Melanie Martins http://melaniemartins.com/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 16:12:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 http://melaniemartins.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Melanie Martins http://melaniemartins.com/ 32 32 Copenhagen http://melaniemartins.com/copenhagen/ http://melaniemartins.com/copenhagen/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 04:32:41 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7672

It was cold. But no one expect Copenhagen to be hot anyway.

After LA, here we are back to the old continent! Autumn has already started.

Before heading home to Malta, Diogo and I spent a night here in Copenhagen so we could visit a bit the city. It was our first time here in Denmark (we caught the flight to LA from Copenhagen but we didn’t visit anything except the airport).

I have to say I’m pretty happy with the quantity of vegan restaurants and coffee shops available here in Copenhagen.

From the amazing Açai bowl and vegan pancakes for the morning at the 42Raw Pilestræde, which is probably the most famous and cool spot for breakie in Copenhagen, to Cafe N – a delicious vegan burgers spot, Copenhagen is overall very vegan-friendly.

It’s also an expensive city – more expensive than the average European capital cities. Oh and no Uber, since taxis are ridiculously expensive, everyone use the metro for everything.

Diogo and I managed to walk around the city and the old port where some parts of “The Danish Girl” have been filmed.

We also managed to visit Our Savior Church, we climbed to the very top of the spire which has the best panoramic views of Copenhagen!

Copenhagen is a very small city and you can visit it all in 1 day – of course, if you want to visit museums, palaces, churches, etc. it will take you an extra day or 2 to visit it all.

Have you ever been to Copenhagen? Did you enjoy the city? Let me know in the comments below!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Diogo Novo
Wearing: Dress Libellulas; Sneakers Josefinas

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LA LA LAND http://melaniemartins.com/la-la-land/ http://melaniemartins.com/la-la-land/#respond Fri, 22 Sep 2017 00:21:06 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7613

LA. The city of Angeles. Hollywood, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, I mean… You get the idea! LA is THE city I couldn’t wait to visit!

After 30 days visiting French Polynesia (you can check my Odyssey across the Society Islands here), Diogo and I decided to visit LA for a week before heading back to Europe with Norwegian Airline.

As you might know, Los Angeles is one of the biggest and largest cities in the world!

There is over 30 millions people living in Greater Los Angeles area, and believe me, you’ll definitely need to rent a car if you want to get around! Heading to Hollywood Boulevard? Probably a 25-30 mins ride from you hotel.

Each area or neighborhood in LA is at a driving distance, which it feels more like an agglomerate of small cities.

We decided to stay in 3 different areas (or neighborhood): Downtown LA, Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

We stayed first at the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles (did you see the instal-stories of the amazing residence we got?), which is precisely just front of the famous Staples Center (think Leakers game), LA Convention Center (think Grammys, Emmys, etc.), and very well located for those who want to visit the downtown of Los Angeles.

Since we got a big dining and living room, we decided to invite Madeleine and Iqbal over (which were actually in LA at the same time) in order to celebrate Madeleine’s birthday.

I prepared a very nice surprise dinner for her with Champagne, fruits, Tacos, pizza and salad accompanied with a chilling Bossa Nova playlist. It was so nice to meet them again!

It’s pretty fun how we catch up across the globe without planning: first in the Maldives, then in Malta and now in LA!

Our home away from home have probably the best sunsets in downtown!

Look above how incredible the view is around 6:30pm! I’m in love!

During our second day in LA, Diogo and I headed to San Marino to catch up with Susan for lunch at the Julienne Restaurant. Susan has been living in LA for over 30 years and know pretty much everything here!

We spent the afternoon visiting some landmarks such as the Langham Hotel, and the Huntington Library.

At night, we headed to the Griffith Observatory (featured in La La Land movie) to observe the most insane views to all LA!

HOLLYWOOD

After 2 nights at the Ritz-Carlton Downtown LA, Diogo and I headed to the iconic landmark of Hollywood: the Roosevelt Hollywood Hotel located right in the Walk of Fame and front of the well-known Chinese Theater and Thrussaud Museum.

