Singapore Canals and Boat Quay

Singapore Old and New

Singapore where old and new collide – Restaurants and old buildings located along Boat Quay on the historic Singapore Canal

Old Historic Church in Montalcino Italy

Old Church in Montalcino Tuscany

Old historic church in Montalcino Italy

France is known for great wines: and the Maury Wine Trail in Languedoc France is no exception

Vinyards along the Maury Wine Trail in Languedoc France

Southern France is lined with ancient stone villages that have existed for centuries. Most villages are surrounded by wineries and vineyards creating a woven tapesty that change colors with the seasons.  In the valleys of the Pyrenees Mountains the roads wind along rivers, vineyards and villages.

Life is simple in the villages and most industries focus on the wine industry.  Each village has their own wine cooperative where the smaller vineyards bring their current grape harvest.  The local cooperative then processes and bottles the wine.  The local wine is then sold through the local wine cooperative.

The larger vineyards market and sell their own wine under a private lable. And as you travel through the villages in the Maury Wine area you will see huge vats on porches or inside the doorway of warehouses waiting for that moment when the wine is ready for market.

Harvest Season in Languedoc
Harvest Season in Languedoc France

Harvest season everyone has a job. The local vineyards will hire anyone who wants to work and the roads are filled the sounds of laughter and families handpicking the grapes.

Mas Amiel Winery
Mas Amiel Winery

Although there are several types of wines found in Languedoc France, one of the most famous is the Maury AOC.  This wine is noted for its strong sweet taste similar to Brandy. There are rigid requirements for a wine to be granted the Maury AOC label.  One of the well know wineries in Maury is Mas Amiel and as you travel along the Maury Wine Trail, you will see the logo in the vineyards.

The kindness of strangers in Thailand – November 2013 Newsletter

Reclining Budda at Sunset

Thailand  is a country where niceness is practically a given. Not for nothing is Thailand known as the land of the smiles.  So I’m going to tell two stories. Both involve kind strangers, and me being lost. They are both quite similar, even though they take place hundreds of kilometers apart.

Here is my first story.

It’s hot. I’m in the south of Thailand, it’s the middle of the day, and I’m wandering a city that even Lonely Planet struggles to recommend – the town of Nakhon si Thammarat.  I was walking down the street in search of a hotel, which seemed promising given the reviews online, from the few choices available.  Despite my best efforts, walking up and down the street and peering intently around, the hotel resolutely failed to appear at the location the online map I was using said it should be.

Dejected, and sweating profusely in the hot sun, I took refuge in a small shop to plan my next move. The lady in the shop took pity, and asked what I was doing. In my entirely non-existent Thai, I conveyed the impression that I was trying to find a hotel that didn’t seem to exist. After much hand waving and other sign language, it became apparent that the hotel did in fact exist, only, it wasn’t anywhere near where I was looking for it. Which explained at least why I couldn’t find it.  She inspected my sweaty condition, my luggage and the distance I had to go, and decided that attempting to walk across town to find the hotel was likely to kill me.

Instead, a motorbike and side car were procured, with two likely lads summoned as my chauffeurs. Bags were loaded into the sidecar, I was popped onto the seat. Off we went, arriving ten minutes later on the other side of town to a hotel that did, thankfully, exist. Attempts to thank my rescuers with money were waved away amidst enormous smiles. An experience I won’t forget.

The next tale also involves me being rescued by a lady on a motorbike.

Beautiful Sunset in Trang Thailand
Beautiful Sunset in Trang Thailand

This time I was in the ancient Thai city of Ayutthaya. This used to be the largest city in the world, and the capital of the Thai Kingdom. Over a million people once called this city home – although that all came to an end when the Burmese razed it to the ground in the 17th century.I had spent the day exploring some of the many temple ruins that dot the city, on a circuitous route that had taken me all day, and where I had somewhat lost track of time.  I found myself, as the sun was setting, only fifty meters from my hostel, footsore and ready for a cold beer.

Unfortunately, the fifty meters between myself and the hostel were filled with the flowing mass of the Chaophraya river, making my return home that little bit trickier. There was nary a bridge in sight. Nor was there any evidence of the many water taxis that had been zipping up and down the river all day. It looked like I might have to walk back around the way I had come, a distance of at least 6km, in the dark.I cast about for an alternative option, which didn’t present itself, so I started walking.  After a few minutes of walking, a lady on a bright yellow scooter stopped, and presumably attracted by my despondent face, asked in Thai if I was ok.  I pointed at the river, and signaled I needed to be on the other side of it.  She smiled, made it clear I was walking in exactly the wrong direction, and motioned me to the back of her scooter.

