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The Verdon Gorge is one of France’s most attractive natural sights and stands out for its characteristic colour.

The boats glide contently down the riverstream as steep and naked stonewalls loom on either side. Below, the Mediterranean sun shines in the reflection of the emerald-green water. Around are rich forests and small villages. Joining the boats on the ride are kayaks and canoes with jolly tourists on board. Above, rock climbers are busy scaling towering cliffs.

The Verdon Gorge is a great touristic pull. Its location in the south-eastern Alpes-de-Haute-Provence makes it convenient and accessible for visitors of the French Riviera. It is part of the Verdon river, which stretches across 175 kilometres (108 miles). The gorge itself lies between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It measures 21 kilometres (14 miles) in length and runs out into the Lake of Sainte-Croix. Continue Reading…

Europe, Luxury

The place to be


The Swiss village of Gstaad is a luxurious getaway for celebrities and Hollywood A-listers.


In the 1960s, TIME magazine summed it up when describing it as “the place to be”. Gstaad, a small settlement in the municipality of Saanen, south-western Switzerland, had already attracted personalities such as Grace Kelly and Roger Moore. Others included David Niven, Peter Sellers and Elizabeth Taylor. They fled to the Alps to escape busy lives. Continue Reading…


Going underground


On a plateau in central Turkey, local people have dug a remarkable series of troglodyte dwellings and underground cities.

It was between the eight and tenth centuries when Arab incursions washed across the Near East like a series of tsunamis. Fearing the worst, people in Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey, fled down into caves and tunnels that had been excavated and developed for decades. They were underground cities; complexes large enough to house the population of several villages. Even animals were taken under shelter. Only when the raids were over did people resurface in safety. Continue Reading…


Living lakes


In Croatia’s Dinaric Alps, spellbinding lakes have gradually formed over thousands of years. Still today, their appearance is in constant evolvement.

‘Paradise on earth’ may be an inflated phrase, but there are some places that do it justice. One such destination is Plitvice Lakes National Park, where 16 interconnected lakes have been carved out by nature herself. There are heavenly waterfalls, pristine forests and quiet, crystal-clear rivers. The lakes’ colours change from azure to green, grey and blue. Wooden trails follow the waterstream. It is an idyllic place to be. Continue Reading…


Made of stone


In the quiet Andalucían town of Setenil de las Bodegas, a series of houses are built into large rock caves along a river gorge. It’s a stunning sight, but one that tourists are yet to discover.


Not many people know about Setenil de las Bodegas. Even fewer visit it. In the province of Cádiz, near the Spanish south coast, the town’s inhabitants have for centuries lived quiet, agricultural lives, liberated from the relentless tourism drive in nearby cities. Instead of showing off their houses, built into rock overhangs along the Trejo River, which runs through the city, the 3,200 inhabitants – or ‘Setenilenos’ – thrive off wineries, fruit, vegetables and meat production, which is sold to nearby villages. Strangers make a rare sight. In fact, throughout the entire town, there are only two hotels. Continue Reading…

Europe, Luxury

All at sea


Far out into the North Atlantic Ocean, an archipelago of nine islands offers a secluded getaway for relaxation and natural activities.

When Plato in 360 B.C. wrote of the ‘Sea of Atlantis’, a group of scientists believe he referred to the Atlantic Ocean. Citing various theories and recovered material, they insist the Azores is at the exact location of Atlantis, the fabled island Plato said was swallowed by the sea 11,000 years ago. The current settlement, they argue, is based on the mountain tops of the lost civilisation. Continue Reading…

Ecology, Europe

Bubbling with energy


With its vast hydropower and geothermal resources, Iceland is drawing envious looks from the rest of Europe. 


For locals relaxing in the famous Blue Lagoon spring just outside Reykjavik, sustainable energy comes without compromises. The lagoon’s warm, natural, bacteria-free seawater, sourced from two kilometres underground, is partly why Iceland’s 300,000 residents can afford Europe’s highest energy consumption per capita and still be among the most eco-friendly places on earth. And, if you wondered, the resources are far from running out. Continue Reading…

Europe, Luxury

Lavish feast


The Carnival of Venice was once an extravagant centrepiece for the rich and festive. Since its revival in 1979, its role is has been truly restored.


If you had a fortnight left to live and wanted to spend your last pennies on a feast of joy and indulgence, you could do worse than attending the Carnival of Venice. For 11 days, people enjoy the finest of food, wine and entertainment; some with a guiltless smirk concealed only by the symbolic Venetian masks and costumes. Elegant balls, gala dinners and private parties are enjoyed in hotels and private suites to the backdrop of the San Marco Square – with artists and musicians providing entertainment well into the morning hours. ‘Luxury’ per se doesn’t quite do it justice. Rather, it is a feast in which nothing is left to spare, as if the last days were upon us. Continue Reading…