5 Places to Run Far Away from Winter

Winter is really playing hard against my meteorological patience. The German winter one, famous for its negative temperatures – -13C a couple of early  mornings ago – and persistence – once upon a time, I lived to see snow in the happy month of April no less. True is that the summer was very hot this year and the cold season started really only from January. But anyway,  for someone like me, winter is synonimous with bad mood, ugly clothing and limited freedom travel. It also means more than one book finished the day, many coffees and a lot of blogging.

This time of the year I am usually out of Germany till February, in much warmer places, from where I nonchalantly post sunny images on my social media channels. There are many warm places waiting for me and promise to visit soon – anyone said Bahamas? or Cuba? or Zanzibar? -, but as for now, I made a short list of my favourites that I already had the chance to visit in the last years.

  1. Lisbon, Portugal

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Lisbon, and Portugal in general, is one of my pleasant European travel memories. I loved to discover the people, the great food – the wine and the morning pastry are unforgettable – and so many cities that can be visited for one day trips, such as Sintra or Porto. I stayed in the fancy area of Cascais, around 25 minutes by train to the centre of the capital city and I was very happy with my choice, especially after I discovered a very special museum of musical instruments. I went there in one December and I had only one windy and rainy day in almost three weeks of stay.

2. Barcelona, Spain

It is a very touristic and crowded place, especially if you plan to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, but for a change one can try to pay a visit to the South of France for this specific day and night and come back at the beginning of January for the rest of the journey. The Gaudi architecture is interesting enough to keep you busy for long days and there are a lot of food choices for every taste and budget.

3. Israel

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Outside Europe, and only four hours of flight away from Berlin with regular cheap flights every day, Israel offers everything: history, art, religion, beaches, great food, unique shopping, high-end hotels. Bonus: the warm weather. Last December, I enjoyed a couple of days at the beach or sipped my glass of red wine with a great sea view. Once in a while, there is a little snow coming up for a couple of days or minutes, but although everyone is welcoming the event with panic and fear, there is nothing to be afraid of. And if you really miss the snow so much, there may be even some ski options in the Mount Hermon area.

4. New Orleans, USA

How much I love this place! The jazz clubs hopping on Bourbon street, the feeling of getting lost in the middle of the houses with stylish iron balconies and the summer feeling all round the year. The food is special in comparison with the most part of America, with a lot of spices and wise dosis of French influences. What everyone visiting the city should do: book a riverboat tour on the one and only Mississippi.

5. Thailand

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My first winter escape at the end of my first year in Germany was in Thailand. I arrived in Bangkok in the last days of December and the first hours I went through a thermic shock. In Berlin there were some minus degrees and in this city I was hardly able to breath because of the heat wave. Outside the busy Bangkok with its street food and night markets there are many things to see in the Northern region, from temples where one can book a bike tour to hiking, to fancy hotels with swimming pools and silk factories. The North has also cuisine based on fruits and vegetables. The prices are almost symbolical and you will hardly be alone during this time of the year, with many English speaking expats and tourists roaming around. The islands are usually high end destinations with gorgeous hotels and villas to rent, but if you are rather the secluded type, you better do an exhaustive research about where to find your peaceful paradise.

I told to myself more than once that I have one day to learn to ski, encouraged but the saying that you are never old enough to start practising this sport. My friends still hope that one day will finally buy the proper clothes for this weather and use this winter time for some unique trips instead of repeatedly complaying for months about the hard life under the Central European cold – you see, even my conversations are limited because of this weather! I also remember one beautiful winter I spent in Oslo, the first time since childhood when I enjoyed the snow and crispy weather. However, if you will ask me to chose between a sunny destination and one covered by snow, my answer will definitely favor the choice no. 1. After all, one can learn to ski at any age, isn’t it?

 

Hotel review: Gordon Hotel&Lounge Tel Aviv

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The hotel industry in Tel Aviv is offering every year more and more pleasant surprises and new rising stars, the boutique hotels being one of the most dynamic offers. Situated at the corner of Hayarkon and Gordon Street, the newly renovated Gordon Hotel&Lounge is hosted in one of the famous Bauhaus white buildings. It used to be before only a small bar, that was maintained now, with additional 12 cosy rooms and a modern restaurant and bar space.

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The entrance looks a bit poor and may misguide you about the simple and warm yet polished ambiance waiting from inside. As it is situated on a very busy street, minutes away from the beach, the high traffic can be a problem,  including during the night, for those looking for some perfectly quiet nights. But you are in the ‘City that never sleeps’ so don’t expect too much slow life during your stay hee…

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Once I arrived from Jerusalem to join my friend for a long weekend in the bubbling city, I preferred to go first to catch the sunset from the terrasse, with a glass of wine and the view of the beautiful Mediterranean sea in the front of my eyes. Altough the end of December, the weather was perfect not only for photographic opportunities, but also for enjoying outdoors on the comfy chairs the beautiful colours of the sky reflected into the water. For a couple of minutes, the time just stopped.

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Indoors, I was welcomed with a smile by the personnel and given always good suggestions for the choice of breakfast (my constant choice, delicious black lentils and artichokes, hummus, red beet and cranberries). The decorations of the rooms and of the lobby are in the style of the 1970s, in light colours and transparent stickers, the warm contrast to the black massive doors.

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The rooms are cozy, with simple functional additions and depth perspectives given by the discrete and romantic lights. The rooms are provided with technical facilities, plasma TV, mini-bar and Internet (during my stay, the wifi was not properly working, but I took it as a sign that I can use my time otherwise than checking news online). From the balcony, one can spend hours and hours looking at the sea and the fast city life.

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The predominant white in the rooms gives you a feeling of quietness and peace and makes your sleep full of nice dreams. The only think that I did not exactly understand from the interior design setting was the curtain outside the bathroom glass wall. Maybe an opaque glass wall would have been a more practical and aesthetical solution. But spending time in the room – although the temptation to watch the international news on the huge tv is dangerously great, but I can stand it – is not on my to-do-list, and shortly after checking I am out to see, feel and smell the city.

On the way to the beach, I could not resist to make a stop to the tempting SALT Kitchen&Drinks Restaurant, and I am lucky to find a place and hang around chatting with the locals. The next evening, the bar is fully booked for a party, but from now on, I know that regardless how much I want to see new places in the city, I will make sure that at least once in a while I will stop here too.

For more images from Gordon Hotel&Lounge, check the dedicated Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/ilanaontheroad/gordon-hotellounge-tel-aviv/