06 Jul

Lanzarote – an emerging ‘upmarket’ travel destination

You can forget Marbella, Venice and New York, as the latest place to be emerging as a trendy and ‘upmarket’ travel destination is Lanzaote. Though unlike many other popular and allegedly ‘high-end’ resorts, in which glamour, glitz and neon-lights weave are an intrinsic feature, Lanzarote’s ‘upmarketness’ is much quieter, subtle and more subdued.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at the following ‘evidence’ of this beautiful Canary Island’s move to upholding a more chic and sophisticated reputation.

The influence of Cesar Manrique

Across the whole of Lanzarote you can catch glimpses of how the visionary architect, environmentalist and artist Cesar Manrique influenced the island. The early twentieth century artist and architect’s incredible creations can be seen across the whole of Lanzarote. It is widely agreed that it is because of Manrique’s stylish buildings, sculptures and viewpoints carved on cliff edges, which saved Lanzarote from the crude ruination of rampant development.

An eco-retreat

With such a huge emphasis placed on being environmentally-friendly and eco-aware in contemporary society, destinations that clutch to eco-friendly ethics are commonly regarded as more ‘upmarket’ and ‘sophisticated’ than resorts which don’t.

With a swelling number of charismatic ‘eco retreats’ sprouting around the island, which pride themselves on offering sustainable energy and greener lifestyle practices, Lanzarote is progressing as one of Europe’s greener hubs – A necessary feature in the quest to be considered an upmarket travel destination.

The surfing nucleus of Europe

Long gone are the days when those who had a penchant for surfing where considered to be hippie, travelling types who lived in campervans and had never worn a suit. Today surfing is considered a much chicer, cosmopolitan pastime and consequently destinations that attract surfers are held in similar upmarket esteem.

This can definitely be applied to Lanzarote, which offers some of the best surfing in Europe. The island is home to a number of well-facilitated surfing centres where it’s possible to hire a board and be coached by a qualified and professional trainer.

Yes, it’s safe to say if you’re looking for an upmarket travel destination that is void of neon, noise and conspicuousness, the sun-drenched, volcanic lands of Lanzarote could be the island to head to.

 


 

02 Jul

The Portmao Sardine Festival 2014

Calling all sardine lovers. Sardine season is well underway in the Algarve as fishermen and chefs are equally as busy keeping up with the demand to supply what is possibly Portugal’s favourite dish.

Though we have to admit the fishermen have a more challenging task than the chefs in the quest to quench locals’ and tourists’ seemingly insatiable hunger for the humble sardine. Why? Because the most common way to eat sardines on the Algarve is to simply drizzle some lemon and salt on them, throw them on the grill and serve them with a chunk of rustic bread.

In fact it’s not just the Algarve which has a hungry penchant for eating sardines. Sardine festivals take place across much of southern Europe all summer long. The most famous however happens to take place in Portmao on the Algarve.  Portmao’s Sardine Festival takes place in early August when locals and visitors ascend on the town in their droves to celebrate what has been a staple food of the Algarve or centuries.

The Portmao Sardine Festival goes the extra mile when compared to other European sardine celebrations. This popular culinary event lasts for over a week. Live music, dressing up and activities for all the family accompany the rampant sardine eating, as the sweet smell of fresh sardines slowly cooking on a charcoal fire fill the warm Algarve air.

Portmao is a vibrant and cosmopolitan town, which has something for everyone. There is a museum to visit, river cruises to enjoy and many interesting, quirky and quality shops and restaurants to spend a leisurely day exploring.

With upmarket beach resorts, exquisite fishing ports and modern commercial shopping centres Portmao has also emerged as the new Western Europe destination for luxury travellers.

Though if you want to experience the town’s traditional, rustic charm, participating in the Sardine Festival in August is the perfect way to become acquainted with the esteem Portugal upholds towards its most popular culinary staple.


 

22 Jun

Arcos de la Frontera – 750th anniversary in 2014

Arcos de la Frontera – 750th anniversary: This magical hill top town celebrates its 750th anniversary this year, marking independence from the Moors and becoming part of the Kingdom of Castille.

