Cannes and Nice

On the southeast coast of France boldly stands Cannes & Nice with their unmatched prominence and allure. About just 30 kilometers apart tourists and film festival attendees frequent both popular resorts. On the one hand, Nice is well known for it’s stunning coastline and famous promenade, where as Cannes is a magnet for the rich and famous all year round and especially during its film festival. It also offers beautiful beaches and fine dining a plenty.

Monthly temperatures & Climate in Cannes and Nice

NIce Beach Cannes

The hottest months are indeed July and August where temperatures can reach 27°C.  The 70th  Cannes film festival Festival  was held in the middle of  May this year when  temperatures were around 20°C and not so intense.   All that said, many couples still choose to get married in Nice and Cannes during these summer months as the climate hear guarantees a highly probable outdoor perfect wedding setting.  The Cote d’Azur has a relatively mild winter too  and during December , January and February one can still expect sunshine on this beautiful coast.

As mentioned, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, has a desired climate that attracts many visitors even during winter time and the most gorgeous beaches that give the Caribbean a worthy competitor.

Nice Côte d’Azur Airport

Nice has its own international airport with hundreds of flights arriving from Europe and the United States every day. A trip from Nice airport by taxi to Cannes will generally only take around 40 minutes. As France’s 3rd  busiest airport, Nice International serves approximately 12 million passengers each year. It is recommended that a taxi is booked in advance to save any extra anxieties at the airport. Read good taxi reviews first to avoid any regrets later.

Top Five Places to Visit in Malaysia

Ever since British/Malaysian millionaire Tony Fernandes decided to start a low-cost airline in Asia similar to Ryan Air, Kuala Lumpur has become a major hub serving over 30 million travellers a year.

Most tourists only have time to discover the capital city of Kuala Lumpur during a layover to another destination, but thanks to the KLIA Express train that travels from the city centre to the airport in just 28 minutes even a short stopover allows enough time to see some of the city and sample its wonderful food.

With its impressive 88-storeys, the PETRONAS Twin Towers are Malaysia’s crown jewels, a magnificent feat of architecture that is majestic during the day and dazzling at night.

Surrounded by state of the art shopping malls and vibrant markets selling exotic street food to surpass even Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur is worth a visit in its own right, but with so much more on offer why not take the time to really discover what Malaysia has to offer.

With this in mind, we have compiled our top 5 must-visit attractions in Malaysia that we think stand out above and beyond the rest.

PETRONAS Twin Towers

Watch the sunset from the 86th floor of the PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur for a breath-taking panoramic view of the city.  When the tower’s switch their lights to ‘on’,  the stunning sights become truly mesmerizing. As dusk become the hours of darkness, every minute’s view seems more magical. 

Tickets cost RM85.00 and can be purchased online by visiting www.petronastwintowers.com  With all the naturally expected hype and promotion, tickets do seem to get booked quickly. Booking well in advance is recommended.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Escape back in time with a visit to colonial Georgetown in the former British capital of Penang where you will find Victorian architecture surrounded by a vibrant Chinatown. Pinang Peranakan Mansion is the former home of the Peranakan family and now a museum showcasing how Penang’s high-society lived at the turn of the century. The artifacts and the mansion itself offer insight into the many material possessions accumulated by one infamous rich man and his family and make an interesting part of a day trip. Driving a car in Penang is recommended because of the distance between some of the tourist hotspots. After spending only an hour at the mansion, most folks would then drive on to the next point of call. However, although visitors don’t spend too long here at the house, our overall vote is that Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a must-visit whilst in Penang. For further information visit www.pinangperanakanmansion.com

Langkawi Cable Car

Langkawi cable car

The island of Langkawi near the border with Thailand not only has the best beaches in all Malaysia but an incredible cable car that transports you 708m above sea level to the summit of Mt. Machinchang. If you want to conquer your fear of heights this is spectacular way to help you shift your focus on to a stunning backdrop. Take a walk along the curved pedestrian only Sky Bridge for incredible views of the surrounding countryside and the Andaman Sea. For more information and booking tickets online, visit www.panoramalangkawi.com

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

The Semenggoh Nature Reserve in Borneo is the best place on earth to come face to face with an orangutan in its natural rainforest environment. Home to 25 semi-wild orangutans, 11 of which were rescued after being abandoned by their mothers, the park aims to provide a safe haven for these exquisite animals. The best chance of encountering orangutans is at their 8 am feeding, but if it happens to be raining you may be out of luck as they don’t like to get wet.

