Saturday, 13 July 2019

Want to be a Travel Writer? Part 1

How do you do it?
Just 5 steps to success
Come along and follow me up


*Prior to travelling
Do some research, know what you want to see
*On location
Keep a diary, note what you notice, what you feel, not google stuff but your own observations
Take lots of photos, a pocket camera will do but if you're aiming for print, high resolution's best


Want to tell the story of your trip? Perfect
Blog as you go along, keep it regular and link to social media to increase followers
Focus on specific ideas, the tighter the better
Family attractions, city break, cycling, water sports, food and wine, saving turtles, Hindu temple
The list is endless, how many can you think of?


Decide on your top 3 ideas
*Check out possible publications: newsagent or internet
Look beyond the obvious: niche markets, women's mag, seniors, crafts, gardens, health... 
*Which magazines/newspapers would be interested in your idea?
Find at least 2 or 3
Imagine the readers: age group, budget, interest


Choose your favourite market and email a query to the editor (travel or features)
That's professional and will save time to both of you
*Keep your letter short but make it interesting
*Write it in the magazine style so the editor knows you've read it
If you have fabulous images, send 2 or 3, low resolution at this stage
*No CV, editors just want ideas 
Don't ask about rates until your work is accepted


*Check similar articles in your chosen market and make sure you get it right
Word count, paragraphs, 1st or 3rd person, vocabulary, fact box
Plus nitty gritty, it or it's, three or 3, metric or imperial and so on
*Now you can write but make sure you respect format and style

Read and enjoy
'Packed with practical advice and entertaining'
Be a Travel Writer

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Charleston Luxury Hotel Bennett South Carolina

Hotel Bennett, Downtown Charleston ©Solange Hando

Opened in 2019 after 20 years planning, this is one of the grandest hotels in Charleston, set on a corner of King Street and the vast Marion Square with a pleasant terrace overlooking the greenery.
'European outside but southern inside', it is right at the heart of town within walking distance of designer shops, the city's historic market and harbour.

Welcome to Hotel Bennet ©Solange Hando

Step in  and you are greeted by this inner circular entrance where colourful murals by local artists reflect Charleston as it was, at the mouth of three rivers.
A grand stairway beckons beyond the reception and you can expect elegance all around enhanced by glowing marble.

A Place to Sleep Well ©Solange Hando

Guest rooms are spacious and light with floor to ceiling windows and most of them have a balcony with a view. Enjoy a superb bathroom, fine bedding and amenities and since a library used to be on the spot, your own bookcase. It's remote control for curtains and lights, easy to use once you get the hang of it.
The hotel has 179 rooms and suites, single or double, suites ranging from Junior King to Ambassador and Presidential with scenic terrace all around. 

Swimming Pool , Hotel Bennett ©Solange Hando

Lovely place to cool down, this is the rooftop pool where guests can reserve a cabana for privacy and shade. Close to the bar and terrace with a view. 
Other facilities include a gym and spa with tempting rituals such as blue diamond facial,  aromatherapy massage or  'holy city' healing wrap (the city is so called for its many spires).

The Champagne Bar ©Solange Hando

Inspired by Fabergé's egg and named Camellias, the oval-shaped Champagne Bar is the talk of town, especially appreciated for its caviar delicacies. 
Fiat Lux, the rooftop bar whose name means 'let there be light', serves delicious Mediterranean food and there's also a Pâtisserie and coffee shop for hand-crafted sandwiches and  pastries.
'Gabrielle' is the main restaurant, offering oysters, clams, red snapper, lamb roulade, Peking duck a l'orange and more.The chef comes from New Orleans and the pastry master from France. 

Cosy Corner at the Bennett ©Solange Hando

Hotel Bennett has conference and wedding venues and some quiet stylish corners to meet and chat with friends. Then for a real VIP treatment, book access to the King's Club when you reserve your room. Among other things, this covers a Champagne welcome, use of the private lounge with verandah,  services of a dedicated concierge and exclusive transfer to the city.

