long time no see

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A Hidden Treasure in Bozburun: Karia Bel’

With special thanks first to dearest Beliz Uke, the impeccable host of this paradise.. to the Karia Bel’ family.. to my amazing friend Begum to make this happen.. and of course, to my golden girls for turning this short getaway into an unforgettable memory.

Imagine waking up on a terrace that looks over the Mediterranean and the Aegean Seas after you fell asleep watching the starts the night before… That is the kind of holidays you would have at Karia Bel’.

Situated in Bozburun, 50 kilometers from Marmaris, Karia Bel’ is right opposite the Symi island, situated directly on the seashore. The name “Bozburun” signifies the point where the land reaches the sea. “Boz” means “grey” (referring to the grey mountains), and “nose” means “burun”.

The boutique hotel, which used to be a family summer house, offers 14 uniquely decorated guestrooms. Each room has a different atmosphere with its theme and colors. The color palettes, textiles, antique pieces of family furniture and numerous small touches in the rooms do take your stay to another level. Before i forget to mention – there is a constant scent of lemon and almond trees, jasmine and thyme all around.

There are two kind of summer holidays. In one, you experiment different beaches every day, arrange dinners in different locations during your stay.. there is sun, there is music, drinks, friends… In the latter, you check into a small paradise. All you hear are the birds. All you see at night are the stars. It literally takes you to a different world during your stay. It’s so relaxing and calm.. that even 2-3 days feel like a week. You go home refreshed. It is simply a self-treat.

If you’re looking for the second kind, all you need is a few days at Karia Bel’. In a few words, it’s a getaway to your home in Bozburun. The rooms will comfort you. The food will amaze you. You will wake up in the morning, have some white cheese with herbs and fresh tomatoes accompanied by an olive fest. Not to mention – i had 20 olives per day on average!

In the afternoon, you can have a glass of chilled rose, accompanied by fresh almonds from the trees. The dinner! Oh the dinner! At night, you will sit at one of the tables put on the private deck. You will only see the stars – and if any light needed, the little lamp on your table will be by your side. You will have a 5-star dinner starting with a different summer soup every day, then Mediterranean mezes (small dishes) followed by fish or meat. Before going back to your terrace, do not forget to taste the dessert of the day!

Private boat rentals also available if you’d like to take a daytour to Symi, or swim in the crystal clear waters of the breathtaking bays around. (Dipcik Bay was my fave.)

Very rarely vacations feel so much home, and very rarely they are genuinly relaxing. Pack some bathing suits, a summer hat, an ipod and somebody to share this experience with – and you’re good to go! When was the last time you did something for yourself? Time is now.

For more info on Karia Bel’, please visit: http://www.kariabel.com  

Palazzo Margherita: An Idyllic Getaway

Built in 1892 by the Margherita Family in Bernalda, Palazzo Margherita is a genuine 19th century palazzo. The town was the birthplace and home to Agostino Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s grandfather, who always referred to it affectionately as Bernalda bella. Francis purchased the Palazzo in 2004 to transform it into a luxurious boutique hotel – and to present this undiscovered small town in the Basilicata region of Southern Italy to visitors from around the world.

There are only are nine bedrooms – seven large suites and two garden rooms. Each is like an individual work of art with different design themes and colour schemes. In the evenings, the Palazzo’s salon becomes a private screening theatre where guests can enjoy one of Francis’s personally-curated collection of 300 classic Italian films and documentaries.

For those looking for a weekend getaway involving some fine Italian wine&dine experience, tea times in the magic gardens, evenings of films.. and romance, this is for you.

Lights, camera, action.

 

 

A Midwinter Night’s Dream

You know I enjoy daydreaming – especially when it comes to winter getaways. Remember my Alpine Dream last year?

Chalet La Grande Roche, as luxurious as skiing can get. Couldn’t stop myself from sharing this with you.

Enjoy this breathtaking chalet in Courchevel – with 7 bedrooms, lots of fireplaces, balconies, an amazing kitchen, a swimming pool, ski changing rooms and even its own cinema. All you’d need would be a group of nice friends, a few ipods, some wine and cheese.

Dream Much?

Andiamo

Benvenuto a Villa Muri Antichi.

In the heart of Tuscany, you now have a new home where you can spend some time, enjoy fine food and superb wine. From a fireplace to spacious terraces, from an eclectic library to dreamlike showers.. this Villa has all you need – and possibly more. 