This is the perfect hotel to stay if you want to visit Hollywood most famous sights at a walking distance such as Hollywood Boulevard, walk of fame, Chinese Theater, Thrussaud Museum, Universal Studios, etc.

From downtown LA to Hollywood is around 25-30mins ride depending on traffic.

We spent only 1 night in Hollywood and headed the next day to Beverly Hills.

BEVERLY HILLS

Beverly Hills don’t need introduction: is the cleanest, prettiest and most expensive area in Los Angeles along with Bel-Air (which is just next to BH). Interestingly, Beverly Hills is an independent community – which means is not part of Los Angeles’ city despite the fact is located in LA.

We staid in 2 different hotels that I was dying to try out: the landmark Beverly Hills Hotel and the modern suites-only Viceroy l’Ermitage Beverly Hills.

Diogo and I fell totally in love with BH! It’s really the cutest neighborhood we have been in LA. From the clean streets, to the nice looking crowd, we didn’t get disappointed!

In fact, I understand now why so many celebrities choose to live here.

Rooftop pools are a very popular spot for sunny afternoons. In fact, at the pool of the Viceroy we even saw Michael Kelly from House of Cards.

For our last night, we went to the Winny’s Beverly Hills restaurant with my dear friend Aryeh – a A-list lawyer in LA.

This restaurant is THE spot if you want to see the best crowd in town: women and men were literally dressed to impress! From Ferraris to Roll Royces at the entrance, to Gucci dresses and Jimmy Choo walking around, anyway…you get the idea.

I mean… with bottle of wines starting at $190 going to the easy $3,500 it’s not for every pocket! It’s a fun experience and I will totally recommend it, just be prepared to leave some money there.

SANTA MONICA

Santa Monica is a beach area with pretty nice hotels along the coastline (the LA coastline starts with Malibu in the north, then Santa Monica, followed by Venice Beach, and finally Marina Del Rey in the South near LAX airport).

We didn’t stay in Santa Monica (maybe next time) however we went to its famous Pier just to watch the sunset as they told us it was the best hour to go! In fact we were not disappointed!

For our very first trip to LA we opted to spend our time catching up with friends and make new ones, do some shopping, walk around downtown and Beverly Hills, go to the Art District to take the must wings shot, watch some great sunsets in Santa Monica, and of course, discover a lot of nice vegan restaurants!

I’m a big fan of Cafe Gratitude and I couldn’t recommend enough this affordable yet minimal and trendy place!

Have you ever been in LA? If yes, did you enjoy it? Let me know how was your experience below!

Xx,
Melanie

Credits
Photography: Diogo Novo
We flew with: Norwegian Airline
Where we staid: The Ritz-Carlton Downtown LA, most incredible views of LA; the Beverly Hills Hotel, a landmark of the Golden Age of Hollywood; Viceroy l’Ermitage Beverly Hills – a modern luxury suites-only accommodation and vast dressing room with a pretty cool rooftop pool.

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Moorea http://melaniemartins.com/moorea/ http://melaniemartins.com/moorea/#respond Thu, 14 Sep 2017 19:22:57 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7738

Diogo and I spent our last days in French Polynesia here in Moorea.

This Island has so much to offer! From swimming with whales, diving, snorkeling, driving to the Belvedere point, to exploring the botanical garden, there is plenty to do!

Moorea was our very last stop before heading back to LA.

BORA BORA VS MOOREA

Before jumping into the activities and what we did in Moorea, many of you guys have asked me about the differences between Bora Bora and Moorea as they are the 2 most famous Islands in French Polynesia, so here below goes my genuine opinion after being in both places:

If you came from Bora Bora to Moorea or vice-versa, you will definitely see that Moorea is not a luxury destination but rather an eco-escape bringing you closer to Mother Nature (think swimming with whales, hiking, diving, exploring the botanical garden, etc.).

