Posts Tagged ‘sunset’

Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Formentera, the last paradise in the mediterranean

Despite having some of the best natural beaches in the mediterranean sea, with white sand and water that dazzles with perfect clarity, mild climate along the year, great mediterranean food and being just 2 hours by plane (plus 30 min by boat) from the main european capitals, Formentera remains an unexploited paradise in the mediterranean sea.

This little, peaceful and hippie spanish island, together with it’s sister Menorca, hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years… specially if you compare it with it’s other balearic sisters Ibiza or Mallorca. In fact, even in August, when the island is packed of tourists, you can still enjoy it by avoiding the popular places and finding your spot at a hidden beach and watching amazing sunsets just by yourself.

I have just returned from a long week in Formentera (my forth summer so far) and I still discover amazing places that exceed my expectations. These are some of the places I like the most:

Best beaches

Formentera is about exploring and discovering the beach that suits your needs. You have plenty of options: from the long and sandy to the tiny rocky spots just for you and your couple. These are my suggestions:

  • Ses Illetes and Levante beaches
    Part of the Natural Park of Ses Salines (a World Heritage Site by Unesco) you will find a wild narrow piece of land with beaches on both sides (some people choose sides depending on the wind). The northern you get, the less people you’ll find. In august it is full of celebrities and some of the most amazing yachts you will ever see. Unless you get there by boat, the entrance fee is 2€ per scooter and 5€ per car. There is no infrastructure here apart from a series of wood-built beachside restaurants called “Chiringuitos”. I’d suggest “Tanga” for having the best value for money (35€pax, with great paella and seafood). “Juan y Andrea” is definitely the place to spot celebrities (70€pax) and “El Tiburón” to enjoy the best sunset. If you enjoy walking and swimming, try crossing to the private island S’Espalmador (ten minutes walk with water up to your neck + 30 min walk along the park to get to the strait from the nearest parking lot) or take a shuttle boat (20€ round ticket per pax).
  • Mitjorn beach
    Along the south coast of the island, Migjorn combines long sandy beaches with wild and rocky spots of bright green water, ideal for the lonely and nudists that prefer to be accompanied by a good book. In both cases, it is a great option if you travel with kids as it doesn’t get deep enough for swimming until you are far from the shore. Along the beach you will find great “chiringuitos” such as: Blue Bar (good food and good music) and the tiny “Lucky” and “Piratabus” (both always packed, relax and fun, perfect for sunsets).
  • Other beaches
    Try Cala Saona (Carved into a cliff) and Es Caló (tiny fisherman’s town with wonderful micro beaches a couple hundred meters to the west)

Best sunsets

As I have suggested before, Formentera is also about discovering and enjoying your own unforgettable sunsets, free shows repeated day by day, and each time in a different way… These are some tips:

  • Lighthouse at Cap de Barbaria: I do not know what is more beautiful: the lighthouse or the road that leads to it. Lunar landscape crowned by a lighthouse that rises in the middle of nowhere. One of the most magical places in the world.
  • El Mirador: best views of the island while you enjoy the sunset and a good drink
  • Punta de sa Pedrera: if you like to trek, this is one of the wildest places in the island. It offers magnificent views of the rugged coastline and Ibiza
  • Chiringuitos and Restaurants: as I’ve said before, try out Lucky, Tiburón, PirataBus, Chez Gerdi, Café del Lago…

Hippie spirit

The hippie phenomenon was introduced on the island back in the 60s and it still remains part of daily life: traditional craft markets, naturist culture, devotion to the sunset, Flower Power parties… The most important of all takes place in Sant Francesc central square every month of July were thousands of people, of all ages and backgrounds, dress with the hippie style and dance to the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s in a Plaça fully decorated with spectacular psychedelic projections on the church’s white wall. This party features DJ Pharma (Pep Lluis, the pharmacist of the neighbour town Sant Ferran), an institution on the island, that “gives everything” on the stage.

The artisans’ market of El Pilar de la Mola is the king of the hippy markets on the island, and the one cultural event for which the whole of Formentera – hippies, locals, Italians and the rest of the tourists – turns up to watch. It has a seriousness and quality that is surprising, and is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

Restaurants

These are my top five restaurants:

  • Macondo: probably the best pizza in… the world! Full of locals and Italians
  • Fonda Pepe: An institution in the island. Full of locals. Mediterranean food + seafood
  • Can Carlos: Probably the most elegant restaurant in the island
  • Chez Gerdy: great decoration, great spot, great service and nice sunset
  • Can Carol: small familiar restaurant that openned in June 2013 in La Mola, good price, worth a try when you visit the artisan’s market
  • Aigua: my friend Sara suggests this Japanese restaurant at the port. The best views are at the right side

Where to stay

In Formentera I have always stayed at Casa Serena, a physical and spiritual oasis. Located in the best part of Formentera (five minute walk from Mitjorn beach), Casa Serena hosts couples and groups looking for peace a quiet. Their breakfast (with home made bakery) is just perfect. Yo can book one of the 5 rooms… or the entire house for you and your family/friends. Here you will find more info about rooms and rates.

casa_serena-fotos5

One final tip: rent a scooter to move around the island. In Formentera there are no traffic lights. You can also rent a bicycle, but you have to be in a good shape


Ver

Photos by Pedro Sagüés
Click on images to enlarge

Conrad Maldives, a perfect vision of paradise

Conrad Maldives, a perfect vision of paradise

When you travel, sometimes the place you visit is so beautiful and interesting that, no matter where you’re staying, it will be memorable (ie: Paris, Venice, Bhutan). Some others, the hotel itself is so amazing, that no matter where it is placed, it will make your journey unforgettable.

