OF THE FESTIVAL

Everyone interested in Myanmar probably already know that Inle Lake, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, is a magical world. A world of stilt villages, floating gardens and crumbling stupas which have kept its unique and hundred-years-old traditional lifestyle. A world where one can relax feeling its tranquillity, enjoy the breath-taking landscape and learn about the Intha people’s interesting activities, such as leg-rowing fishing, extracting the threads from the lotus plant, weaving, manufacturing cheroots or silversmithing.

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Fishermen and Floating Gardens

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Leg Rowing Fishing

What fewer people may know is that during the month of October one of Myanmar’s biggest events takes place annually on the waters of this magical world: the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, occurring from the first waxing day to the third waning day of the lunar month of Thadingyut.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, located on the western end of Inle Lake, is the holiest Buddhist site in southern Shan state. In the middle of the Pagoda’s main room, a group of five oddly shaped relics covered in gold leaf are displayed.

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Inle Lake

These relics, cast during the reign of Bagan’s King Alanghsithu (1112-1167 CE) and once with human form, have been changing its shape after years and years of receiving the gold leaf donations from thousands of pilgrims visiting this holy site.

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Five Golden Relics

These golden statues are precisely the focal point of the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival. During the festival, four of the five statues are placed on a decorative barge shaped like a karaweik (mythical bird) and taken on an 18 days tour around the lake, stopping at each village for a night or longer so residents can pay homage.

In this procession from village to village, the barge is propelled by Inle Lake’s famous leg rowers, who dressed in traditional costumes row in unison to the beat of a huge drum, while other ceremonial boats escorting the barge carry dancers and martial artists showcasing their sills.

Visiting Inle Lake during the festival provides a great opportunity to see the different ethnic groups, including Shan, Intha, Danu, Palaung, Pa-O and Taung Yo, gathering and celebrating the festival together, giving to the lake a combined devotion and carnival-like atmosphere.

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Ceremonial Boats in the Pagoda Festival

One of the highlights of the festival and best time for visitors to engage with the festival celebration are undoubtedly the impressive boat races, in which different teams of leg rowers representing villages around the lake compete aboard narrow boats over ten metres long.

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Boat Races

Every year, the Festival occurs from the first waxing day to the third waning day of the lunar month of Thadingyut – this year from October 10 to October 27.

See you there very soon!

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Inle Lake

By Lwin Lwin Kyaw

An experience created by Myanmar Voyages

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20 Gorgeous Islands Every Traveler Should Visit

As the plane makes its gradual descent you see much of the island from your window: the cliffs at one end, the long golden curve of a remote beach, olive groves, an isolated village, a patch of woodland, the whitewashed air traffic control tower. There’s just one carousel at the terminal. People seem to know each other. It’s only a short ride in the hired car into the small main town. You drive past the shopping centre, the primary school, the restaurant that specializes in seafood, the town hall or simply an endless blue beach with palm trees…  And there’s a strange, instinctive feeling of wanting to arrive there, live a few moments there.

The feeling of pleasure we experience on arrival is partly the work of the imagination.  In fact, the pleasure of the small island rests on qualities that can be found closer to us, our expectations, our longing for. A small island is not just a place on the map; it’s a psychological destination; a model of simplifying your life. You may not even have to take a plane or a boat to get there. Read about it, dream of it, close your eyes and you may suddenly be there…

A story created with passion and love by BEYOND LIMITS

1. Maddalena Island, Italy (pop. 11.332)

Maddalena

SARDINIA’S SECRET ISLAND 

The archipelago of La Maddalena, off the Costa Smeralda, is a quiet place of turquoise lagoons, deserted islands and the most heavenly beaches in Sardinia, with barely a footprint to spoil them. In the translucent seas of the La Maddalena archipelago, you’re in another world. It doesn’t feel like the Mediterranean here. It feels like a more rugged version of the Caribbean. Suspended between Sardinia and Corsica, this scatter of seven large islands and 55 tiny islands has some of the most spectacular beaches in Italy, and some of the cleanest and clearest water.But it is only recently that these islands have begun to discover tourism, and in turn to be discovered by tourists.

The Maddalena islands are only 20 minutes by ferry from the Sardinian port of Palau, and geologically connected to the pink granite rockscapes of Gallura in the north-east of Sardinia.

