On trip to Albania and Greece last summer, Dan and I spent a few nights in Ksamil, Albania, a small beach town on the Albanian Riveria, just south of Sarandë, next to Butrint. We stayed at what may be Ksamil’s nicest hotel: the Poda Boutique Hotel. As I could not find much good information on this hotel online, here is my review of our four-night stay stay.
PODA BOUTIQUE HOTEL: LOCATION AND HOTEL BUILDING
The Poda Boutique Hotel is located right in the middle of beachfront Ksamil, just behind the insanely busy and Instagrammable Poda Beach. Seriously, its a 1 minute walk from the beach and Adriatic. There are numerous restaurants and bars within a five minute walk (although some an uphill walk), as well as the tacky Ksamil vendors hawking trinkets and carnival rides at all hours. Despite the crowded beach and busy area, we found Poda to be pretty quiet at night and the hotel itself never felt too busy. Ksamil proper, including grocery stores, gas stations, banks, etc., are located an uphill walk from Poda. We made the walk pretty easily, but it would be annoying for anyone with any mobility issues, especially in the summer heat.
On Dan and my trip to South Africa last year, we ended our grand vacation with a day of activities on the Cape Peninsula. This was the second time that Dan and I have done a tour of this area and, in my opinion, its one of the very best things to do in greater Cape Town. The natural beauty is outstanding, and I feel like one would miss out if this area was not visited. A lot of people do this type of tour on their own with a car, which is certainly doable, but we liked having a guide and the biking portion. In any case, this is a review of what we did on our most recent trip.
PICK UP FROM HOTEL
Our morning started with a pick up at our hotel around 8:00 AM. Our guide showed up on time in a white van with several heavy duty road bikes pulled behind. Very intense. Luckily, we had eaten breakfast at the hotel, as we would not have lunch for a looooong while (although this was the tour, not lack of food or restaurants en route).
Our trusty van for the day, along with our bicycles.
DRIVE DOWN THE CAPE PENINSULA
After pick up, we began the gorgeous drive down the Cape Peninsula, which runs along the coast and is absolutely stunning. We did not stop for photographs due to time constraints, but I took some shots from the van. If you are doing this drive, Muizenberg is a good place to stop, very popular with surfers. Its also home to those adorable multi colored beach huts that you see in pictures! You can see surfers in the back ground of the second picture below if you look closely.
A gorgeous drive down to Cape Point.
Muizenberg Beach in the background. If you look closely, you can see SO MANY SURFERS (the little black dots).
BOULDERS BEACH AND SIMON’S TOWN TO SEE PENGUINS!
After about 40 minutes on the road, we reached Simon’s Town, South Africa. Simon’s Town is small town south of Cape Town proper on False Bay. Simon’s town is practically known as a prominent South African Naval base, but for tourists, its home to Boulders Beach! Boulders Beach is part of Table Mountain National Park, and its home to so many adorable African penguins. We parked our car in Simons Town and walked about 5 minutes (straight walk) to Boulders Beach. We paid the fee to enter (around $8.50 USD) and walked out to the beach to see the African Penguins! And we saw so many, including baby penguins that had not yet lost their brown fur! We also saw a few Dassies, or little brown mammals (similar size to a rabbit) that are close related to the elephant. Who knew?! We spent about 30 minutes at Boulders Beach watching the penguins. I would note that guests must stay on raised platforms and cannot touch, interact with or feed the penguins (they bite, and there is a fine involved if caught).
Simon’s Town – its very pretty. I would love to spend a weekend here.
Beirut Sur Mer is a fun, local restaurant set right off Abu Dhabi’s famous Saadiyat Beach. Dan and I dined here on our last night in Abu Dhabi before flying to the Seychelles. We choose Beirut Sur Mer because (1) we looove Lebanese food(!) and (2) I saw it on a IG influencer’s page and it looked delicious! The pictures ended up holding true – this was a great dinner.
One of the funnest things that Dan and I did in the Seychelles last November was visit the Seychelles’ very own Takamaka Rum Distillery (which Dan almost skipped!). If you drink rum and are in the Seychelles, Takamaka is not to be missed!
A Takamaka banana Daiquiri.
Takamaka Distillery was started by a Seychellois family back in 2002 (under a different name). Takamaka is still owned by the same family and has a presence all of Mahé – a great success story. While initial distilling began in the family swimming pool, Takamaka’s current location is at La Plaine St. André, which is a grand property dating back to 1792. Takamaka has already done a lot of work on La Plaine St. André, but is continuing to restore it and open more of the property to the public. I’m here for it!
A wine town in the mountains of Rhodes, Greece probably does not come to mind when thinking of this beachey destination just of the coast of Turkey. However, there is such a town, named Embonas, in the mountains about an hour outside Rhodes Town. Embonas is famous for its wine and grilled meats! Its also a small town and an easy way to spend a morning or afternoon on Rhodes. We planned a morning wine tasting in Embonas on our recent trip to Greece!
I guess this means winery in Greek!
As Embonas is located about an hour from Rhodes Town, on some very twisty roads, we hired a driver to drive us around and stop at wineries that the driver had picked out and reserved in advance. This was super helpful, because we would not have known where to start. Information online is…sparse at best. We left Rhodes Town around 9:30, stopping for some fantastic coastal pictures en route, and ended up at our first winery about 30 minutes later (outside of Embonas).
Leaving Rhodes Town and driving to Embonas. This is a view point en route.
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