Candlelight tour of Petra ruins, Jordan
Petra, Jordan, that iconic, 2,000-year old World Heritage “lost city”. An awe-inspiring adventure of red mountain rock ruins, ancient temples and tombs. If that’s not unique enough, top it off by seeing Petra by candlelight. (Note: you need to show a day ticket to then purchase the evening tour.) Start the moonlit walk from the entrance, through a narrow gorge under a star-filled sky where you arrive at the stunning Treasury building. Later, retire to your traditional desert camp (in goat hair tents) or opt for a Bedouin cave stay (via Airbnb). Enjoy dinner on an open fire and sleep under the stars.
Labotessa, Cape Town, South Africa
In the 17th century this now landmark was built as a church, and is one of the oldest buildings in South Africa. Cape Town is one of the great destinations on earth, wedged between mountains and the sea, a city that has quite literally seen so much world history float past. The Labotessa is the only hotel in Church Square, small, intimate and luxurious, just seven suites, privately accessed, with balconies and views of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and the city. The penthouse suite, The Governor Suite at 3230 square feet is one of Cape Town’s largest hotel rooms, FYI, and perhaps its most spectacular.
Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan
This luxurious lodge, cushioned in a sweeping mountain range, feels as if you’re on the verge of Heaven. That alone should probably convince you to go, but here are more reasons. The Gangtey Lodge, in the Kingdom of Bhutan, is one of the most naturally dramatic landscapes on the planet. It offers in-suite spas and hot stone baths, and Buddhist meditation classes to promote spiritual and physical wellness. Outside of the lodge, on the adventurous side, visitors can go hiking and mountain biking, and participate in archery and darts (not at the same time, because that would be unnecessarily dangerous). Another offered activity is a visit to a traditional farmhouse, to experience the daily life of a Bhutanese household. I mean, you’ve come this far, see the farmhouse…
Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness in respecting nature, promoting cultural preservation and sustainable development is something we need more of. And as you’d expect, it’s very much reflected in Gangtey Lodge.
Cibrèo, Florence, Italy
There are more famous restaurants in the city but not a better one! In fact, most tourists have never heard of it and unless someone local takes you, you might never come across it. The Ristorante is the flagship of a cluster of Cibrèo eateries all within a block, in the San Ambrogio vegetable market, that includes a trattoria, a cafe and most recently Cibleo/Cibrèo, Chef and founder Fabio Picchi’s delicious sounding Tuscan Oriental restaurant, a hybrid of Tuscan and Japanese cooking. Cibrèo, the original, started in 1979, and epitomizes the ecclesiastic devotion to season and local ingredients that only the best restaurants in the world do sublimely.
It has always been insanely popular, and almost entirely locally patronized in its 40 years, but there’s no pretense here, only a welcoming attitude, if/when you can get in. And there’s also no pasta — they simply, perhaps uniquely, don’t serve any pasta dishes. Which sort of accentuates all the other, genuinely remarkable, food they do serve.
Jing’s Residence, Pingyao, China
For a time warp and other-worldly journey into mainland China, fly from Beijing to X’ian then head to Pingyao, a 2,700-year-old walled city that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stay at Jing’s, a 19-room boutique hotel located in the former mansion of a wealthy Qing dynasty silk merchant, built about 260 years ago. It also has a highly regarded restaurant.
Jing, the owner, is a wonderful lady and gracious host willing to arrange anything for you in the city, as quickly as she will invite you for late night drinks and/or tea when you get back from your evening’s excursions.