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POLITIA HOTEL IN IOANNINA(GREECE) Πολιτεία

Hotel Politia is small 4 stars hotel that is clean and well looked after with warm and friendly staff. It has a nice courtyard in the belly of the building as the rooms are a cluster in a circular shape with a gate leading outside that gets shut at night. Even though the hotel is so close to the center, it gets surprisingly quiet and peaceful.
Politia hotel in Ioannina (pronounced Y/Jannena) is  right in the city center and within walking distance of an array of restaurants, retail shops and local sights. There are so many shops in this little town that it will be a dream destination for anyone who is shopping mad. The room(£50 a night ) we stayed in had a big wide comfortable bed, table and chairs, heating/ air-conditioning, color TV, refrigerator, small kitchen and balcony. The owner speaks very fluent English so it was easy to make request. Read about the sights in Ionnina here

Ioannina (Greece) ΠολιτείαHotel Politia - Ioannina (Greece) Πολιτεία

See better pictures of the hotel here

 

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HIKING IN KAKUM

Just as we entered 2015, I wanted to take my staff on an experience that would excite them, require them to confront their fears and also experience something different. We headed to Kakum national park the magnificent undisturbed rain forest tucked away just a few minutes from the very busy center of Cape Coast.  Kakum national park has thick green forestry, the tallest trees I have ever seen in my life and is home to real wild life such as leopards, elephants, snakes and other undocumented animals.

the famous canopy walkway at kakum park
the famous canopy walkway at kakum park
The canopy is attached to gigantic trees in the forest, raised about 40 meters from the forest floor

Kakum forest was previously a source for timber felling before 1994 when it was thankfully taken over by the government and other stakeholders to be conserved and protected. It has since become one of Ghana’s biggest tourist attractions for eco tourism.

When you visit Kakum forest, it is poorly run and not maximized for its income prospects but nonetheless, there is several basic enjoyable opportunities. You can pay to go on the nature walk, we had an amazing foot guide with a lot of knowledge of the ecosystem, plantation, hunting and traditional practices native to that part of the country. He shared interesting stories of how he could see and communicate with spirits. He was eccentric enough to convince me. He also said that his late father a spiritualist opened his eyes and ears spiritually so I half believed him.

He pointed out trees such as the frankincense tree and many others on the walk to us. There is also the option to stay in the tree house with a guide over night to watch the animals at night or early in the morning as that the best time to get a good view of the animals as they shy away from close to the camp because of human disruptions. The tree house is secure(see picture below) and sits on top a very big tree which gives a good view of the forest.

our guide showing us various plants on our botanical tour in kakum
Ghana plant fiber tooth brush tree
this is plant that is beaten into plant fiber tooth brush in Ghana

 

kakum over night stay tree house
kakum tree house
balcony of kakum tree house
kakum forest tree house sits 40 feet above the ground giving a good view of the forest and its inhabitants

The park has wildlife species such as forest elephants, buffalo, leopard, bongo, yellow backed duiker, red river hog and primates as well reportedly over 200 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

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EATING LOBSTERS IN GHANA

When I am in Ghana, I like to treat myself to short trips to the coast and Abandze resort  has been my favorite resort in Ghana as it has a wide open space for children to run around freely. The resort is just tucked about 5 minutes walking distance away from the main road that travels between Accra the capital and Cape Coast which is popular with holiday makers. Cape Coast is in the central region of Ghana and it has several privately run resorts.

My favorite dish is the grilled-baby-lobsters which is served with any of the local dishes. I got so addicted to the perfectly grilled baby lobsters so much that I just had to find baby lobsters back in London to replicate my favorite seafood grill.

Some resorts are members only whilst the majority open to visiting guest. The resort at Abandze has beautiful views from upstairs in the thatched roof top restaurant which overlooks a serene lagoon with mangroves. The resort is comparatively clean and the staff are very friendly.

 

 

It also has nicely decorated chalets which has en suite bathrooms and one family chalet with a kitchenette. The  resort sits at the bottom of Fort Amsterdam which is little known but is still functional. Abandze beach resort is in Saltpond. It is just about 20 minutes away from Cape Coast between the  Kormantse

and Abanze villages. The lagoon attracts the villagers on Sundays who come to swim and fish during the dry season. The villagers are very respectful and do not enter the resort to bother visitors. Abandze has open wide spaces for kids to run around freely safely away from the sea.

It is only 3 or 5 minutes walk away from the main road where you can easily catch a trotro to Cape Coast or Accra. Louis Armstrong the famous jazz trumpeter is said to have traced his ancestry back to the near by Kormantze village. Abandze resort is close to Elmina, Kakum National park, Mosomagor Eco-village, Domana Rock Shrine and Anomabu an old and well known village with posuban shrines which are concrete life size statuettes which portray war ornaments and war emblems to represent a history of  war victories and military experiences of the Fantes.

 

 

 

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ETRUSCAN NECROPOLIS IN TARQUINIA

Tarquinia is town which is 92km north of Rome and just 5km from the sea in an area known as Northern Lazio. What is unique about Tarquinia which is a medievial town is the well preserved Etruscan Necropolis with several of the tombs restored so visitors can see the magnificient tombs with fresco paintings on the walls.  The Etruscans were Italy’s first real civilization, to settled in the Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. Tarquinia which was one of 12 Etruscan cities later became a Roman colony.
The necropolis is now UNESCO listed with many of the tomb’s fresco paintings fully recovered. The tombs are all several feet below ground level so you reach them by climbing down a flight of stairs and can peer through a glass window to see inside. Inside all the tombs, there are light bulbs fitted in which visitors can put on from outstide to get a proper view of the fresco paintings on the walls which all depicts various fantasies the people buried in each tomb would have held of the after life.
Visiting the necropolis in Tarquinia is truly one of my most wonderful experiences whilst travelling. It is amazing and a wonder to be able to admire the work of art from thousands of years ago. The illustrations on the walls depicts a reflection of what life was like for the Etruscans. There is also near by an Etruscan museum that you can visit coming out back to Rome.
To get to Tarquinia: The town can be reached by train from Rome or from the coast towns on the Roma-Ventimiglia line. Modern Tarquinia has very good restaurants, a beautiful square full of medieval and Renaissance sights that will pique the interest of both the young and the old. It is also a romantic destination for couples with an information centre where you can also pick up information on various craft workshops, B&B’s and guided tours around the town. 
Each tomb has a description of the stories featured in the paintings on the walls. The Etruscans are credited with developing an urban civilization that dates back 9 centuries prior to the birth of Christ. These cluster of amazing tombs are monumental as they provide us with substantial evidence of Etruscan residential architecture. Also, the necropolis of Tarquinia, Monterozzi, contains 6,000 graves cut in the rock and famous for its 200 painted tombs with the earliest dated from the 7th century BC.