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Crete, this wonderful Greek island, is actually only 200 km away from Africa. It is a very beautiful island with its burgeoning verdure. Flowers with delightful fragrance and orange trees filled with fruit. Crete covers an area of 8,300 km2 (3,219 sq mi) and it is sometimes referred to as “The Great Island”.
Tourists who want to relax and enjoy life pilgrim here. Just unwind, take it easy and bask in the sun. In the summer Crete has 15 hours of sunshine a day. If you don’t want to sunbathe you can rent a Vespa scooter or a car and drive about exploring the island. Crete has a strikingly hilly terrain and there are lots of sights to check out in the island.
Among other things Crete is famous for its beautiful beaches. Although Crete is invaded by tourists in the summer season, you can still find desolate beaches where you won’t have to fight for space and loungers. To me Crete is a paradise. Beautiful beaches, nice people and lots of good food. Those are the things I seek more than anything when I’m on vacation.
Every time I go to Crete I want to visit the lovely city of Chania. It is the second largest city of Crete and has a population of around 65,000. Chania is situated in the northern part and it is well worth a visit. The Venetian Port attracts tourists, and here you leisurely stroll back and forth. Tourists mixed with residents. Along the waterfront there is an abundance of cafés and tavernas. It’s a wonderful feeling to sit down for a good meal, preferably newly caught seafood. For instance, test the “Taverna Mathios” serving a sea urchin speciality .
Personally I love “dining around the world” and that is still another reason for Crete and Greece having a special place in my heart. I really do like the Greek cuisine and its dishes. Moussaka, tzatziki, dolmades (rice and vegetables in vine leaves), feta cheese, sheep cheese etc. Something I find tasty is “saganaki”, i.e. fried feta cheese. Feta cheese is something of a Greek speciality, and edible Greek snails are also much coveted. Greek snails are in fact so sought after that they are exported to France.
Part of the pleasure is trying the national wine, Retsina, which is flavoured with resin. This wine goes well with Greek dishes and it has a very characteristic flavour, which you either like or dislike. I for one prefer a chilled Mythos, which is a domestic beer with much bitterness. It’s a really good experience to sit by the waterfront watching the ships while sipping a well chilled good Mythos.
Just today I long extra strongly for a return to Crete. I yearn for the heat and the sun. I long for the good food. I crave for “the simple life” where the most bothersome task is to choose the right colour for the bikini. I wonder when I will be able to come back next time ….
Popular hotels to book:
Oscar Suites Village
Family run apartment hotel in the area of Agia Marina, 11 km from Chania Town and 100m from the beach.
Apartment complex 300 m from the beach in Maleme, 100 m from center of Maleme and 14 km from Chania town.
Pilot beach Resort
The resort is situated by a private sandy beach approximately 900m from the fishing village of Georgioupolis.
Sonio Beach Apartment
Sonio Beach Apartments is a Greek-Swedish family hotel situated in Platanias, 10 km west of the city of Chania and 24 km away from the airport.
In the center of Platanias just outside the town of Rethymnon, and only 300 meters from the sandy beach.
Beijing, or Peking as it used to be called, is the capital of China. The Chinese word Beijing means “Northern Capital”. This metropolis has approximately 20 million inhabitants, that is more than three times as many people as in Greater London. This is easily noticeable when you arrive there, people are literally everywhere. The traffic is strikingly different from that at home. Cars are all over the place and rapid breaking combined with pedal to the metal is the style of driving. People everywhere, people alongside the road and people in the middle of the road. People riding bicycles or old mopeds. People pulling carts and people with other vehicles. Yes, people everywhere. So what’s important here is to be alert.
Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympic Games and at that time quite a number of buildings in the city were freshened up. There are may fine buildings to watch, and quite a lot of historic architecture is to be found here, like Hutongs and Siheyuans. Beijing is vast and there are lots and lots of sights, so it’s a good idea to have a discussion at home regarding what to devote time to. Many people come here to watch the historic buildings, visit the “Forbidden City” or “Tiananmen Square”, while some of us will spend most of the time shopping. What is not for sale here is not worth shopping. That’s the simple explanation of shopping in Beijing, and that’s what I am going to tell you about now. So make yourself prepared and come along!
In Beijing there are various markets where you can go shopping, and the Pearl Market is one of many. There is a sound basic rule when it comes to shopping, and it is known as bargaining. Bargain, bargain, bargain. The equipment you require is patience, time and some money. Figure out how much you are prepared to pay for an object and let that be your starting point. Sometimes you might have to act as if you were totally uninterested and walk away, and then they would often call you back. They want to sell to you, for they know that if you don’t buy from them, you will simply go to the next stand and make a deal there instead. Be smart. Offer a very low price, and then you can finally meet somewhere halfway and be content both of you.
Hongqiao Pearl Market
This is an indoor market, which will suit us well if it’s wintertime. For in Beijing the winter can be very cold and then an indoor market is very convenient. This market comprises 5 floors. The ground floor contains mostly watches, cameras, earphones and other electronic appliances, but also silk shawls, stockings and green Chinese tea. On the first floor you find Designer Clothes, shoes and what we girls love most of all: handbags. Take your time and walk around, test the quality, and if you buy a jacket be sure to test the zipper of the jacket you are going to buy. Try all clothes on, size Large isn’t always a large size. Finger the fabric, sense the quality. On the second, third and fourth floor you find jewellery and pearls, hence the name of the market.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and used to be the home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Its interior comprises more than 8000 rooms. You enter the palace from two directions, and be prepared that it takes some time to walk around and explore the site.
