Your Miami Beach vacation would be incomplete without a visit to the glitzy Art Deco District at South Beach. SoBe, as it is called, has the largest stretch of surviving Art Deco architecture in the world. Built between 1923 and 1943, the hundreds of apartment blocks, hotels, restaurants, and shops are impressive by day, but at night the neon signs on Ocean Drive and surrounding streets signal a very active club and bar scene. With over 150 hotspots to choose from, a night on the town can become expensive unless you are very selective. And access to nightclubs is sometimes difficult for non-locals without connections, especially in the high season from mid-November to April.Many SoBe clubs are celebrity hotspots, and the competition from the stars, the ultra chic, and the wannabes can make entry to the coolest places difficult. Bring plenty of money, too, since entry to the more popular nightspots will cost you anything up to $60. Youll need to spend time, too, since entry to the top places often comes with a wait of several hours. One of the secrets to gaining admittance is to dress fit to kill, since entry is often declined if you fail the visual evaluation of the discerning door staff. But take your time, since most nightspots are open until 5 am, you can look around before you decide. Most tourists flock to Ocean Drive, but Lincoln Road and Washington Avenue are really the best places to go for interesting places that will lead to an unforgettable evening of music, dancing, and gawking.As well as nightclubs, the area offers great shopping, contemporary galleries with top art on show, cutting-edge theatre, a variety of music venues and an awesome selection of restaurants. The Jackie Gleeson Theater of the Performing Arts, in Washington Avenue, hosts the South Beach Comedy Festival in January, plus a full range of arts events from ballet and Flamenco dance to theatre. The revitalized Lincoln Road Mall is great for clothing, books and souvenirs. Many shops and galleries trade into the night.A night on the townPlan your evening in advance. Regulars understand that club nightlife here doesnt kick off until 11 pm. It is difficult to list the most popular clubs, because the dynamic and ever-changing nature of venues, means that clubs constantly change owner, decor, and even name. The average club is only open for about a season or less, but on Ocean Drive, bars like the Clevelander and the Deuce have remained popular for years. Another long-termer, Opium, is an Asian-themed club attracting an A-list crowd, where you can enjoy mixed music and a Friday night fashion show. But be aware that they have a tough door.For an outrageous time, try B.E.D. , a sexy club that serves up entertainment and drinks on luxurious beds. Set in an Art Deco movie theater, Crobar has a huge dance room and a catwalk around the second floor perimeter for easy star spotting. Washington Avenues Mansion, a current hotspot, has three rooms playing hip hop, house, and progressive, and features a chic VIP area. The late-night venue, Prive, offers four bars and intimate alcoves lining the dance floor. Be sure to arrive early, at 11 pm, to avoid a prolonged wait for entry. Then theres Rokbar, in Collins Avenue, where the DJ's spin 80's rock, classic rock, new age, funk and hip hop.Youll find plenty of accommodation options in South Beach, including budget hostels, apartments, resorts, and hotels of all classifications. But be sure to book well ahead and be aware that many places require 3- to 5-day stays. From May to November you can often save 60 per cent and more with special off-season rates.
To get to The Saltwhistle Bay Club on Mayreau you fly into Barbados, wait around, then catch a plane to Union Island, and there you are collected by boat.It can be a long way, so be ready for a less than comfortable local flight from Barbados, and be grateful it is short!! I do feel however that your expectations always rise with the degree of difficulty of accessing your vacation destinationIt is the price you pay for classic Caribbean seclusion which is what you get at Saltwhistle Bay.It is a very small resort, with a most beautiful beach on a very sleepy island.There are only 10 rooms, which are in stone cottages, built with local wood and stone, well screened by palm trees.The main reason however that I would choose the "Saltwhistle Bay Club" is that it is simple, very comfortable, and a real barefoot escape. I personally just love to unwind, to mind my own business, to read, or just to walk on a pure white sand beach and wade in a crystal clear turquoise sea. This is the perfect place to do just that. This place is best described as almost completely undeveloped, so much so you immediately fall into a kind of stupor where its difficult to remember the hustle and bustle of the outside world you so recently left.How many places can you honestly say are like that today?I just knew instinctively from the moment I arrived off the beach and was greeted by a rum punch, and my suitcases vanished to my room that Saltwhistle was somewhere very special.Having said all that the bay is a popular port of call for local yacht charters, so the bar is busy if you feel like company.This is not a cheap vacation, nor is it one for five star cosseted hotel seekers, but definitely a place for people who still regard themselves as travellers and not tourists, for people who research and book independently.