I visited the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort in december 2009, and I can assure that both aspects match in such way that they become a perfect vision of paradise. Twice voted “Best Hotel in the World”, this barefoot resort spreads across two private islands, surrounded by idyllic white sand beach and a vibrant coral reef and lagoon.

We spent one week enjoying romantic dining experiences with its fine cuisine and stunning dining venues (undersea restaurant, dreamy sunset at a private beach…), indulging in the two spas, diving in one of the world’s most remarkable waters or just reading a book and doing absolutely nothing while we enjoyed the sunset at our overwater villa’s jacuzzi 🙂

Perfect place for honeymooners and sybarites.

To learn more about Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, visit their website

Photos by Pedro Sagüés

Click on images to enlarge

 

Udaipur: the city of lakes, palaces and love

Lake Palace. Udaipur. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Udaipur: the city of lakes, palaces and love

I have just arrived from Udaipur, a captivating city in the heart of the Rajasthan -India- (“Land of Kings” in Hindi). Named in 2008 as the No.1 city to visit in the World’s best awards by Travel + Leisure magazine. Udaipur is often called the “White City” (getting its name from the hue of the buildings) or the “Venice of the east” for its romantic lakes and palaces that create a sense of aestheticism with their spiritual ecstasy. The city was founded and named in 1559 by Maharana Udai Singh II (Udaipur, means “City of Udai”).

In my opinion, the best places to visit in Udaipur are:

City Palace: Located on the banks of Lake Pichola and built entirely in granite and marble, this palace is the second largest in India (600m from side to side). It is a marvelous assortment of courtyards, pavilions, terraces, corridors, rooms and hanging gardens. The balconies of the palace provide panoramic views of both, the lake and the old city. The palace attracts thousands of visitors every day that also enjoy its Hindu architecture, paintings, decorative furniture and utensils, with no Muslim influence as it has never been conquered.

Boat ride on Lake Pichola:
Take a boat and get a close look at Lake Pichola’s wonderful palaces and havelis (rich merchant families’ private houses), many of which have been converted into hotels. I recommend taking the sunset boat that has an extra touch of romanticism. From time to time, during drought conditions because of lower rainfall and degradation of the catchment, the lake becomes dry.

Walk through the market:
You discover the “real” India when you meet people in the streets, buy at the local markets, get your hand henna-painted while to chat with the artist or enjoy a tea at the multiple tea shops… If you want to feel this, Delhi Gate area is the place to go.

Hotels: There are multiple amazing palaces converted into hotels.

  • The most renowned is the Lake Palace, built in 1743 by Maharana Jagat Singh II as his royal summer palace, it is made of marble and is situated on Jag Niwas island in Lake Pichola. The palace is now a luxury 5 Star hotel (listed in the top 10 best hotels in Asia) and was a central feature in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy. The views from the hotel are amazing, especially from the restaurant at the roof. Only guests are allowed in the hotel.
  • A more affordable option is the Jaiwana Haveli, a small hotel located in the old city that offers great views of Lake Pichola. It’s clean and has very nice bathrooms.

Restaurants: I would suggest three restaurants:

  • Rajbagh: Good international/Indian buffet, great views of the lake and low price
  • Jag Mandir Island: Located in an 18th century palace, the restaurant serves good Indian food for 2500rp/pax (55$) while you enjoy great views of the City Palace and the Lake Palace Hotel
  • Sashi’s Cooking Classes: I haven’t been there but it has awesome reviews in Trip Advisor. It seems to be a fun evening with Sashi.

Shopping: The specialties in Udaipur are textiles, silver and paintings.

  • Textiles: I recommend visiting Royal Arts & Crafts, a warehouse full of beautiful textile. Located at Hathipole Gate
  • Silver: In multiple markets and stores you will find lots of artcraphs. The best knowned shops are Gem Arts Emporium and Silver Art Palace.
  • Miniature paintings: Brahma Arts, at the Lake Palace Road.

If you need a guide, contact Bholendra Singh. Great knowledge and excellent client service. Email: bholendrasingh (at) hotmail.com

Am I missing anything in this list of the “Best places in Udaipur”:

If so, please let me know. I’ll be happy to update my post.

Click on images to enlarge


Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés