Earlier this year, before summer’s oppressive climes chased me indoors, I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Bahrain. It’s a little (very little) GCC island nation that I’d never given much thought to before – which is a real shame because it’s an easily accessible destination packed with thousands of years of history, a rich Arabian heritage that has been carefully preserved and results in an authentic Middle Eastern experience, and a vibrant scene of modern – and awfully enjoyable – hotels and restaurants. And of course: pearls. Lots and lots of pearls.
The story’s out right now in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East, and you can click the image below to read on, or pick up a copy of the issue on stands around the GCC.
“I’ve made a huge mistake,” I thought, as we drove into Cannes. Clearly, this is not the ideal thought to run through your mind as you enter a holiday destination, and I was worried. I am usually at the helm of our holiday travel itineraries, and I take pride in my pretty much flawless record of choosing places to go. (Okay, except perhaps staying directly in the town of Munnar, in Kerala, as opposed to staying in a more rural guesthouse in the jungles near it. That town was grim.) Prior, it had been a fairly stressful day of driving through traffic, not finding bathrooms, and then upon finding bathrooms discovering there was no toilet paper (a running theme in that region, though). So, arriving to an afternoon scene of more awful traffic, roads that didn’t quite match our directions (turned out a road had just shut down for repairs) and much commercialization (especially after the quaint villages) – Cannes was a shock to the system.
The earlier part of the day had been a mixed bag. Leaving Seillans in the morning, we headed towards Cannes via Grasse. Continue reading →
For as much as I love the Mediterranean – and I really, really love the Mediterranean – the South of France was never high on my list of places to go. I’m not sure why – maybe partly because of its huge popularity as a holiday destination (although that didn’t and doesn’t deter me from the Greek isles), maybe partly because I hear such disparaging things about the French (from not only foreigners but also the French, which worried me). But when I was invited to a wedding near Aix-en-Provence – conveniently scheduled near a long holiday weekend – it seemed silly not to extend the trip beyond the wedding and give the area a decent little explore.
But where to go in just a week? The Provence and Côte d’Azur region is rich with things to do and see, and just too spread out to fit it all in, unless you want to spend 99% of the week in your car, driving from one place to the next. Riviera glam or Provencal charm? A Carcassonne castle or Monegasque opulence? I wanted to see it all, but there simply wasn’t the time. Excitement grew over the thought of a road trip into Italy, with a couple nights in each stop: from Marseille to the French Riviera, to Portofino to Florence. But the flights weren’t working out – and it was a considerable amount of driving. After much faffing about (not unlike the start of this blog post) we finally decided to keep ourselves fairly close to Marseille (our arrival and departure airport) and head east to explore the (slightly) inland villages and famed French Riviera. There was more than plenty to keep us busy in this relatively small area, we were quick to discover. And, as it became clear immediately upon arrival, poorly marked roads and a surprising amount of traffic would mean everything would take longer than we had originally planned for. We were relieved we hadn’t decided to travel further afield.
Out this month in the October 2015 issue of Destinations of the World News, I return to Philadelphia to check out what’s new in my one-time home, while revisiting old favorites.
Alternatively, you can read the story online here at DOTWnews.com.
And, as I’m indulging in a three-day weekend at the moment, I’m hoping (although less than optimistic) to find the time to write up a new blog post about my travels through the lovely South of France last month. In a nutshell? The little villages of the Cote d’Azur are too charming by half; steer clear of Cannes; and it’s worth fighting the traffic getting into Monte Carlo to have a good gawp at the city for an afternoon…and a Michelin-starred lunch with a view.
More recently, I visited Malta and its Mdina Classic Car Grand Prix. This is one small (and I do mean small) Mediterranean island worth checking out for beautiful medieval and baroque architecture, a convivial population of residents and a lifestyle so lovely and chilled, you’ll be eyeing up your own Maltese palazzo before long. Look out for the feature in an upcoming issue of DOTW News.
Yet another of the Indian Ocean’s jewels, I expected the island’s verdant tropical forests, pretty beaches along crystalline lagoons and laid-back island lifestyle, but Mauritius’s incredible local cuisine – modern takes on Creole fare with a decidedly locavore focus – was a delicious surprise. Not to mention one often soaked in locally produced rum.
Read on here at dotwnews.com or view a PDF of the story that ran in the print issue.
HEY IT’S LAUREL’S TRAVEL BLOG
Welcome! Here you’ll find a selection of writings from my personal travels, as well as travel stories I’ve had published in luxury travel publications such as Destinations of the World News and Condé Nast Traveller Middle East. If you have any questions or would like to collaborate with me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via the “connect” tab on the right of the menu above. Enjoy!