For an incentive group we can arrange a stunning catamaran excursion, with drinks and delicious food on board. During the boat excursion you will enjoy time on island beaches, swim off the boat, and taste the delicious cuisine prepared by our skilled chef on board.

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2. Rosario Islands, Colombia (pop. 700)

Colombia Rosario

A TRUE CARIBBEAN PARADISE

The Rosario Islands are an archipielago located on the coast of Colombia, approximately 100 kilometres from Cartagena. It is one of the most important Natural National Parks of Colombia. They have an aquarium and open sea ocenarium and are perfect to break from the urban environment. For the most adventurous travellers they can take a kayak out the sea, go diving, or sport-fishing, while the more relaxed visitors can easily spend a day on the beach. On the islands you will find the kind of beaches that you want to experience in the Caribbean, white sand, sparkling blue waters and a few palm trees, so expect to see some truly memorable sunsets during your visit.  All the islands offer combinations of luxury rooms, private beaches, and quality food, that you will never forget. It is a fantastic place to spend one day or also a few days in the Caribbean.

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3. Symi, Greece (pop. 2.590)

Symi

WHERE TIME STANDS COMPLETELY STILL

Quiet but still full of cardio! Little, full of everything! This little spot of the Greek map, one of the most picturesque islands of the Dodecanese complex with intact beauty and special architecture, will make you fall in love at first glance … Her beauty, simple and man-made, unfolds before your eyes as the ship enters the harbor. In front of you, you can see, as a living painting, one of the most beautiful and bigger neoclassical settlements in Greece. Neoclassical houses painted in bright, warm colors, perched on the rocky slopes of the island, reflect the glorious past of Symi, with tradition in sponge, shipbuilding and woodcarving.

Beautiful and untouched, most of Symi beaches invite you to discover them. Crystal waters, provocative, sometimes play with towering rocks, sometimes with coniferous shades … The most well-known are Nos, Pedi, Marathounda and Nimporio.

The city of Symi extends to the northern part of the island and consists of two settlements equally beautiful and charming:  Ano Symi (Village) stretching as the top of the hill and Gialos, the safe harbor of the island. Symi offers you unique culinary delights featuring its own specialty, the famous homemade prawn! It is a rare variety of shrimp, of a very small size, that lives in the sea of the area and you can taste it in the fish taverns of the island.

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4. Kauai, USA (pop. 65.689)

Kauai

STUNNING HAWAIIAN SCENERY, NATURAL BEAUTY

With its striking natural beauty, Kauai has long been a destination for Hollywood filmmakers intent on capturing the island’s unspoiled terrain. Its stunning scenery is a worthy adventure for you. The Movie Tour provides a rare opportunity to experience Kauai through this lens, taking you on a six-hour guided tour of the island’s famous movie locations, including settings for “The Descendants,” “Six Days and Seven Nights,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “The Amazing Race,” “Fantasy Island,” “Blue Hawaii” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Waimea Canyon (described as the Grand Canyon on the Pacific), Spouting Horn, a drive past Haupu Mountain range and a remarkable tunnel of 500 eucalyptus trees towering more than 100 feet, stops at the Opaekaa Falls lookout and Fern Grotto, a gorgeous tropical rain forest once reserved for Hawaiian royalty are some of the spectacular destinations you need to see in Kauai.

Take a cruise down to Wailua River, where you will take a relaxing cruise surrounded by lush jungle landscapes.

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5. Maui, USA (pop. 144.444)

Mauai

A REAL HAWAIIAN ISLAND

Hana, isolated from the rest of the island, is truly the last undeveloped tropical paradise on Maui. The Road to Hana Eco-Adventure features miles of lush tropical rain forests, beautiful waterfalls at every turn, narrow one-lane bridges and most importantly colorful and enduring cultural traditions kept by the elders. Hana truly is a world into itself. Discover its stories, live its legends and experience the authentic hospitality with cultural experts as visitors have the rare opportunity to mix with the Aunties of Hana and experience cultural practices and traditions. The guests will travel through the very heart of Maui and all that makes Maui no ka oi (the best!).

The hula and the lei, the dance and the flower are an entwined duo of Hawaiian beauty and grace. The respected islanders can share with you the true spirit of aloha. A noho or seated hula can be taught and shared through basic hula movements and their interpretive meaning. One must look inward to outwardly express the beauty and grace of the native dance.

