Autumn escape to Lake Como

Boutique hotel Villa Vittoria Lake Como, Italy

It may not have been the most obvious time of the year to travel to Lake Como in late October, but it was a good choice. No crowds anywhere, just some locals walking around, it was so quiet and beautiful. Many of the restaurants were already closed after the busy summer season, but some of them still remained opened over the weekends offering delicious Italian food and wines.

Lake Como in autumn colours in October

Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria lake como, ItalyAll the little villages around the lake were shining in autumn colours under the autumn sun. The temperature was a bit above +20C degrees, so rather ok compared to many other European destinations at this time of the year.

We stayed in a lovely boutique Hotel Relais Villa Vittoria, which looks over the Lake Como. We managed to book our room just a night before our arrival, and we really enjoyed our stay in this charming place. The service is friendly, a bit like staying someone’s gorgeous holiday home. I hope we can return here next year again…

Villa Vittoria, your living room at Lake Como

Relais Villa Vittoria, Lake Como - living room

Reception Villa Vittoria Lake Como

Pool at Villa Vittoria Lake Como

Lake Como in autumn colours

What to do in Seoul? My top 10 highlights

 

Greetings from Seoul, the soul of Asia, as the locals say. I visited Seoul in May and I liked the city’s modern and lively atmosphere flavoured with historical palaces and spacious parks. Seoul is one of those cities which never sleep and where there are probably more to see than time permits. Everyone says the spring is the best time to be there, and I must agree. While the weather was turning warm and sunny, the pleasant wind made it absolutely perfect to discover the city. Here are the top 10 highlights of my visit.  

walking around Seoul

1. Walking around the city
Seoul is an amazing place and there are many different areas to visit. The best way to discover the city is to take an underground to the place you would like to see and walk from there. The underground is very clean, easy to use and you can buy the tickets from the self-service machines (in English) at every station.  With a population of 10 million, the city is very clean, relatively safe and beautiful to walk around. Of course you need a good map and comfortable shoes too.  

Gyeongbok Royal palace

2. Gyeongbok, Korea’s most famous royal palace
Any kind of palace could be probably included in my list, as I like castles and palaces. However, Gyeongbok palace is really gorgeous with its numerous pavilions, little ponds and lots of green around. This is a place I spent at least a half a day just walking around the area admiring the beautiful old buildings and everything in between. Originally built in the late 1300s, the palace has been destroyed and reconstructed numerous times to what is today one of the charming palaces in Asia, and just in the heart of the city at the northern end of Seoul’s main boulevard.

Korean Barbeque in Seoul

3. Korean barbecue
If you fancy good food, Korean barbecue is definitively worth trying. The barbecue is cooked in front of you at the restaurant. There is a small round hole in your table for the fire on top of which the meat, fish and vegetables are cooked.  The meal is healthy and so delicious – I think this was the best dinner we had during our visit in Seoul.  

Cheonggyecheon Stream Seoul

4. Cheonggyecheon Stream
This is a very nice part of soul with many waterfalls and bridges crossing over. Being in the middle of the busy city, this is still a nice and rather quiet place to relax. You can walk up to 5.8 km along the stream and enjoy a different flavour of the city.

Rodeo Drive Seoul

5. Rodeo drive
This area is the home to many trendy restaurants, bars and high-end designer boutiques. I probably liked this area most because of all the fancy restaurants and funky stores…

Seoul by night

6. Seoul by night
The city is the most beautiful at nights with all its dazzling lights and numerous tall buildings. The best place to take pictures is probably in one of the restaurants located in any tall building. I would assume anyone of them can do. I took my pictures in our hotel Park Hayatt and the view was stunning.

Gucci flag ship store Seoul

7. Shopping luxury
Cheongdam-dong is the area to visit all the flag-ship stores of big designer names. They all have their four or five floor stand-alone stores in this area. Even if you are not for luxury shopping, these buildings are just worth of seeing.

Eating out in Seoul

8. Eating out
Like in any big city, eating out is great in Seoul and I would definitively recommend trying local specialities. Rodeo drive has many interesting restaurants, and if you walk around you can find all kind of innovative settings, or what do you think about the picture above…

Artbox stationary paradise

9. Artbox, the stationery paradise
Artbox is a lovely stationery shop with little, cute accessories, fashion items and interior stuff. They have very nice cards, papers, envelopes, pens and other little things that make nice souvenirs…

Taxi driver in Seoul

10. Taxi drive
I must include this as my last picture. Where else a taxi driver manages to do this? This was a taxi stop next to the main railway station in the area where you can’t even drive fast.  Well, despite this first impression, all our taxis were safe and comfortable.