View from the Terrace, Ravenel Bridge over the river Cooper ©Solange Hando 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Carcassonne Citadel, UNESCO Site in South of France

The Citadel of Carcassonne, World Heritage ©Solange Hando

There it is across the river Aude, the largest medieval walled town in Europe, restored in the 19th century by Viollet le Duc with some artistic license, but a fairy tale nevertheless.
Best overall view is across the river or from the old medieval bridge, now traffic free, which you can see on the right hand side. Ideal location for Bastille Day fireworks.

The main entrance to the Cité ©Solange Hando

The windswept Narbonne gate takes you across the drawbridge then you can stroll through the lists between the 3km enclosure of double ramparts, taking in dark dungeons and 52 towers.
Then climb up the cobbled lanes in the inner town and explore souvenir and craft shops, museums and restaurants.

Looking North ©Solange Hando

You can also walk up on the ramparts for most of the way and enjoy all round view. To the north you look out to the Black Mountain and the foothills of the Massif Central and to the south by clear weather the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees.
Below you is the Bastide, or New Town, glistening along the river and the Canal du Midi which is also a UNESCO site.

The Counts' Castle ©Solange Hando

Inside the citadel right at the very top is the inner castle where medieval counts were well protected. Carcassonne was indeed a strategic crossroad, very close to the Spanish border until this was moved  further south by the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
See the museum inside and the nearby basilica.

Down to the Barbacane District ©Solange Hando

Walking back this way gives you different views of the ramparts, towers and gates but look out for the tourist train that uses the same path.

One of my Favourite Views ©Solange Hando

Venture round the back of the citadel and you will find these lush vineyards highlighting the iconic Cité, just as you would expect in the sunny south of France.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Namibia Canyon Village Hotel near Fish River

Canyon Village near Namibia's Fish River ©Solange Hando

A short drive from the famous Fish River Canyon, this beautifully isolated resort does look like a village with its scattering of semi-detached cottages set at the foot of rocky cliffs.
Wild life might wander across the grounds, softly lit after dark but you may appreciate a torch to return to your room.

Twin Room at Canyon Village ©Solange Hando

Rooms are colourful and comfortable, complete with nets, en-suite and air conditioning. Of special interest are wall paintings of traditional life, also found in the public areas highlighting the nostalgic charm of the hotel.

Swimming Pool at Canyon Village ©Solange Hando

The pool may be small but the location is stunning and you won't find a better place to cool down on a hot day. Sunbathe, relax, enjoy the view and listen to myriad sounds across the wilderness.

Canyon Village Main Building ©Solange Hando

The main building includes the reception, restaurant, bar and small boutique. The spacious terrace has parasols and in the evening, you can unwind around the log fire under a starlit sky.
With the Namibian wilderness all around, thatched roofs and flower baskets are sure to take you by surprise and in this sort of 'Wild West' setting, you may feel almost at home.

Sunset on the Rocks ©Solange Hando 

Sunsets are stunning and guests can join a sundowner walk among the rocks. There are also rides on donkeys and cart, safe rambling trails and of course, just a stone's throw away, the amazing Fish River Canyon, second only to the Colorado. 
Definitely a must-see in southern Namibia with a scenic walk along the ridge but hiking below is only for the brave, with a guide for 4 or 5 days.

Fish River Canyon View from the Top ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 18 May 2019

India Tamil Nadu, Radisson Blu Resort, Mamallapuram near Chennai

Radisson Blu Resort in Temple Bay, Mamallapuram ©Solange Hando

Just south of Chennai, this beautiful resort is an ideal base to explore the world heritage site of Mamallapuram. Culture aside, it is right by the beach and claims one of the longest swimming pools in India, meandering like a river for 220 metres. Amazing...

Luxury Villa in Superb Grounds ©Solange Hando

The hotel has 144 rooms in chalets and villas, with pool, garden or seaviews. Enjoy 44 acres of landscaped ground, highly colourful with tropical blooms and trees.

Standard Room at Radisson Blu ©Solange Hando

Rooms are spacious and bright with a pleasant seating area, a cool tiled floor and four star facilities, including Wifi, tea /coffee and mineral water. Balconies and patios invite guests to relax and enjoy the views.
Wine and exotic cocktails are available in the bars then you can feast on seafood, grilled steaks and a whole range of international fare. Deluxe buffet at the weekend.

