We're obsessed right now with Santorini, that beautiful little Greek island (actually, multiple islands) with exquisite sunset views, perfect whitewashed houses and lapis lazuli waters surrounding volcanic formations that compose the islands.
So once-upon-a-time, many volcanic eruptions occurred over and over again, creating, destroying, building back up again and forcing more collapse until out of it all, finally, came Santorini; a group of islands in Greece comprising of a still-active volcano, in the southernmost part of Cyclades (the full circle of Greek islands in the Aegean). The caldera is the big, sea-filled crater left by volcanic activity throughout the ages and creates the backdrop for many the beautiful views you'll see from towns, cliffs and overlooks on Santorini.
The best time to visit these islands is from June through September with the edge months being the best in my opinion to catch the heat of the sun but sometimes beat the crowds of the true high season. And September has the bonus of having heated up the sea sufficiently so you barely notice the temperature difference between air and sky! (Sorry, dad, I know you love a bit of shocking cold water!)
Firá is the capital of Santorini - the place to find your grocery stores, a myriad of cafés and restaurants and the spot to party into the wee hours. Surrounded by vineyards and filled with whitewashed cubic dwellings, it overlooks the azure Aegean sea, allowing many a luxurious hotel to build infinity pools seemingly stretching out into the sea, balconies on the edge of cliffs and the most picturesque dining views.
Firostefani and Imerovigli are nearby Firá but maintain their seclusive and relaxing vibe. Just hop over to Firá when you need to inject a bit of nightlife into your holiday!
Oia seems like the perfect spot to stay if you are looking for the best sunset views, relaxing atmosphere (although touristy) and amazing restaurants. Not many shops here but oh! the luxury in these high-end hotels is impressive!
The towns of Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari don't have vistas toward the scenic volcano but instead contain the best beaches you'll find on Santorini.
So you have your choices laid out for you of where to stay when you get to Santorini according to what's most important to you on your holidays: Will it be scenery, buzz or beach?
Our #TTOT chat (Travel Talk on Twitter) posed an interesting question (by @SonjaSwissLife) to the enthusiastic, constant-itchy-feet, world-travelling participants: "Predict the next big destination and why?"
What did this group have to say about it? They come from all over the world and travel it regularly, criss-crossing the globe to experience as much adventure as possible so better listen quick to these suggestions as if the experts say it's gonna get big, then you don't have much time before EVERYONE soon gets in on the terribly-kept secret...
First on our list of destinations that are blowing up is Iceland suggested by @MalloryOnTravel & @SonjaSwissLife, and here's why:
Party scene: You'll surely know some friends who have already hopped over to Reykjavik for a stag do (personally haven't heard of any hens there yet but I'm sure they're coming) to take advantage of the kroner, the craft liquors and thumping nightlife. Here are some must-see bars we recommend:
In the news: Remember we all were made very aware of this little island when in 2010, its impossibly-named Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted and created an ash cloud that disrupted millions of travellers' air journeys when about 20 countries closed their airspace for a period of 6 days.
Football & fan prowess: Even more recently, we applauded Iceland, an island of ~330,000 inhabitants, when their national football team beat England 2-1 to make it to the quarter-finals of the Euros 2016 (where they then lost to hosts, France). Matching the team in statistics, the Icelandic fans had some of their own: that 10% of their population bought stadium tickets to watch their team advance and an astonishing 99.8% of Iceland's TV-audience tuned in to watch the final match. To put that into actual numbers: just 298 individual viewers in the entire country were tuned to channels not showing the game. So when you visit Iceland next, you should definitely congratulate them on their impressive skills on the football field and in the fan seats!
In a recent #TToT (Travel Talk on Twitter) chat, we talked all things music, music festivals and how their very existence rings in the summer season. There are so many music festivals that go on around the world, I didn't realise how much I've been missing out on. Friends just back from Glasto (hey Katie! Hey Tom!) still talking about the incredible sets and already planning their next visit; Others having been to smaller, regional festivals with just a few bands on small stages - it really is summer when people disappear for weekends at a time without phone signal and return muddy, exhausted but so excited about the long list of new artists to now follow.
During the chat, @trvlreadexplr asked: Which music festival do you recommend anyone who asks?
And so here are the best responses along with some info about each festival so you can make your plans now to attend them next summer! (And if you act quick, some are still to go this year.)
First up, the obviously uber cool @EuroBackpacker said the Secret Solstice in Iceland was incredible, which, after reading up just a little on it, I was immediately determined to go one year:
Secret Solstice - Iceland
24-hour sunlight x 3 days = 72 straight hours of festival!
Held in Reykjavik during the Summer Solstice, this unique festival has so much to offer: beautiful surroundings, an eclectic mix of regional and international artists and the great gimmick of a $1million ticket: "For the person who has everything" and five friends, for a mere $1million, the festival offers business-class flights to and from the festival, a 6-room villa for 7 nights, VIP and backstage access to each set, private concerts just for the group, and so so much more, I can't even list everything here. I wonder if anyone took them up on that this year!
