24 hours in Jerico

24 hours in Jerico

Everybody at home, episode 2.
Where do you find Indian, Spanish and African influences intertwined together?
All co-existing happily to offer you a variety of experiences and surprises…..
Let’s start the day with a work of Latin American literature, which is rich and dynamic and is best represented by the Nobel prize winner in Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (up here two of his most famous books). Part of the appeal of this Colombian author is that he takes us through our imagination, to explore distant Spanish speaking lands.
Never without my coffee! One of the best in the World. Of course, you already know, that Colombian coffee is legendary: noir, tinto, with or without milk, enjoyed at any time of day – in the kitchen, in the living room or on a street corner, always served in its small goblet
“And what will we eat? “
“Tamales”: little food parcels dating from the Pre-Hispanic era. The base of this specialty is corn flour or rice flour to which you add meat, vegetables, potatoes, carrots and herbs to give it a unique taste. This mix is then wrapped in a banana leaf or corn husk. To lend its smoky taste, the tamales is steam cooked. Enjoy experimenting with different ingredients! In Colombia, Tamales are breakfast for some, although perhaps for us, its maybe best as a morning snack, as a Tamales first thing in the morning can be challenging……

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This morning, we relax, whilst admiring an art piece of Fernando Botero. He represents Colombian society through each of his pieces, giving a true critique of society – a mirror of the situation in his country during his lifetime, represented in his paintings and sculptures. Careful as the Maestro does not like the term ‘large’ but prefers voluptuous. Volume is for him, “a celebration of life and sensuality”.
Of course, you will need some exercise now and why not to the sound of Yuri Buenaventura, the most Francophile of Colombians, with his devilish salsa. Salsa, but also Merengue, quintessentially European, Aboriginal and African, Reggaeton with its world renown artists, Tango or of course the music of the Andes, all of which are renown worldwide in their own right. The Cumbria, the most important here, represents the cultural heritage of Colombia and gives rhythm to the lively nights of the country.
It’s important to note that Colombia – close to the equator – has no real seasons. Therefore, the sun rises and sets basically at the same time all through the year. Ensure therefore that you make time for lunch…
This one always includes a great variety of fruits and vegetables, produced abundantly all year long. Here even banana is a vegetable! Close your eyes and hear the call of the fruit seller passing through the street with his cart, « aguacateeee maduro, mango, aguacaaaate » and buy it directly from your window.
It’s too hot to go outside so stay inside in the cool and immerse yourself in Jerico! “Jericó, El Infinito Vuelo de los Dias” – a film of Catalina Mesa shown in cinemas in June 2018, Winner of the best documentary and public award Cinelatino. Catalina Mesa takes us on a journey to Jericó, a small Colombian village in the north-west of the country. She shows us a portrait of the female spirit, through twelve local women, whose lives are full of laughter but tinged with sadness at times. The film is a tribute to family first most, to an old auntie who has spent her entire life in the village, to the family members who migrated towards the city and to a generation overflowing with stories and experiences. All of these women are welcoming and open to an honest dialogue, which takes place in the privacy of their homes, so they can finally speak freely. Some of their stories can be hard to hear as the village, like most of Colombia, was touched by the military conflict. Husbands and sons, tragically killed or kidnapped in the conflict, which has left the wives to carry on alone. Even in tragedy, however humor is always present, as is music, poetry, colors and sunshine. Whilst the dialogue and the preservation of the collective memory are the strong points of this film, the beauty, energy and the openness of the characters are what makes the soul of the movie.
Tonight, we will enjoy Fish Sancocho.
This is a traditional Colombian soup.
Usually made with chicken, we present a fish version.
We ara happy to share Dominique Oudin’s recipe, Chef at the Santa Clara Hotel in Cartagena.
Gaelle is joining the team !

Gaelle is joining the team !

Looking for Charly is contagious! Yes a new Travel Consultant is sharing our passion – the same one that makes us all grow. Presenting Gaëlle Bellec who joins our independent experts, attracted by our concept and this overwhelming energy characterizing us, whatever happens around us, nationally or internationally. 

