Where to Stay
Two friends and I spend a wonderful Easter weekend on the island of Naxos a few years ago. It is an enchanting island that is not overly touristy. Its a good place for some R&R as well as hiking (if you're so inclined).
The hotel we stayed at was one of the best budget accommodations I've ever experienced - Hotel Grotta, run by a brother and sister. The rooms are spacious and have TV, phone, nice bathrooms (although I don't know about wireless). Some have veranda views of the ocean. The highlight of the experience - hands down - is the traditional Greek breakfast. Buffet style yogurt, honey, cheese, bread, meats, honey cake, juice . . . its included in the room price, and you will be well fortified for your activities later in the day! We paid ~ US$45 a night for a triple room in 2001. And they gave us a bottle of wine!
Dimitrios was kind enough to loan my friends and I a well-worn copy of Walking Tours of Naxos. This slim guide has short to medium-length walks to see such sites as ancient Kouros and temples. You can see one of the most iconic ancient ruins as you sail into the harbor of Naxos town - the freestanding gate that was part of a temple to Apollo that was never finished.
We spent 3 days on Naxos and were able to visit some of the smaller towns (Ano Sagri, another town at the North end of the island - Apollonas, maybe?).
If you want to have a unique experience, try sleeping on straw in Switzerland! We came to know about it from Rick Steve's Germany,Austria & Switzerland guidebook. In a small village near Lauterbrunnen called Gimmelwald, you can sleep in a barn on hay beds from June to October for just 20CHF per night .. and that includes a good breakfast. Lots of blankets are provided and you can make your own bed with those or use your own sleeping bag.
It was cold when we went there in september and I had to use multiple blankets. The barn was pretty clean - cows were out in summer time grazing in fields. So it wasn't really smelly as I had expected. Also we got to interact with many other travellers most of whom had come there for the same reason - to have a different kind of experience!
Gimmelwald itself is a nice little swiss village. Very peaceful and quiet with smiling and friendly locals (most of whom have the last name Von Allmen!) and lots of greenery with plenty of cows! Its close to Murren and on the way to Schilthorn. We had the most relaxing time there and also got to experience a cheese festival during our stay.
Quick tip for making reservations in Japan. This is how we found all of our accomodations for our last trip. Pay attention to where the hotel/inn is located, walking distance to stations is ideal. Bus rides are not.
Here's the contact info: Dei Mori Bed and Breakfast, Via Dante Alighieri 12, 50122 Firenze, Tel +39.055.211438, Fax +39.055.2382216,email@example.com
Mother Land Inn (2) --> No. 433, Lower Pazundaung Road, Yangon, Myanmar. ph: 0095-1-291343
Email --> firstname.lastname@example.org
Email --> email@example.com
- Clean and quiet place, friendly atmosphere
- Complimentary breakfast
- 24-hrs valet service & electricity
- IDD phone, fax, email
Single -->8, double-->11, Triple --> 16 in USD(fan & attached shower)
-This is Trummelbach Falls. It's an amazing waterfall you can walk to from the hostel. The photo doesn't do it justice. This was a roaring loud waterfall. You have to pay some small amount of money to get in. Expect to get soaked from the spray if you visit!
I just realized now that Switzerland isn't in your travel plans Lee! Doh! I guess this could be of use to someone else... Either way cool new site Lee!
If you get a chance, a great town to visit in Ecuador is Salinas de Guaranda. (There is more than one Salinas in Ecuador--this is the one in the Andes, near the city of Guaranda.)
Salinas is one of the few towns in the Andes where the land is owned by the people who live there. It's an amazing community that has developed a series of small industries, a system of financing, and a community development strategy that has given people living there a much higher standard of living than most people in the Andes.
If you go, talk to the people about their community and how it runs. You'll see a pretty remarkable example of how strong leadership can mobilize poor people in the third world and help them improve their lives.
Overall hostel site for London with many recent ratings..http://www.hostellondon.com/
Here's a newly renovated hostel in London near Paddington Station with rave reviews. about 25 pounds per person per night for a double bed private room with private bathroom. Right now, that's about 44 USD pp. http://www.travelstay.com/pages/WakeUpLondon.htm