Saturday, 6 January 2018

Images of Provence Luberon

Gordes in Luberon, Provence ©Solange Hando

At the heart of Provence, Luberon is a scenic land of fertile valleys and hill top villages framed by mountains and tumbling streams.
Several villages, including Gordes, are listed among the most beautiful in France, in a region made famous by expat Peter Mayle, author of 'A year in Provence' and its sequels. 

Shepherd's Hut, Luberon ©Solange Hando

Known as 'bories', these traditional dry stone huts are still found on mountain slopes. Once used by shepherds, now they can offer a welcome shade to walkers on a hot day.
Not far from Gordes in the Apt region, the restored Bories Village is a historic monument, an inspiring place where the local architecture is sprinkled among the holm oak trees.

Fontaine de Vaucluse in Provence ©Solange Hando

Fontaine de Vaucluse is one of the most popular spots, a must see for its spectacular scenery and the river Sorgue, emerald green, lined with tempting restaurants on stilts and a working paper mill.
You can canoe on the Sorgue  and if you follow the path up the cliff, for 15 minutes or so, you reach the source of the river. There, you might witness the largest resurgence in Europe, most impressive after the rain.

Luberon Vineyards©Solange Hando

Driving across Luberon takes you past lush vineyards where one can often visit the cellars, taste and buy from the producer.
Red, rosé and white are all available, the perfect accompaniment to the tasty food of Provence, especially rich in tomatoes, olives and melons in Cavaillon.

L'Isle sur la Sorgue ©Solange Hando

Often called 'the little Venice', l'Isle sur la Sorgue is a delightful place laced by canals and tightly hugged by the river. There are lovely buildings and attractive lanes, flower-draped bridges and old waterwheels covered in moss. 
The town is known for its art studios, galleries and most of all its antique shops for which it comes second only to Paris in the whole of France.

View from Menerbes Hilltop Village in Provence, Luberon ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Love Travel, Want to Write

Festival in Bhutan ©Solange Hando

Top Tip
Forget the destination track
The tighter the focus, the more original the feature, the easier the sale
So what can you write about?

Culture and craft
Heritage, festivals, food and wine, embroidery, woodcarving, pottery, the list is endless...
Local travel
Steam train, river trip, rickshaws, bus journey, hot air balloon, donkey riding
Family fun, water sports, golf, cycling, paragliding, cooking, painting...
Conservation, eco-lodges, bird watching, trekking, saving turtles
Local people
Visit a school, talk to monks, meet a budding actor, a poet, a chef, a guide with an unusual story

Now what do you do with all these ideas?
Choose your favourites, do the research, take lots of pictures and find suitable markets
Where do you start?
On shelves and online, bear in mind weekly mags need a lot more copy than monthlies

Check out
Women's / Men's magazines
Publications for seniors, families, young adults, outdoor fans
Special interest, sports and hobbies magazines
Food and wine
Health / Spa / Body and Mind
Travel magazines
In-flight magazines

Study your chosen market
Length, style, format, fact box
 Pitch to the editor
Keep it brief and to the point

Would you like to know more?
Will guide you step by step on the road to success

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Lux Hotel on Reunion Island in Indian Ocean

Top Reunion Beach by Lux Hotel ©Solange Hando

A short flight from Mauritius, the French island of Reunion is an upcoming destination for scenery and beaches. The main resort is St Gilles on the west coast, just 50 minutes or so from the airport.

As you approach St Gilles, Lux greets you with the only five star resort on the island. This is located alongside the fine white sands of Hermitage, a coral-sheltered lagoon where you can watch whales in season, June to September.

Entrance to Lux Hotel ©Solange Hando

The Lux private drive leads you to a stylish reception building which feels almost like a mansion. Colonial architecture has pride of place across the site with guest rooms in whitewashed Creole villas set in seven hectares of tropical gardens.

Palm trees and casuarinas give a welcome shade while exotic flowers add a touch of colour in the greenery. It's a lovely place to stroll and watch the birds.

Deluxe Room, Lux Hotel Reunion ©Solange Hando

The 164 rooms range from superior on the ground-floor with patio to deluxe with balcony on the first floor and junior suites. Some superior rooms can be connected to accommodate families. Rooms are spacious and include all the amenities you would expect from a five star hotel, including free WiFi

Lux Pool ©Solange Hando

The swimming pool is the largest on the island, beautifully landscaped and framed by flowers and trees. Just for a change you can join a zen or yoga class in the garden or enjoy a spa ritual with in-room treatments on offer.