For Gaëlle, a travel is like a personal story to write.
Thanks to her previous experience in business she understands personalities, she knows how to satisfy grown up and youngsters, adapting to differences, balancing between action and contemplation. 
After living abroad – where she left her charming accent from Marseille… she still has a deep enthusiasm for the region she grew up in.
South of France has indeed an important place on the travel destination bucket list, but not only.
She will take you through Luberon lavander land ….
In a work of art field on French Riviera,
But also around the unknown Seine river and the unmissable Paris !
Until the edge of Britany cliffs, and Pink Granit coast,
Deep in the Aubrac !
Gaëlle Bellec is also an exclusive “Club Med Worldwide” Agent, including the gorgeous sailing boat.Having her in Looking For Charly, the team is delighted to share with you her expertise, her adviceand she will be able to book for you a stay everywhere on earth or at sea.
Contact us to choose your next stay in a village or your next cruise on board CLUB MED 2, benefit of a personalized service, follow up and proximity as we like to offer it.
Gaëlle is ready to share with you all her knowledge.
But be sure that these first small local escapes are only a pre taste until she can send you far, far away, to reveal many other destinations as soon as possible.
From now meet the joyous Gaëlle between Paris and Bruxelles.
24 hours in the country of ‘Lagom’……

24 hours in the country of ‘Lagom’……

Everyone at home… episode 1. Sweden.
How to spend an entire day cocooned at home
in famously laidback Swedish style!

There’s no real translation for ‘Lagom’ pronounced [lar-gom].
It simply means, not too much or not too little, instead choosing a satisfactory middle way of living – minimalist design, natural materials, seasonal ‘bio’ ingredients and a slow pace of life.

Charly’s team would like to talk you through these daily customs and ritualsWake up slowly with what else but a Swedish exercise session. You’ll find good humor catches on quickly! Try this 60 minute workout – warm up, cardio, weight training, cardio again, stretching and relaxation, led by Veronique and Davina! Then, enjoy a classic Swedish breakfast of: bread, butter, cheese, red peppers, cucumber and ham.

Pass the morning immersed in a fascinating book, wrapped up in a soft blanket. It could be the riveting read Henning Mankell, staring detective Kurt Wallander or, “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson.

10 o’clock – time for “fika” – coffee and a cinnamon roll, “kanelbullar”, the famous Nordic pastry.

The best recipe book for these: “La Suede à dos de cuillère” by Christine Armengaud, Ed Actes Sud. It includes a fun mixture of anecdotes and recipes.

Time to think about lunch!
Tempted by Jansson’s ‘frestelse’? – the famous potato gratin with herrings – a very popular Swedish dish, usually served at Christmas, but as there’s no real sense of time at the moment, let’s go for it!

Almost 3 o’clock, let’s make the most of the rare spring sunshine! The national sport in Sweden is to get a suntan with the least amount of sun possible, whether sunbathing on the balcony or in the garden. Quick, let’s soak up that Vitamin D!  Not forgetting that in Sweden, the “Allemansratten”, access to nature is an absolute right of each individual. The land belongs to all inhabitants of this long country and Suedes make the most of their outdoors…of course for this wondering we must wait, in the meantime the green forest blossoms in our thoughts. The Suedes have a particular affinity with mother nature.

Escape your house in the afternoon whilst watching a Swedish film. Yes, Sweden does have some cool films, like “Millenium”, that will nail you to your sofa whilst you snuggle up to the multi-colored cushions!

 

And how best to finish the day than seated around the table to delight in tasting some Kottbullars: simple Swedish meatballs!

 

Baïkal on the rocks

Baïkal on the rocks

Tinged with polar magnetism, Lake Baikal and its coating of ice is a unique alternative to the bog-standard winter sports resorts. Skate into the realm of infinity…

You will feel almost euphoric as you cross the lake from west to east, debate the finer points of hockey, immortalise extraordinary moments in snapshots, skate on polished ice rinks, lunch on the pack ice, taste smoked omul and sleep in an ice camp that is the only one of its kind in Russia (and the world!).

By hovercraft, in a 4×4 and on foot you will explore frozen caves and ‘toros’, a mishmash of ice blocks that collide before your very eyes. While you immerse yourself in the frozen expanses of Lake Baikal you will meet local fishermen, visit the Buddhist temples of Irkutsk and explore the colourful wooden houses of Ulan-Ude.
After plunging into a banya (the traditional Russian sauna and plunge pool) you will board the legendary Trans-Siberian Express. Your memories of this trip will be intertwined with a sensation of purity and the great outdoors. Here are our reasons to break the ice.

A 360° dream of ice. An understandable feeling of worry creeps in when you step onto the ice field. Will the glacial icecap really take your weight?

