Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2013

Who decides what makes a travel destination “hot?” Why do people from all over the world start buying air fare tickets to places they know very little about? Tourism is often times attracted by economics. Sometimes major events such as the Olympics place a city “onto the map”. Before you know it, it is placed on the “hottest 2013 destination” list. Of course, a clever marketing strategy makes a huge difference too. For years an advertising agency ran the “Visit California” commercial featuring famous celebrities wearing bikinis and drinking wine on the beach, which attracted millions of visitors to the sunny state each year.

Our top destinations are:

Corsica, France

Corsica is a mixture of Italian and French cultures. Its stunning beauty and challenging topograhopy make this epic beauty a spectacular choice for our top destinations of 2013. Corsica will host the initial stages of the hundredth Tour de France.

Rabat, Morocco

Marrakech has always taken the spotlight from Morocco’s low-key capital. While many travelers are seduced by Marrakech’s heady sights and sounds, Rabat has a historic old town feel, featuring mosques and hassle-free shopping. It also features lovely cafes and wide boulevards.

Yukon, Canada

As one of the least densely populated areas in the world, Yukon is enjoying tremendous mineral wealth which is drawing new residents to this region. Due to climate change parts of the north area is actually dissolving into the Arctic Ocean with the glacier parks undergoing profound change.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

In 2013 the 160th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday will take at the city’s Van Gogh Museum. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which is considered one of the world’s greatest orchestras, turns 125 years old in 2013. Amsterdam’s canal ring will celebrate its 400th anniversary. This city always finds ways to celebrate, especially so in 2013. And we thought Amsterdam was already so much fun.

Carinthia, Austria

Carinthia is known for its uncrowded ski slopes nestled on every mountain top. Bordering Italy and Slovenia, the region offers Mediterranean laissez-faire. Now is the time to check out Carinthia, while it’s peaceful and quiet. It won’t stay like this much longer.

Palawan, the Philippines

Palawan consists of thousands of sparkling islands and offers a 2000km pristine coastline. This untouched beauty is about to explode with regional airlines realizing Palawan’s potential and scheduling direct flights to the capital. Combined with high-end boutique hotels normally found in places like Bali, you can feel that Palawan is ready to become big.

Colombia

A magical mountain scenery, stylish hotels and new direct routes from major airports, put Colombia quickly onto a traveler wish list.

The Gulf Coast, USA

The Gulf Coast has taken a few hard hits in the past few years. In 2013 the area with rolling sand dunes and sparkling water is ready for some seasonal travelers.

Mustang, Nepal

The completion of a road connecting Mustang to China in the north and the rest of Nepal to the south will make all the difference to this remote region. Until the early 90’s nobody was allowed in; after that it was opened up to a few hundred a year. These days anyone is allowed to enter as long as they have the pricey trekking permit. This provision keeps the numbers down; but expect that to change soon.

Scotland, United Kingdom

The 2012 James Bond thriller “Skyfall” was filmed there. If you saw the movie, you probably walked away wishing you too could race through Scotland’s dramatic countryside and hide in its foggy pastures.

Travel Holidays to Exotic Tropical Islands and Beaches

Anyone who claims to be a beach lover should get hold of a catalog that lists all the beautiful beaches, where one head to, for a glorious vacation. Given below is a list of some of the major tropical beaches that tourists visit, when they wish to get away from it all and relax on the golden sands.

The Caribbean Beaches have been touted as the best in the world. It is renowned for its temperature as well as the beautiful sparkling crystal waters that make up the oceans. Here you can see plenty of marine life and enjoy a wonderful vacation on these spectacular beaches, where many movies have been shot, because of the excellent location.

If you are romantically involved, there is no better way that to set off to the beach destination that you normally see in movies, where you can spend some quality time, with your loved one. Make this tropical beach your next holiday destination and enjoy the moderate climate, clear blue waters and the various species of marine life that abound there.

You can head to the tropical beaches of Cuba, Bahamas and Gaudeloupe to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily city life. You will enjoy the serenity of the environment and look forward to spending precious moments with your family, which is quite impossible when you are caught up with the daily activities at home. There is no better way to spend quality time with the members of your family or a few close friends.

For those who are not interested in travelling long hours, you can visit Hawaii and have the time of your life on the beaches. The sparkling white sands and the blue clear waters will revitalize your being as you take in the pristine beauty all around you. Enjoy days of water surfing and laze around on the beaches soaking up the wonderful sun. It is not difficult to reach this travel destination as many airlines land at Hawaii which is considered to be one of the most popular travel destinations.

Travel to Asia if you are looking for exotic adventure on your vacation. There are many places that you can visit and several beaches to relax on when you are in Asia. Try heading to a new place instead of visiting the same beaches over and over again. Perhaps you need to experience new sights to be rejuvenated and enjoy a memorable vacation.

One of the famous beaches that you can head to is Ko Phi Phi in Thailand. You can combine adventure and fun with relaxation on the beaches in this part of Asia. Enjoy the sandy beaches and tropical islands, in and around Thailand, where you can enjoy some spectacular natural scenic views and eat the delicacies that are special to Thailand.

If you wish to visit Philippines, you can enjoy a wonderful holiday at Boracay, which is renowned for its fantastic beaches. You can relax on the sands as they do not heat up even at noontime. The other activities that you can indulge in here are kite boarding and windsurfing. You can enjoy the colorful nightlife that is special to this place and take your entire family along for the vacation.