Throughout 2014, a special committee will be organising various events to involve as many of the local people and tourists alike.

 These events include open air concerts, exhibitions, medieval markets, festivals, theatre performances and guided tours.

The idea is to remember Arcos’ history and past whilst promoting its present and future.

Vintage Travel have a number of luxury villas in Arcos de la Frontera, including the wonderful La Soledad, click HERE for more details.

 


 

18 Jun

Vejer Fashion Weekend 2014

Vejer Fashion Weekend returns as one of the most anticipated events in Vejer’s summer calendar. Last year it attracted over 6,000 visitors to the town, this year we hope it will bring even more.

From the 4th – 6th July the event will unite young and creative artists related to the world of fashion, contemporary art and music, in the historic monumental centre of Vejer, considered to be one of the most fashionable places to visit in Spain.

Prestigious international designers will send their models down an open-air cat walk specially constructed along the old city walls. There will also be various exhibitions, workshops, conferences and concerts. It is a program designed to stimulate creativity and convert trend and ideas into useful resources.

There will be numerous showrooms and stalls, primarily located in the exterior patio of the church. Here designers will be able to sell, divulge and network directly with the public.

The event was originally created by local Andalucian entrepreneurs with the support of Vejer’s Town Hall and Tourist Office.

The location is unrivalled, as well as being recently voted one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, Vejer is close to infinite sandy beaches and enjoys a climate which attracts surfers.

Its gastronomy and bohemian sophistication has made its mark and put Vejer on the radar of the most cosmopolitan and selective traveller.


 

10 Jun

Looking for a country and western festival in Europe?

On the face of it, the small and sleepy town of Mirande in the Gers department in South West France would be an unlikely place to play host to the largest country and western festival in Europe.

Not only is the festival the biggest Country and Western event in Europe but it is also recognised as being the first musical festival of this genre to have been established in Europe. In a word, Mirande’s love for country and western has made the town legendary.

For six days in July Mirande turns into an all American town.  Last year actors from the cast of Dallas showed up, augmenting the authenticity further. The event is attended by some 165,000 country and western lovers from around the world.

Local Alain Ribaut started the first Mirande festival in 1993. After a shaky beginning with sparse attendance, the  following year saw 30,000 people popping by to enjoy the  party. Since then the Mirande Music Festival has never looked back.

Eighty or so concerts take place over the course of the festival. Acts from the four corners of the globe will be appearing on stage. Though there is much more to this event asides the recognisable twang of the country and western chord. Visitors can soar high above Mirande and its surroundings on a balloon flight. 200 stalls line the town’s streets, selling authentic North American Indian and Western clothes. American car and motor cycle shows are present as drivers and riders from all over France converge on Mirande to show off their pride and joy.

The festival is a real family affair catering for all ages. Little ones may well need to be in bed before the last act is over though as the music goes on until dawn. The Gers area is renowned for its fine cuisine. Fans of French and international gastronomy will not be disappointed with the superb range of seriously good dishes on offer at the festival.

Nestled deep in the green hills of Gascony, and with a pretty ‘bastide’ dominating the vista, Mirande is a beautifully seductive town all year round. And, as we said, the most unexpected of places to experience the traditional country and western atmosphere of the USA.


 

06 Jun

International Sherry Week 2014 in Andalucia

International Sherry Week (ISW) invites all Sherry lovers to join in a global celebration of Spain’s unique Sherry wines.

Developed and managed by an independent group of Certified Sherry Educators positioned globally, the 2014 campaign has been designed in consultation with the regulatory council of Sherry Wines to support the promotion of Sherry worldwide.

International Sherry Week 2014 coincides with Jerez winning the title of European Wine City 2014, even more reason to celebrate this unique and historical wine region.

There are numerous events taking place in Vejer, Jerez, Sanlucar and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

These include Sherry & tapas, Sherry & pairing menus, Sherry cocktails, tastings, flamenco, Sherry & sushi, cookery classes as well as Sherry & art.