Sipadan National Park

Rising 600m from the seabed, Sipadan Island is the only oceanic island in Malaysia and is home to some of the best diving found anywhere on the planet. Located in the Celebes Sea, just off the east coast of Sabah, this living marine museum teams with over 3,000 species of fish and is home to the very rare and critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

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Skiing in the Alps

Skiing and accommmodation near the Alps

Skiing in the Alpes from every angle and era
Rising up to well over 4,000 metres the Alps Mountain range is spread throughout Austria, France, Germany, Italy Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Switzerland. Covering an area of 298,128 km² the Alps are home to thousands of Ski resorts all with a unique personality that represents their nation’s character food and traits. Modern man first strapped wooden boards to his feet as a way to transverse snowy terrain hundreds of years ago a trait which later developed into the sport of Nordic skiing (cross-country skiing).Not content with skiing as a way to get from A to B the need for speed took off with, Telemarker’s launching themselves off of Alpine mountains in seek of an adrenaline rush. Now with Alpine skiing firmly established as a sport, it was encompassed into the Winter Olympic Games making its debut Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany in 1936. That very same year the chairlift was invented in America revolutionising skiing as a recreational sport. The 1950’s saw metal skis replace wood with plastic boots taking the place of leather in the 1960’s which has now led to the high-tech carbon gear and Gore-Tex clothing we see on the slopes today. Rather than get into where the best skiing can be found in Europe, which of course has as much to do with the amount of snowfall and conditions as it has to do with location we decided to stick with the top four countries Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland and list our favourite resort in each of them that would give you the best Alpine skiing experience for the money.

Alpbach, Austria
Having regularly won the prize for being the prettiest village in Austria, family-friendly Alpbach just oozes Tyrolean charm and is a relative bargain compared to all the better-known resorts of Kitzbühel and St. Anton am Arlberg. Located just a 40-minute drive from Innsbruck Airport, Alpbach skiing is spread over two valleys with 47 lifts and offers 127 kilometres of pistes.Ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers who are ready to challenge themselves, Alpbach is not the place for those seeking black diamond runs or raucous après ski nightlife but is perfect for families and those looking for a relaxing vacation in a picture postcard setting.

Serre Chevalier, France
Located approximately two hours from both Grenoble and Turin airports the Serre Chevalier ski area combines the villages of Briançon, Villeneuve, Chantemerle and Monetier les Bains. Containing 250km pistes with 109 runs to suit all abilities the skiing at this French resort is never hit or miss thanks to its artificial snow making ability. With north facing slopes and an Alpine/Mediterranean climate, plenty of sun is guaranteed, making Serre Chevalier a popular French resort.  Look out for the hidden local villages, a wonderful treasure awaits you.  With lovely family run hotels, quaint old stone buildings, fine restaurants and an excellent  friendly atmosphere to match, you'll be in a great location for your skiing holiday in France.

 Spa in the Alps

Livigno, Italy
Livigno is one of the Alps most inaccessible resorts requiring a three-hour drive from Innsbruck but more than makes up for the inconvenience when it comes to price. With a special tax status dating back to Napoleonic times, Livigno has no value added tax on goods making it one of the cheapest places in Europe to party. Nicknamed “Little Tibet” due to its remoteness near the Swiss border, Livigno is ideal for beginners and intermediates looking for uncrowded slopes where the ski season runs from November through May. A side perk you get with a Ski Livigno Pass is a half-priced half-day skiing at the upmarket resort of St Moritz in Switzerland.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland
The words Switzerland and cheap almost never appear together in the same sentence, yet it is possible to find inexpensive accommodation and reasonably priced lift passes by becoming a member of the Swiss Youth Hostels Association.Forget any preconceived notions you may have of Youth Hotels as these Swiss affairs are as good as any grand hotel. The new wellnessHostel4000 is a state of the art self-sustainable complex with free Wi-Fi that would not be out of place in a James Bond movie. Saas-Fee is a typical Swiss glacial, car-free Village, a kind of mini Zermatt with super reliable snow surrounded by majestic 4,000-metre peaks. Perfect for intermediates and those seeking a relaxing geothermic spa vacation, Saas-Fee may be just the kind of off the radar place you have been searching for.