First, unlike in Bora Bora where you have to go to a private motu (small island where the hotels are located), here all the hotels are in the mainland of Moorea, so I definitely recommend to rent a car and explore around!

If you don’t have a car, hotels in Moorea will usually arrange a normal taxi to pick you up, while in Bora Bora they will get you a nice and comfy boat to pick you from the Airport and bring you to the hotel.

Moorea has an incredible natural beauty, unbelievable landscape with green moutains, and a vast ecosystem! You definitely don’t want to miss it by staying all day long in your hotel!

For instance, Diogo and I spent an entire morning swimming with whales for actually a pretty decent price (€80 per person).

While some activities might be slightly less expensive than in Bora Bora, price for food and beverage in hotels are pretty much the same.

You get basically the same bills than in the lavish Four Seasons Bora Bora, which is a bit disappointing as you are not in a luxury destination like Bora Bora and you definitely don’t get the same quality and standard either.

For instance, we went to eat crepes at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa and we got 1 veggie crepe for main course and 1 sweet crepe for dessert, we drank only water and for a total of 4 crepes (2 for each) we paid over €100! Yes! Over €100 for 4 crepes!

As vegans in Moorea, it was hard to eat properly due of the lack of vegan/plant-based options. We ended-up eating mainly vegan pizzas or dry pasta for lunch/dinner, and porridge with fresh fruit for breakfast.

Looking for a nice Açai Bowl? Or fancy an Avocado Quinoa salad? Vegan pancakes for breakfast? Definitely not the right place.

There is a vegetarian/vegan menu at the main restaurant of the Sofitel Moorea but the portions are so small that you might need to order more food than usual and pay around €150 for 2 without alcohol.

However, regarding the activities and what to do in the Island, this is where Moorea really shines the most comparing with Bora Bora.

WHAT TO DO IN MOOREA


As mentioned earlier, I totally recommend swimming with whales, rent a car and explore the island, dive, kayak, go to the Belvedere point, see sharks and stingrays, etc.

There is really a lot to do and staying in your bungalow won’t allow you to enjoy Moorea as it fullest!

If you are looking for a lazy luxury resort escape in order to spend your time chilling between your lavish villa, private beach and pool, while indulging in delicious cocktails and food at fancy lounges and restaurants, Moorea is not really the right fit.

If this is your vibe, you might prefer Bora Bora (May-October), Maldives (October-May), or Zaya Nurai Island in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (September-Dec and March-May).

But if you are into adventurous escapes, hiking, nature exploring, bird watching, underwater activities and don’t mind sacrificing the glitz and “over the top” hotels and food/beverage for an authentic Polynesian experience, then yes, I will definitely go for Moorea!

Have you ever been in Moorea or in French Polynesia? How was your stay? Let me know in the comment section below!

CREDITS
Photography: Diogo Novo
Wearing: Photos #3 & #5 Swimwear TJ SWIM;
Staying at: Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa

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ROUGE ET VANILLE http://melaniemartins.com/rouge-et-vanille/ http://melaniemartins.com/rouge-et-vanille/#respond Sun, 10 Sep 2017 23:10:21 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=8018

My favorite spot at the Four Seasons Bora Bora was definitly the private beach near our villa.If some people spend their days reading a book or tanning under the sun, for me, bathing and enjoying the view were my 2 favorite activities to spend my lazy afternoons in Bora Bora.

It’s so good to be in a place where all you need is a swimwear! Btw, which one do you prefer? Red bikini or vanilla swimsuit?

Let me know in the comments below!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Diogo Novo
Wearing: Photos #1 & 2 bikini Calzedonia; #5 & #7 Elena Makri
Staying at: Four Seasons Bora Bora

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BORA BORA http://melaniemartins.com/bora-bora/ http://melaniemartins.com/bora-bora/#comments Fri, 08 Sep 2017 18:28:17 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7699

Bora Bora… The dreamiest place we have ever been! The blue lagoon, the view to the Mount Otemanu when waking up, the white sand beaches, Am I dreaming? Is this place real?!Since we had the opportunity to visit Vaitape and Bora Bora Island with the Wind Spirit, we decided to simply relax during our stay here at the Four Seasons Bora Bora and enjoy this incredible resort!