Now – accepting rides from strangers isn’t necessarily something I’d recommend, but given I was tired and she seemed nice, I hopped on. I figured if all went wrong I could scream a lot.  We set off into the traffic, on a journey which could best be described as “slightly terrifying”.  Scooters in Thailand appear to have their own set of traffic regulations, and we seemed to be defying all of them. Still, before I could get really worried, it was all over, and I was deposited at the public ferry for river crossings – presumably a well sign posted location for those with Thai as a language. Mere seconds later I was back on the right side of the river, and it wasn’t long before that cold beer was in my hand.  Again, attempts to thank my rescuer with a few Thai Baht were waved away with smiles.

These were but two examples of the friendly welcome I received during my time in Thailand – I can think of many more.

Truly, this is a place where the smile is backed up with genuine friendliness and compassion! A country I am always pleased to recommend to travelers.


Lawrence Noah loves photography and exploring different cultures.  You can find him at Finding the Universe

Janela means window therefore My Guesthouse “Janela de Marcia” means “Marcia’s window “

Janela means window therefore My Guesthouse “Janela de Marcia” means “Marcia’s window “

After living for 25 years in USA, where I went with my husband at the time to do our graduate studies, a divorce, and a big economic crisis, I decided to come back to my home country and restart life with something completing new from what I had been doing till then.  Most of my adult life was dedicated to raising my three beautiful children Leonardo, Gabriel and Bianca who were all born in USA. Then in 2005, my husband and I divorced, so in 2009 I made the final decision and moved my family back to Brazil, my homeland, settling not in Rio de Janeiro, where I was from originally, but in the charming, southern island-city of Florianopolis in the state of Santa Catarina. I simply fell in love with the island, a cosmopolitan city of some 300,000 with two major universities, a Waldorf School and 42 surf beaches along the ocean side of the island.

A perfect place to relax in the afternoon
A perfect place to relax in the afternoon

I sensed that Florianopolis, though still a bit sleepy at the time, was about to be discovered by the travel industry, so, needing a way to earn a living, I decided to open a bed-and-breakfast in the house I was living in on the island’s inland lake, Lagoa da Conceicao. I have two big passions in my life: travel and meeting new people. I love to talk and find myself fascinated by people’s life stories, so I thought this would be a perfect way to combine those interests of mine. And that has turned out to be so very true.

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I love getting to know my guests, to hear their life stories, their passions, the litany of their travels. Unlike with some hoteliers, my guest are not just people who come to have a bed to sleep and a breakfast to eat but rather people who are looking to experience a new culture, It is a great pleasure for me to be able to share with them the things I appreciate in the island, the gastronomy , the craft beers, wines, music, sports  or just being able to be part of such great moments of their lives..  moment of re-sparking and re-calibrating so they can  go back into their routine of life and work feeling rested and renewed.   Janela de Marcia has also proven to be a wonderful experience for my children. My oldest son is attending college in the U.S., but my second-born, Gabriel, has been a big help to me and learned a lot from the experience. He is just heading off to university in southern Brazil now. My youngest, my angelic 12-year-old daughter, Bianca, has also been a big help to me and has learned a great deal from the experience.

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The real star of the show, though, is Florianopolis itself. This city has so much to offer without the problems of the big cities. I am not much of a surfer, but I enjoy connecting my guests up with some of the excellent surf instructors here and the fabulous beaches, too. There are wonderful restaurants (seafood, of course, is a specialty), fun clubs, cafes. Some of the best moments, though, turn out to be relaxed conversations during the quiet mornings at Janela de Marcia, over coffee and our delicious Brazilian breakfasts. Perhaps my favorite aspect of running my business has been not just having guests but making friends, friends from all over the world.

Taking care of my family heritage on Lake Como Italy by Francesco Pini

Taking care of my family heritage on Lake Como Italy by Francesco Pini

I grew up as a child living in the Lake Como area. My father was head chef at the Grand Hotel in Lugano City which is a tourist area located between Switzerland and Italy.  He worked all his life at the Grand Hotel and eventually he bought this stone building as a business investment. I have kept the building and did the restoration so it now functions as Cadenabbia holiday apartments on the western shore of Lake Como . The first restoration was the  Azalea apartment which occurred in 2007 and two years later I restored the Glicine apartment.

Today, I live in Genoa where I work for an in Italian Motorway Company as part time job ( for 13 days monthly). On my  free days I buy and sell stocks on the stock market.  In my free time I handle the marketing for my property on Lake Como.
When you arrive at the property on Lake Como you will meet  Mrs. Fiammetta, who works with me  to manage the apartments. She is always available in case of emergencies and to answer any questions. She also arranges for the pickup of the key for incoming guests. She also handles the cleaning of the apartment.
The Glicine Apartment is located on the first floor and has the typical italian popular traditional style of buildings that surround Lake Como; with the use of  wood floors in the living areas and stone flooring in the kitchen and bathroom.  We also valued the stone  on the wall in the lounge where discovered a  picture of flower into the stone. The Glicine Apartment on Vacations-Abroad.com

