Sunday, 29 January 2017

A taste of the new world: the colonial heritage of Tenerife

Tenerife, the biggest of  the Canary islands, is famous for all-inclusive resorts where tourists get drunk and enjoy the year-round sunshine, experiencing nothing of the island. Locals insist that the real Tenerife is elsewhere, and especially in the north of the island, where the charming towns and the incredible landscapes will leave you agape.

Tenerife is rich in culture and unique in its diversity. A volcanic island off the coast of southern Morocco, it is home to a biodiversity that is comparable to that of Gal├ípagos. To the tourist it offers a variety of sceneries, from the volcanic lunar landscapes of Parque del Teide to the lush forests of the Anaga mountains, or the golden beaches with sand imported from the Sahara. Because of the microclimates of the island, Tenerife is green in the north and arid in the south.
The Anaga Mountains, on the north-eastern tip of Tenerife

Monday, 16 January 2017

Hvar: island of the senses

Hvar has everything I expected from a Croatian island: it's covered in pine forests, lavender fields and olive groves, it has beautiful secluded pebble beaches and a gorgeous historical centre. Moreover, the ferry from Split took me there in less than a couple of hours.
It has picturesque marble-paved streets full of flowers and trellis, and its main square looks out onto the sea, with countless smaller islands ready to be explored. Woods grow just behind the square, offering a perfect postcard picture. Hvar is one of the most visited islands in Dalmatia, so it's rather busy in the summer months, but it still shows its charm in the backstreets and quiet corners.

The main square in Hvar

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Pai, backpacker's heaven or hell?

The small town of Pai, in north-western Thailand, is very popular among backpackers who visit Thailand. Lured by their ravishing tales, I decided to give it a go.

There is nothing special about Pai itself. There are no amazing temples, the food is mediocre and as in the infamous Khao San Road in Bangkok, the place lost its authenticity long ago. There are more guesthouses, souvenir shops and trekking agencies than private houses, not to mention more Western food that in any other parts of northern Thailand. On top of the that, the 4-hour minibus drive from Chiang Mai is a nightmare of 700 turns where you'd better not look out of the window.

Relaxing in Pai
Yet tourists keep flocking to Pai for the laid-back atmosphere: hippies, yoga enthusiasts and 20-somethings devoted to smoke weed, but also some hiking enthusiasts decide to visit this relatively remote corner of Thailand close to the border with Burma. Oh, and tons of Chinese tourists, to the point that some of the accommodation especially caters for them.
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