All you need is to pack a few clothes, take your ipod and leave all worries behind. 

Villa Muri Antichi is available for rental at Monteverdi Tuscany.

Andiamo.

 

Kekova: The Azure Heaven

Though I have been to many summer vacation spots, the one I’m going to share with you during the next few minutes is truly different. I spent the last few days in Üçağız, also known as Kekova. It’s a small Mediterranean village, with approximately 500 inhabitants. It’s a 3-hour drive from Antalya or Dalaman – whichever is more convenient. The village is almost 7000 years old. Also known as Theimussa in Lycian, it consists of a few pensions, lots of boats and a few fish restaurants. Yes that’s all. Far from everything that occupies your mind in a cosmopolitan city, all this town offers is tranquility – sun, sea and a gentle wind. You sleep with the sound of the sea, and wake up with the smell of sage, mint, oregano and basil.

Although the guest houses are pretty similar in terms of comfort and price, I chose to stay in Kekova Pansiyon, which was referred by my cousin. The pension has eight rooms and each has its own balcony. Once you wake up in the morning, each guest is served breakfast on the table overlooking the sea in front of their room. Though all pensions provide free boat service to different beaches, the best to do is to rent a boat. By boat I don’t mean luxury yatchs or gulets.. there’s a traditional type of boat all around Kekova. Local families operate them. You board right in front of the guesthouse, there is usually two to three crew member on it – usually all belonging to the same family. It takes you around until before dinner. They cook the fish they caught the day before and serve amazing local cuisine – all homemade and all organic. From home made rice to blue crab, from healthy greens to calamari, it is de-li-cious.

The first must-see is the Sunken City – which was destroyed by a major earthquake during the 2nd century. As you go around with the boat, through the windows specially made, you can see some really impressive pieces in the water. There are a few tombs remaining on the islands – in the shape of small houses – and even some church entrances. Among other bays I would suggest are Tersane, Akvaryum, Salyangoz and Koca Kadın. The color of the sea is beyond words and the landscape beyond spectacular.

Here are some other snaps from this side of heaven..

For anyone looking into a quick getaway around Turkey with some sun, sea and simple yet memorable local experience, give Kekova a try. You will not regret  it. And if you do so, do not forget to take a boat to go to the Kale island, and taste a scoop of the banana, nut and peach ice cream at Cafe Ankh.

From Shanghai With Love

To Begum.. for making me feel home on the other side of the world.

A city that brings together the lights, the energy and the beauty of London and New York, and adding some Chinese spices on top… Shanghai is my latest favorite place to be.  Taking the two Chinese characters in its name from 上 (above) and 海 (sea), this upper sea city is a true gem in the Eastern part of China. With so much to discover.. it’s a little frustrating to decide where to start from, but here’s the Shanghai I loved.

Here’s my Shanghai..

Casa Pagoda A home furnishing and decoration store bridging the European style with an Asian touch. You don’t necessarily have to buy something – even walking around the store is as pleasing.  

Taikang Lu (Tianzifang) The Soho of Shanghai. An art district with small magazines, craft stores, coffee shops and trendy art studios hidden among narrow streets where you can find interesting bits and pieces.

Kommune Cafe in this district is one of my favorites. Try the falafel wrap with a freshly brewed cup of coffee served in old-fashioned milk bottles. Or if you’re in the mood, you can go for a coctail, or even better, a house spirit. Outdoor seating is available in spring/summer– right in the epicenter of the Taikang Lu quarter.

Antique Market on DongTai Road A true Chinese experience. Never pay more than 10% of what the seller is proposing you! Bargaining is what makes it more fun. Antique Chinese porcelaines, Buddha statues, Art-Deco flyers, Mao statues, pins, old books, watches.. anything you might think of. Truly inspiring.

Xintiandi A rather chic neighborhood offering you another bunch of stores, coffee shops and great restos. There is also a recently opened Hotel Costes – which brings together the classic Parisien Costes style with a slight Asian touch.

Dr. Wine Another recently opened spot where you can stop by anytime you like. Either sit at the bar or take one of the comfy leather couches for a glass of wine with one of the cheese/charcuterie/pate plates from the menu.. or if you prefer, you can also get a table. It’s a two-floor wine bar that is extremely relaxing. Friday and Saturday nights, the bar gets really cool. Cheers!