PS. I hope you like my refreshed blog design. It is a bit of a while since I have been writing last time as I have been updating my blog behind the scenes.

Where to travel in Easter: My top 5 destinations

Easter holiday ideas

Where to go on Easter? I start planning my Easter every year very early and then end up making the decision last-minute.  Spring is the best time to travel in many locations and there are so many places I would like to travel. Easter is great time for a healthy holiday, visiting Europe, Asia and Middle East. Here are my top 5 Easter holiday destinations:

Chiva Som - Thailand health reatreat

1. Healthy holiday in Chiva Som, my favourite retreat
Chiva Som is my favourite destination Spa.  One week of healthy food, lots of exercises and spa treatments in beautiful surroundings will make a difference. No fuss about Easter egg hunting, but if you are lucky, it is time for Songkran water festival, and you will get your share of sparkling water as a symbol of washing bad away and giving good fortune for your future…

Venice, Italy

2. City break in Milan and Venice
Good Friday is not a public holiday in Milan, so what would be better way of spend a day for shopping, while the city is once a bit less crowded.  Most of the local people head to East on Friday, so leave your travel for Saturday morning and drive towards Venice.  Spring is one of the most beautiful time to visit the city and less touristic than summer.

Banyan Tree Bintan resort

3. Shopping in Singapore, relaxing in Bintan Island (in Indonesia)
Singapore is a good, but maybe not so obvious destination for Easter.  It is a great way of combining a city holiday in Singapore with few days in Bintan holiday island, just about an hour by ferry from Singapore.  We stayed in Banyan Tree Bintan, which is a gorgeous resort with beautiful natural surroundings, delicious food and daily yoga glasses relaxing your mind and body totally.

Easter Break in Miami

4. Miami + Caribbean Escape
Couple of years ago we combined a fitness week in the BodyHoliday resort in St. Lucia with a few extra days in Miami. Beautiful, warm weather, a week of 4-5 hours exercises and a pampering spa treatment every day in the BodyHoliday resort renewed my body and mind. After a week of fitness it was quite rewarding enjoy few days in Miami just by walking around, running in the beach, eating well and do a bit of shopping before flying back home. 

Easter in Switzerland - Park Hotel Weggis

5. Switzerland
Switzerland is a nice destination for Easter.  Depending on the weather you can make day trips to France, Italy, Germany or Austria. If Easter is early in the year you can still go skiing and later in spring enjoy the beautiful spring weather. One year I stayed in Park Hotel Weggis near Luzern. The hotel has a picturesque view over the Lake Vierwaldstattersee  and they Easter Bruch is really great!  

And what I was looking for this year?
I have been looking for plenty of last minutes options:

  1. Long weekend in Istanbul
  2. Culture break in Marrakesh
  3. Relaxing holiday in Abu-Dhabi, combining city and the new Anantara desert resort Qasr al Sarab
  4. Healthy holiday in Verdura resort in Sicily or Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain
  5. Shopping in New York

Long weekend in Athens

Discovering Acropolis, in Athens, Greece

My first visit to Acropolis

Greek Flag on top of AcropolisAthens has been in my travel list for long. As long as I can remember, I wanted to visit Acropolis, the home for the Goddess of Greek mythology, and last May I finally got there. I was invited in my friends’ wedding in Athens, which was a perfect reason to extend my stay for a couple of days to discover this city with over 7000 years of history.

The wedding was in Sunday, so I had a full Saturday to explore the city and Acropolis, my main destination. It was a bit of climbing to get on top of Acropolis, but as I am used to Swiss mountains this little hill was an easy task despite the warm spring weather. The ruins were very impressive, though somewhat smaller than I would have thought based on what I was told in my history class.

Acropolis, Athens

Acropolis

The old temple of Parthenon, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena was clearly the most stunning building on the hill. It was built over 2000 years ago, when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. Since then it has maybe lost a bit of its shape, but not at all its character. It is still the most amazing building in Athens and definitively worth visiting!

Visiting Acropolis, Greece

Little details

More ruins in acropolis

Acropolis

Acropolis

The view from the top of Acropolis
This is the view from the Top!

Acropolis Museum - the modern gateway to history of Athens
The Acropolis Museum – This is the place to visit if you would like to refresh your memory on Greek mythology and history before climbing to Acropolis or on your way back…

Where to go in October?