After a whole day of shopping and visiting palaces your feet will start aching, so it’s a good idea to have a quick shower and go out dining. In Beijing I often have teppanyaki, which is a type of Japanese cuisine that I really love. Every table has its own chef who prepares the dish on an iron griddle in front of the guests. A marvellous experience, tasty and cheap. You eat and drink as much as you can for about 15 Euros.
If you prefer Chinese dining, there is a small restaurant directly opposite one of the entrances of the Pearl Market. We call it “The Hole in the Wall”. This is a good place to charge some energy before continuing the shopping.
Popular hotels to book in Beijing:
Grand Mercure Beijing Central (x Xidan), Beijing
Well-kept hotel in a great location in Beijing, within walking distance from Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City.
The Peninsula, Beijing
This hotel is located 2.5km from the Forbidden City, 3km from the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong and 4.5km from the Temple of Heaven.
Days Inn Forbidden City, Beijing
Hotel with great location in Beijing only 500 meters to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
Jade Palace Hotel, Beijing
5-star business hotel located in Zhongguancun area.
Radisson Blu Hotel Beijing, Beijing
Located in the Chaoyang district, approximately 7 kilometers from the Forbidden City.
Marvellous Bangkok. I do love this city. Bangkok is the capital of Thailand, and 7 million people live here. And if you add the greater city area you must take into account a population of 12 million. There are cars everywhere, lots and lots of people and a wonderfully fantastic experience all together. There is so much to explore and see here. A wealth of restaurants and street stalls. Best of all: Bangkok gives you an opportunity to add extra luxury, since staying and vacationing here is really affordable for Europeans.
Most people associate Bangkok with shopping, and so do I. Endless opportunities of making bargains exist here, but you have to be on guard, for you could easily be fooled. And as always, stay calm and laugh a lot. That is Rule #1 in the jungle of shopping and haggling. There are hawkers in the streets, in the alleys, at the hotels, in the shopping arcades, in fact practically everywhere. A good idea is to walk around a bit first observing how much other people pay, and calculating how much you are prepared to pay yourself. If you can’t stand the sun and heat when shopping, you can head for the MBK or ‘Ma Boon Krong Center’ as it is called. Here you have as much as seven floors to go shopping. Just make sure you sharpen your elbows before entering the mall.
There are lots of sights to admire in Bangkok, and one thing you must not miss is the Golden Buddha statue. In the Buddhist Temple of Wat Pho there is a golden Buddha, 46 metres long and 15 metres high. This is an enormous reclining Buddha richly encrusted with gold leaf. Wat Pho is also said to be the birthplace of Thai Massage.
If you want to try something different and upscale, you should go to the Crystal Lounge in 28 Sukhumvit Soi 20. This is a stylish lounge for having a coffee or a lighter meal. Also to be found here is a Harley Davidson covered with Swarovski crystals. If your legs are too tired you can be picked up by the Crystal Lounge’s own tuk-tuk, likewise bathed in Swarovski crystals, of course.
The Crystal Lounge transports their guests in a tuk-tuk covered with Swarovski Crystals.
My unparalleled favourite venue in Bangkok is the State Tower, a skyscraper in Silom Road. Go there, take the elevator up to the 63rd floor and walk out into one of the coolest sky bars in the world, the Lebua (located beside the Sirocco restaurant). It is 240 metres up and offers marvellous views of Bangkok and the Chao Phraya River. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Just remember, dress code applies here, so neither flip-flops nor shorts are welcome.
After visiting the sky bar for an aperitif you can move along to the trendy Bed and Supperclub restaurant, located in 26 Sukhumvit Soi 11. This restaurant resembles an UFO from the outside. Well inside you ‘dine in bed’. Everything is white, even the waiters. You enjoy a three-course dinner an in between meals you’ll have a chance of getting some massage. Surprises are always afoot in the Bed and Supperclub and there is always some kind of performance during the evening. Sometimes somebody making candy-floss and another time a limbo contest. This is an extremely cool restaurant. When you have finished dining you simply continue the night at the Bed Bar, located on the other side of the large white sliding doors.
Bangkok has much to offer. Stay updated with Timeout, not to miss anything in this fantastic city. Try travelling by tuk-tuk, though it’s much easier and cooler taking a real taxi. Ask the taxi driver to start the taximeter, and thus it will even be cheaper than going by tuk-tuk, and on top you will have air conditioning in the taxi.
I promise, Bangkok will not let you down. Bangkok, the city I will always come back to.
Popular hotels in Bangkok:
The Landmark Bangkok, Bangkok
Convenient located on Sukhumvit Road in central Bangkok, close to the Nana station of Bangkok`s Sky train system.
Narai Hotel, Bangkok
Conveniently located in the city’s main business, shopping, and entertainment area of Silom Road.
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Bangkok
With panoramic views of the Chao Phraya – River of Kings.
Prince Palace, Bangkok
In the centre and located in Bo Bae Tower, a good shoppingmall.
Lebua at State Tower, Bangkok
5 star hotel located at the corner of Silom Road and Charoen Krung Road and about 10 min walking distance from the Chao Phraya River.