 

My first trip to Penang Malaysia

things to do in malaysia

Our business trip to Penang

It was my task to look up the Penang airport website in google and arrange public transport for the group once we landed in Malaysia for the last leg of our trip. Unfortunately there was a lot of out of date information, and after checking the listed bus timetables for what felt like hours, we decided it would be more reliable for one of us to search for Penang car rental websites. Penang was the location of our next business meeting with our overseas business clients. We arrived at Penang airport and picked up the hire car. After such a bargain price  to rent a car from penangcarrental.net (less than 150 MYR) we certainly did not expect luxury transport, however we were more than happy with our spacious Skoda Octavia. Penang International Airport, is located very near to Bayan Lepas, which is at the south eastern tip of Penang Island and we were about to find out that it is also one of the busiest airports in the country.

I’d never been to Malaysia, let alone Penang, yet I’ve always been intrigued by its diverse culture and had dreamt about experiencing its wonderful food. I’d heard that folks in Panang were proud of their well flavoured dishes and love sharing their great recipes. I could not wait to experience that.

getting to Penang airport

Expectations of travelling to Malaysia and Penang

I had been swatting up on Malaysia in many online Asia travel guides, and it did not take much to admit that Malaysia is an adventurer’s paradise. This hidden jewel offers so much natural beauty, from mountains, bushland and jungles to stunning white sandy beaches and gorgeous blue and green seas. Malaysia also has a wide diversity of animal life including the very rare Leatherback turtles. We unfortunately would not get chance to see that much nature, but I was curious about the cities here, its financial links and of course where we were aiming for, Penang. The Malaysian island of Penang has a colourful capital called George Town. This multicultural destination is a superb place with loads of exciting places to discover, fascinating sights to see and a lifestyle that visitors soon learn to love.

With an intriguing mixture of east meets west, Penang promotes well its modern style, yet it also maintains its traditions and old world charms. Far from being just a promoted pitch in any travel guide, Penang has all the bells and whistles and beckons many visitors to ravel here, with its beautiful coasts and delightful cuisines.

It’s been said that some of the most enjoyable meals you will ever taste can be found in the renowned food capital of Malaysia, Penang. I was about to find out if Penang lived up to that amazing reputation.

Driving in Penang & Eating out in George town

After our 11 hour flight, I was famished and my workmates suggested a getting a local bite to eat. When we drove to Penang Lane in George town, I could not believe the traffic and the careless driving! I may have been overtired, but I was stressed at  just counting how many motorcycles came weaving in and out of our moving car. Fortunately I was just the passenger of the hire car and just as well,  as I think I would have never made the long drive (thanks to the traffic).

Well, my appetite was still there, and my colleagues recommended a little place that they had enjoyed once before, a restaurant that would leave a little place in my heart. Indian, Malay and Chinese, the three favourite foods that I crave often, surround you as walk from street to street, sizzling under your nose! Yes “fast food” options are everywhere. Locals love to eat on the roadside, at outdoor food stalls and all get served in just minutes. As we reluctantly walked past the most amazing smells of garlic, oils and spices, I wondered what delights awaited my taste buds. Then we arrived at the restaurant!
I did a double take at the name on the sign as we arrived outside; Veloo Villas. Having viewed the building’s exterior, I desperately needed to ‘investigate’ the inside. I had to fight an inner resistance! Let me explain a little more. An exaggerated desire for excellent hygienic conditions, is a deeply ingrained ethic that I can trace back to my youth. “Locals eat here regularly” I was repeatedly told. “And yet they still offer mixed reviews” was the finishing sentence. Not the reassurance that I was looking for. completely out of my comfort zone, we sat down at a plastic table on white plastic chairs. The food was served to me on a huge banana leaf that was laid on my table mat! Yes curry, rice, starters bread, side dishes, you name it ..all on the same leaf. I grew to enjoy the atmosphere. Overall, for our Penang business trip, food was indeed very cheap and most pleasant, yet It was a love hate relationship. It was an experience that I will never forget. What was the food like? Incredibly tasty. I still crave their madras dishes now. Was my hygiene paranoia reassured? No, not completely. However, it was indeed a fantastic evening and we were made to feel so welcome by our hospitable servers. What a trip to remember. Six courses later, it was time to drive to our cheap and cheerful hotel, the Grand Inn on Penang road. When I say cheap, I mean perfect. Perfect for anyone on a budget and perfect for reassuring people like me. Yes it was spotlessly clean. I would say that we found two rare gems that will with a certainly go in my travel memoirs of Malaysia.

Discovering Malaysia

Cut in half by the South China Sea, Malaysia is, in fact, two countries that combine the best of India, China and Southeast Asia all rolled into one. Add to this a little bit of colonial charm left over from years of British rule and you now have a modern state with its eyes firmly focused on the future.