Poolside Traditional Stall ©Solange Hando

With its nostalgic retro-style, this is a popular place for ice-cream, dedicated to local flavours. Then besides bar and snacks, Lux  has three restaurants, most popular the open-sided Cuisine with its irresistible buffet and ocean views. For dinner at La Plage, it is best to book, especially if a conference is being hosted.

Sunset on Hermitage Beach, Reunion Island ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Tamassa Resort in Mauritius Bel Ombre

Tamassa Resort in Mauritius ©Solange Hando

This all inclusive resort is located in Bel Ombre in south west Mauritius. Stretching along the beach, it is an extensive place, vibrant around the bar area but with plenty of space to relax in peace and quiet. Top attractions are the four swimming pools set in tropical gardens close to the accommodation.

Restaurants include the vast buffet show room for breakfast and themed dinners, the Playa Beach and the casual Chef's Truck for gourmet burghers and other snacks lunch time. There is also an ice cream parlour, plus beach and in-room service.

Superior Room in Tamassa ©Solange Hando

Guest rooms are set in villas scattered across a wide area so be sure yo get your bearings right from the start. Accommodation ranges from standard to superior, beach and family rooms. 

Rooms are spacious, uncluttered and colourful, with balcony or patio. All amenities you would expect from a top resort are available, including bottled water and free WiFi. Superior rooms have excellent bathrooms with double washbasin, spacious walk-in shower, deep-soak bath tub and separate toilet.

Beach in Bel Ombre ©Solange Hando

White sands and palm trees, it's the idyllic holiday place with clear water protected by a the coral reef. Swim, snorkel, sail or take out a pedal boat, the ocean beckons if you can bear to leave your favourite pool.

Other activities include tennis, gym and giant chess. You can also hire bicycles or maybe book a tour or two to see the island's highlights. Highly recommended are the Black River Gorges and seven-coloured earth of Chamarel.

Tree of Peace ©Solange Hando

The Tamassa tree of peace is a serene place where guests can write a wish on a ribbon and hang it on the tree. On certain days there is a small singing bowl ceremony for blessings.
Next door is the spa which offers a range of personalised treatments, facials, scrub, massage, as well as yoga classes.

Also of special interest in Tamassa  is the vintage phone box near the reception where you can call home any time free of charge. Just check the initial numbers with the staff, always available and keen to help.

Sunset in Bel Ombre ©Solange Hando

Weddings, honeymoons, this is a romantic spot with superb sunsets for everyone.. Just get to the beach in good time for within minutes it will be gone

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Luxembourg Leweck Sport Hotel in the Ardennes

View of the Ardennes from Leweck Sport Hotel ©Solange Hando

The bucolic hills of the Ardennes cover the northern section of Luxembourg, all lush meadows and densely wooded slopes dotted with medieval castles.
There, in the high valley of the river Sûre, the Leweck hotel enjoys a quiet scenic location, looking across to the forlorn castle of Bourscheid .

Leweck Hotel in Luxembourg Ardennes ©Solange Hando

The Leweck has 51 well-appointed rooms ranging from standard and comfort to luxury, suites and family apartment.
Besides the bar, the gourmet restaurant and the new Cody's with its summer terrace and winter garden, there's a bright breakfast room with lovely views over the valley. 

Room at Leweck Sport Hotel ©Solange Hando

All rooms are spacious, colourful and comfortable, with minibar, safe and free WiFi. Furnishings are in quaint rustic style, with bright carpets and plenty of wood in keeping with the surroundings.
In case you wonder, the 'unmade bed' is not a work of art, just a last minute picture in a hurry.

A Place to Relax,  Leweck Hotel ©Solange Hando

In this rambling family hotel, you will find cosy corners where you can relax, meet friends or enjoy a pre-dinner drink.
Then should you feel like it, you could try the tepidarium, the in and outdoor pools and saunas, indulge yourself in the beauty farm or maybe watch a game or practise in the sports hall. 

