Category Archives: Travels

Miami updated

Returned to Miami and discovered a number of gorgeous neighbourhoods and venues. From graffiti laden Wynwood to bustling Midtown and chilled out South Beach, here is an updated guide to the City.

Miami – experience, drink, eat

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Cartagena

Cartagena has rightly won its place as one of the most preserved colonial destinations. An abundance of cobbled alleys, churches, plazas and beautiful architecture all snuggled within 13km of ancient stone walls. Yes, it is Colombia’s most popular destination which makes it very touristy but its beauty is so unique you quickly overcome the fact that Cartagena is not exactly the place to ‘lose yourself’ in true Colombian culture. Personally, I absolutely loved the place, I couldn’t get enough of its colourfuness, fairy tale atmosphere, music and food.

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Cartagena

Cartagena has rightly won its place as one of the most preserved colonial destinations. An abundance of cobbled alleys, churches, plazas and beautiful architecture all snuggled within 13km of ancient stone walls. Yes, it is Colombia’s most popular destination which makes it very touristy but its beauty is so unique you quickly overcome the fact that Cartagena is not exactly the place to ‘lose yourself’ in true Colombian culture. Personally, I absolutely loved the place, I couldn’t get enough of its colourfuness, fairy tale atmosphere, music and food.

Stay streetwise: For the very reason Cartagena is ‘touristy’ it also makes it the safest metropolis in Colombia with police patrolling the city 24/7. Still, same rules like any country in Latin America apply – don’t flash your wealth! Be a little extra vigilant at night at places like Getsemani as it is still less populated and not well lit in certain areas.

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Trekking through tobacco fields in Viñales, Cuba

Valle de Viñales is all about the scenic landscapes, powerful mountains, dramatic rocky outcrops and luscious green fields. Its landscape is one of the most recognisable in the world. Viñales is also about getting real insights into one of Cuba’s most important tobacco growing area, the farmers’ lives and production methods; the area is known for its traditional-used tobacco production methods.

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Trinidad, Cuba – Town of Colour

Colourful Trinidad of markets, fresh food vendors and bubbly locals in the morning, sleepy town during midday, tropical and musical in the evenings. This town has so many sides, as diverse as its colourful architecture and buildings. Definitely one of my highlights on this journey, I felt for the town’s atmosphere and I paid a second visit while in Cuba. Trinidad is one of those places where it doesn’t take you long to become part of the local community, even from just your first evening out. Give it a few more days and you see friendly faces everywhere. Read more.

Finding ‘family’ away from home on Mother’s Day at Trinidad, Cuba

On my second trip to Trinidad I found myself in town on Mother’s Day. Like everywhere else, it is also a very special day for Cubans and it celebrated in a big family way. The day before Mothering Sunday, streets and shops are busy with fathers and children making the shopping for the big family feast that is to follow and bakeries are producing in frenzy oversized, sugary cakes to be offered to celebrated mothers.

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Bogota days and nights

There are two things in life I approach with a bit of caution; other people’s film recommendations and travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (it makes you never want to leave British soil).

So I headed to Colombia. Villages and cities scattered across the Andes and highest altitudes I have ever been to (or danced salsa for that matter). This relatively undiscovered, but not for too long, from mass tourism country has everything: music, culture, gorgeous colonial architecture, a diversity of landscapes, friendly people and some of the best food I tried on my travels in Latin America. And yes it is safe.

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Be a Carioca for one day in Rio de Janeiro

I have been returning to Rio since 2008. It was instant attraction, love at first sight on that very rainy day I arrived. My friend and I decided to enjoy our first caipirinhas at Copacabana Palace where we met an American couple who told us they had been coming to Brazil and Rio for the last 10 years. I thought this was something rather extravagant. Seven years later I know exactly what they meant. It is hard not to fall for the charms of this city, the music, the rhythm, its people and the landscapes which are unique and instantly recognisable even from those that have never visited. Rio has evolved a lot throughout the last years and its ‘rough around the edge’ type of exotic beauty is getting more and more polished – something that opens the door to more mainstream tourism. Still, looking away from the areas of Copacabana and Ipanema there are a lot of gems ‘off the beaten track’ waiting to be discovered and neighbourhoods that have been untouched and still retain their original charms. If you are lucky enough to find yourselves in this amazing city, soak the local colour and culture, do the tourist highlights but explore, discover and experience ‘off the tourist trails’, blend with the locals and live a day like a real Carioca. This is how.

Miami break

Miami was one of those places I wanted to go for so long, mostly because of the hype, I worried that it would actually flop in expectations. I loved Miami. It felt I was in this little weird planet, it definitely didn’t feel I was in the US. I loved the vibe, I loved the weather, I loved the people. I loved it mostly for its unpretentious style – yes I know this may comes as a surprise to some. But it is always down to the ‘experience’ and in the land of beauty I found a place with the right attitude, friendliness and spotless service. If you are a major culture buff – in the traditional sense – then probably this is not the place for you. Miami offers a distinct culture, dominated by the latin vibe which is evident everywhere from small live music holes to Little Havana and the annual festivals and food…[read more]