Provence and 4 other favorites is written by Stefan Slothuus
Provence is one of the travel favorites - but one destination did not fall into place
It can be a difficult challenge to choose your 5 travel favorites, because places all over the world hide their charm. However, there are certain destinations that stand out on my travels, and I will have to return to them at some point. Conversely, some places have also made an impression in a less gracious way, and they do not deserve a revisit of my book. Here is a description of my personal favorites - and a single fuser.
Guilin, China - clearly one of my 5 travel favorites
"Be an ri?" asks the friendly waiter as I point to the picture of a rice dish with beef. It is without a doubt the dish that looks most delicate on the menu. I have gradually learned that the Chinese often cut the endings, and that it must therefore be English and mean 'beef and rice'. I am happy to confirm the order, because I need some normal food after a few dubious culinary experiences in the country, which have offered dog, bamboo rat and chicken feet, among other things.
In addition to an extremely varied menu, Guilin has an incredible amount to offer. The city in the south of China is a relatively small Chinese town with 'only' 1,5 million inhabitants. When you walk down the city's version of Strøget, you are beaten backwards by the distinctive Chinese architecture with the temple-like wooden buildings and extremely colorful shops. The city's surroundings also offer very authentic experiences - from the unique caves in the northwest to a trip down the Li River to Yangshuo in the southeast. And then the city is not least surrounded by the breathtaking karst mountains in a landscape that guarantees an incomparable view in all directions.
Guilin is without a doubt worth a revisit - despite the fact that my stay ended abruptly with an unprovoked assault by local Chinese after a wet night in the big city. They reportedly did not like the attention that we stupid tourists attracted.
The Faroe Islands - a favorite in the north
As the plane crashes through the lower cloud cover, I quickly spot the archipelago's only runway from the plane's window. The heart rate rises drastically with the intention that this is where the plane should land - because it does not immediately look like an obvious option. There is also not much more than a meter of money to an area covered with grass and rocks, when the plane finally stands still.
If you travel to Faroe Islands to get color on the pale cheeks, then you have probably chosen the wrong place. Because here is rarely sun - or snow for that matter. On the other hand, there is plenty of rain, wind and clouds. However, the place can do a lot of other things. In particular, the nature experiences must be highlighted, as they are completely unique. I lived on Vágar Island near the town of Sandavágur, which is close to the airport. In this area I visited both the beautiful lake Leitisvatn and was on a trip to the Múlafossur waterfall. Both places are wild and harsh and most reminiscent of scenes from 'Game of Thrones' and 'Vikings'. Nature can also be enjoyed relatively undisturbed with only about 50.000 inhabitants, who at length are outcompeted by the number of sheep.
The capital Tórshavn is definitely worth a visit as well. McDonald's has not yet made its entrance on the islands, so you can advantageously dress in your bib and try a local dinner that is guaranteed to offer several good fish dishes. Afterwards, it is obvious to take a walk in the historic and charming old town, Tinganes, which dates back to the Viking Age. The possibilities are many. Nor should one worry about either currency or language barriers; here you can pay with Danish kroner, just as Danish is also an official language in the Faroe Islands. One must definitely say that the country has made an impression on me, so therefore it is on my list of the 5 travel favorites.
Considering the few impressive experiences I had on only 2 out of the 18 islands, I will definitely be back. Especially now that the runway has been extended.
Vietnam - the Asian gem
In my book is Vietnam an ingenious travel country. Here is everything the heart desires: Exciting culture, fantastic food, wild nature, fascinating history, beautiful coastline, large vibrant cities - and then it's drone cheap.
I arrived in the capital Hanoi after almost 20 hours bus ride from a stay in Luang Prabang and Laos. In Hanoi, I lived in a hostel in the middle of the city's ancient district, Hoan Kiem, where I, in the company of two Danish and two American fellow travelers, especially enjoyed strolling around Bia Hoi Junction. Here the streets are filled with the classic red and blue plastic furniture. You can easily consume a local beer (bia hoi) for between one and two kroner, while the countless restaurants are delicious phosoups or cakesandwiches over the counter for a flat tier or about 35.000 Vietnamese Dong. Perfect for the “poor” traveler.
In addition, I would certainly also recommend diving into the bloody history of the Vietnam War with the city's many museums and former prison camps. Here it is noteworthy that the former communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, in various guises is clearly adored by the Vietnamese people.
