Holidays

My Maya, I got it wrong on the Mexican coast

June 17, 2010

Even the most seasoned traveller can be prejudiced by misconceptions, and in the case of Mexico's Caribbean coast, I put my hands up. I resolutely avoided the newish holiday playground known as the Riviera Maya for years; certain it would be overbuilt and overrun by package tourists, rather than remaining the pristine paradise much of it still is.

That's the problem with being a Mexicophile - you fall in love with the colour, the chaos and the ancient culture which underpins this most fascinating of countries.

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Flirting with danger in the Maltese sun

June 10, 2010

There was an episode of the classic TV comedy show Alan Partridge that featured the hapless TV host suggesting programme ideas to a BBC1 executive. Monkey Tennis, Inner City Sumo and Arm Wrestling with Chas and Dave were his creative gems. Well, how about this, Alan - Flirting in Malta?

Flirting in Malta sounds like the latest in the series of those horrible Sky Three programmes about drunken louts trying to mate on holiday, but it is an actual holiday idea.

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Solitude and fresh air under a glass roof

By Miriam Shaviv, June 3, 2010

On our first morning in Centre Parcs, my three-year-old daughter stood staring out the patio window of our cottage, into Longleat forest.

"Imma," she turned to me. "Is that a dog?"

I'm not quite sure what I imagined - a snarling dingo? One of the neighbour's pets preparing to pounce? I rushed to the window.

There, right on our doorstep, stood a deer and a bambi. Completely oblivious to our presence, they grazed for a minute or two and quietly trotted off.

It was a stunning moment, which for me encapsulated the Centre Parcs experience.

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Rolling hills and nature's cycle lanes

By Jessica Elgot, May 27, 2010

Zipping along skinny country roads, past craggy moorland and sweeping fields as puffs of clouds drift in bright blue skies, it's hard to place this hidden corner of England. It's wilder than the Cotswolds and quieter than the Lakes, and hidden is how those who know about it would like to keep it.

The Forest of Bowland is one of England's most beautiful country escapes, for ramblers, foodies, cyclists and city-slickers seeking a slower, simpler pace of life.

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What a Carrie on: Marrakesh just got hotter

By Anthea Gerrie, May 21, 2010

It's no surprise to hear that Sarah Jessica Parker and her co-stars were spotted running riot with their wallets in Marrakesh recently while filming scenes for Sex and the City2. This most exotic of Moroccan cities is one of the great shopping meccas of the world, as well as a great place to dine, to steam in a hammam, to enjoy the local entertainment or to just generally hang out.

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Welcome to Robin Hood's merry England

By Anthea Gerrie, May 13, 2010

Robin Hood will be riding through the glen yet again this month, at least on the silver screen - and no doubt Ridley Scott's epic is not the last we'll see of Friar Tuck, Maid Marian or Robin himself.  Nor of Merlin, Lancelot and King Arthur, for that matter, given the fact that myths and legends are woven into our national psyche, and we seem to love keeping them alive.

To make it easier to follow in the footsteps of Robin and other legendary heroes - not to mention a fair few real and legendary villains - Visit England has launched a new Myths and Legends map and website.  

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As ash clouds fell, I went wild for the forest

By Anthea Gerrie, May 6, 2010

As friends' plans for exotic holidays were dashed by volcanic ash clouds, it was hard not to feel smug as we strolled, dog in tow, through the dappled sunshine of the New Forest on a perfect spring weekend. When heaven lies on the coastal fringes of Hampshire and Dorset, who needs to take to the skies?

It is no surprise that the odd coven of white witches has settled in this corner of ancient Wessex - and that should be taken as encouragement to visit.  

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Why I found Portugal the natural choice

April 28, 2010

I had been in Portugal for less than 12 hours when I had my first pinch-myself moment. Five courses into an epic supper at Restaurant Arte Náutica near the beach at Portimao, I caught a glimpse of the starry sky. There, twinkling above me, was the plough. A few metres away, the calm waters of the Atlantic gently lapped the sandy shore.

And all around me was nature: palm trees, white sands, mysterious sounds from night owls and other birds. It was idyllic, and there wasn't a golfer, binge drinker or package holiday maker in sight.

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Florida coast gave me Keys

By Andy Mossack, April 22, 2010

I have to confess I fell hopelessly and completely in love with the pelicans. It became my morning ritual to go out the back door of my beach condo and watch them forage around the ocean looking for fish for an hour or so. It was just the birds, me and a glorious stretch of powder-white beach. This was Florida's western Gulf coast, a world away from what many of you would think of Florida.

This coast of Florida and in particular Sarasota and her neighbouring islands Siesta Key, Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island, offer temptingly tropical retreats that are simply too hard to resist.

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On the edge? Visit the Hill

April 15, 2010

Utter the words "holistic retreat" to most people and visions of lentil eating, sandal-wearing, superannuated hippies inevitably pop into their heads. But near Urbino, in Italy's south-west, the Hill that Breathes is a holistic (and, conveniently for the kashrut observant, vegetarian) retreat which is a lot less earnest and a lot more fun than you might expect from the genre.

Indeed, the name of the course - cover your children's ears, now - the "F*** It Week", is probably a clue.

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