The island offers Waterfall hiking in natural pool providing a well – deserved swimming reward, horseback riding along the pristine shoreline, standup paddle lessons & ocean snorkeling are all unique experiences you will never forget.

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6. Pringipos, Turkey (pop. 7.000)

Prigipos

A UNIQUE BEAUTY IN THE AEGEAN SEA 

Pringipos – named Büyükada now, is the3rd biggest island in the Marmara Sea which is only half hour sailing from the Asian shore of Istanbul.   The island is known to be lung of the city, with clear fresh air, where there is no motor vehicles, but all transportation is managed by bikes and horse carriages. The climate and look of the island is more like of an Aegean town, and it’s a wonderful escape from the city even for a day break.

The residents of the island either lives through full year here, or some only stay at summers for their touristic activities. The island welcomes you enthusiastically with people riding bicycles with great merriment, lots of cats and dogs and, of course, seagulls.

Pringipos is the most romantic one among the Istanbul islands.

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7. Koh Rong Island, Cambodia (pop. 300)

Koh Rong

AN IINVITATION “AU VOYAGE”

Located just off-the-coast of Sihanoukville in Southwest Cambodia, Koh Rong is known for its serene beauty and breathtaking scenery, an “island paradise” as described by visiting tourists and a perfect holiday destination for families, couples and small groups of travelers, an island for all tastes and all budgets.

Whether you want to lie back, unwind, and admire the magnificent views, swim in the crystal-clear ocean waters, or explore the exotic wildlife and underwater world, the stunning Koh Rong Island will give you the memories for a lifetime to bring back home.

Relax on the white sandy beaches, contemplate and gaze at the mesmerizing sunsets, dine with the freshest foods.

Why not let yourselves lose in the breathtaking beauty of this spectacular island? Head to Koh Rong Island, whether you’re a backpacker or a seasoned luxury traveler, find a slice of Paradise in the Kingdom of Cambodia!

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8. La Graciosa Island, Spain (pop. 700)

La Graziosa

REDISCOVERING A LOVE FRO SIMPLE THINGS

Few places remain as hidden as this little desert of just 27 square kilometres; the eighth, and least known, of the Canary Islands, located in the Chinijo archipelago. The island is home to just 700 inhabitants, there is no tarmac, no rush, and no stress. You can see incredible sunsets almost every evening or walk barefoot through the sandy streets of the island’s two villages. It is a place where you can try your best to grow tired of eating fresh fish and seafood, swimming next to idyllic beaches and cycling between red and yellow volcanoes. You can also try recreational fishing and scuba diving in Europe’s largest marine reserve, or even bodyboarding, surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing thanks to the waves and perfect wind conditions. An island where the simple things, a natural existence and the slow life are what is important… in short, a getaway that can be enjoyed with all five senses: the view of the blue horizon, the fragrance of the earth, the sound of the waves, the feeling of the sand between your toes and the flavors of the ocean.

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9. Senja, Norway (pop. 15.072)

Senja

A MINIATURE VERSION OF NORWAY

Beautiful Senja is Norway’s second largest island, located far above the Arctic Circle. The Norwegians call the island «Norway in a Nutshell» as you are greeted by an awe-inspiring mix of sea, mountains, beaches, fishing villages and inland areas, all within a few hours’ drive. The Oceanside of the island is precipitous with sculptural rocks and colorful fishing villages in sheltered coves. The inland is filled with mountains, lakes and forests, and the mainland-facing coast sports unexpectedly green.

The scenery in Senja is full of contrasts, with the midnight sun and the northern lights, depending on the season. The «raw» mountain peaks rises straight from the sea along the coast and the combination of sea and mountains is ideal for those who participate in outdoor activities. In summer you are welcome to pick and choose from a wealth of trails for hiking and biking, whilst one of the world’s best fishing grounds and areas to observe the white-tailed eagle are right on your doorstep.

The range of restaurants and eateries in Senja reflects the region’s scenery and nature. To get a real taste of the region, char from Altevatn lake, cod from Senja, and goat cheese from Balsfjorden, are among the local products to try.

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10. The Island of Our Lady of Mercy (Gospa od Milosrđa), Montenegro

Lady of Mercy

THE HOLY ISLAND

Very few know about this small island known as the Island of Our Lady of Mercy, part of the Krtoli Archipelago located in Tivat Bay. This lush piece of land houses a church bearing the same name and a Franciscan Monastery. As well as Christian importance, the island has a long history of religious rituals for nearly five thousand years.

