It’s the 31st of December, and time to glance back at the highlights. So here goes. A top five list from some of our travels carried out in 2012.
We wish you all a happy new year, and lots of happy travels in the year to come!
MEXICO – deserted islands and tequila hangovers.
I dare to say that Mexico is one of the world’s best countries to holiday in. There’s wonderful food, beer to die for, beaches that promise extremely fine sand, warm, crystal clear waters and of course, sunshine galore! And it’s cheap. And the people are really friendly. And did I mention the guacamole!!!
High – Isla de Holbox came as a huge surprise. Located just north of the Yucatan, it’s one of those islands that still very much feels like an island. No cars, just golf buggies and bikes. Streets of sand and so safe you can leave your bicycle unlocked while you stop for a drink. Go now! Before the masses smell the coffee.
Low - ok, so my tequila hangover was self inflicted, and therefore I cannot complain… just be aware... this hurts pretty bad the next day.
CAPE VERDE – Atlantic gem
Most people associate winter sun in the Atlantic with the infamous Canary Islands. However, just two hours south, you’ll come across another archipelago which consists of ten islands. They are very diverse in nature, and I had the chance to vistit the islands of Boa Vista and the volcano island Fogo. Both stunningly beautiful, and full of surprises!
High - Getting to the top of Fogo, and realising that people live inside the crater of the volcano. There’s a village where you can grab a bite to eat, and even buy a bottle of wine, made from the vines that grow in the mineral rich volcanic soil.
Low - To be honest, Cape Verde didn’t disappoint in any way. Honestly! It was all highs, so let me share another favourite. It’s a hotel. Or, it’s more than a hotel, it’s a place where you are bound to find inner peace. Spinguera is run by the lovely Larissa, who admits that: ‘After a few days here, guests tend to speak in a lower voice‘. I felt the effect too, and reckon it’s got to do with the mild breeze, the clean design of the airy rooms, the fact that you are so far removed from the outside world that the island magic gets to you. Either way, I highly recommend Spinguera where you eat well, sleep well, dream sweetly and charge your batteries.
ISRAEL - land of conflict and beauty
We all know Israel from the headlines. But what lies behind the news? Who are the people who feel so strongly about religion, roots and tradition?
High - Seeing what they are feeling. Touching the wailing wall. Spending hours there while observing how they pray and have a unique presence in the way they communicate with God.
Low - Feeling the tension between the jews and the muslims. And gaining a slight understanding of how profound the conflict is.
STROMBOLI – island paradise with an upset tummy
Stromboli is one of the Aeolian islands which are located an hour’s ferry ride north of Sicily. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of these islands, but if you can picture this, you’ll have a fair image: Few tourists, the cutest little shops, a laid back life style, deep blue waters and beaches with space to move. Stromboli was my favourite. Why? Because it’s alive and kickin’!
High - The desertedness, the people, the lush landscapes, the hidden, rocky coves, the fresh seafood, the unorderliness of the place…. I could go on and on and on. But truth is, I felt that Stromboli spoke to me, in a very intuitive way, this volcanic island sort of tells you to let your guard down. It’s a place to be happy and let fate take over.
Low - Five minutes upon arriving at the pier, Stromboli decided to shake up its new visitors. Seriously. I can swear the ground moved when the volcano let out a burp so deep and disturbing that it seemed the end of the world was near. Little did we know that this is quite normal. The locals continued sipping their cappuccinos as if nothing had happened, and sure thing – 17 minutes later, another burp. And 20 minutes after that, another one. They say it’s a good thing, and compare Stromboli with a man who lets out constant steam. Etna, on neighbouring Sicily, on the other hand, is referred to as a woman. She doesn’t say anything for a looong time, then suddenly she’ll explode and all hell breaks loose.
ANDALUSIA’S TOP PICK – CABO DE GATA
We live in the south of Spain, and are therefore spoilt when it comes to spectacular beaches and white washed village life. However, there’s nothing quite like Cabo de Gata, a nature reserve located to the east of Almeria. Why do we like it so much? Well, it’s got no high buildings for starters. It’s a place where you are close to the elements, and far removed from commercialism. It’s a place to soak up the very best of Spain!
High - There are too many highs to boil it down to one. But Playa de los Muertos pretty much sums up what Cabo de Gata is all about. First you go through the village called Agua Amargas. It’s a good place to stock up on drinks and a picnic, as there are no beach bars on the virgin beaches. Then you follow the winding road north for approx 5 kilomters until you see a sign to the beach. There’s a long hike down to the bottom, so don’t come in flip flops, it’ll hurt. But this is what awaits:
Low - I am sure you’ve heard of Spanish flies, and belive me, they are persistant little devils. Depending on the time of year, Cabo de Gata has its fair share of flies, and they annoyed the living daylight out of us. Here’s a picture of us trying to BBQ. Believe me, we did not invite the ten zillion flies that came along for the party!