 

 

The Azalea apartment is located on the second floor and is  a more aristocratic apartment with many elegant decorations in the ancient lounge and bedrooms. The color combinations in the apartment represent the hues of  flowers found in the public and private gardens found along the shores of Lake Como. The Azalea apartment on Vacations-Abroad.com
Lake Como is noted for its great beauty and dramatic surroundings. A holiday on the shores of Lake Como provides you with an opportunity to  relax and discover a faboulus landscape in the spring and summer without forgetting its white color for the snow at the top of the mountanis in the winter.
I liked to offer all foreign  travelers these two beautiful accommodations where they can enjoy the lake atmosphere while surrounded by elegance, charm and history of Lake Como.
Along the shores of Lake Como here there are many wonderful villages where you can dine and relax while enjoying the scenery.  I especially like Bellagio for its fabulous location where the lake is divided in two parts. And of course I like the village of Cadenabbia, which is the location of the apartments. This is a residencial area is a popular resort area because the village has a sheltered position and because of the numerous gardens within the area.  There is also plenty of private parking and public parking.  At Cadenabbia you find the ideal atmosphere to talk with nature, to relax with nature , to sleep with the silence of nature and to live with the sounds of nature.
Villa del Balbianello at Lenno.
Villa del Balbianello at Lenno.

I have always had a passion for buildings and houses so what started as a personal hobby grew into a business

Maaike van de Pijpekamp

 My criteria for where I buy is very simple: if I want to spend time there then I know I other people will too! It would be impossible for me to market a rental house if I did not enjoy being there as well. This same criteria ensures that I keep and maintain my houses to a high standard that I would expect in my own home. Luckily my guests enjoy my properties and come back again and again.

“Mimosa Apartment” in Kotor Montenegro

Mimosa Apartment in Bay of Kotor
Mimosa Apartment in Bay of Kotor

The first time I came to Kotor was on a ship from Italy and when we sailed into Southern Europe’s deepest fjord Kotor Bay with the morning sun, I was sold. Flanked by towering mountains on either side, this 28-kilometre bay was more beautiful than we ever could have imagined. Having travelled extensively for many years I knew that I wanted to spend time here, again and again; so we swept aside our intention to explore this entire small country of 600 000 inhabitants and instead spent a week looking at property.

Within a week we found a seaside apartment that had the benefit of the sea on the doorstep as well as being within walking distance of one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities, Kotor. Mimosa, our lovely apartment, therefore has the best of both worlds: the advantage of swimming, fishing, boating, and water sports as well as the culture and leisure activities of a city.

Montenegro is a magic place, no wonder it was chosen as the setting James Bond film “Royal Casino”.

Oceanfront Apartment on Bay of Kotor Montenegro

“Nectar Cottage” in Nature’s Valley South Africa

Nectar Cottage in Natures Valley South Africa

At the northern tip of the Garden Route, on the border of the Western and Eastern Cape, the R102 swings away from the N2 and zigzags down a mountain pass, passing a troop of baboons squatting, appropriately, just beyond the baboon warning sign. 10 Kilometres later, at sea level; a sign indicates the opportunity for a cup of tea. This is Nature’s Valley, the Garden Route’s best-kept secret.

A tiny enclave nestled within the Tsitsikamma forest, Nature’s Valley is a residential area located inside a South African National Park. A couple of kilometres in length and a few hundred metres in diameter, it is flanked by the Indian Ocean, a placid lagoon, and mountain slopes covered with indigenous forest, yet only 30 kilometres from bustling Plettenberg Bay.

What makes Nature’s Valley so special? For me it was carefree days spent hiking with now long-lost friends along the rugged coastline past rocky cliffs to reach the Salt River Mouth, a picturesque cove set against the verdant backdrop of mountain forest. There we camped for days, isolated from all noise of civilisation. Now, decades later, these views and beauty still take my breath away. This is still South Africa’s most beautiful location or, as a lot of my guests say, “paradise on earth”. For those who simply wish to soak up the timeless beauty of nature, you don’t need to venture far but whatever it is you wish to see or do in Nature’s Valley, be prepared for it to steal a piece of your heart.

4 Bedroom Beachfront House in Natures Valley South Africa

Husband and wife team passionate about the outdoors

Chris Nadeau and Isabelle Daigneault

Chris Nadeau and Isabelle Daigneault
Chris Nadeau and Isabelle Daigneault

Tremblant Living was founded in 2003 by Chris Nadeau and Isabelle Daigneault. “Our business and personal values are reflected throughout business, including; being responsible corporate citizens, respect for planet earth, honesty, trust and enjoying life while leaving a minimal trace! We are a husband/wife team who are passionate about the great outdoors and enjoy discovering the world and particularly its great cultural diversity”.