The history of the buildings on the island date back to 15 Century. Through the centuries buildings were damaged or destroyed by different causes and the current church dates to the 19th Century.

Often confused with the frequently visited Church of Our Lady on the Rocks, this island is an important shrine of pilgrimage and people come here to celebrate the Gregorian calendar’s Feast of Our Lady every year on 15th August. It is also possible to visit other times and enjoy the calm atmosphere and magnificent views of Tivat Bay and surrounding mountains.

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11. Wa Ale, Myanmar

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THE UNSPOILED ISLAND

Choosing an island in Myanmar is a difficult task, there are many of them (more than 800) and each most beautiful than the previous one, but Wa Ale island is without any doubt one of the favorites.

Nested in the Mergui Archipelago, Southern part of Myanmar, and part of the Lampi Marine National park, Wa Ale offers unspoiled beaches and stunning nature difficult to find anywhere else in the world.

There is only one possibility for accommodation, the exclusive eco-resort Wa Ale Island Resort, with 14 rooms that look like coming out from a fairy tale.

There are many activities available in the island, most of them focusing on enjoying the incredible surroundings like: treks, diving, watching wildlife or just relaxing by the beautiful beaches reserved for the handful of visitors that make it to this remote paradise.

Are you ready to disconnect and reconnect in this dreamy island?

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12. VIS Croatia (pop 3.617)

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A REAL FAIRY TALE

Welcome to Mamma Mia fairy tale! Vis is a small, secluded island with turquoise waters and beautiful secluded beaches. It is the furthest inhabited island off the Croatian coast and the most enigmatic. Vis served as a Yugoslav military base and foreign visitors were cut off right up until 1989. You can visit the Tito headquarters in one of the islands cave. The isolation prevented development and caused most of the population to move in search of work leaving the island trapped in time for many years.
Now, lack of development and the search for authenticity has become Vis’ drawcard. Travellers now visit Vis because of the nature, local cuisine, peace and quiet. A rise of visitors is in sight as the movie Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was filmed on this beautiful island. Beat the crowds and book your trip to Vis now!

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13. Mafia Island, Tanzania (pop. 40.801)

Mafia

THE INDIAN OCEAN’S MOST HIDDEN GEM

Mafia Island is the largest of a small archipelago of islands and atolls and the southern of three islands -with Pemba and Zanzibar– located off the coast of Tanzania.

Its name doesn’t have any link with the criminal organization but could come from the Arabic morfiyeh, meaning “group” or “archipelago” or from the Swahili mahali pa afya, meaning “a healthy dwelling-place”.

Mafia Island and its reefs are renowned as an excellent diving destination, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish; the archipelago is one of the best locations in the world for swimming with whale sharks but it also has a rich history that goes back to the 8th century, when it played a major role in ancient trade between the people of East Asia and East Africa.

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14. El Cielo, Mexico

El Cielo

THE TURQUOISE WATER ISLAND

El Cielo is a paradisiacal sandbank named Heaven, where you will find starfish on their own habitat over an incredibly sea turquoise water. Is about ½ mile off the Cozumel coast; a very shallow unique place located in the center of the Caribbean, and only accessible by boat.

The water is only 3-4 ft as far as you can see, with powdered white sand that massages your feet. El Cielo is filled with starfish and stingrays that can be seen from yards away because of the crystal-clear waters of El Cielo. On the way there; you can snorkel or dive at the second biggest coral reef barrel in the world after Australia.

Taking advantage of the scenarios at this lovely island at the Mexican Caribbean, @Nomadic Totem develops different high-end activities and premium services; such as, luxury yachts and catamarans with premium open bar and hor d´ouvers; where you can be the owner for 5 hours and captain of your own boat at the Caribbean with servers and crew taking care of you onboard.

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15. Phu Cuoc, Vietnam (pop. 103.000)

Puh Cuoh

THE SNOW WHITE BEACHES ISLAND

Phu Quoc (pronounced “foo kwok”) – an unassuming Vietnamese island sitting pretty just off the coast of Cambodia – is one of south-east Asia’s best-kept secrets.

The Phu Quoc district is made of 28 islands, most of which are uninhabited while some are planned for development as private resorts. Spanning 574 square kilometres, Phu Quoc Island is where most of the tourism action takes place.

