Local Hideaways Blogs
It is grey and chilly when I leave the Netherlands to do some Hideaway spotting in Essaouira, Morocco. It is not my first visit to this area, Essaouira is one of my favourite cities and I love to return here occasionally. It lacks the (touristic) turmoil of Marrakech and it is located on the coast. Its micro climate makes it pleasantly warm throughout the year. Obviously I have several great Local Hideaways to sleep in the curated collection but in this blog post I like to share my favourite insider tips in Essaouira with you.
Not so long ago I was approached by a journalist who was writing an article for the Dutch Flow Magazine about disconnecting from mobile devices. A large part of my Local Hideaways are perfect for going ‘off the grid’, the real deal instead of the virtual world. And it made me think. Because for me the romance of travelling is to be free and away from reality…
I’ve always had a thing for road tripping, the exhilarating sense of freedom and not knowing what lies ahead. The Alentejo region, south of Lisbon (‘Alentejo’ literally means below the Tagus) and north of the Algarve is perfect for a road trip. The landscape varies immensely: from spectacular coastlines to inviting inlands where tranquility and space are the key words. And, not unimportant, the roads are very good! Starting point of this trip is Lisbon, where I pick up my rental car. Now let’s get the party started…..”Alentejo, here I come!”
Last September I visited the Douro Valley again. This time, I had been invited to join a press trip. Usually, I’m a bit hesitant when it comes to such invitations – especially since Local Hideaways is a collection of accommodations carefully selected and visited by myself…And I want to remain as independent as possible. But, having been to the Douro region before and considering the fact that I already had one Local Hideaway there, I took my chances. And I didn’t regret it for second!
Ever since travelling through Costa Rica over fifteen years ago, I’ve always been a bit homesick for this part of the world: the wildlife; the people, the scenery and the Spanish flair…they’re all so unique for Central America. As you will understand, Panama was on my wishlist as well, but considering the prices for flights from the Netherlands and neighbouring countries, I decided to wait until the time was right. And my patience was rewarded, for these days several airlines (KLM and Lufthansa among them) offer affordable direct flights to this country, which enabled me to realise my dream last May.
Some years ago I visited Tuscany for the first time. Together with my love, I toured all the highlights…wonderful, but rather too touristic for me. And to think that I was travelling in October, which is the low season. Considering this region’s popularity, I decided to try and find Tuscany’s other side for Local Hideaways. For this region has a certain romantic flair: wherever I am in the world, people are always talking about Tuscany or dreaming of going there and many books have been written on the subject. This is hardly surprising, for in addition to its famous art treasures, popular cities, quaint little villages and the well-known sloping green hills covered with cypresses, Tuscany also boasts some incredible wines and a wonderful cuisine: the “complete package”, so to speak.
To be honest, I was a bit sceptical about Mallorca. I associated this Balearic island mainly with drunk English tourists, German beer bellies, espadrilles (and, of course, Bassie & Adriaan, the famous Dutch clown and acrobat). Ok, I know these prejudices are rather obvious…sorry! ;-). However, I was eager to discover this island, especially because I think its little sister, Ibiza, is too well visited and I thought it would be interesting to show you the other side of Mallorca instead.
Cambodia has an illustrious past, but for the last couple of years it has proved a stable and easily accessible country for travellers. And tourists heed this call massively, for not only Europeans and Australians have discovered it, many Asians also travel through this marvellous country. And this is understandable, for travelling through it is fairly easy, it offers great variation and the locals are the most friendly and hospitable people you can imagine. But you shouldn’t wait too long to go here, for, contrary to its neighbour Thailand, Cambodia is as yet still clear of western commercial superpowers….although the first Starbucks is planned to open in December 2015.
Considering what the Local Hideaways concept is all about, visiting Rome is not the obvious thing to do….for if there is any city that is flooded with tourists it’s Rome. But what can I say, I have a soft spot for this city…. Thankfully, I was in for a pleasant surprise, for a contemporary wind is blowing on the classical Roman streets!
I so wanted to prove that Turkey is much more than big, impersonal ‘all-inclusive’ hotels. And so, at the beginning of May, I set out to Izmir for a road trip along the coast, visiting four Local Hideaways.
How I was looking forward to my visit to Fez, for, as you may know, I’m extremely fond of Morocco – nothing compares to the smells/sounds and diversity of this country.
I’m always on the lookout for new and alternative areas, regions or cities for local Hideaways. Therefore, it took me a while before I could add Italy to the LH map. For I was looking for those lesser-known and authentic places. My search was finally rewarded when I came to the beautiful and diverse region of Puglia and its surprising neighbour: Basilicata!
Multifaceted and welcoming are the first words that spring to mind when I think about Portugal. A while ago, I wrote a blog about the Algarve ‘off the beaten track’, and last summer I visited several other regions in this vast country. I would love to share some of the highlights with you and of course, I suggest you stay in one of my Local Hideaways Portugal. You will find some wonderful places among them….even if I say so myself :-).
Morocco was at the top of my wish list for Local Hideaways. How I longed to introduce this fascinating country to you. I had been here six year ago and visited it again last May, and frankly…..I can’t wait to return yet again, for this country has stolen my heart! And for the Europeans among us, it is only a three and a half hour flight away. But is feels as though you’re flying to the other side of the world, or better, as if you’re entering a time machine.
Mrs Local Hideaways must confess that, until recently, she had never been to Berlin. I am not sure what held me back, but for some reason, this city was not very high on my wish list. But gee, is this a classic case of unknown, unloved! This is one SPECTECULAR city!!!
Mrs. Local Hideaways has her ways to find the most authentic places which are not awashed with bus loads of tourists. Or to quote good old Lonely Planet: I like to go “Off the Beaten Track”.
“Off to Crete in high season?” a lot of people called me crazy… and “what do I actually know about the island?“ I wondered. Stubborn as I am, I went to this Greek island last July and was pleasantly surprised!