Bora Bora VS Maldives

Since a lot of you asked, I’m going to talk a bit about the differences in terms of destinations between The Maldives and Bora Bora below:

Maldives

The Maldives are composed by thousands of small islands and have a “One-Resort-per-Island” concept located in the Indian Ocean (just below Sri Lanka) with dry season from December to May.

There is no mountains or hills and it’s one of the flattest countries on Earth. Once you land in Male (the capital of the Maldives) you will take a small water plane to travel to your Resort-Island destination.

From there, you will have a total “Robinson Crusoe” experience since there is only you, other guests and the staff of the hotel in the entire island.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is located in the Southern Pacific Ocean and it’s part of the French Polynesia (a group of 5 archipelagos). Once you land in Tahiti, you need to fly to Bora Bora which is where you have the Mount Otemanu, Vaitape (main city with airport), and other smaller villages plus some guest houses and budget hotels.

The best hotels are located in private islands surrounding Bora Bora called “Motu” – reachable by boat. For instance, the Four Seasons shares a private Island with the St. Regis.

They either pick you up at the Airport  or Vaitape Port if you arrived by boat.

From this “Motu” you can have breathtaking views to the Mount Otemanu and Bora Bora Island. You can get to the main Island by boat (fees applies) if you wish to leave the resort and visit the local factories of Pearls and Pareos.

The dry season is from May to October which is pricesely the opposite with the Maldives.

Luxury Accommodations

There is way less luxurious accommodations in Bora Bora (<8) than in the Maldives (+180). While the Maldives gather the majority of the luxurious brands in the world, in Bora Bora you only have the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Sofitel, Intercontinental, Conrad, Le Meridien, and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World (which is under the Pearl Beach Resort****).

Bora Bora can actually be a budget destination as there is many Airbnb options and villa rentals at affordable prices (but not in private islands).

Have you ever been in the Maldives or Bora Bora? What did you prefer? Let me know!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Diogo Novo
Wearing: Photo #1 & #2 Swimwear Elena Makri ; #4 Bikini TJ SWIM ; #6 Swimwear Elena Makri
Staying: Four Seasons Bora Bora

]]> http://melaniemartins.com/bora-bora/feed/ 2 MARQUESAS ISLANDS http://melaniemartins.com/marquesas-islands/ http://melaniemartins.com/marquesas-islands/#respond Tue, 05 Sep 2017 23:18:44 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7610

Once upon a time in a far far land located in the South Pacific Ocean, a French explorer named Melanie Martins discovered the Marquesas Islands onboard of the Aranui 5.

How great does it sounds right? Well that’s not a legend but a real story.

In fact, after my adventure in the Society Islands (the most famous archipelago of the French Polynesia), Diogo and I embarked on the Aranui 5 in order to discover the Marquesas Islands – a remote archipelago of the French Polynesia receiving no more than 5000 tourists a year (same than North Korea)!

Aranui – meaning “Great Highway” in Polynesian – has been operating this route since the end of the World War II.

The first was an old PT-boat bought by the Wong family of Tahiti for copra trading. As each vessel came to the end of operability, the Wongs put another freighter into service.

The latest one is the Aranui 5 who can carry around 200 guests on a 16 days journey.

Aranui 5 also do 2 Port of Calls in the Tuamotu Islands which are Fakarava (half day) and Rangiroa (half day) and in Bora Bora (Society Islands), however their main destination (and attraction) is the Marquesas Archipelago where they cover a total of 6 Islands: Hiva Oa, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou and Ua Huka.

HIVA OA

Hiva Oa is just like chasing a fairytale. Its beauty seemed unreal. I tried to wake up, but actually I was already awake, this was real.