After an enjoyable late lunch at Maana and after learning about the interesting life story of its owner, Angel Broncales, I was ready for enjoying a little bit of afternoon relaxation and right across from Maana is a beautiful urban park called Square St. Louis. Its history goes back a long way, all the way to 1848 when the City of Montreal installed a water reservoir on top of a hill. 31 years later the reservoir was taken down and the entire site was converted into a public park.The centre of the park, situated in Montreals popular Latin Quarter neighbourhood, features a classic Victorian fountain, surrounded by a large number of benches that attract local residents, university students, artists and tourists in search of a shady spot to relax. Someone had brought a guitar and was strumming folk songs, children were playing, and a dog was swimming in the water of the fountain. A peaceful atmosphere imbued this urban green space. Surrounding the park is a collection of eclectic Second Empire townhouses and some people say that this square might be the closest thing to a European neighbourhood square.As I was sitting and just taking in this picturesque environment, a young man sat down next to me and we started chatting. He said that he is originally from Antigua and grew up in Oakville, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. He went to university in Virginia, did his graduate degree at McGill in Montreal and finally a PhD at Cornell University. He told me that today he runs a biotech company located in Boston and occasionally he has to travel up on business to Montreal.Since he lived in Montreal while taking his graduate degree, he had a chance to get to know the city up-close and says he loves Montreal, especially because of its bohemian character and its European flair. He actually lived around the corner from "Square St. Louis" , and he is always drawn back to this neighbourhood whenever he comes back to Montreal.Curious about his experiences studying in different parts in the United States, I asked him what his experience was like, particularly as a visible minority. He indicated that issues such as race, religion and sex are taken much more seriously in the US than they are in Canada. He added that Montreal is a very relaxed place and racial background is not much of an issue. In his opinion, language is a much more important topic in Montreal.As we chatted, two young ladies, one from California and from Washington, D.C., came by and requested us to take a picture. We chatted for a while and they told us that they were visiting a friend who lives here in Montreal. The atmosphere in Square St. Louis was so open and relaxed, people just felt comfortable approaching complete strangers to sit down and chat. I was having a great time.Shortly after, the young man said goodbye and I continued my exploration of the Latin Quarter on foot. Montreals stone townhouses represent a very unique and beautiful architectural style that you will not find in any other city. As I got ready for my next item on the itinerary, a visit to Montreals Islands and the Casino de Montreal, I relished this neighbourhood encounter between total strangers, inspired by the serene surroundings of Square St. Louis.
