Moraira – Spanish Village Resort

Moraira is one of the smaller beach resorts on the Costa Blanca. Located in the middle between Valencia and Alicante it has easy access to both those cities international airports. Moraira itself lives a quiet life as one of the smallest beach resorts on the Costa Blanca built around a the original village and a relatively limited but very well maintained and attractive sandy beach.

The inhabitants of Moraira are to a large extend english, german and dutch expats opting for the relaxed lifestyle in Spain and making no compromises by opting for a quiet resort like Moraira for the purpose. You wont be lacking charming options for a sea view meal in Moraira though with its generous supply of outdoor cafés, promenade restaurants and english pubs such as the Madhatter for wilder entertainment purposes.

The activities in Moraira are obviously more limited than in busier nearby resorts such as Benidorm, Calpe and Altea, however in many ways enjoying the peace, recharching the batteries and having an undisturbed time is equally that much easier within the realms of the cosy beach town of Moraira. There are live music events to be found in Moraira, particularly an annual festival with mainly english coverbands and regular performances at the irish pub. A few nightclubs will provide you with the pina coladas you need and several tapas places caters for the rumbling tummy.

Moraira a weekly outdoor market, occational charity events and local fiestas but truth be told, dont go there for the party atmosphere and wild nightlife, go there if you want to enjoy a more tranquil holiday in the sun to meditate on your own or with your family in a safe and manageable environment. Those inclined to hunt for parties, mad fiestas and nightlife would be much better catered for by choosing a holiday in Javea or Benidorm, as those bigger resorts are significantly more geared towards those types of activities. Having a nice peaceful time in Moraira is pure bliss though.


Malung – The Swedish Wilderness

Far, far up north in Scandinavia we find a destination entirely different from the ones we usually look at. There are no beaches in Malung, no wild nightclubs, the sunshine is sparsely distributed and you wont find hordes of tourist guides ready to hold your hand whilst explored. That is however exactly the attraction. The small town of Malung is the capital of a vast area of isolated and indisturbed nature, endless forest and streaming rivers, snow covered mountain tops and quiet lakes hidden away kilometres away through the wilderness.

During the swedish summer month temperatures are generally rather mild and pleasant in this part of Sweden. You wouldnt exactly go here to catch a suntan, but the weather isnt likely to stop you exploring the wilderness either. And exploring is exactly what you should do. Get yourself a tent, a compas and plenty of supplies and head out into the vast rewarding forests.

Try your luck fishing in the streaming river Västerdalälven that has a natural habitation of salmons, sea trouts and other exciting potential captures. You can find advice and buy a permit to go fishing in one of the local fishing accessories shops. Even better though, try discreetly getting to chat to local sports fishers out there as they might just reveal some of those secrets that will help you land a giant salmon or find the perfect spot to practice your fly fishing skills.

Vemforsen malung

For a more relaxing fishing experience there are plenty of lakes full of pikes, bass and other interesting species spread around the forests. The beauty of the fishing around Malung is that you tailor it exactly as you please, every type of fishing environment is ready and waiting and you wont even have to compete for a good spot at the lakes or rivers. Theres plenty of room, plenty of fish and plenty of nature to enjoy whilst youre at it. Hunting is very much the same, the area has a diverse and exciting wildlife and huge areas ready for hunting – but check with the local hunting shops first for required permits and areas you may use.

In terms of places to go in general, Sweden has a socalled “allemandsret”, which basically allows you to camp anywhere in the wilderness for free unless the area is clearly marked as a no-go (which it wont be round Malung). In this way you can camp for free where ever you like and explore on your own terms. There are campsites spread around the area as well, that can be useful for gaining access to facilities, a hot shower and purchase of fresh supplies.

malung winter

Malung itself is a relatively small village with few outstanding events happening, the main feature by far is the nature surrounding it. There are however all you might need of shops and restaurants as well as a couple of bars. Dont go to Sweden for drinking though, its excessively expensive and the state has a monopoly on selling alcohol, driving up prices and the level of inconvenience. Malung has a few interesting events through the year such a Scandinavian folk festival with traditional swedish folkmusic from rather well known bands in the genre. During the winter theres a huge ski resort nearby as well to look into. But overall, go to Malung if you fancy exploring the wilderness, wants an extraordinary fishing or hunting trip, or if you simply enjoy the peace and quiet of vast sparsely populated areas full of wildlife, rivers and forests.