There’s no need to fear. Ice one-meter thick separates you from the waters hibernating underneath your feet, leaving you free to make the most of the puzzling world around you.
You’ll hear the creaking and bumping of the blocks of ice and experience the magic of the light enshrouded with crystals and the air alive with the polar winter and the purity of the elements. And in this beautiful, timeless place sheltered from the world, you will come face to face with the immensity of the spaces of Siberia. It’s a real-life frontier land that John Snow would never dream of leaving.
Your eyes will be drawn to the turquoise veins, the fantastical ice shapes, the stalactites, stalagmites and air bubbles imprisoned in the ice, reminding you that the great contemporary masterpieces don’t have a patch on nature’s creations.

On the agenda:

A day at the southernmost tip of Lake Baikal

You’ll arrive at Irkutsk airport and depart for the southernmost part of Lake Baikal. A hovercraft ride over the ice will take you to the village of Listvyanka. The route will take you along the Circum-Baikal Railway, a unique monument to the architectural engineering of the end of the 19th century.

A day on Baikal’s ice in a hovercraft

Step on board the hovercraft headed to the north of the lake and the village of Maloe More. The whole journey will be on the ice, with a stop off at the sandy Peschanaya Bay, the lake’s best-known spot.

A day on Olkhon Island, the largest in Lake Baikal

Today you are headed to Khuzhir, the main village on Olkhon Island, and cape Burkhan (initially called Shamanka or Shaman Rock). It is considered a holy place for the followers of shamanism. They organise religious ceremonies and make sacrifices in the cave at Shaman Rock.

Lake Baikal, at the heart of the legend

It’s not surprising that the travel writer Sylvain Tesson erected his cabin at the heart of this icy solitude to experience voluntary exile. He said of it: “The cold, silence and solitude are states that will be more precious than gold in the future. On an overpopulated, overheated, noisy planet, a cabin in the woods is like El Dorado.”

Once you arrive in these lands reminiscent of the Ice Age, it won’t take long to understand why Lake Baikal is a “sacred sea” for the native peoples. The Buryats, who are of Mongolian origin, believe that Olkhon Island in the middle of Lake Baikal is the residence of Burkhan (“God” in Mongolic languages). Balanced between Buddhist traditions and Shamanistic beliefs, it is at the centre of innumerable spiritual rites that help the being transcend to internal harmony.

“Baikal should crush a man with its majesty and size; there everything is vast, free and spectacular.

But, to the contrary, it lifts him up.” (Valentin Rasputin).

Your discovery continues:

A day and a night at the Ice Camp

Imagine yourself in an authentic ice camp in the middle of a frozen lake. The magnetically beautiful landscape around you stretches to the horizon. You won’t find any other tourists here. They are all in Red Square. The only people here are a handful of photographers, adventurers and scientists. Only the dull roar of the ice field breaks the spellbinding silence of the white desert. That’s because you are on Lake Baikal, at the outer limits of eastern Russia (or even of the world), far away from civilisation and all your points of reference. The real Siberian adventure, reserved for a handful of travellers, is only just beginning.

A day crossing Lake Baikal to experience the pace of life in a Baikal village

You will make the most of the camp activities and the surrounding wonders before starting your journey to Ust-Barguzin to experience village life. You will cook, walk, share and rest, and if you are the active kind then you have the option to discover the snowy forests of the taiga to look for flora and fauna with an experienced local hunter and wide skis on your feet.

A day along the east coast of Lake Baikal to prioritise your wellbeing

Your options include crossing Chivyrkuysky Bay, swimming in the thermal springs at Zmeinaya Bay and experiencing the waters with their healing properties at Khakusy thermal health resort, where you can draw on the energy of the natural environment.

Lake Baikal? It’s more than a lake: it’s an inland sea Nestled at the heart of mountains, high cliffs and forests, Lake Baikal is a magnet for superlatives. Its surface area (636 km long and 79 km wide) makes it the largest freshwater lake in the world (it’s as big as Belgium!).

And that’s not all. You might not know it yet, but under your feet and the sparkling surface of the ice field are thousands of cubic metres of water leading down into the abyss. Lake Baikal isn’t just one of the oldest lakes on the planet (born 25 million years ago), it is also the deepest in the world (1637 metres deep in some places).
Its huge size and unique biodiversity saw it classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

To finish:

A day in Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia. You will cross the taiga to reach Ulan-Ude where you are invited to visit Ivolginsky Datsan, a group of Buddhist temples and the centre of Buddhism in Russia located outside the town on the breath-taking steppe.

A day and night on the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM)

From the town of Severobaikalsk, you will spend a day and a night on board the train on the famous BAM route, one of the longest train lines in the world. Construction started in 1938 and it stretches 4287 km in total. At Tayshet, the BAM meets the legendary Trans-Siberian Express and continues northwards. This line was mostly built by prisoners from forced labour camps, then by volunteers. You will have the chance to see a part of Russia’s history with your own eyes.

