Monthly Archives: July 2012
We haven’t published many stories about Sam recently and there is a very good reason for that. He just had surgery on his eyes. He is fine now but unfortunately he has to walk with a terribly ugly plastic collar around his neck in 40 degrees heat (in fashionable Cannes of all the places!). No wonder he irritably wanders off as soon as we pick up the camera. But there is one thing that always puts him in a good mood again – food. And he has already found his favorite restaurant, centrally located on La Croisette in Cannes. After his daily morning walks, this is the place you can be sure to find him, washing down a Sausage a la Naturelle with a bit of still water.
Hotel Benkirai in St. Tropez is advertised on several travel websites as a five star establishment, which it is not. It is in fact a nice four star hotel to spend a few days enjoying life on the French Riviera. It’s located only a five minute drive from St. Tropez with all its beaches and jet-set life this former fishing village, turned glamour capital, has to offer. The hotel has an excellent taxi service free-of-charge until midnight, so you can easily go to town or enjoy the beach whenever you feel like it.
The hotel itself is very pleasant with a lovely restaurant/bar area, a nice pool and plenty of comfortable sun beds (in the morning you are not stressed looking for a place to put down your old bones to get some tan). The rooms are small, that is a fact, but rather well designed in light blue and white colors. You have either a nice terrace or a balcony. You may feel a bit claustrophobic, but then again, who comes to St. Tropez to hang around in the hotel room?
The restaurant serves traditional Mediterranean food in a tranquil setting and is an excellent choice if you don’t have the energy to take the taxi downtown. Being rather picky travelers, we were not able to fault the service even one small bit, everything was top notch. And most importantly, Sam (our dog) was very much welcomed. So if you are planning a visit to St. Tropez and don’t want to stay in the town itself, don’t hesitate to book Hotel Benkirai, it’s an absolutely beautiful place with plenty of charm.
Hotel Sofitel Vieux Port in Marseille is nicely located in the center, overlooking the old port. The view from the upper floors is outstanding and gives the visitor an immediate feeling of what this historical city has to offer. This hotel is definitely among the best the samandthedunes-team has ever reviewed.
Our room were tastefully and contemporarily decorated, if a bit smallish, but otherwise it provided all the amenities that one can wish for. The pool downstairs is big enough to keep guests happy and the sun-beds are plentiful. There is also a nice cafe outside the pool area where you can enjoy a gourmet lunch with some excellent wine or champagne. If it gets really hot during the day (which is often the case in the summer) try the sophisticated hotel bar inside, with a wide selection of snacks and drinks. In the evening, book a table at the hotel top floor restaurant Les Trois Forts. It is considered one of the best in the city and here you can enjoy mouthwatering dishes from the sea (the lobster was especially good) while gazing at the old port and the passing by cruise ships – an experience not to miss.
The service at Sofitel Vieux Port is beyond praise, attentive multi-lingual staff ensure that your stay is as pleasant as possible. If you are in Marseille for business, pleasure or just for a couple of days before starting off on a trip to Cote d’Azur, don’t miss this Sofitel experience. It’s a place of tranquility and luxury that will make you smile with appreciation.
Being the frequent traveller that he is, Sam has suddenly decided to start collecting souvenirs from all over the world. Although he is not earning any money (the plan to contact a circus and make him famous hasn’t worked out yet), he promised that he has a special nose for fine art and that a temporary loan would give him the chance to show off his investment skills. Anyway, after a short discussion (and lot’s of loud barking) Sam managed to assure us that this type of collection can be worth a fortune in a couple of years. Even though we were not fully convinced, we decided to lend him the money to start his unique collection of…tada…miniature dogs.
