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

Riquewihr, a picturesque village in Alsace

Welcome to Riquewihr, Alsace!

I was recently spending my weekend in Alsace, France.  Recommended by our friends we decided to drive to a little village called Riquewihr.  The Alsace area is famous for its Riesling wines and for no exception you can buy them also in many little shops in Riquewihr.  But that is not the only reason to visit this picturesque village, the old town attracts visitors with its many little shops and restaurants, old tiny streets and beautiful buildings in full colours, everything that you need to nourish your body and mind. When in Alsace, I would recommend visiting Riquewihr, I think these pictures tell why…

Beautiful flowers in Riquewihr, France

At the heart of Riquewihr, France

Rainy day in Riquewihr, Alsace, France

Little interior shop in Riquewihr, France

Buying Riesling in Riquewihr, Alsace

Wine shopping in Riquewihr, Alsace

Riquewihr vineyards

 

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.

Engelberg Faschnacht – Carnival of Engelberg

Engelberg, Switzerland: This is the time of Faschnacht, carnivals in Switzerland, and it seems to me that the whole country is celebrating before the Lent begins. While the biggest and most famous carnival in Switzerland is maybe the one in Basel, many local villages have their own celebrations with fabulous costumes and lively music, definitively worth of seeing.   

We visited this weekend Engelberg, the biggest mountain resort of Central Switzerland, and on Saturday the whole village of Engelberg was celebrating their local Faschnacht.  The highlight of the day was the Faschnacht parade on Saturday evening. The people with wonderful costumes and the most amazing “vehicles” greeted the curious audience gathered on both side of the streets to see the best outfits and themes of the year.  Here are some pictures of the celebrations…


Theme Saluna with live music


Celebrating the Faschnacht


Indian climbing…


…serving tea


Maybe the longest vehicle I have ever seen…


…with a special cabin in the middle…


…and mobile bath in the end.


And someone was even able to sleep…

Travel year 2011: My top 10 destinations

St. Moritz - skiing in the Swiss Alps

Happy New Year 2012!! For me the year 2011 was a great year of travel. I visited over 20 different destinations, discovered new places and returned to many of my favourite ones. This post is a collection of my top 10 travel destinations in 2011.

1. Travelling around Yunnan province and Tibetan plateau in China
Ringha, China

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2. First time in Hong Kong
Hong Kong by night
related the blog post

3. A day trip to Macau
Macau

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4. My friends’ wedding in Athens, and first time in Acropolis
Acropolis, Athens

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5. Discovering the Austrian Alps in Lech and St. Anton
Austrian Alps St. Anton, Austria

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6. Wellness holiday in Kamalaya, Koh Samui (despite of eight rainy days)
Kamalay resort, Koh Samui, Thailand

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7. Culinary trip to Paris
L'Ami Louis, Paris

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8. Mini holiday in Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca - Weekend destination

9. Hiking in the Swiss Alps in autumn: Murgtal
Murgsee - walks in Switzerland

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10. Mysterious Grand Hotel Orologio and why it was closed?
Grand hotel Orologio, Abano Terme, Italy

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Where to travel in 2012?
I also started collecting some travel ideas for 2012. There are so many interesting places I would like to visit, but I think these are quite on the top of my list:

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