Getting there

The best time to visit: February and March

Around a 13-hour flight from Nice/Paris to Irkutsk via Moscow with Aeroflot

Cost:
Between €2600 and €4200 for a 7 to 12-day itinerary as part of a group
Around €8000 to €15,000 per person (based on two travellers) for a tailored package

Don’t delay, as spots at the Ice Camp are limited

72 hours in the Algarve

72 hours in the Algarve

The perfect spot to welcome the soft breeze of an Indian summer. The Algarve reveals another, rather different, face with a soft yet bright colour palette. Far from the seaside towns and the mass-market tourist resorts beats the heart of an Algarve that is generous and authentic with a carefully preserved unique character. It is to this Algarve blessed with warmth, culinary delights and maritime charms that we are taking you today. In these places where the memory of great sailors still floats in the spray-filled air, life is not lived by the watch, but instead by the rhythm of the tides. This makes it the perfect time and place for a change of tempo
DAY 1 – FRIDAY
From Faro, Malaga or Seville airport you will make your way to your hotel located along the Guadiana River that marks the border between Spain and Portugal. The scent of orange trees, the sea breeze and the cry of the gulls that wheel above your head will envelop you in their benevolent tranquillity.
​​10am Drop off your luggage at The Grand House.

Where the light of the Algarve meets the charm of the Belle Époque, this fully renovated house has everything you need to travel back in time. The elegant architecture of the 1920s, the timeless design, the flavours of the locally sourced organic menu and the beach club that is only five minutes’ walk away open the doors to an irresistible lifestyle

​​​​11am – Wander around Vila Real de Santo António. Not far from the sailing boats moored along the river, the Marquês de Pombal square is the authentic beating heart of the coastal city Vila Real de Santo António. The time has come to lose yourself in the straight white streets of the city before sampling the flavours, colours and local life to be found in the city market hall.

1.30pm – Wake up your taste buds at the Grand Beach House.
You are about to learn the secrets of a cataplana of fish and seafood with its bold flavours. This traditional speciality from the Algarve gets its flavours from the copper cooking pot in which it is slowly simmered, but you’ll be convinced that it’s the spices used that give the dish its rich aromas. Is that a hint of coriander you can taste?
3pm – Make a salty discovery
After tackling the mediaeval fortress that overlooks the marshy plain of Guadiana, Jorge and his family will welcome you into their magnificent property to tell you about the history of the place and the harvest of the so-called white gold – sugar. The Castro Marim salt marshes have become a refuge for thousands of birds attracted by the fish-filled waters, molluscs and crustaceans.
8pm – Explore Ayamonte using your taste buds
The restaurant LPA Culinary Bar is an excellent reason to cross the river and sound out the city of Ayamonte which is located on the Spanish side. In the soft and idle ambience of an Andalusian evening you can savour the delights of the local cuisine to your heart’s content.

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DAY 2 – SATURDAY 
9am – Wake up your palate with a flourish
A golden finish, crisp pastry, the scent of vanilla and thick egg-based cream will awaken your taste buds with a taste sensation. Dusted with icing sugar or cinnamon, the famous Pastéis de Nata are the stars of Portuguese baking. You won’t be able to resist them at breakfast
10.30am – Birdwatch in the Ria Formosa natural park.

The charms of the Ria Formosa Park’s natural reserve protected by dunes can be found between the land and the sea. On board a solar-powered silent and non-polluting boat you can let yourself be carried away by the beauty of the lagoon ecosystems escorted by the migrating birds and sultan chickens.

12h30pm – Berth at a deserted island
What better setting to taste oysters, prawns and regional products than a virgin island in the Ria Formosa? Cradled by the waves that come and go on the golden sand, you will swim in a great bath of light feeling carefree and convivial.
2.30pm – Forget about the demands of time in Tavira
o really get to know this jewel of a Portuguese city founded by the Phoenicians take the time to wander around its narrow streets. From churches with a baroque charm to houses adorned with the famous Azulejo tiles, not to mention its arty charm and friendly locals, here everything simply exudes the Portuguese Dolce Vita. When the sun goes down, you won’t be able to resist the call of the terraces on the banks of the Gilão River.
5.30pm – Greet the ocean
When the sailors of Tavira stopped fishing for tuna, they abandoned their anchors on the Ilha de Tavira bordered with dunes. This is how the unusual anchor cemetery was born, located in the crosshairs of the sea spray. The nearby Praia do Barril invites you to go for a dip in the waters of the Atlantic where they meet the Mediterranean.
8pm – Let yourself be soothed by the gentle night

You will be torn between dinner at the Grand Salon with its golden years’ ambiance and an authentic Vila Real de Santo Antonio wine bar. While you make up your mind, let yourself be guided by the softness of the night-time air in which you can hear a few notes of fado here and there.