The stunning mountains views from our balcony by the early sunlight was a pure bliss.

We visited twice Hiva Oa.

The first time, we visited me’ae Iipona in Puamau which has the largest tiki in the Marquesas: Takaii who stands 8 feet tall (2.43m).

It’s the most incredible archeological site to see these ancient, human-like religious stone sculptures outside of Easter Island.

The second time we came to Hiva Oa, we visited the small village of Atuona which was the final home of Paul Gauguin, who died there in 1903 and is buried at the Calvary Cemetery overlooking the town.
The Belgian singer Jacques Brel is also buried there.
In 2003, the Paul Gauguin Cultural Center was completed.Atuona was the capital of all the Marquesas Islands but it has been recently replaced by Taiohae (on Nuku Hiva).

TAHUATA

The small Island of Tahuata is located at just 3km from Hiva Oa (pretty close neighbour…) and was the first Marquesa island discovered by Europeans explorers back in 1595.

We first visited the small (and main) village of Vaitahu and its church Sainte Mère de Dieu, then we walked around 25 minutes in order to get to the nearest isolated bay with black sand and warm waters.

Diogo, Richard, and I had the beach by ourself and we couldn’t be happier!

FATU HIVA

Fatu Hiva was beyond magical. It felt like an abandoned, legendary and mystical island. An Island that only some of the luckiest explorers could actually anchor on.

In fact, Fatu Hiva is the most isolated island of the Marquesas Archipelago and only has 587 inhabitants.

There is no airport here or proper port, so the only way to get to Fatu Hiva is by boat and get anchored a bit further.

NUKU HIVA

Hatihe'u bay, Nuku HivaHatihe'u bay, Nuku Hiva

 Nuku Hiva is the largest island in the Marquesas and was formed by an ancient volcano in which a more recent cone emerged.

The Southern portion of both cones have eroded, leaving that coast with high, wave-washed cliffs and deep bays, each more majestic or mysterious than the other.

Nuku Hiva is mainly famous for:

  1. Its 3 sacred archeological site: Kamuihei, Tahakia & Teiipoka;
  2. The city of Taioha’e (located in the Taioha’e bay) which is the administrative capital and largest town of the Marquesas;
  3. Its spectacular waterfalls such as the Vaipo Cascade that can be seen by helicopter or on foot from Hakaui; and
  4. Taipivai – the valley immortalized in Typee, a novel written by American Herman Melville and published in 1846.

We also stopped twice in Nuku Hiva.

The first time we went to explore the sacred and ancient archeological site (or tohua in Polynesia) of Tahakia – which was recently restored and where we assisted to a local dancing show under a big Banyan tree.

After that we went to have lunch at the restaurant “Chez Yvonne” owned by the mayor Yvonne Katupa located in the Hatiheu bay (pictured above).

During our second visit to the Island, we visited the Taioha’e valley and its famous Notre Dame Cathedral (as you can see above).

There is actually a dirt road on the right leading up to a helicopter pad from which sightseeing flights depart. A twenty-minute flight costs about $150 per person, with a six-passenger load.

Although expensive, this is a very special way to view the villages, mountains and waterfalls. You can arrange tours at Heli-Inter Marquises.

UA POU

During our stay in Ua Pou, Diogo and I did some pretty intense hiking to the top of the Hakahau cross where we had amazing views to the Hakahau bay.

We then walked up to the private bay of Anahoa with stunningly clean black sand and warm waters.

A pure bliss to have an entire bay just for us!

UA HUKA

Ua Huka was the 6th and last Island we visited in the Marquesas Archipelago.

Actually if you are standing at the Hakahau cross on Ua Pou on a clear day, you can see Ua Huka on the horizon.

Ua Huka is the smallest of the inhabited Islands in the northern group with only 584 residents living between Vaipaee and Hane.

The so-called “invisible bay” of Vaipaee is a long slit in the seaward cliffs, which opens to a shallow inner harbor.

