Photo at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab

5 Top places to visit in 2017.  Well, this is based on my recent Travels rather than all time favourites. I would find it impossible to choose five, wouldn’t you?

VENICE

I know, everyone loves Venice but that it is because it is one of the best places to visit in the world!  Venice has everything from beautiful architecture, magical ambiance, excellent shops, interesting museums and so many art galleries you will never see them all!

Iconic Venice, I will never tire of visiting this magical city

Avoid high season, is my biggest tip!  Treat yourself to a water taxi, by far the best way to see everything.  Avoid the touristy Gondoliers and take a fabulous Riva Water taxi.  However you can avoid the crowds by staying off the well worn tourist route, they generally do not stray very far!  Read all about Venice in my Venice blog.

PALAWAN ISLANDS, The Philippines

El Nido Islands, Palawan, The Philippines

If you want to take a long haul trip, I really recommend visiting the islands of The Philippines.  They are not called the most beautiful in the world without good reason.  Yes, it is a bit of a trek to get there but well worth it.  Go now before the world discovers them and they become spoiled.  Avoid the more touristy Boracay and head to Palawan.

Read my blog to find out where I stayed and more information.

ABU DHABI

Regular readers will know how much I love Abu Dhabi and visit every year!  Don’t just use it as a stop over, stay and see the country.  I particularly like the Liwa desert and stayed at the Anantara Qasr Al Sarab Hotel for the second time.  The desert is a very special place and it is nice to enjoy the luxurious surroundings of the hotel.Liwa Desert, Abu Dhabi, UAE

You will enjoy the city of Abu Dhabi too, there is so much to see and do, including the Sheikh Zayed Mosque which is awe inspiring.  I loved staying at the world famous Emirates Palace hotel Read my blog for more information.

Emirates Palace Private Beach

If you stay at Emirates Palace, I promise you will never want to leave!  However, get out and explore the country in a hire car.  It is perfectly safe to drive and you will feel very comfortable and safe driving anywhere in Abu Dhabi.  Almost impossible to get lost too.

MOROCCO

Atlas Mountains of Morocco

My latest discovery!  Indeed, I am already planning a return trip. Explore Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains.  Read my blogs to discover more details, see the HOME page at the top.  Marrakesh was a delight and so much nicer than I expected, perfect for a few days short trip if you are travelling from europe.

The Medina in Marakesh

Explore the Medina, Majorelle Gardens eat delicious Moroccan meals and so much more.

Cote d’Azur France:

Cap Martin, Roquebrune Cap Martin, France

I know, I live here part of the year and so am a little biased but please come and visit! You will love it.  Monaco is one of the safest places to be and you will enjoy a trip very much.  Again read my blogs on the subject for more information.

MonacoDon’t forget to visit Monaco or stay a while during your trip. There are wonderful hotels, great events throughout the year, terrific restaurants and so much to see or do.  Enjoy the beautiful weather and beaches too!  Avoid high season on the Cote d’azur and Monaco would be my top tip.  High season is during July and August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Embrace your ‘inner James Bond’ and take a speedboat from the airport.

 

What do you think of Venice? Very few people dislike it – despite the enormous cruise boats and hoards of day trippers clogging up the streets and canals. It is still a wondrous place that fills you with excitement from the moment you step into a water Taxi at the airport until the minute you leave.

I’m sure you have all visited loads of times, but anyway, here is my take on how to live like a Venetian.

Tip: Unless the hotel is offering a free speedboat, just hop aboard one dockside and it will only be 100 euros. Turn left out of the airport, make sure you have a porter it is quite a trek, and head to the most handsome Water Taxi owner that you can find.

 

Don’t even think about a Waterbus, unless you want to be squashed and uncomfortable with tourists (we are travellers NOT tourists!) and stop a hundred times en route.

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Safely delivered to the Hotel.

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My ‘Gaff’ for the week

IMG_1191Bauer Hotel http://www.bauervenezia.com

Chosen for its unbeatable location.  I don’t know about you, but I want to be in the heart of Venice and not on some island over yonder!  This is the perfect choice literally a stones throw from Piazza San Marco square but step through the hotel doors and you enter an oasis of calm and tranquility that seems far from the crowded square.

Step out of the door and you have Gondola’s waiting to transport you if you turn left and glorious shops followed by Piazza San Marco on the right.  Louis Vuitton is literally just outside the hotel, which is not great for my bank balance but a lovely treat.

If you want to splurge The Gritti Palace http://www.thegrittipalace.com is just one block over towards San Marco and Harry’s Bar is just around the corner.

Who could ask for more from the Hotel Bauer?  To be honest, I would like to be let loose with an interior designer – but the old world charm, excellent staff and wonderful restaurant are enough to bring me back for another visit.

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It is easy to escape into the ‘true’ Venice, just keep away from the typical tourist itinerary and one street over will be an oasis of calm, just as the photo above which was taken in crowded September.  One of my favourite routes is to leave the Bauer, turn left and cross the canal take a right and then left – you are now away from the crowds! Keep going and meander along marvelling at the hidden delights in the tiny little shops.

You are now in culture lovers heaven, there will be a church, Museum or gallery at every turn.  Once I arrive at Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, there will probably be an exhibition that is too good to pass by, but then cross the bridge.  Galleria del Academia is right there to explore, afterward turn left and keep going and you are now in a completely different Venice. Quiet little canals with sleepy houses and delicious little restaurants to try out.  I love to stop off at Collezione Peggy Guggenheim, an amazing collector.

IMG_1184-2Collezione Peggy Guggenheim

Revived after a cup of tea at the Guggenheim Cafe continue on to Punta Della Dogana and view another wonderful contemporary art collection.  Choose somewhere for lunch and congratulate yourself on a fabulous morning!

Retrace your steps or hop on a Gondola back across to the Bauer for a little nap.  Dinner on the terrace of the Bauer is a highlight, the view unsurpassable and constantly entertaining with guests alighting onto water taxis resplendent in their evening wear and all the canal boats toodling along.

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Another must-do another night is to book tickets for the Opera, put on your glad rags and take a water taxi to the Opera. You will have another James Bond moment, for sure!
IMG_0464Helpful Tips

When to Visit: Try and avoid the busy tourist months of July and August if you can.

Information: http://www.venice-tourism.com  http://www.venice-carnival-italy.com