TRAVEL

 

HIT THE RESET BUTTON TO CAMBODIA

Cambodia has always intrigued me.  As I child, during the Vietnam war I remember hearing about the US bombing Cambodia (even though we were not supposed to) after the Tet Offensive. The whole region always intrigued me.  If you were a child in the sixties, Viet- Nam and Cambodia were part of your vernacular. The People’s Army of Vietnam had utilized a portion of eastern Cambodia as sanctuaries into which they could retreat from the fighting in Vietnam.  I have not yet ventured to this region, but Patricia has. I am not sure there is a region she has not explored.  She is off to Korea at the end of the month.

I think it’s remarkable to think about Cambodia as a region all about serenity and well-being.  I love that!  Patricia said, “I had never felt as peaceful and happy in my life. You are surrounded by Monks with gorgeous orange Sari’s and people with big smiles on their faces no matter what…”

If you think about our culture, it is rare we find big smiles “No matter what.”

“Kids , everywhere,” Pat told me. “Kids who want to touch you, feel the fabric of your clothes. Kids curious to know where you are from.”

Angkor Wat is the main attraction in Cambodia and I’m not surprised to hear from Patricia that she found it very touristy.  Despite the buzz of people, again Patricia felt unbelievably serene.

“There is definitely a mystical and magical atmosphere that is very tangible. Whether or not you are a religious person, spirituality envelops you every step you take.”

Like always, Patricia does her homework before she travels.  And it pays off. “One of the highlights of this unforgettable adventure was the splendid little gem of a hotel I stayed at in Siem Reap, La residence d’ Angkor  http://www.residencedangkor.com. Impeccable service, close to the city if you wish to visit the markets and galleries and a few minutes from all the temples.”

Although Patricia is very thin, food is always on her mind. “Cambodia may not be on the radar for foodies but I had the best Chicken curry of my life in a small village in the middle of nowhere.”

In the same village I was talked into trying various bugs and cured lizard meats and I complied…

The cockroaches were crispy but yet tender and juicy on the inside.

It was tough but I lived and now I’m ready to take on anyone on Survivor!”

“The french cuisine influence was a nice surprise,” Patricia who hails from France delighted, “Especially with respect to their desserts. I came across the most amazing street vendor run by a mother daughter team who was making the best beignets I have ever had.

I believe Patricia when she says, “If you need to hit a reset button in your life to get a different perspective , take the first plane to Cambodia.”

 

THE FEARLESS TRAVELER

I am not sure I have the guts to do what Patricia does. Patricia is an amazing traveler.  She approaches travel like she approaches life: fearless. I am so far from fearless. So I wasn’t surprised when she set off by herself to visit Jordan.  As she says, “Jordan is not the first place it come to mind when you want to travel as a woman alone but you should!”

It’s exotic yes. And I’ll take Patricia’s word for it being safe.

“Amman, the capital of Jordan,” Patricia adds “is a clean version of Cairo with amazing food. Hummas, pita, olives, marinated tomatoes, pomegranates, dates, falafel, baklava are found everywhere and are a delicious part of any meal.  Patricia did say eating a falafel everyday takes on new meaning. We will have to ask her what she meant by this.

The history of Jordan and its people are what brought Patricia to Jordan. She found a fantastic hotel, two hours from Amman called Evason Ma’In Hot Springs–a Six Senses Resort and Spa.

“Lying 264 meters below sea level, this resort is an oasis of tranquility and luxury. I have never been so pampered in my life! Dead Sea salt wrap, olive mask, argan oil, you name it, they have it!! And the food was sublime.”

“But Petra is the place to visit,” Patricia insists, “and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Patricia had the unique opportunity to meet bedouins. “They are a beautiful and peaceful people. I was lucky enough to share their meal and tea under their tent at the end of the unforgettable day I spent in Petra”

“The patriarch wanted to exchange me for 4 goats and 2 camels. He thought my husband would be thrilled but I was kind of disappointed: I thought I was worth much more!”

Patricia is definitely worth more.

I wonder what falafel’s taste like mit-schlag?

 

COTE D’AZUR ON A BUDGET???

I hadn’t been to the Cote d’Azure for years. I had decided years back that I loved Provence and I avoided the French Riviera like the plague. 

