Posts Tagged ‘views’

Newport, a yachting capital and a coastal crown

Newport, a yachting capital and a coastal crown

Once the quintessential playground of American aristocracy, Newport remains as the coastal crown of New England, famous for its opulent mansions, elegant shops, great restaurants and for being the yachting capital of the world by hosting the America’s Cup for decades.

These are the best places and my recommendations for a two day visit:

  • Newport Mansions: The leading architects of the 19th and early 20th centuries built exhuberant mansions for families such as Vanderbilt and Astor. Many of these properties have been preserved by The Preservation Society of Newport County and are open to the public. This is a perfect occasion to explore 250 years of American history and to enjoy amazing cottages that in the rest of the world are absolutely inaccesible behind big walls. Unless you want to visit all the properties, my recommendation is to buy “The Breakers Plus” ticket that gives you access to the property of your choice (the most populars are The Elms, Marble House, Rough Point and Rosecliff), aswell as The Breakers, the magnificent 70 room Italian Renaissance- style palazzo that is definitely worth a visit. Besides this, I would just suggest you to (better) walk, ride (rent a bike for 35$/day here) or drive down Bellevue Avenue were you will enjoy not only the mansions open to the public but also many more private properties whith beautiful gardens that can be seen directly from the street.
  • Scenic Ocean Drive: starting at the end of Bellevue Av. and finishing in Newport harbor waterfront, this 10 miles roadway offer spectacular wide-open views of the Atlantic Ocean and astonishing million dollar mansions. Along the way, you can park and walk along its rocky shoreline. I recommend stopping for a drink at the peaceful and quiet Relais Chateaux Castle Inn Hill to enjoy magnificent views of the bay. Once you are there, take a walk to Castle Hill Lighthouse to enjoy the best sunset in Newport. Further down the Ocean Drive, make a stop at Breton Point (also a good place to watch the sunset) or walk down the different public beaches (Reject Beach, Gooseberry Beach…).
  • Cliff walk: A scenic 3.5 mile public access walkway that borders the shore line and back lawn that allow you to enjoy the gardens and facades of marvellous cottages, among which you will find the famous “The Breakers”. Definitely a top attraction in Newport. You can easily park along Narragansett St. by the entrance to the 40 Steps that take you to the walk.
  • The wharfs: the two more popular wharfs are Bannister or Bowens Wharf, were you’ll find nice shops and good restaurants. I recommend the entertaining Clarke Cooke (with live bands and good night live), the familiar The Mooring (great lobster) and the unpretencious and creative Tallulah on Thames. Ten minute walk north you will find, depending on the season, the best yachts and sailing boats at Newport Shipyard. If you like to sail, take a tour along the bay in the 80 feet Adirondack II Schooner. I’ve been told that it offers a comfortable, safe and high-performance sailing experience.


View Best places in Newport – Rhode Island in a bigger map

If you plan to visit Newport, I’d suggest to read my article about Boston, placed just an hour drive from Newport.

Finally, I want to thank my friend, and amazing traveller, Jorge M.C. for all of the great tips that he gave me. Thanks Jorge!!! ­čÖé
Click on images to enlarge

To learn more about the best places in New England, please read Best Places in Boston and Cape Cod, wild beaches and charming lighthouses.

Best Safaris in Africa

Lion at Selous National Park. Photo: Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

Best Safaris in Africa

As you already may know, I love photography, animals and Africa. For the last 25 years I have had the chance to visit many National Parks and Private Game Reserves. My friends often ask me to help them choose the safari in Africa that better suits their needs. That is the reason why I have decided to write this article: to try to bring some light on your decision making process.

The decision of going to Africa is often inspired by the passion and spirit of movies like “Out of Africa” or the excitement and wilderness of the National Geographic documentaries. Experiencing this depends on the following aspects:

Which country do I visit?

Almost all of the countries in the southern half of Africa offer the chance of enjoying wonderful safari experiences. This aspect is important in terms of:

  • Vaccinations against diseases such as Malaria or Yellow Fever. Vaccines can cause side effects. Therefore, some people decide not to get vaccinated and take precautions against mosquito bites. For further info, visit Center for Control of Diseases and Prevention.
  • Landscapes: Africa offers different amazing landscapes, from the savannah grasslands of Kenya, to the gorilla forests of Central Africa, the untamed woodlands of Zambia, the waterways of the Okavango Delta and the dunes of the Namib Desert.