For the rest of us, a 3-day festival pass runs at about 24,900 króna or $200 USD. Clean, well-organised and child-friendly (no sunset, no bedtimes!), it's a popular festival for locals and visitors alike. Camping is available of course but with the proximity to the city centre, hotel stays are also possible (yay!)...that is if you ever go to bed in the constant sunlight. The organisers really push the boat out with the festival and its side events; they hosted a gig INSIDE a glacier and this year for the first time in the world, they hosted a performance inside the magma chamber of a volcano. Of course these side events cost a few more króna than we might want to spend but nice to know the option is there.
Headlining this year was Radiohead, along with Of Monsters And Men, Deftones, and countless other acts and DJs. The festival is only in its third year so with its popularity growing, more and more acts will be signing on and this will become a major festival to attend each summer. I know it's on my list.
Next up, @aardvarksafaris suggested the Lake of Stars in Malawi for "an awesome 'once in a lifetime' music festival - like no where else!" And boy, are they right:
Lake of Stars Music Festival - Malawi
Ever thought about going on a road trip just the two of you, or even with friends? Jump in a car, throw the backpacks in the boot, snacks in the front, and head off into the horizon? It's not for everybody; the close quarters, generally loose plans on where to stay each night, sometimes paired with camping in case you're really in the wilderness...and for many, those are the exact reasons they love a good road trip. In the #TRLT (The Road Less Traveled) Chat, a group very enthusiastic about road trips, was asked via @touristexclusiv:
"What is the best region on The Road Less Traveled to do a road trip and for how long? Share a photo!"
People were only too happy to oblige:
Road Trip Idea #1: The Karoo in South Africa
The Karoo in South Africa is a semi-desert natural region perfect for a road trip. To quote SouthAfrica.net:
"Spanning nearly 400,000km squared in the geographic midriff of South Africa, the Great Karoo must be one of the quietest places on Earth.
It is a place of immense spaces, wide-angle horizons, craggy mountain ranges, conical hills, an ancient inland seabed, and a sky so big that at night it feels like you can touch the stars.
The Great Karoo stands proudly with other desert tourism regions like the Australian Outback and Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, and makes for a memorable road-trip.
It seems you could travel for months in and about the towns of the Great Karoo and have a different experience in each one."
Road Trip Idea #2: Sacred Valley, Peru
Next up in our Interview Series, a Yoga and Meditation guru in the form of Daniela Calota. We're delighted to have her sharing inspiring messages and encouraging others to detox their mind and body via customised classes, perfect for anyone spending any amount of time in London.
Let's get right into the Q&A so you can hear for yourself all the energy and enthusiasm exuding from this wellness instructor:
Q1. How long have you been doing Yoga for?
I have been practicing Yoga since 2012. I have been an active person all my life, filled with unlimited energy. Yoga has helped me to channel my energy, it has helped me improve my focus, practice stillness, improve health and well-being and practice better mindfulness. Kundalini Yoga, the pearl of yoga, I discovered in mid-2014 and it has been the most awakening experience. Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of awareness, I practice it continuously. I consider Yoga a science that is able to create a harmony between body, mind and soul.
Q2. What’s your favourite part of doing Yoga?
I love practicing Kundalini; it is a combinations of pranas, mantras and asanas working the 7 chakras through a full mobility of the whole body, spiritual awakening and mind cleansing harmony. It is the Yoga of awareness, the yoga of the activation of the pineal gland (our third eye). I call it Kundalini Nectar Yoga.
Q3. Who are you favourite types of clients?
I prefer working with children and seniors. I teach children Yoga in order to help them improve in school, socially and in community, also to help them get a better health, and overall well-being. We live in a technology-focused modern world where children are not in touch with nature, with their spirituality, nor do they practice physical activities as they often prefer the company of a computer. Therefore when I am teaching children I often use a method focused on helping them get better focus, practice stillness, improve flexibility and balance. Many children suffer from Autism, ADHD obesity and Yoga is an amazing way of help children improve physically, mentally and spiritually.
I also like working with seniors, I love to revive their spirits as I am a firm believer that we are as old as our minds. I know yoga has tremendous impact on mental health, physical health and well-being. It helps develop and increase physical and mental mobility and balance. Yoga is refreshing.
Q4. Do you have any unusual skills when it comes to teaching Yoga?
I am an empath, my unusual skill is that of being “a sponge of energy”, Empaths are open vessels. I believe we should radiate the good thoughts and good hearts that we are in essence. If we feel ever depleted we have interacted with negative thoughts (personal or surrounding us), and when we feel energized, filled with vitality and joy, we are in a happy spot mentally, physically and spiritually :). Yoga is refreshing, it is a detox for the mind, body and soul.
Siamac and Julieanne are avid world travellers, sun worshippers and enjoy sharing recommendations of treats they've encountered along the way. With this blog and Concierge99's Top 5 Guides, they can help you make the most of your travels, giving you an opportunity to find interesting and unique things to do wherever you are in the world.
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