Lola A club-to-be lounge from two Barcelonan DJs that also has an outdoor seating section to enjoy in good weather. Great music, great sound, great bar. The club part is slightly separated from the bar/lounge section – which, I think, is a win.

Glamour Bar The name says it all. Great decor, great drinks, great experience. A must go – pre or post dinner.

Barbarossa Right in the middle of a pond in People’s Park, it’s a Moroccan lounge – and more importantly, my favorite brunch spot. Beware – doesn’t open before 11am on Sundays. If you go during spring time, enjoy the beautiful jasmines around.

Franck A tiny classic French bistro. Too many reasons to love it.

An Alpine Dream

You’re now officially in my Alpine dream.

We’re in Verbier, southwest of Switzerland. You, me and some friends..  We wake up early in the morning.. around 8.30sh, prepare a nice and rich breakfast to have a good start to our day. Some freshly brewed coffee, a cheese platter with some charcuterie, a light omlette, warm bread and of course.. freshly squeezed OJ. Wrapping up our breakfast, we part into our rooms, get ready to ski. The upbeat music is making me already excited. The snow is just like we dreamt of, the sun is shining and the fresh mountain air is so crisp. We go around the mountain until around 1 – 1.30pm. Then grab lunch – accompanied with a nice glass of wine – and enjoy being exposed to the sun for a few minutes before we resume skiing. Which chaise-longue are you taking? I’ll take the one in front.

Around 3.30 – 4.00pm, we get ready to go back home.. La Vallée Blanche is located just off the slopes, a few minutes stroll down from Medran the ski lift. Hey can you please plug in the ipod? I’ll go ahead and open a fresh bottle of wine.. let’s get on one of the chaise-longues outside to enjoy the last minutes of sunshine. I know it’s cold.. but bear with me for a few minutes. Enjoyed your wine? Alright, I’ll go take a shower. Taking a bath in that bathtub filled with some warm water is the best way of taking a break. I love the smell of that magnolia scented foaming bath milk!

With the fatigue kicking on you as minutes go by.. maybe a few mins of a nap? Or lay down with friends.. another glass of wine? How about dinner? What do you wanna have? Some steak and wine? Or something lobsterish? How about some pasta? You know we have a Top Chef with us here – maybe with truffle, her expertise? The Chef is already working on the menu.. a dreamlike smell is coming out of the kitchen.. here I am on this chaise longue again.. enjoying the track the ipod is playing. Dinner is ready, she says! Bon appétit. A few more drinks, laughing, dancing on the sofas is all I remember.. I love you guys.

Night night.

One Thousand and One Nights

Welcome to Riad Enija, one of the most beautiful of all Riads in Marrakech, Morocco. A 280 year-old Riad, it used to belong to a wealthy Moroccan silk merchant. Wooden doors, Berber carpets, local craftwork, beautifully textured ceilings, Moorish-shaped doorways, refined colors, hand-painted tiles, candles, motives.. it’s beautiful and exotic. It’s dreamlike.

If you happen to visit Morocco anytime soon, you can check this beautiful boutique hotel out. Visit Welcome Beyond for more info, a website offering you a collection of vacation homes and boutique hotels with distinctive architecture and design in 23 countries – ranging from Italy to Panama, from Brazil to Tanzania.

 

Six Senses in Seventh Heaven

It’s Friday – and time to daydream again.

Take a look..  this is Six Senses in Con Dao. A remote spa & resort in the Con Dao archipelago in southeastern Vietnam with an outstanding natural beauty. You can choose to stay in one of the 50 villas sitting up along a mile of sandy beach – with a deep blue sea view in your bedroom, and a green forest view in your bathtub.

If there really is a heaven somewhere out there, it should look like this. Perfection. Need I say more?

Dream a little dream of me…

It’s Friday afternoon, and a little bit of daydreaming will certainly not hurt anybody…

LuxuryRetreats is a travel broker offering a collection of some of the most private and luxurious villa rentals across the world. Their portfolio includes over 1,500 villas in 40+ destinations – ranging from St. Thomas to Santorini, from the Carribean to Amalfi. 

With my mind stuck on an Italian trip lately, I took a look at the Italian villas (strictly not recommended during working hours!!). It is impossible to introduce you the ones that I love – simply because there’s so many! Although I hesitated a lot about which one to introduce you (the final pick was between Positano and Umbria), below is the one I finally decided to share with you.