With no accommodation available on site, the island is a popular day trip spot. Its protected waters and picturesque beach can be enjoyed overnight by camping on the beach as part of a tour, but not independently.

There is 150 kilometres of coast with ice cream-soft sand and Phu Quoc Island is home to around 20 unspoilt beaches, trodden mostly by locals or tourists from Asian countries nearby. Khem Beach is one of its most beautiful, overlooking Emerald Bay with powdery white sands caressed by champagne-like effervescent waves.

Sao Beach, considered the “crown jewel” of Phu Quoc, while Long Beach, which boasts a 20-km coast on the west side of the island is ideal for sunsets and among the island’s most popular beaches.

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16. Karimunjawa, Indonesia (pop. 1.400)

Karimunjawa

A HIDDEN PARADISE

Any nature lover will easily fall in love with this place. Afterall, Karimunjawa is a sanctuary – an archipelago of 27 islands north of Semarang and off the coast of Central Java. With turquoise waters, fine white sand, fresh air and breathtaking views, this is the perfect escape from a hectic lifestyle that’ll likely satiate your cravings for fun under the sun.

 Travel experts recommend the best time to go is during the dry season from April to October, as Indonesia is a country with a tropical climate. Pack with you the necessary items to battle the humid weather such as sunblock, umbrella, hats and a pair of sunglasses.

Looking for a luxurious hotel? Kura Kura Resort in Semarang is nestled among coconut trees and surrounded by pristine beaches with white sand.

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, head on over to Menjangan Island. As many sharks have been sighted around the Karimunjawa islands, this has become a tourist attraction. Swimming with these sharks is a must-try activity here. You don’t have to worry since they’re smaller than usual and won’t bite. Aside from sharks, you can also find turtles and the Javan hawk on this island.

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17. Langkawi, Malaysia (pop. 65.000)

Langawi

THE 99 ISLANDS ARCHIPELAGO

The island of Langkawi in Malaysian is a tantalizing mix of folklore, stunning visuals, waterfalls, virgin coral reefs and mangroves inhabited by eagles and other exotic wildlife.

Situated in calm waters of the Andaman Sea, it is designated as south-east Asia’s first ever UNESCO Geopark for its unique geology and tropical geo forests. On top of all that, Langkawi is a duty-free island too.

The best time to visit the island is between December and March, it’s dry season and temperatures are around 30°C or more. It can get quite hot, but there is always a nice breeze in Langkawi.

Top attractions & activities on the island include: 1) Dataran Lang aka The Eagle Square 2) Langkawi Sky Bridge & Cable Car 3) Jetski Island hopping 4) Gunung Raya 5) Kilim Karst Geoforest Park 6) Skytrex Adventure 7) Taman Lagenda 8) Telaga Tujuh aka 9) The Wells Waterfalls 10) Tanjung Rhu & Datai Bay

Try some of them and you will be so excited with your visit there.

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18. Easter Islands, Chile (pop. 5.761)

Easter islands

THE ENIGMATIC STONE STATUE ISLAND

It was the eighteenth century Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen who named this isle Easter Island after he stumbled across it on Easter Sunday 1722 on his way across the South Pacific. In later years the Polynesian islanders gave the island the title Rapa Nui, but to this day locals still use the name that’s so commonly known worldwide. Situated 3,700 kilometers from the coast of Chile, Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited place on Earth.

Easter Island is most famous for its mysterious monolithic stone statues. Known as Moai, they are believed to have been carved by the Rapa Nui people sometime between 1250 and 1500, depicting the faces of their ancestors. Many statues have been moved to other spots along the coastline and positioned facing inland.

Guided hikes lead visitors around the island to see archaeological sites amidst scenic landscape. In around seven hours, trek along the dramatic northern coast – an area that’s only accessible on foot – from the western edge of the extinct volcano Maunga Terevaka to Anakena beach, with Moai, caves and rock carvings to see along the way.

Anakena on the northern coast is the island’s most popular beach – particularly during the southern hemisphere’s summer months – where white coral sand is lapped by the warm Pacific Ocean with coconut trees swaying in the sea breeze.

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19. Parquerolles Island, France (pop. 200)

Parquerolles

THE CARIBBEAN ISLAND OF FRANCE

Welcome to Porquerolles! A short 10-minutes boat ride away from the coast, the crescent-shaped island nestles a charming village in its centre where you will find a wide and diverse offer of accommodationrestaurants and bike rentals. The best way to discover Porquerolles is hiking or cycling on the numerous marked trails of the National Park.