The vast majority of Malaysian’s live on the peninsula in modern cities complete with skyscrapers and an intercity rail network. Malaysian Borneo, however, remains a land shrouded in mystery where ancient rainforests and orangutans battle to survive against a wave of deforestation.

While Malaysia is a land of many faiths, it is worth noting that over 60% of the population is Muslim and that Malaysia regards itself as an Islamic state despite a large group of the population being Buddhist, Christian and Hindu. The benefit of being a multi-ethnic society is that members of the government who consider themselves as being moderate Muslims have the backing of non-Muslim minority and are able to stay in power. While Malaysia may be divided religiously there is no doubt that the nation is united when it comes to the wide variety of foods that each group brings to the table.

laksa malaysian food
Similar in many ways to Indonesian style food, the dishes you will find in Malaysia represent the many groups that call the country home, be it freshly caught fish and shrimp from the South China Sea, to Malay Chicken Satay. Add to this delicious Chinese sauces and flavours mixed with spicy Indian curries and you have a gourmet’s delight of food options to choose from.
A favourite street food in Malaysia is the national dish of Nasi lemak which consists of rice cooked in coconut milk, fried anchovies, cucumber, hard-boiled egg all wrapped in a banana leaf and drizzled with spicy sambal sauce.

 

petronas twin towers malaysia travel

The capital city of Kuala Lumpur or KL as the locals call it has become a regional hub for people travelling around Asia mainly thanks to Malaysian/British millionaire Tony Fernandes and his low-cost carrier Air Asia.
Even if you are just passing through Malaysia on route to somewhere else it is well worth taking the 28-minute express train ride to the centre of town and exploring the Petronas Twin Towers and all the wonderful shopping KL has to offer.
For travellers looking to explore deeper into Malaysia drive a couple of hours south to the birthplace of Malay culture in the port city of Melaka and soak in its mellow vibe while admiring its historic centre.
To imagine life during British rule head north from KL to Penang and its capital Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage site that also boasts a thriving Chinatown.
Whilst driving in Penang,  why not journey inland to the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands where you can play a round of golf before sitting down for high tea.
Tourists looking for picture postcard beaches flock to the island of Langkawi near the Thai border where you will find all the big name hotel-resorts.

malaysia beach

Unlike life on the peninsula Borneo is less developed with most people visiting the island for the chance of seeing an orangutan in the wild and while it may still be possible, it is easier to visit the Sepilok Orang-Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah and learn about what they are doing to save this wonderful creature.

orangutan
Adventure and eco-tourists can marvel at a place that contains over half the plants found on earth while hearing tales of how the tribes in Borneo where head-hunters until the British cured them of their gruesome tradition.
With every adventure sport possible, Borneo is a wonderful place for adrenalin seekers looking to run the rapids on the Padres River or repel down limestone cliffs to explore prehistoric caves.
Diving around Sipadan Island is said to be the best to be had anywhere on the planet with over 3,000 species of fish hundreds of corals and Hawksbill Turtles all in abundance.

diving in malaysia

No matter where you choose to spend your time in Malaysia the country has something that will appeal to every kind of tourist.

Travel to Europe

Living in Europe it is easy to take for granted what a wonderfully diverse continent we live in, an area of the world that owes much to the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome.

Stretching from the Baltic States and Scandinavia in the north to the warm waters of the Mediterranean in the south and from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the gates of Constantinople in the east, Europe is home to 11% of the world’s population.
Geographically speaking, Europe is overlooked by the Austrian, French, Italian and Swiss Alps while being dissected by the Rhine, Elbe, Loire and Danube rivers. Add in Norway’s fabulous fjord’s the ruggedness of the Scottish Highlands the density of Germanys Black Forest and you have a kaleidoscope of natural wonders.

History & Art

acropolis athens
From Neolithic stone circles in England to the Acropolis in Athens, nearly everywhere you go in Europe you will be treated to a daily dose of History. There is a proverb that says “all roads lead to Rome” which was certainly true during the 1,500 years long Roman Empire and a good place to start any European tour.
From Rome head north to Florence for its Renaissance art before being charmed by the beauty of Venice, the Dolomites and the Italian lakes of Garda, Como and Maggiore.
Travel on through Switzerland and France to the Napoleonic splendour of Paris before crossing the channel to London where you can get lost in Britain’s glorious past. Untouched by the war Prague is arguably the prettiest city in Europe and can easily be combined with a trip to Vienna and Budapest. With its sun-drenched beaches and a rich cultural history that includes 800 years of Moorish rule, Spain is today a tourist hotspot that attracts visitors from around the globe.