Ladies and Gents, I introduce you Palazzo – located in the heart of Castello di Reschio, in Umbria.

Have a great weekend!

Be a local. Everywhere.

Ever heard of Capo Coda Cavallo? How about the White Asparagus Festival in Veneto? Ever had a geniune Argentine experience in London? How about the best whiskey bar in Berlin?

Now you have CityandOut, a genius travel ecosystem with visitors from 96 countries and 1503 cities, founded by dearest friend Andrea Favale, an expert in business, technology and entrepreneurship, a gourmet, and a blogger from Italy.  CityandOut is a travel and destination platform where you can book one of 84,000 hotels, get a table reservation at over 5,500 restaurants across Europe, watch 7,900 travel videos, download 400 free travel guides, and read tips from a dozen of travel bloggers and lovers.

Any interesting travel tips and/or recommendations, do not forget to ShhOut them at ShhOut@CityandOut.com. Any feedback/ideas/opinions for Andrea, contact him at  info@cityandout.com.

Bon voyage!

quattro giorni

via del corso. campo dei fiori. piazza navona. spagna. trastevere. colosseum. vino rosso. formaggio. pasta. villa borghese. pasticceria. gelato. cioccolato. caffè. amaretto. piazza del popolo. the smell of chestnut on the street. pizza quattro formaggi. mushrooms, another taste. fiat 500. scalinata della trinità dei monti. vittorio emanuele. fotografia. graffiti, tags and street stickers. the sunset. stone paved streets. sidewalks. traffic lights. brick. words. memories. flashbacks. colors. sunshine. candles. feelings. thoughts. dreams. joy. happiness. tranquility. old and new. slow and fast. black and white. melodrama. sound. la la la. roma.




Chasing the Sunset

It’s Saturday. Your alarm goes off at 8:00am. A friend comes to pick you up from Chrystie Street at 8:45. You go downstairs, get in the car. Together you guys go pick up two other friends. First stop is at 26th and 7th, then you’re off to 6th and 38th. Grab a few lattes and toasted bagels with cream cheese from Starbucks on your way to the Midtown Tunnel. Turn on some groovy house vibes. You’re now ready for an amazing weekend getaway…

Once you’re out of the tunnel, turn up the volume just a little more, open your window. It’s beautiful outside. It’s nothing like the city. There’s a rather old house tune playing… with a soft touch of violin in the background. Keep following 495 until Exit 70, then get ready to make your first stop in Riverhead. It’s early but who can say no to wine? As you go on Sound Avenue, pick a vineyard to go into. The one that we picked this weekend was Roanoke Vineyards, one that we’ve visited before.

From outside, except from the tiny vineyard sign on the main road, it looks nothing like it. Wait till you open the door and step inside. There lie the beautiful bottles with a taste of the North Fork. Take a wine flight – either red or white – then grab a bottle, a few wine glasses and go outside. Look at the endless green around you. Sit on a chaise-longue and have a few sips from your wine while you enjoy the small cheese platter in front of you.  Then take a walk around the vineyard…

Roanoke Vineyards

For your next stop, switch to 27 and go across the town of Bridgehampton, pass by Sag Harbor and you will arrive at the South Ferry. Get your ticket, park your car. Shelter Island is right in front of you…

Sunset Beach, Shelter Island

As a first time visitor, accompanied by friends who already knew the island, our first stop was Sunset Beach. It’s there that you feel you’re not in the city anymore.  Go into the restaurant, grab a bite under the yellow tent, order some wine or a coctail of your choice then walk around the beach… It’s getting late, and if you want to make it to the sunset in Montauk, you better move.

Start driving towards the ferry again – and don’t get lost on your way, like we did! By making your way through East Hampton, keep going towards Montauk. That’s the final stop. Surrounded by a laidback nature, you will pass by cute motels, possible street art fairs then will see the Surf Lodge. It’s one of the key locations in town. There will most likely be a crowded happy hour going on on the deck. Keep going straight, and you will arrive at our favorite spot: Duryea’s Lobster Shack. You better be hungry now. Keep in mind it’s a BYOB, so if you have a cool bottle of wine with you, don’t leave it in the car. Order some food, take a seat on the wooden deck and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets you can see on this side of the world…

Montauk