DAY 3 – SUNDAY
10am – Take Icarus’s flight.
A hair-raising sensation of lightness will fill you when you touch the Algarve sky in your autogyro as it glides through the morning light. Around you, you will see the Castro Marim salt marshes, the Ria Formosa lagoon, Vila Real de Santo Antonio and the ocean that stretches out into infinity. Your stay in the Algarve is taking to the air.
12.30pm – Try tapas the Portuguese way

Under the terrace of the Ta Certo Wine bar shaded by the sails, traditional dishes have been redesigned to offer original and simple small plates. Accompanied by a glass of vinho verde and a pinch of Castro Marim sea salt, the stewed or grilled octopus will leave you wanting more.

 

2pm – Wave to the Vila Real de Santo Antonio chameleons
The forest that connects Vila Real de Santo Antonio to Monte Gordo marks the last stage of your weekend in the Algarve. Either on foot or by bike, follow the shade of the pines through the coastal dunes planted with aromatic grasses that are home to the chameleons. At this point you’ll have to find a very good reason to make the return trip home.

VOTRE POINT DE CHUTE:

“THE GRAND HOUSE”

The Grand House opened its doors in January 2019, but its history goes back much further. In 1926, the building was the point of passage for the merchants who bought, sold and exported canned fish in the 27 canning factories of Vila Real de Santo António, which was then one of the most prosperous cities in the Algarve and known as Little Lisbon thanks to its Pombaline-style city plan.

Location : The hotel is located at the heart of Vila Real Santo António on its main street looking over the Gardena River which separates Portugal from Spain (a small ferry provides transport between the two banks). The main square with its church, shops and cafés is located just behind the hotel. San António beach is just a few minutes away by car and the neighbouring town Castro Marim is worth a visit to see its mediaeval castle and impressive salt pans. Seville is 90 minutes away by car and Faro airport is 40 minutes away.

Style&character : Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi fully renovated the building to return it to its original form. A talented local company White & Kaki created the interiors. The focus on the glamour of the golden years was achieved through a mix of antiques, colonial design, nautical colours in the public areas and softer colours in the rooms. The old prints, white orchids, panelling and stuccos are flooded with natural light.

Services&activités : personnel amical et efficace. Les installations sont limitées par la taille de l’hôtel, mais tout est mis en œuvre pour vous offrir tout ce dont vous aurez besoin. Une chambre sert de spa, avec des massages à la demande. À l’ouverture du Grand Club House (fin 2019), il y aura un concept store et un cinéma privé. Une liste impressionnante d’expériences est offerte dont l’équitation sur une plage de la ville voisine de Tavira et un spa en plein air dans la ville voisine de Castro Marim

Rooms30, decorated in soft peaceful colours. The wooden floorboards are adorned with handwoven rugs and ancient chests of drawers, while antique prints and black and white cards line the walls. Shutters and mullions made by Korrodi open onto terraces. The elegant bathrooms which only have showers (with the exception of one room which has a bath) feature black and white tiling and facilities designed by C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries.

Food&drinks: The Grand Beach Club offers light lunches, from pizzas topped with local figs to salad Niçoise with fresh tuna, while the breakfast buffet providing eggs cooked to order is served in the pretty dining room looking over the river. You can find the perfect Negroni or Tom Collins in the bar, and in the summer they can even be enjoyed in the roof-top bar. For dinner, both a tasting menu and an à la carte menu are available. Don’t miss the red mullet fillet and the razor shell clams from neighbouring Ria Formosa.

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HOW TO GET TO VILA REAL SANTO ANTONIO?

DIRECT flight from Nice in 2 hrs 25:
DIRECT flight from Paris in 2 hrs 35:

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​​If you have a bit more time :
– Touch the very tip of the Portuguese Finistère at cabo de São Vicente.
– Relive the history of the Moor conquests at Silves Castle,
– See the green side of the Algarve at Portugal’s best golf courses,
– Get lost in Faro’s enchanting old town,- Reach for the sky in the Serra de Monchique mountain range,
– Revisit the great sea voyages of the 15th and 16th centuries in Lagos,
– Drink in the turquoise and ochre of the Ponta da Piedade cliffs,
– And why not take a trip to the White Villages of Andalusia that are only a stone’s throw away?