Sand Castle Competition ©Solange Hando

Radisson Blu has its own private beach close to the Shore Temple on the Unesco site. Activities include beach volleyball and boat rides, as well as cycling, basketball, table tennis, archery and 9-hole mini-golf.
Spas specialise in tailored rituals with herbs and exotic oils, as well as Ayurvedic massage and facials.

 Statues in Radisson Blu ©Solange Hando

These guardians welcome you near the entrance, reflecting the ancient heritage of Tamil Nadu, close to some of the top cultural sites in India.
As well as the Mamallapuram monuments, dating back to the 7th-8th centuries, guests can enjoy day trips to Kanchipuram, Pondicherry and of course Chennai.

 Infinity Pool, Radisson Blu ©Solange Hando

Just above the private beach, this quiet infinity pool offers superb views of the Bay of Bengal. 

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Kerala Coconut Lagoon Resort

Coconut Lagoon Resort in Kerala ©Solange Hando

This lovely resort is located in Kumarakom, in the Kerala backwaters, just over 80 km from Cochin airport. It looks out to Wembanad, the largest lake in Kerala, and is only accessed by water.

 Relax and Enjoy ©Solange Hando

Spread out over lush extensive grounds, accommodation ranges from heritage bungalows to mansions and lakeside villas with private pools.
Style and material are traditional and remnants of old buildings have been incorporated.

What is this? ©Solange Hando

My own bathroom, a winner in my view, with a banana tree growing from the ground and if you look up top left, no roof. Shower and see the stars...
Rooms are spacious and comfortable with all amenities you would expect.

Coconut Lagoon in Kerala Backwaters ©Solange Hando

Lots of greenery, meandering waterways wherever you look, footbridges and quiet corners, this is the perfect place to wind down or try activities on offer, bird or butterfly watching, Ayurveda rituals, yoga, canoe rides or village walk.
Or you could meditate in the sacred grove or sample the floating tea-shop.

.Peaceful setting ©Solange Hando

Coconut Lagoon is an eco-friendly resort and whatever your accommodation, it will respect the CGH Earth label, meaning 'clean, green, healthy'.
Staff are from nearby villages and restaurants will serve excellent local food, from seafood and catch of the day to traditional Kerala curry and much more

Sunset on Wembanad Lake from Coconut Lagoon ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Japan Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom in Takyama ©Solange Hando

When winter draws to a close, the whole of Japan looks forward to the arrival of cherry blossom. 
Every night on the news, the weather is followed by the 'cherry blossom forecast.'

Blossom in the Mountains ©Solange Hando

It starts in the south in the subtropical island of Okinawa, reaching Tokyo late March and finally the northern island of Hokkaido in May.
But should you miss it on the plain in Honshu, the main island, you might catch it in the mountains where it comes out later.

Springtime in Honshu Island ©Solange Hando

As iconic as Mount Fuji, Japanese cherry trees claim over 200 varieties, producing all kinds of blooms, from the most delicate flowers to frothy clouds of colour in every shade of red and pink or white, the rarest and definitely a favourite. 

Hanami Treats ©Solange Hando

Hanami, or flower-viewing, is enjoyed throughout the islands, with music and dancing, lots of parties and feasting on blossom-flavoured snacks, sweets, dumplings, kitkats, crisps,pastries, beer and even suitably flavoured Starbucks latte.

Cherry Blossom in Hida Folk Village ©Solange Hando

According to legend, Hanami began in the 8th century when Emperor Saga and his Kyoto Court offered flowers to the spirits dwelling in the trees. This was accompanied by plenty of sake, the traditional rice wine.

'Pink Snow' in Matsumoto ©Solange Hando

After just a couple of weeks, blossom falls from the trees carpeting the land with 'pink snow'. For many Japanese this is the time to remember that life is short and like the beautiful cherry blossom, we are just passing through.

Lovely Blossom in Tokyo ©Solange Hando