Public National Parks or Private Reserves?

  • Usually, the wider and larger variety of animals, the more popular and crowded a Public National Park will be. In places like Serengeti (Tanzania) you can enjoy three different prides of lions in one day… but together with ten more cars full of tourists. The popularity of a park usually brings more limitations to the game drive (you may not be allowed to go off road, drive at night, have breakfast in the savannah…).
  • Private reserves are more expensive, exclusive and offer you a higher game drive experience. You usually drive with a professional ranger and a local tracker, so the chances of spotting animals increase. Private reserves have a limited number of cars allowed at the same time, so you rarely see other tourists.

For further information, visit http://www.game-reserve.com/, a website with useful information about the different parks and reserves in Africa

What kind of Safari?

There are multiple ways of experiencing wildlife. All of them are very safe (otherwise, very few people would go on a safari). These are some of the most common:

  • Game drive: You usually do two game drives a day. A 5h30m drive in the morning (from 6am to 11:30am) and a 3h30min in the afternoon (from 3pm to 6:30pm). This is the most common and easy way to spot animals. You can move fast and get close. The car makes a huge difference. The worst scenario is driving in a regular van with windows and roof. The best would be 4WD with no roof or windows and completely adapted for enjoying the game drive.
  • Night game drive: Predators get more active at dawn so the night game drives can get more exciting. Animals are not that difficult to spot because the light of the rangers’ torch reflects into their eyes. Few parks offer these drives, especially those in Zambia and South Africa. Night game drives are more uncomfortable (it gets cold and you get more mosquitoes) but are more exciting (the sense of hearing sharpens, allowing you to enjoy the sound of the African night).
  • Walking safari: This is definitely an exciting experience. Although animals are very difficult to spot (they usually avoid humans), you are accompanied by an armed ranger just for safety reasons. Walking safaris are the perfect way to discover the wildlife: learn about animal tracks and sounds, spot birds, learn the secrets of the bush…
  • Canoe excursions: It gives you access to places unreachable by other modes of transport: quiet backwaters, floodplains and shallow sandy channels. The silence of the mokoro (canoe) allows you to get close to wildlife. The Okavango Delta (Botswana) is the place to go although you can enjoy great canoe excursions in Zambia, south Tanzania, … .

What kind of acommodation?

You can choose among various options:

  • Hotel: you will find them in the most popular National Parks. It is similar to placing a Sheraton in the middle of Africa. Not too romantic but very comfortable.
  • Camps: for people who demand exclusivity and privacy. It is an all included service so prices are per person, starting at 125$ and reaching 1.500$ per night. You usually sleep in a luxurious tent on raised teak platforms, in the middle of the bush. Although it is safe, at night you are not allowed to walk alone. They usually have a dining area overlooking the savannah, a swimming pool, a cocktail bar, a wildlife reference library and a campfire, where guests and rangers share stories about Africa. Even if it’s not as comfortable as a hotel, this would be your choice if you have enough of a budget and are looking for a luxurious and exclusive African experience.
  • Overland: the perfect option for people with a low budget willing to experience an adventure in Africa. It is a way of travelling through Africa via road, with a group of like-minded travelers. Overland vehicles are custom built and designed to deal with travel conditions in Africa. Most overlanding is based on camping adventures. For more info, visit Overlanding Africa or Kananga (if you’re in Spain).

Which time of the year should I go?

It depends on which part of Africa you go, but basically, you can differentiate two seasons.

  • Dry season: From April to October are the cooler winter months which have lovely warm days but cold nights. Traditionally, the best season for game viewing as the vegetation becomes sparse and water is restricted to rivers and artificial waterholes. In my opinion, the best time to visit Africa is from June to November.
  • Wet season: it starts in November and ends in March. The dry bushland comes to life after the rains, as well as the insects, with an abundance of wild flowers. The game becomes harder to see as numerous waterholes fill up and the foliage becomes thicker.