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer – The Gypsy Capital

Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer or Sant Marie De La Mer is a coastal city on the french part of the mediterrenean. These days it is largely a beach resort with heavy tourism, busy beaches, hotels and campsites roaming with holidaymakers from all over Europe, but Sant Marie De La Mer is in fact much more than that. If you look at the cultural history it is a destination of pilgrimage as well as a popular seaside resort, with a central mediterrenean location in Provence, in the Bouches-du-Rhone.

These days the centerpiece of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the beach. A vast sandy beach that stretches for kilometres along the coastline with shallow waters making it extremely family friendly. However, the actual village is built around its famous ancient church of the eleventh century, that countains the mummified remains of the saint Mary (or the three marys that are the objects of pilgrimace and spectacular annual festivals). From the church the charming little village is spread out in a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets with outdoor café serving refreshments on every corner, craftsmen producing leather belts from tiny stores and a wide range of other original goods for sale directly from the producers. Sadly these days, these original traits are under heavy pressure from cheap and tacky tourist shops, standard tourist nightclubs and burger bars but you can still find the charming spots wandering around town, which is well worth doing.

St._Maries_de_la_Mer_-_The_church Saintes_Maries_de_la_Mer-Musée_Baroncelli

During the busy holiday season between Christmas and New Years, the village has an entertainment program named the Camargue. Thus, one can attend the “Abrivado”, which means a bull run taken away by cowboys (horsemen Camargue) carrying torches, visitors can admire the sunset with cowboys and bulls roaming the streets. Children can enjoy the bouncy castles while their parents stroll through the streets with live music, or visit the crypt housing St. Sarah. Each May 25, more than 10,000 gypsies from around the world flock to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to venerate their holy “Black Sarah” or Sara-la-Kali. Her relics are carried through the streets at the gypsy festival and into the ocean in a heap of flames. A spectacular sight not to be missed. Every year also sports the vierginenco festo (the virgin festival), which is a ceremony for girls aged 16 that celebrates their change of status to that of an adolescent woman. Theres further festivals and monuments relating to the roma gypsies treating it as a holy city or mediterrenean capital and its always worth looking out for these gypsy fiestas as they tend to be entertaining, inclusive and rather mad.

The area surrounding Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer include a vast natural park with the opportunity to go on safaris and admire a range of wild life, a high speed canal for windsurfers and long stretches of undisturbed beaches away from the main tourist areas. Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is still well worth a visit, especially during the gypsy festival season, even though it has developed from a real hidden gem to more of a traditional tourist beach resort

Holiday in Chennai

Far from the more famous tourist spots such as the Taj Mahal in northern India we find Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and the cultural capital of all of South India. Chennai, or Madras as it is formally known, is at first sight an extremely busy, rather dirty and chaotic metropolis to visit. However, scratching beneath the surface reveals a wealth of interesting places to visit, a vibrant variety of activities to partake in and a welcome local population that loves to present their beloved town in the most charming way possible.

Accomodation is easily found in the form of reasonably priced hotels or furnished rooms for rent if you plot a longer stay in Chennai. Very basic hotels wont make much of a dent on your wallet, but if you require european style luxury and full service, expect to pay european prices.

holiday in chennai

The first place to visit on a sightseeing tour of Chennai has to be the National Art Gallery and Museum. It holds amazing temple friezes and South Indian bronzes. You can easily set a full day aside for exploring this museum alone, or simply nip in to see the highlights. Either way it caters for anyone interested in the cultural history of Tamil Nadu and the rest of south india. Other highly interesting landmarks to visit in Chennai are the Cathedral of San Thome, the Mylapore Temple, and St Mary’s Church. Theres plenty more and countless local temples, places of worship and old historic buildings to explore. Generally all historic landmarks are “guarded” by self appointed tourist guides, who will show you around the location, tell you about the history and ensure you get to see the highlights of whatever monument you are visiting. Dont be fooled into thinking they are doing it as a favour though, it is their job and you will cause great offense if you refuse to pay for the service afterwards.

The Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur is another nice spot to spend an afternoon in the company of a wide range of mammals, reptiles and birds. The animals are roaming more or less freely in natural surroundings by using a special enclosure for nocturnal creatures. Sometimes they roam a bit too freely though, during my visit we had to be suddenly evacuated as a load of poisonous snakes had escaped their enclosure. An exciting little roadtrip down the coast takes you to another load of rather dangerous animals. The Crocodile Bank is located some 44 kms from Chennai. It is a research and breeding centre for crocodiles with a generous display of african and indian crocodiles and alligators wandering the pens for visitors to study. For a small fee you can even buy a bucket of raw meat and try feeding the majestic animals yourself – rumour has it of course that several tourists has fallen in the pens and gotten eaten, the truth need not exploring, its an entertaining myth. On your way from Chennai to the crocodille bank you pass a few giant rivers, do yourself the favour to stop there for a bit. Little tour boats will take you out on the rivers, but even more interesting is that you can pay local fishermen in canoe style boats to take you out with them on a fishing trip (ask them, its not officially announced in any way).

holiday in chennai

Now, those are a few of the official things to do in Chennai. There are tons more including the fort from the british colony times, numerous hindu temples and the christian disciples Thomas´ church on top of a small mountain. Thomas´ evangelium was stripped from the bible and he was eventually killed on this exact mountain in Chennai. He is still kept sacred by the small christian community with a church and monuments on the mountain. However, the real beauty of Chennai is found in the interaction with its people and taking part in their busy activities round town. Go out and explore the little markets, try some of the local restaurants, go to the parks or enjoy a cricket match with enthusiastic supporters either in a stadium or a bar. You will be amazed by the friendlyness, the vibrance and bubbly approach to life expressed by the Chennai locals.

Vacation in Porto – Port Wine and History

Porto is the second city of Portugal located where the Douro river meets the sea. For a metropolitan holiday Porto gives you the opportunity to experience a strangely intimate and almost village style charm with its ancient building, the history of great seafarers written into the stonewalls of historic buildings and old port wine houses still spread along the Douro river as they have been for hundreds of years.

The most exciting part of Porto has to be port wine houses, certainly for us enthusiasts. You can literally walk in off the street to the well preserved original production facilities of still active port wine houses, get a guided tour through ancient and modern production facilities and finally taste the goods of that particular house. Head down to the Douro river and theres an almost endless supply of such port wine houses to visit, tour and taste.

Porto furthermore sports most of the dishes from the traditional Portuguese kitchen, but with a natural focus on seafoods, being a seaside town. One of the most common dishes of Porto is the delicious Tripas à Moda do Porto, that is served in largely every establishment round town. You shouldnt visit Porto without trying the Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá either, its a creative dish based on codfish which too is served in a majority of traditional restaurants in town.

Apart from eating and drinking, which are two of the main ingredients of life in Porto it seems, the old town of Porto is one of the most charming and atmospherical places to visit, certainly in any major city. In many ways it has similarities to the latino quarters in Paris, but the Porto version has narrower streets, a more traditional preservation and an even more vibrant atmosphere. Spending a few days just wandering the spiderweb of narrow cobbled streets, shopping in tiny specialist stores and enjoying the life round the countless cafees and restaurants is bound to recharge your batteries. Porto is a very distinquished and different kind of big city holiday option, but it certainly has the activities, charming features and vibrancy to pull it off.

Holiday Destinations Around The World