We had the opportunity to see the Aranui 5 executing a tricky about-face in the narrow passage; bow and stern almost touch the opposing cliffs as the vessel spins on its mix. It was spectacular to watch!

We started our journey by visiting the Vaipee Community botanical garden, followed by the Ua Huka Museum. 

Many are woodcarvers, and you’ll find handicraft shops with excellent items at reasonable cost in the village.

There is also many free horses to ride.

We left Ua Huka during the golden hour when a wonderful pinkish sunset emerged in the sky.

CONCLUSION

I loved to discover the Marquesas Islands! The Polynesian culture has always fascinated me a lot and can’t wait to come back to this part of the world again!

Have you ever been to the Marquesas Islands? Are you planning to go? Let me know your thoughts and questions below!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Melanie Martins & Diogo Novo
Onboard with: Aranui 5

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ODYSSEY IN French Polynesia http://melaniemartins.com/odyssey-in-french-polynesia/ http://melaniemartins.com/odyssey-in-french-polynesia/#comments Thu, 24 Aug 2017 22:29:56 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7512

After having spent 17 days in the South of France, 1 week in Moscow, and 1 week in Greece, followed by a family “vacay” of another week in Malta, I needed to run away a bit from Europe.

No many destinations can beat Europe during summer time, but I have heard during August/September it was the dry season in French Polynesia, which is literally in the other side of the world, at 8 hours flight from Los Angeles.

French Polynesia… Everyone has heard about the dreamy blue lagoon and white sandy beaches of Bora Bora with its incredible view to the Mount Otemanu. Looks like a pretty descent alternative to EuroSummer to me.

After some extensive research, I learnt that French Polynesia was as vast as Europe (!), and in fact it is divided in 5 different Archipelago:

1. Society Islands (the most famous one with Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, etc.);

2. Tuamotu Islands (with many atolls such as Fakarava and Rangiroa specially good for diving and snorkel);

3. Marquises Islands (the most distant ones situated on the North – over 1,000km from Tahiti!);

4. Gambier Islands – the most distant ones on the Southeast;

5. Austral Islands – the most distant ones on the Southwest;

Located at just 5 hours from New Zealand, it’s definitely not a weekend trip (not even for Kiwis).  Since the flight is a journey on itself (24 hours), I got this crazy idea to spend 1 month in French Polynesia between sea and land, ready to explore from the touristic Bora Bora to the least visited islands where only locals walk around!

My Journey started precisely with this 11 days cruise from the Windstar giving us the possibility to visit all the main islands from the Society Archipelago (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Tahaa, and Huahine) and 2 other ones in the Tuamotu (Fakarava and Rangiroa).

Due to our family vacay in Malta, we couldn’t embark the 13th August in Papeete (the capital of French Polynesia located in the main island – Tahiti), so we managed to fly directly to the first port of call: Fakarava.

I won’t go into details about each island we visited here, as each of them will have soon a dedicated post.

Below goes my photo-diary of the islands we visited with the Windstar and my journey onboard, hope you enjoy.

FAKARAVA, 15th AUGUST

Fakarava is the first stop onboard of the Wind Spirit (we took a plane to get to Fakarava in order to embark) and the second largest lagoon in the Tuamotu Archipelago.In fact, this rectangular reef encloses such a rich ecosystem that UNESCO has designated it as a Biosphere Reserve.

Diogo and I spent our day riding a bike across the island where we explored the small village of Rotoava and saw that many inhabitants also prefer to ride bikes instead of driving.

At 4:30 pm we took a tender (small boat to get us to the Wind Spirit) in order to sail away at 5.

RANGIROA, 16th AUGUST


It’s not hard to understand why Rangiroa has so many diving centers.

Known as “The Endless Lagoon”, is a string of coral encircling a luminous turquoise and jade-green lagoon known as being one of the world’s greatest snorkeling destination.

Rangiroa is a major underwater diving destination because of its lagoon’s clear blue water and exceptionally diverse marine fauna. In fact, it’s the second biggest lagoon in the world!

