Thursday, December 6, 2012

Planning out an exotic Travelife for 2013



I've just decided that 2013 will be my year for exotic travel to far-flung destinations. Actually, I decided this already sometime back. I started exploring off-the-beaten track places from this year, and next year will simply be a continuation.

MY 2013 WISHLIST



On my wish-list are two dozen destinations including many more places in Africa and the Middle East. I already began exploring these two relatively unknown continents -- at least relatively unknown for me -- this year, and I'm so enamoured with them that I've been googling places to go and things to do in Africa and the Middle East whenever I have a spare moment.




Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya are on my list for Africa, along with a revisit of Morocco.


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From the December 2012 - January 2013 issue onwards

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SEE YOU AGAIN, MOROCCO

I got inspired to visit Morocco again after hearing a friend's stories about the beauty of Fez and camping out in the desert.

The green roofs of Fez

About ten years ago, I spent three weeks in Morocco, and we'd hired a car, driver and guide from Casablanca airport, and driven almost the entire country -- from Casablanca, to Rabat, Fez, Meknes; and then down to Marrakech.



Everywhere blew my mind away, but I especially loved Fez. I still remember that eerie feeling of walking the souk and feeling that time had stood still over the centuries. In those days, there was only one luxury place to stay in Fez, and it was an old palace in the middle of the old city.





See what we're doing in real time!


THE HISTORIC LA MAMMOUNIA

Morocco's tourism infrastructure was still developing then, but there were already some nice boutique hotels as well as the grand historical ones.



I stayed at the iconic La Mammounia in Marrakech (before its extensive renovation), where Winston Churchill used to paint watercolors in the garden, and the Aman resort just outside the city.

This time, I want to stay in a very exclusive riad in the center of the souk area, and then also go to one of the amazing hotels somewhere between Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains.



I still have to get organized  as I just decided to do this yesterday, and I still even have to see who wants to go on this adventure with me. But I've already created a travel folder for Morocco on my computer.

As my friends know, when I say I'm going to do something, I really do it. I don't have time or patience for wishful thinking or planning that goes nowhere. Not in my Travelife.

SEE YOU AGAIN, AFRICA



Same with Africa. Once we've put our fantastic Travelife Dec-Jan issue to bed tomorrow, I'm going to start planning for Africa. I currently have three places on my list, but it's likely that I'll only have time for two -- so I'm going to do more research and shortlist over the holidays.

ANOTHER COUNTRY ADDED TO THE LIST

This morning, too, an ambassador of a pretty exotic country paid me a visit in the office, bringing a beautiful picture book of his country. His country has long been on my wishlist.

It's not very far in terms of travel time, but it's so off the beaten track because of negative publicity over the past years, that I actually don't know any Filipino who's made it there.



I know of two very well-travelled foreigners who've been, and they both say it's just about the most amazing place they've been to -- and they should now, as they both travel a lot to these kinds of exotic places for work.



So today, I decided to include this country in my 2013 destinations, although I'm not sure if any of my friends would like to come along.



This one is really a place for people who've been everywhere, and who would like bragging rights to being among the first brave travelers. But I've never forgotten how these two foreign friends of mine once told me, separately, that it's one of the most fascinating, complex, and beautiful cultures and countries in the world.

Let's see how my planning goes for that one.

AN EVENING OF FINNISH HOSPITALITY



Tonight I spent the entire evening in the home of the Finnish ambassador. I decided for once to stay put at one event and the Finnish ambassador and his very charming and straightforward wife are among my favorites in the diplomatic community. Their sons are both great friends of mine as well, so I really feel at home in their lovely and understated home.

The not too many times that I've been here for a party or a dinner, I've always overstayed my welcome and stayed longer than I should.



It was the same again tonight. It was just so enjoyable and relaxing to have very interesting conversations with a very eclectic and cosmopolitan group of nice people, enjoying Madame's home-made Finnish specialties.

The Finnish salmon was absolutely delicious.

LUNCH I CAN'T BLOG ABOUT



I also had a really wonderful lunch at the Spices restaurant of the Peninsula Manila today, that I can't really blog about. But it was just what I needed today.

And that's how another day passed in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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