Porquerolles is a favourite with the French and is busy in the summer and on public holidays. The best months are in late spring, September and October. Late May sees Porquerolles at its most beautiful. Tender shoots are still green and fresh, blossoms exuberant with new colour. Nature fizzes – just before the burn of the summer sun begins and the fading starts.

Porquerolles has two facets: on the southern side, the coast is made of steep cliffs and secluded creeks only accessible to hikers. The northern side, on the other hand, offers fine sand beaches and turquoise waters…our very own Caribbean! As for the core of the island, it is made of fertile plains on which the botanical conservatory grows ancient and unique species. This special island awaits your visit…

 

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20.Cayo Arena, Dominican Republic

Cayo Arena

A PRIVATE PARADISE ISLAND

There are tons of kitschy picture-perfect settings in the Caribbean: a turquoise ocean with endless beaches, palm trees looking diagonally towards the sea, the tropical cocktail during the sunset or the jump into a natural pool of a waterfall. All these typical Caribbean dreams are waiting for you in the Dominican Republic. However, on the north coast of the country, there is a special spot which is more perfect than the mentioned moments and which will even enthuse Caribbean experienced travellers: Cayo Arena with its 7 pretty beach huts on a sandbar which is not that much bigger than 30×90 feet – surrounded by crystal-clear water, a colorful coral reef and the infinity of the ocean. Is there a better spot for taking remarkable photos of the Dominican Republic?

The fascination of Cayo Arena is basically limitless. Besides the incredible setting the coral reef offers an abundance of fishes who are presenting themselves in all colors you even can’t imagine of. And after your snorkeling trip through the underwater world of Cayo Arena you can enjoy a chilled drink and fresh fruits to complete your perfect day in the Caribbean.

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11 European Small Towns Every Traveler Should Visit

A story created with passion and love by BEYOND LIMITS

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When planning your grand European adventure, it’s all too easy to obsess over the essential, big-ticket experiences: taking selfies with the Eiffel Tower, munching pizza near Trevi Fountain, trying to steal the hats off of those Buckingham Palace soldiers. But better to give the beaten path the finger, and head off to explore lesser-known gems in hidden valleys and un-cruise-shipped coves. As you’re no doubt aware, Europe is absolutely stacked with postcard-worthy villages and historical small towns.

by Savas Kazantzides
think green, think life, make a difference.

1.  Lofoten Islands, Norway (pop. 24500)

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WHERE CULTURE AND HISTORY MEETS NATURE

Fjords, mountains, white sandy beaches, and surprisingly warm water, that’s Lofoten. A landscape of skerries, red fisherman cabins, lapping waves and the cries of gulls that will ease your tensions away. Not only the endless days but also the midnight sun gives you extra energy and you might find yourself playing golf at midnight, or forgetting to go to bed!

Take a stroll in old, charming fishing villages, where the creative ones settle to find inspiration, active people to find challenges, wanderers to find peace, where we all find endless beauty. Choose to stay in an authentic fisherman cabin, or a panorama suite with both mountain, city and sea view at the same time. Join us by speed boats to explore the beautiful nature and watch sea eagles, catch fish up close, take a hike with rewarding world-class views and enjoy a pier-front meal of self-caught seafood. Lofoten will take your breath away!

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Fishermen Village

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Sandy Beach

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2.  Semur-en-Auxois, France (pop. 4240)

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A FAIRY TALE MEDIEVAL TOWN

Just 250 km from Paris in beautiful Burgundy you will come across one of the best medieval cities of France, Semur–en-Auxois, Discover its high city and its suburbs by the river Armançon, its municipal museum, its history and its exceptional architecture. Drive down the hill into Semur-en-Auxois on a fine day and often you will see artists sketching the citadel. For this, it is a very picturesque town with attractive houses, antique ironmongery on the walls and doors and narrow streets. By day, the magnificent fortress looks onto the pretty valley of the River Armançon with its weeping willows and weirs. By night, the gigantic towers and ramparts are softly illuminated to create a spectacle all their own.

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The Entrance to the Town

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Cobblestone Streets

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3.  Cadaqués, Spain (pop. 2837)

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

It is said that on one of his trips to Barcelona, Einstein escaped to Cadaqués after his interest was piqued by a recommendation from one of his hosts. Upon arriving, he was so overwhelmed by the beauty and so affected by emotion that he began to play the violin.