Garden Pond ©Solange Hando

When you return to the Leweck Sport Hotel   after a day rambling in the hills or a spot of birdwatching, the garden is the perfect place to unwind among lawns, flowers and cool water features.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City ©Solange Hando

Luxembourg? Little country, big attractions and it all starts in the capital, split right across the centre by a deep ravine carved by the small river Alzette and the even smaller Pétrusse.

On such a strategic location, massive defences have been built over the centuries,  on the rocky cliffs either side of the gorge, including one of the longest and most intricate networks of tunnels, the perfect place to get lost if you wander off on your own,

Luxembourg lower town ©Solange Hando

At the eastern end of the ravine, the Grund, or lower town, nestles along the river Alzette at the foot of the cliffs. The former Neumunster Abbey is now a cultural centre and there are some lovely walks along the water lined with weeping willows and pocket-sized vineyards. It's hard to believe you are in the city.

Upper Town ©Solange Hando

Meanwhile on the clifftop, the old upper town enjoys world heritage status, just like the fortifications, with a mix of old lanes and grand buildings such as the cathedral or the ducal palace.

Luxembourg is the world's last Grand Duchy and the people are extremely fond of their Duke and Duchess, present or past. On Clairefontaine Square,  the statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte (1919-1964) is as inspiring as the victorious Golden Lady rising on the obelisk above the gorge near the cathedral.

The Pétrusse Valley, Luxembourg ©Solange Hando

You could ramble for hours around streets and squares but at the bottom of the ravine, minutes from the centre, you can escape away from it all among grassy slopes and flowering trees in the narrow but beautifully landscaped valley of the Pétrusse.

The trail goes on for miles from one end of town to the other, through a lush green haven filled with bird song and past an old chapel tucked in the rock near a miraculous spring.

Europe Square at Night, Luxembourg ©Solange Hando

But on the Kirchberg plateau, close to the airport, it's a different story with the state-of-the arts financial, cultural and European districts. There you will find the celebrated Mudam museum of modern art, the innovative Philharmonie concert hall and European institutions.

At the crossroads of Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg has always been a shining light of the EU and remains so to this day. People are trilingual by the time they leave primary school and in a Duchy totalling  47% immigrants, the capital attracts over 120,000 commuters from across the borders every day. Everyone is welcome and appreciated. Small? True, but like big Canada, open minded and forward looking.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Canadian Rockies, Athabasca Glacier, Columbia Icefield

The Athabasca Glacier in the Canadian Rockies ©Solange Hando

Located in the Jasper National Park and part of the Columbia Icefield, this is one of the world's most accessible glaciers, a comfortable day trip from Jasper (105 km) but also feasible from Lake Louise or Banff (195 km).

Up there, at 2000 metres, it's likely to be cold and the weather can change in minutes from dazzling sunshine to the odd snow shower. Take warm clothes and suitable shoes.  

The Skywalk, Athabasca ©Solange Hando

The Athabasca is a popular attraction so if you plan to take part in the 'double adventure', available in season, book well in advance, especially if you want to request specific times.

 The Skywalk is a good start, taking you on a semi-circular glass walkway suspended, it seems, between heaven and earth. Below you is the vertiginous drop of the Sunwapta Valley where pine trees cling tenaciously to barren soil, and towering above you, snow-capped mountains reaching over 3000 metres.

 Ice and Snow, Columbia Icefield, Jasper National Park ©Solange Hando

Take time to relax in the visitors' centre, browse the exhibitions and enjoy the stunning views then head down to the glacier for an exciting ride on the ice to the very edge of no man's land.

The Athabasca is six km long and up to 300 metres deep but despite some seven metres of fresh snow annually, this 10,000 year old natural wonder recedes by an alarming five metres a year, as you will see in places from the accumulation of rubble and rocks.

Ice Explorer on the Athabasca ©Solange Hando

Like some sort of giant from a fiction film, the Ice Explorer takes you down a very steep slope then across the ice until you reach the out of bounds limit. Rocky peaks, snowy tops all around and ahead of you, the pristine ice field laced with hidden crevasses.

Sometimes you might hear a rumble in the distance and witness an avalanche tumbling down towards you. It may send shivers down your spine but on a guided tour, you are in good hands.

Standing on the Edge ©Solange Hando

Then before the Explorer turns round, you can step out and walk on the ice, long enough to take a few photos, touch the snow and feel the vibes as clouds pile on the horizon above the stillness of this vast natural world.