My recommendations

I hope you found this article useful. During the next weeks I will be posting my recommendations of the best parks, reserves and camps in Africa. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any question. I will be very glad to help you.
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Namibia
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Tanzania
-Update- Check out my article about the best places in Botswana
Click on images to enlarge


Photo credits:┬áPedro Sag├╝├ęs
Most of my trips to Africa are organized by “Patricia Gallo – Tailor Made Tours

Best places to visit in Sydney

Sydney Zoo. Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tjt195/105783812/

Best places to visit in Sydney

This is my third and last article about Sydney. Previously I wrote about the best bars in Sydney and the best restaurants in Sydney.

Sydney impressed me when I first saw it. Somehow, I had the feeling I was in many cities at the same time. Barcelona, San Francisco, Los Angeles, … It is the perfect city: amazing beaches, great sightseeings, good weather, healthy and cosmopolitan lifestyle, intense nightlife, … what else can you ask for!! I have been to many great places but, again, my good friends Luc├şa, Gonzalo and Sue helped me to complete this list of the best things to do when you visit Sydney:

  • Sydney Opera House: A top class opera house that offer multiple options such as “The Playhouse“, a cheaper ($30 a show) and more intimate option to enjoy great music.
  • Spit Bridge to Manly walk: long walk but worth it, with many secluded beaches along the way.
  • Bondi to Coogee Walk: walk along the cliffs with a view to the Pacific. You can spot the migrating whales in October/November.
  • Farmers’ Markets at the Carriageworks: Amazing selection of fresh food, cheeses, etc. A traditional weekly undercover farmers’ market in the renovated market space at Eveleigh Railyards.
  • Balmain: great neighborhood to walk around. 10 min from the city. Old docks still there, loads of cafes and restaurants and pubs. A “real” experience of a Sydney neighborhood.
  • For booklovers: the best second-hand bookshops are in Glebe, along Glebe Point Road.
  • The Rocks: the oldest part of Sydney, just in the City center, near Circular Quay. Many boutique shops, bars and restaurants, design hotels and art and photography galleries. Every weekend there are artisanal markets, gastronomy fairs, street concertsÔÇŽ
  • Swimming pool at Victoria’s Park: it is possible to enjoy a bath a sunbathing just in the city center. In Victoria’s park, there is a big public outdoor pool with fitness centre, to which you can have access for only $2.
  • Surry Hills: in the south-east of Sydney. A bohemian suburb in which you can find small coffee shops and organic restaurants, new designers retail shops, and curious book shops or furniture stores.
  • Picnic at Botanical Gardens: an habitual plan among Aussie people. A huge park surrounding Circular Quay and the Opera House, where you can enjoy a picnic with the typical ÔÇťsushi rollsÔÇŁ, imported from the many Asian inhabitants living in Sydney.
  • Captain Cook Harbour Cruise: see some of the harbourÔÇÖs most spectacular sights
  • Taronga Zoo: perfect plan for kids. One of the major tourist attractions in Sydney. Great place to see Australian wildlife and enjoy great views of the city.
  • Visit to Watsons Bay: taking the ferry from Circular quay, you will arrive to Watsons bay where you can find the most beautiful bays and coves from which you will admire awesome views of the Opera House and Sydney. One of the best beaches is the nudist Lady beach.

Your opinion about this list of the best places in Sydney

Is there a place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment

Update:
Nathan posted an interesting comment were he suggests visiting “The Rocks“. Thank you Nathan!

Best bars in Sydney

Opera Bar - Sydney

Best bars in Sydney

Following my article about the best restaurants in Sydney and the best places to visit in Sydney, in this post I want to share with you the best places in Sydney to have a drink and listen to good music. I would like to thank again my good friends Luc├şa, Gonzalo and Sue for their great tips.