Historically Europe cannot be beaten when it comes to museums and monuments with London’s British Museum considering itself to be the self-appointed protector of the world’s antiquities.

For art lovers the Louvre in Paris is the Holy Grail followed closely by Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Madrid’s neoclassical Museo del Prado.

Food & Drink

italian food
Food lovers will be in heaven with styles and tastes running the full gauntlet of culinary delights.
From eating pickled herrings during Sweden’s midnight sun to feasting on souvlaki and tzatziki at an Aegean Island Taverna, your taste buds are only held in check by your own imagination.
Britain and Ireland get a bad rap when it comes to food but get full marks at breakfast time with a meal that sets you up for the entire day.
Hungary stands out as a bit of an outsider when it comes to food, with its nomadic Magyar people bringing their traditional northern meat dishes south where they were they were inspired by the Ottoman Turks and later the Austro-Hungarian Empire into the mouth-watering delights we find in Budapest today.

wine
France and Italy immediately come to mind as the leaders of classic European food with the humble baguette never tasting better than it does fresh from the oven at a Parisian boulangerie or a bowl of spaghetti alle vongole by a Venetian canal.
With the exception of Napa Valley in California, the best wine in the world comes from France with both Italy and Spain coming in second with their Tuscan and Rioja offerings.
If it is a beer you are after you cannot go wrong with a trip to Belgium where you will find around 1150 different varieties. Munich meanwhile throws the biggest beer themed party with their Oktoberfest and no matter how much the Germans may tout their purity law their beer is no match for the Czech Republic where you can sample the original Pilsner.

Visit Eiffel Tower Paris

Visit Asia

Stretching all the way from the Bosporus Strait in the west to the Diomede Islands in the east, Asia is not only the planet’s largest continent but also it’s most populous, with 4.4 billion people calling it home.

Following Marco Polo’s epic tale of an overland journey to China in the late 1,200’s and the marvels he encountered upon the Silk Road before arriving at the great market in Peking , the Venetian travellers exploits spurred a new wave of explorers to find a safer, quicker way to the riches of this far off land.

great wall of china

Christopher Columbus was looking for a way to China while accidentally discovering the America’s in 1492, leaving it to Portuguese mariner Vasco da Gama to be the first man to sail around Africa to India in 1498.

With a fast route to Asia now mapped out, it did not take long for the enlightened European states to colonise Asia dividing the spoils amongst themselves. Only Siam (Thailand) managed to remain a sovereign state while acting as a buffer between British Burma and French Indochina.

Himalayas

 

From the majestic snow-capped Himalaya Mountains to dense jungles where tigers still roam free, Asia is a place where you will find densely populated cities like Mumbai and Shenzhen where poverty and prosperity share a polluted coexistence, to idyllic tropical islands where tourists escape for a slice of paradise.

Today Asia has never been more accessible to foreigners than at any time, with China a leading magnet for people looking to discover the wonders of the Forbidden City and a chance to walk along the Great Wall.

Vietnam has opened its doors to tourism and is fast developing resorts along the South China Sea in an attempt to emulate the success that Thailand has had in encouraging western tourists to vacation on its beaches.

Food is, of course, a big deal in Asia with its varied cuisines now found all around the world thanks to immigrants opening restaurants that showcase the food of their native lands. Be it the delicate flavours of Cantonese sauces, or the spicy kick from Sichuan dishes, China alone has eight different styles of regional cooking.

Add to these, hot curries from the Punjab and mild fish dishes from Kerala and you have Indian cooking that differs vastly from region to region. A bowl of Pad Thai noodles has to be a favourite when eating at a Bangkok street market, with Satay and Bami Koreng popular street foods in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. The truth is no matter where in Asia you go there will be foods that will awaken you taste buds.

asian food

Asia is also leading the way when it comes to infrastructure and design, with the world’s fastest train hitting speeds of 267mph as you travel the 19 miles from Shanghai Airport to the centre of the city. South Korea meanwhile has the world’s fastest internet with school children ditching their books in favour of tablets, while Japan continues to lead the world in robotics with Tokyo the place to go if you want to get hold of the latest technology.

Whether it is admiring the French-colonial architecture of Vientiane while cruising on the mighty Mekong River or viewing a spectacular sunset from the temple complex at Angkor Wat, Asia is much more than a winter beach destination and is just waiting to be explored.

cambodia temple