Arriving hungry and tired in Marseille, the world capital of Bouillabaisse, it was never really up for discussion what to eat. We just had to try this traditional Provencal fish stew dating back to 600 BC, when the Greeks founded the city. Near the old port, next to a small fountain, we found a cool looking restaurant called L’ Annexe, which served this classic meal. But don’t worry if you cannot find this particular place, almost every eatery in Marseille has Bouillabaisse, a fish soup popular for centuries with the local fishermen and made out of class B fish (every chef insists on having the “right” recipe but you won’t find salmon or tuna in a traditional Bouillabaisse). To make it more filling, it is spiced up with potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
In addition, you get a plate of croutons with saffron and garlic mayonnaise. Over the years Bouillabaisse became internationally fashionable offered in many of the fanciest restaurants in the world. However, eating the traditional one, in the old port in Marseille, is an experience hard to beat.
As you might have noticed, the Sam and the dunes team has been very, very lazy lately. In fact, we haven’t done many postings for the past two months. We are accusing each other for this but the one that is easiest to blame is…Sam. In the end, no matter who’s fault it is, we understand this has to be rectified. So we decided to start our dream vacation and update our travel blog regularly. The trip begins in Marseille and will end in Rome. In between we are planning to see St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco and whatever gems we find along the way. Bon Voyage and stay tuned!
Summer has arrived and some of us might be scratching our heads while trying to come up with a last minute vacation plan. If you then decide to spend your summer holiday in a five star resort in the south of Gran Canaria (Maspalomas/Meloneras) we have created a list of the five best hotels this area can offer.
1. Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia
In our view, the best resort in Gran Canaria. It’s luxurious and offers everything imaginable for the picky traveller. The hotel is quiet but yet centrally located near numerous bars and restaurants. Be aware though, Grand Hotel Residencia is very pricey and you better hurry booking since it might be tough getting a room on such short notice.
2. Lopesan Villa Del Conde Resort and Thalasso
Big, boisterous, lots of things to do, several pools, fantastic spa, restaurants, bars…you name it. On top of that, every evening you will be offered various entertainment at the outdoor stage located in the picturesque hotel courtyard. Rather expensive but a great place that definitely will satisfy the entire family.
3. Lopesan Baobab Resort
A family paradise with plenty of entertainment for kids.The food is excellent and you have a pick of several restaurants to eat. Prices are relatively reasonable. We would not, though, recommend this hotel for a romantic or lazy holiday since there is a big risk you wouldn’t appreciate being overwhelmed by kids playing football in the hotel corridor in the early morning hours!! (yep, it happened to us).
4. Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort and Spa
If you are into golf, this is your best bet. Located in the mountains a bit outside Maspalomas, Salobre Golf has one of the most picturesque courses on the island. The Resort offers several restaurants and pool areas (don’t miss the roof top pool with an extraordinary view). One big drawback though: Maspalomas town and the ocean are a 10 minutes taxi/bus ride away.
5. H10 Playa Meloneras Palace
With a nice and quite location and plenty of entertainment in the evening this hotel is perfect for the family. It is not the most luxurious but definitely the most affordable 5-star hotel in the Maspalomas area.
For more information about Gran Canaria, photos, hotel and restaurant reviews, check out our free e-guide.
This rhubarb pie is probably one of the best pies we have ever tried and it’s really easy to prepare. It has quite a lot of sugar and butter in it but since we don’t eat pie every day, we decided not to feel too bad while enjoying some unhealthy stuff. Serve it together with vanilla ice-cream or vanilla sauce. We promise, you and your guests won’t be able to resist a second serving.
A handful of rhubarb stalks, about 6-8 (trimmed, rinsed and cut in 2 cm pieces)
125 grams butter
2 dl flour
1 1/2 dl sugar
0.75 tsp. baking powder
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Place the chopped rhubarb in a pie tin. Melt the butter and mix together with flour, sugar and baking powder. Put the crust over the rhubarb. Bake it in the oven for about 25 minutes.
We are happy, no, in fact we are overjoyed. Ecstatic!! Sam and the dunes blog post “Sweden’s Cinderella City” has just been published by the National Geographic Intelligent travel blog. Read the full story here: Sweden’s Cinderella City.