Dhoni Mighili is the stuff that dreams are made of. A small island in Ari Atoll of The Maldives, to the south west of the capital Mahe. You can either fly by seaplane from the airport, or be transported in your own personal private Dhoni, a superb start to what should be the vacation of a lifetimeThe "Dhoni Mighili" is only two words, but once seen and experienced, never forgotten. Dhoni Mighili may seem like just another Maldives vacation, but having experienced it, there is just nothing like it anywhere, or at least anywhere that we have ever been.Just imagine this:A bungalow with a private plunge pool, and a 65 ft yacht [ called a Dhoni traditional Maldivian boat ] with a crew, and a private butler, and it is all yours from the moment you alight from your intercontinental jet, until you return.We just loved the whole concept, from not having to pay out any money when you were there, it is very easy to forget how much you paid to get there in the first place!! Nevertheless it makes you feel you are on your own private island, and you can rent all six thatched bungalows plus the dhonis if you can afford it!!As there are only twelve guests, the service is perfect, down to the last detail, and the Thakuru, private butler ensures that no stone is left unturned when it comes to what you want.What a treat to be able to call up your own Dhoni, and crew, to go where you want, and stop where you want, which means you can just go sailing around and swimming from uninhabited islands.The dhonis are so well equipped, with both sails and motor, comfy daybeds and tons of cushions in the bow. There is a king size bed in the cabin, with all the best kitchen appliances, and bathroom fittings, plus a hidden 30 LCD screen with Bose DVD surround theatre, which is well hidden.I can tell you, that to be anchored up in your own private Dhoni, off an uninhabited coral atoll, watching Pirates of the Caribbean with a glass of champagne, sitting next to the person you love, having just eaten a sumptious meal, and been waited on hand and foot by your own personal butler, has no equals in life.In fact it is all heavenly.The island itself, is a soft pure white sand shoe, and watch free paradise. The sand is everywhere, even in the main reception and restaurant area. The whole thing is just so classy and elegant without ever being overstated.I still think of the bungalow with its own IPod, songs already downloaded to take with you, the small details that prove you are somewhere exceptional already taken care of before you arrive.Everything you can think of has already been taken care of, from the kind of pillows you like, to the perfume of your soap, to your dietary requirements. If you like lobster, you get lobster, if you like steak you get steak, all beautifully cooked. It doesnt come cheap, but I couldnt grudge one penny of it.May it never change, may it still be available when I have saved up enough again.Thank you Dhoni Mighili
Tucked away in the very far corners of South West Cornwall is the charming little town of Marazion believed to be Britains oldest town. Aside from being steeped in history, and the location of St Michaels Mount, Marazion is also loved by those interested in hiking, water sports and bird watching.Marazion is also a good base to explore Cornwall with plenty of affordable accommodation and a fair choice of good eateries, visitors can experience the true Cornish lifestyle in a comfortable and beautiful setting.St Michaels Mount is one of the main attractions in Cornwall itself, let alone Marazion. The highlight is the castle which is set atop the mount on a separate island its possible to walk to the mount during low tide, but at high tide a ferry ride is required. The castle itself is quite enchanting and visitors can amble through the many furnished rooms and drink in the sensational panoramic views on offer.Marazion as a town is equally charming with narrow roads climbing over steep hills, and wonderful shops, pubs and bakeries offering the most wonderful food and drink options.Marazion also has a lovely sand beach offering wonderful views of the mount making the town one of the undiscovered gems of Cornwall!TotnesWith a population struggling to reach 7,000 the interesting little town of Totnes is steeped in history and legend (its here that a Trojan prince named Brutus is believed in folklore to have founded Britain in the 11th century).Present day Totnes is a bustling market town with charming views and splendid architecture with plenty of listed buildings for such a small place.Totnes has a wide range of delightful restaurants for visitors to pick and choose from the choices range from traditional English tea rooms and bistros that are simply brimming with character to foreign-food restaurants.Things To See & Do In TotnesThe first thing that strikes you about Totnes is the pure charm and elegance of the town a walk up the steep streets is highly recommended. In many ways its typical of the small English town experience and the narrow streets are dwarfed by ancient, historic buildings (quite a few dating back to the 16th century).Totnes Castle First built in the 11th century, the remains of Totnes Castle today are thought to be from the 13th century. The castle is well worth visiting and offers some spectacular vistas of the town and River Dart below.Other points of interest in Totnes include the Guildhall (including some interesting exhibitions including Oliver Cromwells table), the Totnes museum (located in a beautiful old Elizabethan style house) and Totnes Rare Breeds Centre (a petting zoo).Close to Totnes is the village of Dartington, boasting some fascinating medieval buildings. Dartington also has some lovely gardens.