Throughout the twentieth century, this small fishing village was a centre of attraction for great artistic figures, such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, García Lorca, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. The latter had childhood attachments to this area, as it was a summer holiday destination for his family.

Cadaqués remains a special place. The Pyrenees come to an abrupt end as they meet the Mediterranean Sea, and the isolation this provides from the surrounding world explains how Cadaqués has been able to preserve its purity. Yesterday, like today, the two thousand and a few inhabitants who live here view it with a very special sense and sensibility. Fortunately, Cadaqués is a dream that nobody has yet awakened from.

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Sunset in Cadaqués

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The View from the Sea

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4.  Bled, Slovenia (pop. 6322)

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A SIGHT IN YOUR MEMORY FOR EVER

Bled is a small town located in Gorenjska region, Slovenia’s most popular resort due to its breath – taking scenery. Lonely Planet chose Bled as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2018! In the center of everything is Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero). Lake Bled is a picture-perfect mountain lake with emerald green water and a tear shaped isle in the middle. A fairy tale like church stands on the Isle and an imposing medieval Bled Castle stands tall on a rocky cliff overlooking the lake and the town.

Culinary scene of Bled is based on locally produced food. Bled also serves as an access point for Triglav National Park, where eco livestock free range breeding is extremely important and is also a big part of the local tradition. The most famous dish is a desert called Kremšnita, a cake made of vanilla custard and crème.

Bled is known as an access point for many outdoor activities – hiking, biking, swimming, rafting, and various other water sport activities. Rowing boats or more traditional Pletna boats are a great way to explore the lake. For something different, Hot air balloon flights are a great way to experience the amazing and breathtaking views of Lake Bled and nearby Julian Alps.

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Blejski Grad

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The Lake

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5.     Budva, Montenegro (pop. 13300)

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PEARL OF THE ADRIATIC

Budva is welcoming its guests all year around. Either you look for crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, backed by gorgeous mountains or a vibrant nightlife or even explore the alleyways of the fortified medieval old town, Budva has a lot to offer to its visitors. The city is home to a variety of lodging options ranging from luxurious resorts to small cozy apartments in stone building restored for the comfort of those who seek privacy. As well as the old town, Budva area is home to many fine restaurants offering delicious seafood from the Adriatic Sea.

Budva is also ideally located within the reach of the most untouched parts of the country where nature lovers enjoy lots of adrenaline raising activities in its mountains, lakes and rivers.

An incentive trip combining all these in the beautiful environement of Budva is quite a unique experience to remember.

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Panoramic View

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The Port

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6.  Zhovkva, Ukraine (pop.13594)

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A HIDDEN TREASURE OF UKRAINE

Old Slavic Vinnyky. Medieval Zolkiew. Soviet Nesteriv. With each change in history this town changed its name and appearance. However, the centre is the same as in medieval times and is again called Zhovkva.

Zhovkva is a small Renaissance town 25 km north to Lviv, the former residence of the King of Poland Jan Sobieski III.

Zhovkva was founded in 1594 as a private town, by Polish military commander Stanislaw Zolkiewski who had decided to build a “perfect city”. From those times, the city kept the most glorious monuments: an impressive Zhovkva Castle, marvelous St. Lawrence Catholic Church, which is a real Renaissance work of art, a sophisticated house of the Town Hall, and a spacious Vicheva Square.The history of the city keeps memory of the numerous historical events that influenced the development of not only Ukraine, but also the entire Europe. In different periods, such famous people as Napoleon Bonaparte, B. Khmelnitsky and Peter I visited Zhovkva. The entire central part of the town has the status of historical and cultural reserve of national importance. The Church of Holy Trinity was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage, amongst 16 wooden churches of the Carpathian Region.

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A Panoramic View

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The Square

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7.  Alaçatı, Turkey (pop. 9745)

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ROMANTIC WEEKENDS

Alaçatı as an extension of Cesme resort in Izmir, a small town  for calmness, relaxation and recovery. You can find small, cozy and romantic hotels in this town. It offers you a lot of possibilities; a beautiful nature, excellent restaurants & cozy cafes, romantic bars, a lot of shops and antique stores, one of the most famous open bazaars of the region, the beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters and some of the best wind and kite surfing paradise in the country. It is a unique place to fall in love. With its mild climate, it is considered a beautiful holiday destination throughout the year.

