Saturday, 21 February 2015

Travel Writing, Tell Stories, Sell Features

Up and Away, over the Himalaya ©Solange Hando

Travel Writer
Best job in the world...

Could you do it?

Here are five simple rules to help you get there

1-Keep a diary
Make copious notes wherever you go
Record your own impressions and observations
Talk to people, check facts

2- Take pictures
Look for variety and take as many shots as you can
No need for sophisticated equipment
Photoshop works wonders

Less is more
The tighter the focus, the better
Multiple angles mean multiple sales

4-Study the market
Find the most suitable publications for your ideas
What are the requirements?
What do the readers want?
Write for them, not for you

5-Pitch before you write
That's what professionals do
Show the editor you understand the publication
Offer words and pictures

If you'd like to know more, check this out:
 'Be a Travel Writer' 
is just right for you
Only 100 pages on the road to success...

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Pokhara, Relax in 5 Star Waterfront Resort

 Swimming Pool by the Phewa Lake at Waterfront Resort, Pokhara ©Solange Hando

Located on the edge of town, framed by wooded hills and glistening water, the 5 star Waterfront Resort is a lovely oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You can see the snowy peaks a short walk away along the lake.

 There is a rough stretch of road to get to the hotel but as soon as you head down the long driveway, it's all worth it. The pool beckons with cool bracing water, fabulous views of the hills and barely a sound as paragliders land in the meadow just yards away.

Five Star in Pokhara ©Solange Hando

This is a stylish hotel (member of KGH group) with a spacious reception com lounge and corridors graced by traditional Nepali carvings and black and white pictures of local life.

The Resort is perfectly oriented to make the most of the views, from the hill of Sarangkot to the southern ridge where the sun sets all pink and gold over the Peace Pagoda. The front of the hotel faces the lake but rooms at the back also have lake views beyond the paddies.

Deluxe Room ©Solange Hando

The hotel boasts 3 suites and 60 deluxe rooms, spacious with light walls and parquet floor contrasting with dark wood furniture.

All have free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, complimentary mineral water, and lake views from balconies and floor to ceiling windows.

Dining Room with Wood Carving and Decorative Fireplace ©Solange Hando

The Aquabird and Alfresco restaurants offer a choice of Nepali, Indian, Chinese and Western cuisine, as tasty as you would expect and served with a smile. You will also find a Noodle Bar and Illy Coffee Shop.

Other facilities at the Waterfront Resort include a business centre, airport transfer and a travel desk for sightseeing, outdoor activities or a ride up to Sarangkot for a memorable sunrise over the iconic Fishtail and Annapurna.

Looking across Phewa Lake towards the Waterfront Resort ©Solange Hando

But if you'd rather explore on your own, it's just a 15 minute walk along the lake into town or if you're feeling a little laid back, you can hop on the free hotel shuttle which goes back and forth at specific times until early evening.

Should you need a taxi to go out, you'll have to contact reception but on the way back, you will find plenty of them in town ready to test your bargaining skills,

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Mantua near Milan, World Heritage and Italian Lakes in Lombardy

Mantua, Duomo of  San Pietro ©Solange Hando

In the southern reaches of Lombardy, Mantua holds a special place on Italy's heritage trail, especially since the Old Town was designated a UNESCO site in 2007.

Piazza Sordello, the vast cobbled square, greets you with a dizzying wealth of Renaissance and medieval buildings from the marble façade of the Cathedral (pictured above) to the dome of the Basilica and towers and crenulations which keep you spellbound wherever you turn. 

The Ducal Palace in Mantua ©Solange Hando

Among the many palaces and Renaissance mansions, the Ducal Palace, once home of the wealthy Gonzaga family, claims 15 gardens and courtyards and over 500 rooms.

Just a short stroll from the old castle, it is as stunning inside as it is out and rooms open to the public include galleries with original paintings, superb frescoes and wooden ceilings decorated in green and gold.

The Rotunda ©Solange Hando

Around the corner, the Rotunda of San Lorenzo, the oldest church in town, dates back roughly to 1100 and is still used today. With its colourful tiles and bricks, it's a striking Romanesque building where steps leading down to the entrance reveal the lower level of the medieval town.

The Teatro Scientifico in Mantua ©Solange Hando

But churches aside, like most Italian cities, Mantua also loves music as witnessed in this unusual little theatre. The Teatro is a brilliant example of 18th century Baroque architecture with a bell-shaped auditorium and soothing colours, almost monochrome rather than the usual red and gold. Mozart played here at the age of 14.

Yet this isn't the only enviable musical connection in Mantua. Verdi's opera Rigoletto was based here -you can see the jester's house at the entrance to the square-, L'Orfeo by Monteverdi had its première in town and there's literary fame as well since in Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet', Romeo is exiled in Mantua.

Mantua, Mountain and Lake ©Solange Hando

However, this fascinating town owes more to its past than fabulous buildings and for nature lovers, much of its charm comes from the three artificial lakes created in the 12th century for defence purposes.

 There are lovely walks along the banks, boat trips too, and between Lake Garda and the river Po, the woods and wetlands of the Mincio Park are home to myriad butterflies and 265 species of birds, including white storks successfully reintroduced in the area.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Milan Four Star Anderson Hotel

Milan, Iconic Duomo ©Solange Hando

The four star Anderson Hotel in Milan enjoys a convenient location close to the central railway station, airport shuttles, sightseeing hop on and off buses and the metro.

Designer shops are easily accessible as are the city's main historical attractions such as the Scala or the cathedral pictured above. 

The Lobby, Anderson Hotel, Milan ©Solange Hando

A member of the Starhotels based in Florence, the Anderson is as stylish as Milan itself. Step into the lobby and you may well rub shoulders with top Italian designers. They love it here.

Red curtains and parquet floor contrast with darker colours in the adjoining library where a spray of orchids adds a touch of class.

Comfort and Style at the Anderson ©Solange Hando

The 106 rooms range from superior and de luxe to junior suite with extra space and separate sitting area. All have large windows and full length mirrors, carpet or parquet floor, spacious desk, comfortable beds, free WiFi and tea and coffee making facilities. 

Bathrooms are fully tiled and come with cosy bathrobes and slippers.

The Anderson Black Restaurant ©Solange Hando

The Black Restaurant is among the most striking features of this hotel with eye-catching reflections in red and black and over-sized lampshades in the bar.

The bar serves sophisticated cocktails and snacks while the restaurant offers a varied menu with a fine selection of wines and artichoke specials in the winter months.

Other facilities include a fitness centre, conference rooms seating up to 50 delegates each, concierge and rental car with chauffeur so guests who prefer to keep away from public transport can explore the city in style.

The Beautiful Dome of the Galleria Shopping Mall, Milan ©Solange Hando