East of Hanoi you can explore the paradise islands of Halong Bay, where the golden sandy beaches are a welcome break from the capital's many people and bloody history. A couple of travel companions and I rented a small boat from a local fisherman. While the captain cooked an exquisite lunch with freshly caught fish, we experimented with anxious rock jumps and adventurous snorkeling in the azure South China Sea. We could not get enough at all.
And that's how I could go on. For I also think one should rent a motorcycle and drive along the coast to historic Hue, charming Hoi An and all the way to Saigon in South Vietnam. In any case, there is no doubt about this; I'm going back to Vietnam.
If you want to make it easy, you can consult a professional travel agent about what they can screw together for you - it does not have to be more expensive for that reason.
Provence, France: Provence can do it all
You probably know Provence, but Provence is not just Provence.
Since my parents told a 7-year-old version of the undersigned that we were going on summer vacation to a place in France without a swimming pool, I was first outraged - and then in love. Provence has been of great importance to me and where I have since returned at least once a year.
Vaucluse is one department in the south-west of Provence and can best be described as the hiding place of the enjoyers of life. The main city is the old papal city of Avignon, which is a wonderfully entertaining acquaintance, which in July is transformed into the center of world theater art. Here you can not cross a street corner without being surprised by strange little performances from jugglers and magicians. Then the entertainment is also ensured while sitting on the Place de l'Horloge at the Papal Palace and enjoying a Provencal lunch and a glass of rosé.
In addition to Avignon in Provence, the area also offers small mountain villages like Gordes, which always form the framework for an Instagram-worthy image. Or a short detour five kilometers to the east with a walk in Roussillon, known for its red ocher mountains. If you ask cycling enthusiast Jørgen Leth - and me - then it's a must with a drive to the legendary bald lonely mountain, Mont Ventoux. No matter where you are in the area, you are surrounded by picturesque vineyards and olive groves.
In addition, it is highly recommended to visit the local markets in the area, while one must also not cheat oneself of a visit to nearby Marseille and Aix-en-Provence when a bathing trip in Middelhavet little by little also begins to beckon. I am already looking forward to my next visit to Provence.
Livigno, Italy - the cold travel favorite
As a former 'ski bum', I can't bring myself to include a ski destination. Especially during these months, when you constantly want to replace your winter boots with ski boots. I was in Livigno in the winter of 2018 and I will definitely be back. The city is located in a valley surrounded by large mountains, where both locals and tourists enjoy life in the snow. The valley is isolated in the mountains, which is why Italy has made the city duty free to attract tourists. So it is a remarkably cheap place to commit compared to other alpine destinations, without necessarily having to share hotel with a bunch of half-snagged high school students.
If you have previously had a pair of skis or a snowboard on your feet, then it is a great place to holiday with lots of both red and black, very well-groomed slopes. You can start on the Carosello side in the morning, slip into town and taste real Italian pizza or pasta - and maybe a grappa - and head over to the Mottolino side in the afternoon. Then you are guaranteed sun all day, which by the way is rarely a shortage on these edges. Afterwards, you can of course also lie down and look past various bars for après ski, where DJ Ötzi also pampers the people with his brilliant musical skills. Italy is amazing in many areas and therefore they should have a clear place on my list of my 5 travel favorites.
Not so good: Dubai
If you are into large, impressive buildings where you can clearly see the value of money, then Dubai is the perfect place to experience. However, that is not exactly what constitutes a superb travel experience for me. In the middle of a giant desert in the Middle East has The United Arab Emirates built an oil-financed stronghold, which today, however, runs on reserves and therefore focuses more on industrial and tourism development. Prices have skyrocketed and I will soon forget when I had to drop 50 kroner for a pint of water. And then the desert heat did not help either, as you mostly thirst for liquid.
Preserved, it's wild to look out over the city from the world's tallest building with galloping fear of heights, or to get lost in the world's largest mall. Both the marina and the palm islands are a sight to behold. However, I found that one has to look for a long time for a form of local Arab culture. Dubai is the closest I have been to a culture loose city, which is hidden by the aforementioned sights. The roads' countless gold-colored Bentleys and countless classic American and Italian restaurants. However, I have since heard of local small alleys and markets as well as an alternative desert hike on four-wheelers. However, more bait is needed before I am pulled ashore again in Dubai, which is why it is not one of my 5 travel favorites.
Here's how to visit my 5 travel favorites:
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