 

31 May

Luxury family villa on Costa Brava – Casa Torre Vella

Close to the traditional market town of Torroella de Montgri and the busier coastal resort of Estartit, the Costa Brava’s Casa Torre Vella offers the best of both worlds – Culture, history and inspiring architecture or the traditional tourist highlights of any swinging yet upmarket coastal town.

Being well placed between two contrasting worlds visitors can enjoy many medieval buildings, villages and fortifications, such as the imposing Montgri Castle, which dominates the skyline of the nearby mountains one day. The following day they can visit the likes of Estartit, filled with all the usual ingredients of a thriving  up-to-date holiday destination.

Alternatively you could spend the day lounging around Casa Torre Vella and its grounds, and being as stylish and stunning as this Spanish villa is, we can’t say we’d blame you.

Casa Torre Velle’s enclosed garden is green and natural with plenty of trees and shrubs. The view from the terrace over the southern end of The Bay of Roses is simply eye-watering. With an elevated position, in Casa Torre Vella you can see greenery from almost every window. The blue Mediterranean Sea framed by the Catalan countryside makes a scene that’s unrivalled by nowhere.

The spacious pool is ideal for splashing about or enjoying a good swim. The poolside terrace is large and enticing, perfect for drying off in the sun and soaking in the views after a dip in the pool.

Casa Torre Vella sleeps six in two twin bedrooms on the ground floor and double bedroom on the first floor. The master bedroom adjoins a spacious upper terrace from where glimpses of the  Mediterranean twinkle through the window. Marble effect floor tiles work really well in the house, giving it an authentic Spanish feel.

Chunky balustrades run along the upper terrace casting shadows across the tiled floor and a mint striped awning provides subtle shade. Distinctly Spanish in style, Casa Torre Vella will help you settle straight into a local lifestyle upon your arrival.

Shops and restaurants are not too far away but it is the old market town of Torroella de Montgri where you will find the pick of the crop when it comes to dining out. You could try Palau Lo Mirador or Fonda Mitja Restaurante both of which have had great reviews.

For more information, to see photos and for availability and booking of Casa Torre Vella click HERE.

 


 

27 May

Pause Guitare Music Festival: When cultural Albi really comes to life

The old town of Albi in South West France is beautiful, historic and interesting whatever time of the year you go there. To discover Albi at its busiest and most vibrant, early July would be a good time to visit when the Pause Guitare Music Festival takes place.

From 7 – 12 July, 2014 festival goers from around France and beyond will gather at this scenic French town. Female group sensations Yodelice will be joining the artists playing at Albi this year. Louis Cedid, Christophe and Adebert are all scheduled to play. They will join M, The Hives, Zaz, to name just several of the great musicians playing at this year’s Pause Guitare Music Festival.

Whether you are in striking distance to Albi or further afield, this festival is definitely worth travelling to see, as is Albi itself.

This elegant medieval town was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. History and culture radiate down the town’s picturesque streets, squares and alleyways. The great French artist known as Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi, which has continued to be a Mecca for artists. The 13th century Cathedrale Sainte-Cecile was built when the heretical Cathars were defeated. Consequently, the cathedral has a distinct military look. Adjacent to the cathedral is the stout Palais de la Berbie.  Today this impressive building hosts the town’s museum, which contains works of art by Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Dufy, Gaugin and many more.

Albi’s ancient, traffic-free, medieval streets are a delight to walk around. Superb and reasonably-priced restaurants are a dominant feature of the town’s tourism make-up. Another impressive site that is worth seeing in Albi is the Chateau du Bosc, the place where Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec spent a happy childhood.

With flat-bottomed boats making their way down the Tarn and a whole host of cultural, historic and artistic sites to explore, there are many reasons to visit Albi – the Pause Guitare Music Festival is just one of them.

For more information on this popular summer festival in South West France visit: http://www.pauseguitare.net/.