If you are looking for tropical excitement, you can visit the 3 Gili Islands of Indonesia which is well worth the experience. There are many reefs that you can explore when you are there and be amazed at the tranquility and peace that awaits you. If you are adventurous, you can try your hand at diving. The Gili islands offer you total privacy where you can have uninterrupted rest and enjoy relaxing in seclusion on the deserted beaches.

Independent Travelers – An Exceptional Dining Experience in Pulignano a Mare, Puglia, Southern Italy

“Honey, I still don’t see any action in the restaurant!”

We were sitting on the balcony of our hotel high above the Adriatic with a view directly into a large, empty, open air restaurant built in a cave which was also high above the crashing surf. For experienced independent travelers we were getting a little concerned. Did we just make a big leap of faith on a good friend’s recommendation to go to this isolated location for an exceptional dining experience?

The Journey of Faith and a Twinge of Adventure

After a 3 ½ hour long, uneventful drive from Positano on the west coast of Italy to Pulignano a Mare on the east coast of Italy we arrived at this ancient village located several miles below Bari. We rarely plan a one night visit as it is against the ‘mantra of slow travel” but this was a very special restaurant and hotel highly recommended by our friend who lives in Milan. With adventure in mind, we made the exception.

We arrived in the middle of “riposo”, or “nap time”, so this small town was literally closed up for a quiet period. One of the telltale clues were the single chairs in front of the doorways. In this southern part of Italy the chair’s orientation sends the message of ‘do not disturb’ if their backs face the street and If their backs face the doorway, then a guest is welcomed… simple but effective.

We had time to spend since our room was not available so we toured this very old fishing village and came across a World War II Memorial that had fresh flowers and an American flag! The town still remembers the American Troops that helped to liberate it back in the day.

The Hotel and Restaurant

Pulignano a Mare was settled in prehistoric times and is believed to be the site of the ancient Greek city of Neapolis of Apulia. Today one of the main attraction is the Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazzese which is considered one of the most romantic in the world. It has 25 rooms of quality and uniqueness with spacious, arched ceiling accommodations built into the solid limestone rock. The beautiful dining area has been hosting the local nobility since the 700’s and the fortunate visitors since.

Our room would soon be ready so we parked the car and went in search of a wine merchant to buy a bottle of local wine to enjoy in our room before dinner… it is one of our traditions. That would not happen. Nothing was open.

We returned to the hotel and explained to the hotel manager, in our best Italian, that we had been out looking for a nice bottle of wine and he was puzzled… “Why would anyone search for a bottle of wine outside the hotel if we have wine here that we would be happy to deliver?” Well, OK, that was logical and in a few minutes a bottle of sparkling wine, in an ice bucket, with two glasses arrived on a silver tray. So we sat on our stone balcony watching the waves crash 100 feet below on the side of the hotel, anticipating a fabulous dining experience.

The Dining Experience versus Anxiety

So, now it is close to our 9:00 pm reservation time. We are dressed and still looking towards a dark restaurant. This is silly… we are now really hungry and we know it would be all but impossible to find somewhere else to eat. We might have to dip into our road rations of Chez-its and Goldfish crackers!

We poured another glass of wine and began to feel a little anxious and discussed a Plan B (Snack Food and Asti Spumante). To the refrains of… “I’m sorry… I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a bust”.

At that moment we suddenly see a dark figure walking amongst the empty tables. A candle is lit, then another, and then another! Soft lights appear as do more waiters in white gloves and tuxedos adjusting table linens and silverware. There is LIFE!

At Last… Dinner in a Grotto

Having been ready for over an hour, we bolt out the door, walk around the entire hotel, finding the obscure entrance, hurrying down a narrow flight of stairs to beat the crowd just off an Italian tour bus and finding that our reservation was intact. The restaurant is in a cave. The ceilings and walls are rock. You can feel the fresh, salty air wafting in. It was truly magical.

We were led to a beautiful table on the side against a railing that was at least 100 ft above a surging ocean in the dramatically lit grotto.

And now dinner begins.

First we ordered a beautiful white Italian wine, Fiano de Avellino Fenli Disen Gregorio… and they started us with an appetizer of smoked, lightly breaded shrimp plus marinated cucumbers and radishes complimented it with a glass of Asti Spumonti.

The waiter spoke a bit of English but wanted to speak very fast Italian. He was rushing us and, in my best performance, I said, “scusi, lentamente per favore!” (slow down, please!) and we were good for the rest of the meal. Don’t let the servers rush the meal. They truly believe that Americans want to eat and run. Not us. We want to savor every bite.

And so we continue with Mare di Adriatico, (a seafood medley from the waters of the Adriatic), artichoke crab cakes, Sea Bass Carpaccio, Linguini a Mare, Ravioli a Mare, octopus in tomato sauce, each one better than the other. Every plate we ordered seemed to be delivered with a complimentary dish we did not order! And a never empty glass of the sparkling wine.

When it was time for the main dish, a beautiful whole sea bass, skinned and filleted at the table, we could only taste a small portion. There was simply no more room in our stomachs. Then they brought biscotti and lemon sorbet.

Basta Finito… Enough, we are FINISHED! A true dining experience in true Southern Italian style… the restaurant was still seating at midnight!

The next morning upon checking out we found that the meal was included in the price of the room… the wine was extra so our meal came to about $40.

We rank this exceptional meal as one of our TOP TEN dining experiences and It was certainly worth the drive across Italy… now we are off to Rome!