OUR 10 BEST TRAVEL NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
This year we don’t intend to go on a new diet, nor are we going to quit smoking (this was done a long time ago!), or take another fitness class. This year we intend to keep on travelling and sharing all our good or not so good memories with you. Here are our 10 first good resolutions for 2016.
The very first place where anyone strives to go in Cambodia surely is Siem Reap the gate to Angkor temples. These extraordinary temples are a pure marvel that needs a longer stay than the classic 3-day visit, the standard program of so many tour operators. A weeklong stay allows the visitor to slowly discover the iconic temples and still have time to see remote amazing temples away from the hordes of tourists. It’s very easy and affordable to rent a tuk-tuk and its driver who will pick you up at your hotel and will take you all around the site each day of your stay.
After your journey in Angkor, if you want to enlarge your visit of the country, don’t forget to stop in Phnom Penh to look at this city which still keep the spirit of the former French period, and then go to Sihanoukville on the seaside where attractive beaches await you. As beautiful and not over-crowded as the close by Thai beaches they also offer a great choice of nice bars and restaurants and all types of accommodation to fit any expectation from luxury to budget ones.
In spite of an unbearable pressure of tourists’ crowds when huge cruise-ships stop by, Dubrovnik is a must-visit city, but then, why not go up North to Istria to discover some of the charming and lively villages scattered all along the beautiful Croatian seashore, as Rovinj or Porec closed to Pula and its Roman amphitheatre. And why not stop on your way in the island of Hvar that, as dozens of small and pretty Croatian islands, is also of great interest to enjoy the cool life of its inhabitants. Croatia, due to its mild climate, is now willing to attract visitors all year long with very attractive prices during the low seasons.
More and more tourists go to Cuba every year. In addition direct flights from the USA will be authorized to land in Cuba very soon. For over half a century US citizens were banned to visit Cuba, the closest of the West Indies islands. Soon a huge flow of American tourists will gently invade the whole island and in the next years accommodation prices will probably rise. The end of embargo will help Cuban economy but the chances are that this could change the face of Cuba with the loss of some of its authenticity. So don’t wait too long to visit Cuba if you want to appreciate the inimitable and authentic atmosphere of this welcoming island. But even if the change is on its way, don’t worry, the Cuban people will stay as smiling as ever and Cuba will always be a perfect sunny destination for sunny, fun and relaxing vacations.
Obviously, France is an easy destination for city-breaks as well as short or long vacations. Connections are so easy. So many low-cost flights, direct Eurostar trains to Paris, Lyon, Avignon and even Marseille give everyone the opportunity to quickly reach any French region.
For longer vacations, ferries and the Eurotunnel allow Brits to visit France with their own car. Imagine a 2, 3 or 4 weeks stay to drive trough Brittany, or along the River Loire visiting the fabulous Renaissance castles and why not discover the secret cities of the Knights Templar in the Aveyron department… Whatever your choice, you will find everywhere, great wines and wonderful food made with local produce. And we are sure that when it will be time to get back home, your trunk will be filled with eatable and drinkable souvenirs!
FRENCH WEST INDIES
Located within the southern part of the Caribbean arc, Martinique and Guadeloupe are the two main islands of the FWI. Shaped like a butterfly Guadeloupe is surrounded by a few small islands wearing romantic names like La Désirade, Marie-Galante, Les Saintes or Beauséjour, a call to visit all of them. Martinique is a big single island located further south between the islands of Dominica and Santa Lucia. Both Guadeloupe and Martinique are easily connected to Paris by numerous daily flights. It could be a nice opportunity to make a short stop over in Paris on the way back.
Away from these two, the tiny island of St Barths (St Barthelemy) is a French pearl for luxury tourism. Avoiding mass tourism, St Barths offers ultimate accommodations, charming but up-scale restaurants and a large choice of active or relaxing holidays. It’s an island where it’s not unusual to simply pass by some well-known top models, famous Hollywood stars or even one of the wealthiest billionaires of the world. To reach St Barths from UK a flight via Anguilla, just up north, is the easiest way.
For wild animals Galapagos Islands are a real paradise. They can live, move and stay anywhere in the archipelago. But humans don’t! The protection of wild life is extremely strict. The local fauna that includes numerous endemic birds, giant tortoises, sea and land iguanas, seals, sea lions and even penguins, can only be approached by tourists as well as locals in special designated places. In each spot the daily number of visitors is limited, so advance booking is highly recommended. But these rules give any visitor the amazing opportunity to come close to these wild species that are not afraid of human beings. Obviously to get to Galapagos Islands you have to break your piggybank, but you will come back home with your head full of incredible images of a nature that has not been destroyed or altered by man.
After landing in Athens, even for repeaters, take a few days to climb the Parthenon’s hill, visit a few more antics monuments, get lost in the small streets of Plakka district before visiting the country. Why not go up North to Macedonia, the Greek region of Halkidki around Thessaloniki that is the native land of Alexander the Great? A place of great wines and good food, with many beaches for sun lovers!
Another option is to move South from Athens to the Greek islands. From Piraeus, the port of Athens, an incredible network of ferries links all the islands together. The iconic Mykonos is a perfect summer destination for parties’ lovers. To visit Santorini, the amazing volcano island, you’ll have to climb countless stairs. And for those who like to discover a country at their own rhythm, island hopping should be the best suggestion. Among all these islands Milos, Patmos, Ios or even the tiny Seriphos, could be your next discoveries. Each one has its own spirit.
So close and so attractive! Irish countryside is a real green paradise. The Wild Atlantic Way with over 1.500 miles of small coastal roads going up and down capes, running along amazing bays and ending in small fishermen villages, is a call to share a pint of draft beer in any of the local pubs with some of the inhabitants and to enjoy the charms of their country life.
For those who are real city addicts (nobody is perfect!) Dublin will be a great option for a vibrant stay. There are a lot of nice pubs for an intense nightlife. But Dublin is much more and is worth seeing so you’d better keep some strength for your day time visits!
From the romantic lakes region in the North to Sicily in the south, Italy is a dream for cultured travellers and food addicts too. Each region, each city is covered by ancient and historical buildings. Any village is proud of its own delightful cooking recipes and of its local produce including so many great wines. Venice and its lagoon, Tuscany and Firenze, Umbria with Sienna and Perugia, the cities of Roma or Naples, the secret Puglia or the sunny Sicily, the choice is endless. The difficult part is to make up your mind!
It’s high time to discover Vietnam. This little known destination offers great opportunities to travel safely and as comfortably as you wish. High standard tourists will find all that they are looking for, but backpackers are welcomed too. From the lost tribes in the north to the famous Mekong delta in the south, Vietnam has so much to offer. Beautiful landscapes, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay alone is worth the travel to Vietnam, historical monuments and temples, Hue and Hoi An are some of the key sites to visit. Countless beautiful beaches, a wide range of tasty cooking and a welcoming and hard working people are good reasons among others to fly to Ho Chi Min (still called Saigon) or Hanoi the two gates to Vietnam.
Text © Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Photos © Frederic de Poligny