 

19 May

What to eat in Lazio

Okay you’re going to Italy so you can be certain you’ll experience some great cuisine. Visiting Lazio however will bring a whole new dimension to Italian culinary art and yes, in Lazio art is the operative word! Here’s what to eat in Lazio…

 

Primo

With its intense flavours yet simple ingredients, discovering food in Lazio is like discovering seventh heaven! When visiting a restaurant in Lazio you’ll find many of the ‘first dishes’ are traditional Italian starters. These primos are slightly heavier than starters in the likes of the UK and include dishes such as spaghetti all’Amatriciana, lasagne and gnocchi. What you’ll also find is these Italian ‘staples’ are enhanced significantly by pecorino cheese, bacon and rigatoni alla pajata, to mention just a few.

Secondo

The main courses in Lazio are typically made up of different meats and types of fish. Typical main dishes in this region of Italy are Trastevere tripe, spring lamb with vegetables, oxtail stew (Vaccinara style) and saltiimmbocca alla romana. All of these traditional Lazio dishes are bursting with intense and rich flavours and are made with only the finest, locally-sourced ingredients.

Roman artichokes are another popular delicacy in Lazio. It is also common for dishes to comprise of black olives of Gaeta, the chestnuts of Cimini and to be prepared in the intense olive of Sabina.

Dolce

Dessert in Lazio (dolce) typically include traditional Italian sweets, such as panna cotta, tiramisu, pandoro and zuppa inglese. Desserts are usually served with ice-cream or sorbetto.

And what about the wine?

Lazio’s rolling hills, fertile volcanic soil and ample, year-round sunshine makes the region naturally suited to the production of white wines. The Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes flourish in this area, producing a mouth-watering, crisp white wine. The delicious wines of the Casetlli Romani and the Albini Hills provide a light and refreshing accompaniment to the rich and heady flavours of the traditional Lazio dishes.

One popular wine in this region of Italy is known as Montefiascone Est! Est! Est!. The wine is named after an ancient story about an abbot who gave a servant the job of marking all the inns in the region with the best wines, with the word ‘Est’. At the inns of Montefiascone the servant was so impressed with the wine he wrote three Est, Est, Ests on the wall of the inn – Somehow wine can taste even better when you know the history, so Montefiascone Est! Est! Est! is definitely one to look out for when you are in Lazio.


 

13 May

Summer Sensual Days Festival 2014 – Istria at its most passionate

When the sun sets over the sea, beyond the beautiful coastal town of Rovinj, on the heart-shaped peninsula of Istria, lovers dance to the erotic beats of the ‘Bachata’.

This romantic style of dancing, which is much slower than the salsa, was developed in the Dominican Republic. In Rovinj in late June the ‘Bachata’ is revived with warmth and passion.

Sound’s appealing? Aptly titled Summer Sensual Days, this international festival of sensual dances is taking place from June 20 – 22, 2014.  The festival puts a whole new perspective of the joys of dancing, in which visitors can take part on Caribbean and Latin dances, including the Bachata, Kizomba, the Zouk and many more.  This eye-opening festival is hosted by the creators of the Croatian Summer Salsa Festival in collaboration with Salsa Adria Productions.

Combing a passion for dance with sun, music, beautiful beaches, a Mediterranean climate, top-notch cuisine and stunning scenery, Summer Sensual Days, has all the hallmarks of a weekend to remember. Great music will be played in abundance by top drawer bands from far away lands who are gifted in the fine art of compelling people to shake those hips. Top of the bill are ‘Grupo Extra’.  This slick and steamy band is hugely popular in Spain, Italy and France.

Rovinj is a fantastic little town. In many ways it epitomises Croatian beauty, with its classic red tiled roofs, meandering cobbled streets and restaurants being lapped  by the Mediterranean Sea.  Visiting this picturesque place is quite simply a must for anyone in Istria. And if you happen to be  on the peninsula in on the weekend of June20 – 22, then you know where to head to if you want to shake those hips Latino style.

Check out the whole Summer Sensual Days story by visiting the website: http://www.summersensual.com/the_story