This blew our minds in 2013

It’s that time of year again… Time to sum it all up, and share with you what got our hearts beating a little bit faster in 2013. We went to Ibiza, Mallorca, Jamaica, New York, Paris, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Thailand, Kos, Ireland, Croatia, Turkey and Ethiopia, and although we loved them all, (and it’s an official travel journalist crime not to include New York and Paris), here are our top three:

1. Party in Ibiza This certainly is no new kid on the block. But Ibiza has somehow managed to shed its shady image, and is again attracting the masses. We love the Ushuaia Beach Hotel where you have a first class stage poolside. The shows are free for hotel guests, whereas outsiders have to pay. The acts are first class too. David Guetta and Luciano… need we say more?

Ushuaia party

But Ibiza wouldn’t make it to this list if it was only a party destination. I have written about pure party destinations before in a post about Magaluf, and it’s not my cup of tea to cross oceans just to party. There has to be something more to it. Something that makes it worthwhile getting up in the morning and get exploring. Ibiza has plenty on offer.

There’s the magnetic Es Vedra Rock which due to extremely high concentrations of metals and minerals creates a highly magnetic field. In fact, it’s said to be the ’3rd most magnetic spot’ on the globe, and may disturb compasses in the surrounding area and also influence more sensitive individuals.

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And then there are the markets. Those hippy markets which live on, even if the flower power era has long gone and the hippies who put Ibiza on the map in the seventies are in their seventies themselves these days. I honestly thought the markets would be a disappointment, but I was wrong. They’re fantastic, colourful and vibrant places where you can buy high quality hand made goods for a decent price. Bring enough cash, and prepare to spend the entire day!

The best markets are in Las Dalias and Es Canar (also called Punta Arabi).

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2. Ethiopia – Omo Valley

Spencer went to the Omo Valley in the spring on a mission to photograph the forgotten tribes. The Omo River is an important river of southern Ethiopia. Its course is entirely contained within the boundaries of Ethiopia, and empties into Lake Turkana on the border with Kenya. The lower valley of the Omo is currently believed by some to have been a multi cultural crossroads for thousands of years as various ethnic groups migrated around the region. To this day, the people of the Lower Valley of the Omo, including the Mursi, Suri, Nyangatom, Dizi, Arbore, Karo, Hamar and Me’en, are studied for their diversity.

Nataere

Nataere

This is Nataere a young women from the Mursi tribe. Women from the Mursi tribe may have their lips cut at the age of 15 or 16. A small clay plate is then inserted into the lip. Through the years, larger plates are inserted into the lip causing it to stretch. The larger the clay plate, the more the woman is worth before she gets married. It is said that the clay plates were originally used to prevent capture by slave traders. Although very unique and part of their tradition, the Mursi women only wear the plates for a short time because they are so heavy and uncomfortable.

Magantu and baby Bartui

Magantu and baby Bartui

This is Magantu and her baby Bartui. Mursi society has a high level of infant mortality, and raising children is greatly valued. Scarring around the hips, on the stomach and breasts can highlight areas associated with fertility. The scars themselves can also remain sensitive for years following their creation and be a source of heightened sensation for those with scars and anyone who touches them.

You can see more of the stunning images here.

3. Croatia – Hvar out of season

Who doesn’t love the Mediterranean? The lush forests, the crystal clear water and the food! Nowhere is this lusher, clearer and tastier than in the tiny island of Hvar an hour off the Croatian coast. But be aware – if you come in July and August, you’ll be faced with the masses of tourists who overwhelm this tiny little village and its pristine beaches. Come in September or October, and Hvar has re-found its island pulse. You’ll have plenty of space to enjoy a morning espresso in the picturesque square or a boat ride to the nearby Paklinski Islands. Prices are lower, people are friendlier, the sea is still an amazing 25 degrees and the weather is generally great at this time of year. What more can you wish for?

Here’s what made us fall in love with Hvar:

Oh... that crystal clear water!

Oh… that crystal clear water!

The cute, little marina

The cute, little marina

The off season chilled vibe at the Hula Hula Bar

The off season chilled vibe at the Hula Hula Bar

The tiny hamlet of Sveta Nedjelja where they make Croatia's best wine.

The tiny hamlet of Sveta Nedjelja where they make Croatia’s best wine.

Now, bring on 2014! We are starting off with New Years Eve in Sri Lanka, and our first trip will take us to Lanzarote. Then we have a wish list that include Bali and Peru. But that list will certainly grow, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Merry christmas to all of you, and a prosperous New Year!

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