  • Kings Cross: An eastern suburb of Sydney plenty of cafes and bars. Good for a backpacker, sydneysiders or someone wanting to go out to clubs for an all-nighter.
    I recommend having dinner at HugoÔÇÖs Pizza Bar and then cross to “The World’s bar“, where you will enjoy the first cocktail of the night served in a ÔÇťteapotÔÇŁ while you listen to the best indie bands and club jams. One of the best daytime in Darlinghurst (5 minutes walk from Kings Cross) is upstairs at the Darlo Bar, a community lounge room perfect to relax and have a beer. Also in Darlinghurst you will find a great selection of Australian and International Beers at The Local Taphouse.
  • Newtown: Newtown is the real thing -bohemian without pretentiousness and the edge- anything goes. Great night and daytime pubs. For a great beer garden go to The Courthouse. Also visit Corridor, that recently won best small bar in Sydney.
  • The Rocks: In Sydney’s historic old town you will find some of the best pubs:
    Lord Nelson, the oldest pub in Sydney, they brew their own beer: “Three Sheets”, hoppy & spicy. It has won many awards.
    – Also visit Opera Bar (next to the Opera House), a must-do on sunny weekend afternoons.
    – For a special celebration: cocktails at the the Horizon Bar (Shangri-La Hotel), where you will enjoy a view over the whole city. Very expensive but very tasty cocktails.
    – If you are looking for an open air disco in Darling Harbour, go to Cargo Bar. It has an upstairs balcony overlooking the harbour and a terrace. You can enjoy the dancefloor with the best live DJÔÇÖs in Sydney, mixing House music with live violonistsÔÇÖ or percussionistsÔÇÖ sounds. It opens every day and until late night.
    – If you like Salsa, visit La Cita: A Salsa Club visited by the Latin immigrants in Sydney. It also runs salsa lessons during some afternoons.
    – For live music, visit The Basement. Other live music bars but not in The Rocks: The Vanguard, Annandale Hotel, Oxford Arts Factory.

Your opinion about this list of the best bars in Sydney

Is there a place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment

Udaipur: the city of lakes, palaces and love

Lake Palace. Udaipur. Photo: Pedro Sag├╝├ęs

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:┬áPedro Sag├╝├ęs

Best restaurants in San Sebastian

Restaurante Branka. San Sebastian. Photo: www.promowebsite.net

Best restaurants in San Sebastian

This is the second part of my previous post about the best Pintxos in San Sebastian. As I said, San Sebastian has multiple Michelin Star Restaurants: Arzak, Akelarre, Mart├şn Berasategui and Mugaritz (all with 3 stars)…. Besides these restaurants, in this post I want to talk about those that haven’t got a Michelin star but are still amazing restaurants… and not that expensive.

  • UROLA: Traditional food since 1948. 45 ÔéČ avg. price. c/Ferm├şn Calbet├│n, 20. +34 943 423 424
  • BETI – JAI: Means “Always party” in Basque. Specialty in sea food. Avg price: 40 ÔéČ. c/ Ferm├şn Calbet├│n, 22. 943 427 737
  • EGOSARI: Bar and restaurant with good food. Avg price: 35 ÔéČ. c/Ferm├şn Calbet├│n, 15. 943 428 210
  • ALDANONDO: Great meat (“chulet├│n” in Spanish). Avg price: 40 ÔéČ. Daily menu: 28ÔéČ. c/Euskal herria, 6. 943 422 852
  • ASTELENA: Excellent food, specially the foie. Avg. price: 40 ÔéČ. Daily menu: 22ÔéČ. c/Euskalherria, 3. 943 425 867
  • GANDARIAS: Excellent food and wine list. Definitely a top restaurant in Donosti (San Sebastian in Basque). Great pintxos aswell. c/31 de agosto, 23. 943-426362
  • UREPEL: Great food but quite expensive. Avg price: 70 ÔéČ. Menu: 50ÔéČ. P┬║ Salamanca, 3, 943 424 040
  • BRANKA: A classic with nice views of the bay (check the webcam). Avg. price: 50ÔéČ. It’s a nice walk to get there. c/Eduardo Chillida, 11. +34 943 317 096
  • BERNARDO: Excellent sea food. c/Puerto, 7, 943 422 055

Update: Luc├şa, a reader of this blog, suggests two more places. THANK YOU Luc├şa!!:

  • ZUBEROA: Located in Oiartzun, 10 km away from San Sebastian. In my opinion itÔÇÖs one of the best restaurants to eat good modern basque food
  • ASADOR PORTUETXE: a much more traditional restaurant than the previous one. Awesome fish and meat. It is usually overcrowded so itÔÇÖs recommended to book a table in advance

Did I miss any special place?

Is there any place that should definitely be listed in this post? Have you got any suggestion to improve this blog? If so, please place a comment ­čÖé

Map with the best restaurants in San Sebastian

View Best restaurants in San Sebastian (Spain) in a bigger map