“We pride ourselves in providing a high level customer experience in amazing  Tremblant   experience to vacationers in Mount Tremblant. We offer vacation homes that are on or close to the resort, & equipped with everything that you could possibly need to make your stay incredible! Tremblant Living properties come with only the highest of standards. We are accredited by the CITQ (Quebec’s Tourism arm) and repeatedly deliver outstanding accommodations and amazing guest experiences! “

An owner of rental properties in Tremblant since 1999, Chris understands the needs and expectations of home owners as well as vacationers. Born in a small 500 person fishing village in Northeastern Quebec (near Labrador). He left a 17-year Canadian banking career in 2003 to concentrate on growing the ‘Tremblant Living’ brand that he started years earlier. He also enjoys discovering the world and practicing numerous sports including hockey, yoga & backcountry skiing.

Isabelle was born and raised in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and is an active volunteer on the national committee of the Alpine Club of Canada. Passionate about the outdoors and travelling, Isabelle is an active volunteer on the national committee of the Alpine Club of Canada. She enjoys skiing, climbing, mountaineering and yoga She also has a passion for film making – producing her first documentary film called “Chuquiragua” (2005) that was featured a number of film festivals.

Mont Tremblant La Reserve Ski Home, Le Geant 7 Bedroom Chalet,

Ski In Ski Out Panache Condo, Mont Tremblant Living Website

Our Journey of Renovating a Village in the Italian Alps

Our restaurant

Hi, I am Jennie - Owner at Locanda degli elfi albergo
Hi, I am Jennie – Owner at Locanda degli elfi albergo

My name is Jennie and I live in one of the least densely populated areas of Italy. Our guesthouse is located in the Maura Valley at the edge of the Italian Alps in Piedmont.

Click here to visit our guesthouse in Piedmont Italy on Vacations-Abroad.com

I used to be a manager in a small textile company with my own office in Edinburgh and I traveled worldwide visiting clients and attending meetings. Unfortunately, during this time I fell ill with a cancer but at the time I thought I was just too stressed and suffered from jet lag.

Our restaurant
Our restaurant

So I decided to come here to Pret Canosio to be close to my parents and open a bed and breakfast.  My parents had a house located in the village and I used to go trekking in the Maira valley with my father.  So I am very familiar with all the hiking trails and sites in this area.  It was very comforting to see my father looking out the window and smile at me as I went hiking through the Maira Valley. At that time the b/b was very small so we bought another ruined house and renovated that one too, creating a small, cozy restaurant.  Little by little we purchased other abandoned buildings within the village and began renovating every house ourselves we purchased all with our own savings.  It was a big effort, but this area  attracts our passion and holds us here.

Hiking Trails
Hiking Trails

This area is relatively undeveloped compared to the rest of Italy. We are located in the western part of the Cottian Alpes along the border of France and Italy.  The main activies in this area are hiking and skiing.

It is the people who come and stay really give back to us , so our passion has kept developing!

Thank you for this opportunity! Jennie

Lounge area
Lounge Area

Meet the Owners of Borgo Santa Maria Holiday Apartments in Tuscany


Owners of Arezzo Holiday Apartments in Tuscany Italy
Anna and Giorgio, Owners

Click link for availability and rates for Borgo Santa Maria in Valle

View Arezzo Vacation Apartments Flats in Tuscany Italy
Relax while enjoying the view

My wife and I have been working  in marketing and tourism for all of our lives in Padua, where we had a base for many years.  To get out of the hustle and bustle, we decided moving to Tuscany was ideal for us.  Because we had friends in the area, we knew the region quite well from past visits and knew we wanted some place central and reasonably close to Highway A1.

We did not know the medieval village of Laterina before we moved here, but we knew Arezzo quite well, which is only about 9 miles  away.  The area’s central location, proximity to main art cities and preserved culture made our decision to locate here much easier.

Aerial View Arezzo Vacation Holiday Apartment Flats Tuscany Italy
Aerial view of Borgo Santa Maria

Finding the house we wanted was not an easy task and changing it into a charming and pleasant holiday home proved even more difficult.  However, with hard work and dedication, we succeeded.  In fact, we love our location so much, we live here year-round!

Although sometimes tiring, our work is very rewarding.  We love it, thanks to the many people we’ve met during the years.  Whether it’s those who kept coming back, kept in touch or asked for our advice when choosing another area, our guests are what makes what we do special.

Kitchen in Arezzo Holiday Flats in Tuscany, Italy
Full kitchen for home cooked meals

We like to say that our vacation home is “Managed by the owner” and “By professionals,” knowing very well the meaning of both sentences.  It is very difficult to do what we are doing without professionalism, but owning the property helps us to put more love in what we do.

– Giorgio Marcato

Click here to contact Borgo Santa Maria in Valle.  You may also click each picture below to get a closer look at the property.

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