Saturday, 30 May 2015

Bordeaux, Majestic Hotel, Style and Character in Town Centre

The Grand Theatre near the Majestic Hotel, Bordeaux ©Solange Hando

This Grand Theatre / Opera House is only a two minutes walk from the Majestic, a stylish 3 star hotel located in a quiet street at the heart of town.
Trams and buses, including the airport shuttle, are just around the corner, on the edge of the lovely tree-lined Esplanade leading down to the river Garonne, Shops and other attractions are also close-by.

Signature Carpets at the Majestic ©Solange Hando

This stylish hotel is a favourite venue for conductors and musicians performing in the Opera House. Some conductors have donated their baton to the hotel and these are displayed in glass cases in the reception and breakfast room.
Especially commissioned carpets also reflect the theme, with real musical scores and titles. You will find them in the guest rooms and on the elegant spiral stairs.

Guest  Room at the Majestic ©Solange Hando

Set in an 18th century building, the Majestic has 47 rooms, standard, superior and privilege, some with balconies, one apartment and a suite. Amenities include air conditioning, TV and free WiFi.
Cars can be parked nearby or in the hotel private garage. Pets are accepted.

Breakfast Room at the Hotel Majestic ©Solange Hando

The buffet breakfast is varied and frequently replenished while tea and coffee are served with a smile.
Breakfast is the only meal available in the hotel but there is a wide choice of restaurants from affordable eateries to gourmet dining within easy walking distance.

So if you are looking for 3 star comfort in the town centre but you would like a quiet location and plenty of character, the Majestic Hotel might just fit the bill.

The Elegant Façade of the Majestic Hotel in Bordeaux ©Solange Hando

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Pont du Gard in Provence, UNESCO Roman Heritage

Pont du Gard, Roman Heritage in Provence ©Solange Hando

Built by the Romans in 50 AD, the aqueduct of Pont du Gard is currently celebrating 30 years as a World Heritage Site, as majestic as ever as it spans the river Gard with three levels of golden archways.

As part of the canalisations designed to bring water from the springs below Uzès to the city of Nîmes, it was in use for around 500 years, the most impressive of the many works along the 50 km route which followed the contour of the hills.

Ancient Olive Tree in the Garrigue near the Roman Aqueduct ©Solange Hando

The site is a top tourist attraction with a fascinating interactive museum, boutiques and refreshments but you cannot see any of this from the aqueduct or vice-versa.

Everything here has been planned to show the aqueduct at its most impressive, out in the wilderness, just as it was, where ancient olive trees rise above the fragrant Mediterranean scrub. You can follow a trail through the garrigue or along the river to enjoy different views of this superb Roman monument, with little to disturb the peace but the sound of crickets and birds. 

The River Gard from the Aqueduct ©Solange Hando

Most visitors walk across the aqueduct on the lower level to enjoy superb views of the Gard, lined with white rocks and tiny beaches and framed by wooded hills and rambling trails.

Others prefer to canoe right under the bridge and for those who like it a little spooky, there are guided visits inside the canalisation.

Listed Building on the Bank ©Solange Hando

But it's always a relief to get back out into the sunshine and gaze at the river and the lonely listed buildings on its banks, the former mill (above) and the old post office across the water.

In dry weather, the Gard is a placid ribbon of pure blue water but in heavy rain, it floods its banks and creeps up the lower archways of the Pont relentlessly. So the valley has many moods, from scenic and romantic to untamed and dangerously wild.

Peeping through the Garrigue ©Solange Hando

Alongside its Roman heritage, Pont du Gard is a dynamic site where cultural events are staged year round, including exhibitions and sound and light shows, most exciting this year for the World Heritage 30th anniversary

All are designed to highlight the aqueduct, giving it new life in the modern world and true to UNESCO's philosophy, preserving culture by strengthening the link between past and present.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Love Travel, Want to Write, Can you Do it?

Paro Airport ©Solange Hando

Best job in the world
Travel writing...
 Are you kidding?
Absolutely not

But competition's growing, market's shrinking...
Is that really true?
 I don't think so

There are plenty of how to books out there keen to 'dispel the myth', 'tell it as it is' but I'm in the business of encouraging writers, not scaring them off.
Sure, there's more to it than setting off with laptop and camera in tow: there's work to do, determination to maintain and dreams to keep alive.
But like any other job, the harder you work, the greater the rewards but if you want to make money, you need to market your work.

Sell, sell, sell...
But where?
All over the world, just check it out on the web, loads of markets, everything you could want and more, at your fingertips.
Research, pitch, click and off you go.
Print or on line, there's no limit to what you can do.

Did you know that over 80 countries use English as their official language?
Or that 99% of in-flight magazines publish travel articles in English?

There is room for everyone but the easy way to start is to look beyond the obvious.
Glossy travel mag. attract big names, that's where the competition is harder to beat.


Weekly magazines ( for women/men)
Health and Lifestyle
Special interests /Hobbies / Sports
Trade publications
Smaller airlines
Regional magazines
Seniors, parents and so on...

Travel is about places and people.
  Thousands of publications all over the world are looking for stories like yours.
Are you prepared to give it a go?

Help is at hand
Motivation, encouragement and loads of practical tips.
Just 100 pages between you and success.

Enjoy and see you on the road

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Discover Brogdale and the National Fruit Collection in Kent, Easy Day Trip from London

Brogdale Farm in Kent ©Solange Hando

Whether you are just passing through Kent or looking for a day out in the country, from London or elsewhere, Brogdale Farm is well worth a visit. Tucked in a quiet lane near Faversham, it is home to the National Fruit Collection which claims over 2000 varieties of apples and 500 of pears, plus all sorts of berries, cherries, vines and more.

Springtime in Brogdale near Faversham ©Solange Hando

Brogdale has something to offer in every season but spring is particularly stunning when trees come into bloom, displaying myriad colours sure to delight photographers, artists and casual visitors alike. 

First set up in Chiswick then tranfered to Wisley, the National Fruit Collection made it to Brogdale in 1952 where space, climate and soil were considered ideal. Today they say that there are 4000 reasons to visit the farm, one for every species of fruit grown on the spot.

Ready for Cherry Pie Eating Competition ©Solange Hando

A lot of hard work goes into Brogdale to preserve varieties, try out new ones and create a 'living gene bank' for a sustainable future, but in this highly dedicated place, there's plenty of entertainment too.

Popular festivals punctuate the year, family picnic under the blossom, Easter trail, strawberry fair, plum day, cider festival, to name just a few.
There's a miniature train for the little ones and guided visits around the orchards, on foot or by tractor and trailer. Near the entrance, the Courtyard Café serving traditional Kentish fare is open to everyone.

Apples in the National Collection, one of 2200 varieties ©Solange Hando

You can't pick your own fruit in Brogdale but you may be able to taste before you buy, including varieties you are unlikely to find in your local supermarket.

Brogdale has its own market place dedicated to food products, vintage items, art by local artists and in the nursery, garden plants as well as ornamental and fruit trees.

 Blossom in the Orchards, Brogdale ©Solange Hando

And there's one more surprising fact about Brogdale Farm:
This is where the highest temperature in the UK was ever recorded, 38.5 centigrade (101.3F ) on the 10th of August 2003.