Monday, 29 May 2017

Wine tasting at Opera 02

Nowadays Facebook
is helping out a lot to organize weekends with its event sharing program. This time we came across to the wine tasting event at the Opera 02 of Castelvetro in Modena for a very cheap price. We have already been to their restaurant couple of times and we know their prices are little bit higher (equal to the offered service) compared with others, so we thought it was a great opportunity to spend some good time in a wonderful place without spending too much of money. We have tasted their Malbo wine during our last dinner there which was really fantastic then why not trying the other types??? The third reason for what we didn’t want to miss this chance was the location. While going for dinner we have never been able to capture the most of its beauty, and the last time I have promised myself to return back during the day time. So here we go! In fact I was right, the views were breathtaking, the vineyards and the rolling hills around give to Opera 02 an additional touch. We are sure this place becomes a must especially in autumn when the surrounding grapevine turns into red or yellow.  The tour with the owner’s son was interesting; he gave
us some information about the producing procedures. They produce three types of wines, two of them are Lambrusco. Their factory is very small and they produce only organic wines, means no use of chemical additives. They do export wine abroad but still their distribution is not ample. In fact they are now suppling to Russia, United Stated and Japan only. The difficulty to expand seems due to the price, especially when it comes to Lambrusco most of the people out of Modena, consider it as a cheap wine so they hardly pay 50 or 60 dollars per bottle, (retail price). This is a big obstacle of their way and this price barrier could be really a very big problem when it comes to Lambrusco. Seems they are handling better with the Malbo one. Opera 02 is just 15 minutes drive from Modena and 10 minutes drive from Maranello, so definitely worth a visit if you are up to the Ferrari Museum. They also offer hotel services, in fact they have eight rooms where sleeping peacefully. It is not only the attractive setting but also the style within, very contemporary decor with the pool vanishing into the vineyards. We really enjoyed this pleasant evening.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Just take me to the Andaman!!!

Welcome to Havelock Island

Yes I have been!!! So proud to say that. Havelock is the largest one of the Andaman Archipelago.  It has a breathtaking coastline, lush forested interior, fantastic diving and snorkeling (nowadays only with guides) possibilities and a stunning location; the Andaman Islands are a perfect place to ramble around or simply chill out on sun-toasted white sandy beaches. Reaching Andaman from Europe is quite an expensive option even if you are a backpacker.
You must first fly to India and then to Port Blair, the gateway to the Andaman Islands. Once in India, there are many Indian low cost flights such as Kingfisher Airlines, Air Deccan that fly regularly from Chennai, Kolkata, New Delhi and so on. I went there via Chennai and returned back via Kolkata. There are also regular passenger ship services to Port Blair from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam: there are three sailings a month from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair and vice-versa and only once a month from Visakhapatnam. This one way trip takes about 50 to 60 hours during the good weather condition. So even if it is a very cheap option, the time you need to go and come back is too much. Most of the time it is used by the Andamanese who live in the mainland for business. I forgot to say that Indian visa is required while visiting Andaman so before buying the flight tickets contact the Indian embassy of your country of origin in order to obtain the tourist visa, it costs about € 100.00. Once you reach Port Blair, there are ferries connecting all populated islands and tourist places. Tickets are issued at the counters located at the Jetty. In case you don’t want to wait longer there are private boats that can take you everywhere. This could be a good option if you are arriving to Port Blair after sunset. Most of the travelers don’t bed in Port Blair, they are headed to Havelock. I came in the early afternoon so I could wait for the ferry without any problem. Once you get into Havelock you will fall in love with that picturesque natural paradise with its beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. I could feel the unspoiled nature! As I said first Havelock is a biggest and populated one in the Andaman Archipelago. I stayed in a hotel called Pristine; to be honest it was a lovely beach front hut with all facilities. I didn’t move from Havelock, I spent my ten days on vacation chilling out in Havelock. I have rented a bicycle for my daily use. As most of the tourist developing countries, it was not dangerous at all so I could go everywhere with my bicycle. Go everywhere and meet the people, see their villages. If you are still planning your next vacation, put it in your list. Nobody will be disappointed with the Andaman Islands.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Lamin Lodge, The Gambia

Have you ever thought about travelling to The Gambia? Most of the people I know don't even know where The Gambia is! It is in the west cost of Africa. Anyway one of the tourist attractions which is advised to be seen in the country is Lamin Lodge. 
It is a Gambian standard restaurant and bar in the Lamin village on the side of the river Gambia. Nothing seems to be strange yet  right? While residing in tourist areas you need a taxi to reach this place, because busses run only until the main street of Lamin village. From where there are 4 or 5 km of unpaved road which is in a very bad condition so self-drivers should be careful, especially during the rainy season. If case you travel with taxi, negotiate clearly earlier with the driver in order to avoid misunderstandings later. They are always in a hurry, and in case you stay more hours than what you have previously said to the drivers, they will charge more money. While travelling by bus, get down at the Lamin main Street and walk down to the lodge.
Indications along the way are well located so you can't get lost. This option is not only cheap but also while walking you can experience the village life in the Lamin area. Keep some pencils with you for the children to give. Another way to reach in there is by boat. I have never tried it so cannot give more details. Taxi driver will drop you just in front of the bridge which takes to the Lamin Lodge. Here at the entrance there are some locals who try to sell you tourist trips around the area. They have nothing to do with the Lamin Lodge but they are quite informative: the guide explained us the use of the oyster shells in The Gambia and how they render them down to use in buildings. The boat trip offered by them seemed to me cheaper than the one at the Lamin Lodge. Anyways before promising to them you better compare the prices with the Lamin Lodge lady.
The one or two hours boat trips are worth specially if you have never done one before. Lamin lodge is a rustic building frequented by monkeys, they walk on chairs and tables, eating the food of the ones who have already left. Once the waiter brings the order to your table, you will be surrounded by monkeys. You must defend yourself by using a stick provided by the restaurant upon arrival. They like cool drinks very much so they steal it and drink it in front of you. At the first sight it seemed to me happening casually, but later when I went to the first floor seeking the lady I saw her feeding the monkeys in the kitchen. So probably it's a way to attract tourists. People raved for this place, yes it was something different but I wasn't that much impressed and also you cannot enjoy the meal while holding the sticks to scare off the monkeys. In any moment it can come close to you and steal your food and not only. In fact we ordered food but we couldn't eat properly because the monkeys were everywhere around us trying to come close even if we had our sticks ready to be used. We just had drinks. One of the monkey tried to steal our sprite bottle but it was almost empty so the monkey left it on the table and stolen the one from the nect table. Keep an eye on your handbag or cameras, they will take them away and you will never get them back again. Anyway we saw people enjoying this atmosphere and if you like bird watching then it is a right place for you.


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