I think I felt that the beaches were not all that pretty and it was just too crowded in the summer months. Living in California, I must admit that I am quite spoiled by beautiful beaches. So this summer when I decided to finally take my teenage kids to the Riviera I did my research. I knew of the grand hotels like the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat and Hotel du Cap Eden Rock.  I spent two nights in the ‘Grand Lady’ in Cap-Ferrat on my honeymoon. My lovely mother gave my husband and I two nights as a wedding gift. Earlier in my life, I spent days at the pool at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, doling out twenty Euro’s to sit on a beach mat by the pool.

Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc

Today these grand hotels are way out of my budget. So is most things in the Riviera. I had to figure out a way to enjoy the area without spending a fortune. The problem is I’m spoiled. I have traveled a lot. As a kid my father took me all over the world and the motion picture studios he worked for would put us up in the most amazing places. Then I worked for The Travel Channel and I flew for free and stayed in some equally spectacular places. I wasn’t going to let my pocketbook get in the way I liked to travel. This meant doing my Homework. I spent months figuring out this trip. It became an obsession.  And it paid off! 

I finally settled on Antibes for the first part of our vacation. I have stayed in Cannes and Nice and knew that these weren’t right. Vieil Antibes, which is situated between Cannes and Nice, seemed to have the right feel of charm and sophistication that I was looking for.

 

And then I stumbled upon a little hotel called La Place that was right on the edge of Vieil Antibes–the old town of Antibes. And it is close to the sea.

La Place Hotel and Restaurant

The reviews seemed too good to be true. I was skeptical. We booked two rooms. Our room was 120 Euros a night and the boy’s room was 130 Euros. For 250 Euros we had two rooms with lovely linens on the beds, air conditioning that was the perfect temperature,double pane windows, and a really modern bathroom.  It was lovely.  There is no lobby but a small restaurant that fronts the hotel. It could not have been a better choice.

Literally around the corner you stumble on the most lovely old town with an amazing restaurants, boulangeries, bars, and even a covered market every day in the summer months. The fresh spices and olives looked amazing.    

And it was a short stroll to the beach.

Because the rooms were affordable we could spend the days renting lounge chairs and umbrellas at some of the sleekest beach clubs on the Riviera. Remember you can have lunch and reserve lounge chairs and umbrellas.  In the summer months book ahead.

Plage Keller is well known for its yellow umbrellas and wonderful setting. We loved it.

La Belle Rives is another hotel on the opposite side of Antibes in a small seaside town called Juan les Pins, but this hotel was too expensive for us–instead we spent the day at their resort.  Perfect!

The ramparts that surround old Antibes are really beautiful.  The stunning antiquity is complimented by a modern sculpture created by Catalan artist Juame Plensa– Nomade. This man of made up of letters looking over the Mediterranean Sea was a nice place to stop and enjoy the surroundings–I mean each other!

Three restaurants are worth mentioning in this post and again I did my research.  Les Vieux Murs sits right on the ramparts of old Antibes overlooking the glorious sea.  It is a picture perfect location and the food is wonderful though not inexpensive. We sat outside on the patio but the interior of this restaurant is pretty special as well. But how can you pass up an opportunity to sit in an ancient ruin overlooking the Mediterranean eating glorious French food?

To off set the price of this lovely jewell of a restaurant we ate a baguette with ham and cheese and a perfectly ripe tomato for lunch.

Anjuna Bay in Eze Bord de Mer is one of the most unique dining experiences of my life.  And I have had many.  I think its location on the sea, I mean literally on the pebbled beach below the lovely hill town of Eze makes it unforgettable. The atmosphere is totally cool, music playing and incredible design surrounding you, and the hippest people I have ever seen in one place.  To say it’s a bitch to get to is an understatement. But go anyway.  Get lost like we did.  And enjoy Anjuna Bay! It is also a beach club by day.

 

The third restaurant, La Taverne du Safranier sits in a charming square in the heart of old Antibes. I don’t know if it was because it was our first evening in Southern France or because the food was so good, but I was happier sitting in this tiny square than I have been in a long time. The shrimps were the biggest I had ever seen. The fish was delicious and the portions huge. If on a budget, share!

Now not only can’t I wait to get back to Antibes, I am considering moving there!

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