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Dream Beaches: Fernando de Noronha

March 6, 2010

Fernando de Noronha - Baìa do Sancho, Photo by Simon

Baìa do Sancho is one of the most beautiful beaches of Fernando de Noronha, the amazing island over 500 km away from the Brazilian coast.

The view from the top of the cliff is awesome, especially at sunset. The beach can be reached by boat or from the top of the cliff by ladders fixed in a rock split. This latter is definitely the best way to enjoy Baìa do Sancho and to savor the amazing colors at dusk or at sunset.

If you’re ready for a bit of ‘adventure’ you can have a walk through the stones and discover Prahia dos Porcos, one of the most amazing beaches in Brazil and probably in the world, where the color of the water ranges from blue to turquoise and green. A real dream beach…

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A lovely, quirky new friend

February 25, 2010

Faces of Africa, Thirty Years of Photography by Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith

I just spent a few days in London, where I really had a great time. It was what I call a ‘spontaneous trip’, decided in a few minutes after having read a very interesting tweet mentioning the Travellers’ Tales Festival. That was a fantastic occasion to meet great travel writers and photographers and to visit London after a long time. And it was also my first full ‘social media experience‘ since I would have met Zoe Dawes, the lovely lady who tweeted about the Festival.

I was thrilled and curious. And so pleased in noticing after only a few minutes how I felt comfortable with Zoe, as if we were long time friends. We talked a lot about blogging and social networks, travel writers (Zoe is fascinated by Jan Morris) and travel philosophy. And inspiration.

A parrott in the pepper tree, by Chris Stewart

Zoe, who is the author of the Quirky Traveller’s Tale blog, explained to me what ‘quirky’ means to her and… well… I’d say that we had a lovely quirky week-end and discovered that we have lots of things in common. It was nice to meet Britt Arnhild,  although we could not spend much time together. Britt also was there after having read Zoe tweet to look and hear her favorite travel writer, Dervla Murphy.

The journey in London was absolutely amazing as I could experience most of the things that make a trip special to me. Wandering in the streets (despite horrible weather), visiting exhibitions (Irving Penn photographies at the National Portrait Gallery), enjoying the wonderful Billy Elliot musical (a must-see) and meeting new people. That’s why I love social media, because these awesome journey started at home, with a simple tweet!

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The colors of Salvador de Bahia

February 19, 2010

Salvador de Bahia, Photo by Simon

Awesome city Salvador the Bahia. So colorful and lively, and so different from Rio. In Salvador I felt the real taste of Brazil.

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The story behind my journeys

February 17, 2010

I’ve been boosted to write this post by a recent interesting comment, highlighting that I barely mention how and why I chose my destinations.

Ready to fly!

So… What’s the story behind my journeys? Well, I’d rather say there’s more than one. Big stories and smaller ones, that changed over the years and are intimately linked to my personal life.

As a student: around Europe backpacking and camping

As most people, when I was a University student I had little money and lots of time. I traveled through most European countries, backpacking and camping. No oversea journeys at that time, mostly because flights were far more expensive than they are today. Since I grew up in Switzerland, in a small village in the mountains, I was keen of visiting the main European cities. That was making such a huge difference! Moreover, I was (well, still am) passionate of art so I felt doubly excited: by the energy of the city, as opposed to the calm of my little village, and by the possibility to visit awesome museums, art exhibitions and historical landmarks.

Cappadocia lunar landscape, Photo by National Geographic

I discovered most of the main European capitals, traveled around in Spain, Greece, Turkey, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, the ex-Yugoslavia. The Nordic countries were off-limits because far too expensive for Italians, even backpacking and camping.

Among the many travels of those years, the places that impressed me at most were Turkey (especially the lunar landscape in Cappadocia and the Ephesus archaeological site), Prague (communism was still well in place, and tourists were strictly controlled), Spain (so many architectural jewels).

First job in Investment Banking, the seek for adventure and remote countries

Prayer flags in Nepal, Photo by National Geographic

Don’t imagine lots of money pouring down on me. That was not the case. I started from the lower level, which means with the minimum salary. However, although in the early years money was little it was far more than I was used to, so I began exploring new countries overseas.