Stay in a boutique hotel, walk along the narrow streets surrounded by typical stone houses of the town, visit the small antiquity shops in the hidden corners that will offer you memorable souvenirs to pamper yourself, taste the delicious Aegean vegetable cuisine in the small restaurants, walk to the hill of the hundred years old windmills for photoshoot , sit on the beach and watch the windsurfers dancing on the sea. Enjoy every breath you take in this small Aegean Town…That is all about Alacati.

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Alacati Sokaklari

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Sokak

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8.  Asolo, Italy (pop. 9085)

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THE CITY OF A HUNDRED HORIZONS

Just 80 km from Venice, defined by Giosuè Carducci the City of a Hundred Horizons, Asolo is one of the most picturesque old town centres in Italy. Contained within the ancient walls that branch off from the 12th century fortress, in every corner it preserves testimonies of its thousand-year old history. A fascinating place on the rolling Asolan hills, Asolo was a destination for poets and writers, artists and travellers that found inspiration and harmony here. Among them the English poet Robert Browning, the Divine theatre actress Eleonora Duse, the composer Gian Francesco Malipiero, the English writer and traveller Freya Stark. A visit to Asolo allows you to combine the pleasure for history and culture with that of dining. In taverns, restaurants, cafes and wine bars that overlook the characteristic arcades and squares you can enjoy delicious dishes prepared with the finest local produce and linked to the Venetian culinary tradition, such as the delicious “Cicchetti” (venetians tapas). All accompanied by a glass of sparkling Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, the excellence of this land.

 

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Canal Bridge in Asolo

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Τhe Castle

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9.  Kazimierz Dolny, Poland (pop. 3572)

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ROYAL AND CHARMING

Kazimierz Dolny is not only one of the oldest, but also one of the most charming towns in Poland. Located 140 km from Warsaw, it proudly stretches on the Vistula bank. Being a royal city and one of the main shipping ports during the Golden Age, it is now a place full of picturesque wooden villas and beautiful verandas, which are an outstanding architectural jewel.

The unique natural landscape of the Vistula valley strengthens the charm of this town, which is surrounded by a dense loess network of woody green hills and magnificent lush gardens. The atmosphere of not only artistic bohemia, but also traces of the Jewish “shtetl Kuzmir” together with the culture, spirit of the Renaissance and idyllic landscape attract thousands of visitors each year.

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Photos by courtesy of Town Hall in Kazimierz Dolny

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A Great View of the Town (Photos by courtesy of Town Hall in Kazimierz Dolny)

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10.   Milos, Greece (pop.900)

 

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A GREEK ISLAND LIKE NO OTHER

Milos, like Santorini, is an island that is not only rich in spectacular sunset views and minerals but also in the things that travelers come to Greece looking for: beautiful beaches, inspiring views, a rich history, white-washed Cycladic villages, excellent food and good-hearted people. Combined with Sifnos, one hour away, Milos makes a perfect holiday destination for those who want to experience the real Greece in all its beauty, without the crowds that are found in the more popular Greek Islands and at a fraction of the price.

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A Fishing Village

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Famous Beach

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11.   Rovinj, Croatia (pop. 14294)

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ROMANTIC SPIRIT

Rovinj is a town in Croatia situated on the western coast of Istrian peninsula. First built on a small island and later connected with the mainland, Rovinj is a typical Istrian town. Steep and narrow cobbled streets are full of local shops and art galleries. A majestic Cathedral of Saint Euphemia stands tall on a hill overlooking the town. Despite being a major tourist destination, Rovinj remains one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports. Tradition and romantic spirit of the town are best experienced during warm summer nights, when a visit to one of numerous music concerts under the stars is mandatory. There you can combine traditional Istrian music with seafood delicacies drizzled in homemade olive oil, and delicious local wine. And if you wish to indulge in dining of the highest class, it is worth noting that since 2017 Rovinj is the only place in Croatia that has a Michelin star restaurant.

Rovinj and its surroundings have a lot to offer. Just off the coast lies so called Rovinj archipelago, consisting of 14 small islands which make for pleasant afternoon trips. Various water sport activities offer great fun in a crystal-clear sea such as sailing, scuba diving, canoe rides, and fishing. Or hop on a boat and head into the Lim valley canal and visit mystic pirate caves.

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Lovely Rovinj

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Mirroring of the Town

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