Autumn Colours in the Swiss Alps in October

Swiss Alps, Konstanz and Bahrain…

Where to travel in October? Autumn is arriving in Europe and the nature is shining in the most beautiful autumn colours, so this is definitively a good time to explore mountain resorts in the Swiss Alps. It is also a good time to visit Middle East, while the weather is getting cooler…

Experience the autumn colours: hiking in the Swiss Alps
October is the best time of the year to experience the autumn colours in the Swiss Alps. Yellow, Orange, Gold, Green and in all shades – the most beautiful palette the nature can offer…

Kalusenpass - Hiking in Autumn in Switzerland
Klausenpass in autumn costume

Flumserberg Lake Seealpen - Hiking in Switzerland
Flumserberg – Hiking around Lake Seealpen

Hoch-Ybrig autumn hiking in Switzerland
Hoch-Ybrig with autumn colours

Hoch Ybrig - hiking in autumn
View from the top in Hoch Ybrig – so beautiful!

Hoch Ybrig signs
Where to walk?

Autumn Colours in Hoch Ybrig
I love these colours…

This is the list of my favourite hikes in the Switzerland.

Shopping in Konstanz by Lake Constance
The small idyllic town of Konstanz, just next to the Swiss border is a great place to make a day visit from Zurich and benefit some great shopping. You can also visit some of the idyllic little cafes having a break with most delicious cakes, bakeries and homemade ice creams.

A day trip from Zuricj to Konstanz

Sunshine in Bahrain
And if the autumn is getting too cold in Europe, Middle East offers enjoyable warm weather. Discover the exotic Bahrain in the style of 1001 nights… We stayed in the beautiful Banyan Tree Al Areen resort in Bahrain.

Bahrain sky line
This is Bahrain… The first view from the plane.

In villa Pool Banyan Tree Al Areen
Banyan Tree Al Areen

Restaurant Saffron Banyan Tree Al Areen
Restaurant Saffron in Banyan Tree Bahrain

Saffron Banyan Tree Al Areen
Banyan Tree Al Areen

A day trip from Zurich to Lindau

Visiting Lindau in Germany

Lindau, Germany: One of the best things of living in Switzerland is how easy it is to travel to all beautiful places. Few weeks ago we decided to make a day trip to Bodensee (Lake Constance) and visit the beautiful island of Lindau, which located in South of Germany, less than two hours drive from Zurich.

Lindau old town, Bodensee, Germany

Lindau in pictures - the most scenic places in the world

The island is very picturesque with its beautiful old town overlooking the lake. There are also many interesting little shops as well as plenty of restaurants and cafes to visit.  The best way to spend your evening is as the locals do; having a picnic by the lake and watching the beautiful sunset…

Lindau, Bodensee, Germany

Lindau sunset, one of the most beautiful views over Bodensee

Lindau by night

Stunning sunset in Lindau, Bodensee, Germany

Lindau sunset by Bodensee

Island of Lindau by night

Two amazing cities: Hong Kong and Macau

Hong Kong

Hong Kong: We stayed the last few days of our travel in Hong Kong. This was my first time there, and the city was even more exciting I could have ever imagined. I loved the busy city life, the enormous amount of good Asian and international restaurants and the international atmosphere.  And shopping, Hong Kong is probably one of the world’s best places for shopping.

The weather was very humid and hot during the days, but much more pleasant in the evenings. And whenever it was getting too warm, it was just another good excuse to pop in the air-conditioned stores and shopping malls.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

The city wakes up for the night. Hong Kong has one of the most beautiful skylines. The tall buildings are greeting the visitors by their dazzling lights. One of the best places to watch the sun going down is the rooftop bar at the ICC tower. You can’t get much higher in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong by night

Hong Kong

Macau: For one day we made a ferry trip to Macau, the former Portuguese colony, which today is the world’s biggest gambling paradise, bigger than Las Vegas. The ferry takes about an hour – super class tickets recommended for a more comfortable travel – after which you need to wait almost another hour to get through the customs. But at least you are rewarded with a nice stamp to your passport.

Macao Ferry

Wynn Macau

Macau

The visit to Macao was very interesting. I have never seen as many casinos before; every one of them bigger than the other. And for those, like me, who has no interest at all in gambling, there is still plenty to see and experience. The casinos are huge shopping malls with all the brands you can imagine in addition to many restaurants and bars. It is easy to spend a whole day just by exploring the shops and eating out.

Maco inside the Venetian Casino

Tree show at Venetian Casino

My favourite place was the terrace of Four Seasons. They have probably the best afternoon tea in Macau. Sitting outside in a shade, sipping my tea and enjoying the mild breeze from the sea was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon before returning back to home.