In fact, the major force driving me toward faraway countries was the nature of the job. Investment banking is hard work and long hours, only a few weekends out and months without a single free day. When I could finally take some holiday I felt so tired and stressed that I was longing only for one thing: going far away, in a place totally different, where space and time do not have the same meaning and, clearly, where no-one could reach me. That’s how I chose to explore Morocco, then Yemen, Nepal, Thailand, Guatemala. True that I could have pointed at easier and more relaxing destinations, let’s say Maldives, or the Caribbean. The fact is that the bank is one of the most formal working environment, and holidays to me meant also being myself  and keeping things cool. That’s also the time when I started traveling alone. The relationship with my partner was over and there was no way of finding friends ready to stroll around with a girl who was never sure to leave until the day before departure.

Second job as a PR, in love with nature, outdoor and sports

Akakus Desert in Algeria, Photo by Simon

The year 2000 was a turning point. I started a new job, I got scuba diving certification become passionate of the amazing underwater  world and I fully realized that I really didn’t like living in a city and was always striving for outdoor activities. I began to escape. Short escapes in the weekends, longer ones as soon as possible.

Nature and sports became often the main drivers in the choice of the destinations, as I started looking for places combining awesome scenarios, outdoor activities and different cultures and traditions. In the recent years I discovered the Grenadines by sailing boat, I visited Bali and then admired the islands around Komodo experiencing a scuba diving live-aboard, I traveled Peru and had a few hikes in the Andes, I enjoyed the beauty of the Algerian desert camping every night in a different place. And then other journeys to Philippines, Venezuela, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Egypt, Sudan.

And now…

I’ve been lucky enough to see and enjoy awesome places, but there are still so many to discover and I know that one single life won’t be enough!

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Like a postcard… Matterhorn reflected in the pond

February 12, 2010

Matterhorn reflected in a pond, Photo by Simon

One of the reasons why I love hiking is the reward of dramatic scenarios, like the one of the Matterhorn reflected in a small pond. And when I’m lucky enough to be almost alone, as was the case during this hike, for a little while I feel as if the world was mine. A blissful emotion…

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A gorgeous beach in El Nido

February 4, 2010

A gorgeous beach in El Nido, Photo by Simon

The journey to the Philippines has been one of the great and unexpected discoveries among my latest travels.

Time was short and I only explored El Nido, loving the dramatic scenery, the colors of the sea,   the clouds running in the sky, and thinking at going back some day…

Total chill out and fabulous wines in Orange (NSW)

February 2, 2010

Mayfield Vineyard, Photo by Simon

After the incredible New Year’s Eve in Sidney, we rented a car to explore the surroundings. We wished to see a little of Australian nature and countryside so we headed West, in the direction of the Blue Mountains. Our plan was to stay there at least a couple of days to explore a bit of the National Park and have some hikes. Bad luck! Apart from the first afternoon, that let us enjoy a glimpse of the scenery’s beauties, the weather was awful! Foggy, rainy and cold… Wasn’t it supposed to be Summertime?

The following morning we thus decided to move further and we headed towards Orange… Why Orange? Stefano and I made it very simple: if it’s raining also over there, we’ll solace with a good bottle of wine. Yes, because Orange is famous for great food (apples, stone fruit, berries, beef, lamb and venison) and excellent wines.

Grapes today... tomorrow a good fresh wine, Photo by Simon

Everything turned soon well very. The sun peeped out and the countryside looked gorgeous.

We first stopped for lunch and some wine tasting at Union Bank wine bar, a lovely place that has just been awarded ‘Best Regional Wine List’ in the Sydney Morning Herald’s 2010 Good Food Guide awards. As we were looking for an accommodation in the countryside, we’ve been very well advised at Union Bank and found a cottage for rent at Mayfield Wineyard.

Gosh! That was really paradise! Imagine a white cottage immersed in a beautiful countryside. In front of the cottage the garden – where gooses stroll peacefully -, a little pond and the hills designed by the vineyard.

So relaxing... Photo by Simon

Imagine a beautiful and huge cottage (large living-room with fireplace, 3 bedrooms) where you are welcomed by a good bottle of local white wine, having a drink in the garden and enjoying sunset. I wished I was the landlady… 🙂

Take Care, Photo by Simon

The days we spent in Orange were pure and total chill out. Nice walks in the vineyards, sitting in the garden and reading a good book, some good food and wine tasting (our favorite was Philip Shaw No. 19 Sauvignon Blanc 2007).

Total chill out, Photo by Simon

A pity that we could not have dinner at Lolli Redini, celebrated as one of the best Restaurants in Australia. It was closed the days we spent in Orange, so it will be a good excuse for another visit (Ehm… more than 10,000 miles for a good dinner might be a little too ambitious…).

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