Since Diogo and I didn’t plan any diving in advance, we decided to explore this very green island and make some new local friends.

TAHA’A & MOTU MOHANA, 18TH AUGUST

In the morning, we visited a local pearl farm and vanilla plantation in Taha’a (known as the Vanilla Island).

For lunch, we head to a private picnic at Motu Mohana (a deserted island with white sand and clear water).

The staff cooked for the guests directly on the beach! It was really cool to enjoy a picnic outside the boat to change a bit.

RAIATEA, 19TH AUGUST

Diogo and I rented a car and spent the day visiting this sacred Island.

Raiatea is very photogenic and has such a vast vegetation!

There is only one road circling the entire island, so you can drive it all within 3-4hours. Raiatea is mainly known to be the centre of the Polynesian culture and have the biggest Mara’e (sacred archeological site) in all the Polynesian world: Taputapuatea.

Every other Mara’e spread out in Polynesia must have a stone coming from this main one.

BORA BORA, 20TH AUGUST

Finally the one & only Bora Bora and its wonderful lagoon!

The Wind Spirit stopped 2 days in Bora Bora so we had plenty of time to explore the main Island where there is the famous Mount Otemanu, the village of Vaitape, the Bloody Mary’s restaurant, spend some time in Matira’s beach, and visit a local pare’o producer.

We also did some snorkel with sting ray and sharks however that morning was pretty cloudy and the water a bit cold for my taste (remember I live in Malta where the sea temperature can reach 32ºC).

Since the ship stopped just front of the Island, we got astonishing views to the Mount Otemanu during our breakfast and lunch!

For the evening in Bora Bora, we went on a private islet (called Motu) for a very special dinner animated with Polynesian dances and performance.

As you may see above, the dancers even played with fire! It was an incredible evening and the sunset from this private Motu a pure bliss!

HUAHINE, 22TH AUGUST

At Huanine (known as the Wild Island), Diogo and I decided to simply relax on the beautiful beach just at 5 mins walk from the Port.

We knew tomorrow it will be a very busy day exploring Moorea.

MOOREA, 23TH AUGUST

Our last destination before disembarking in Papeete was its neighbour island – Moorea.

Moorea is, without a doubt, beyond anything we have seen until now, its Beauty is incontestable and very unique due of its stiff mountains, lush hills and abundant fauna and flowers.

For me, Moorea was the most photogenic of them all and the sunset gave us wonderful colours during our sail away.

CONCLUSION

It was my very first time sailing onboard of such a small yacht (my last cruise was on the Royal Princess in the Caribbean which was carrying around 2000 passengers!).

Here on the Wind Spirit, we were no more than 130 guests!

It was a much more intimate experience, and after 11 days together we felt like part of a big family.

All staff and crew members knew my name and were all super friendly with everyone. Always on an incredible good mood! During breakfast some waiters will even sing!

Having breakfast and lunch at the Veranda (their terrace restaurant) and contemplate the islands surrounding us was magical.

I’m not sure I could like again big ships now that I have experienced a small sailing yacht. I love the fact everyone knows my name, and treat me like family. No rush, no confusions, a pure bliss!

Indeed, 130 passengers… When we think about it, it’s the same amount of guests than a small wedding ceremony!

I felt like an Explorer of the Sea, sailing away to find new land everyday!

Have you ever been in French Polynesia or onboard of a sailing Yacht like the Windstar? How was your experience? Let me know below!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Melanie Martins & Diogo Novo
Traveling with:Windstar Cruises (onboard of Wind Spirit yacht)

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GETAWAY IN MYKONOS http://melaniemartins.com/weekend-in-mykonos/ http://melaniemartins.com/weekend-in-mykonos/#respond Thu, 03 Aug 2017 23:14:43 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7605

There is nothing better than changing environment from the busy city life of Moscow to the relaxed island life! I’m so happy to be back to Mykonos – my favorite Island in Greece (ok… Along with Santorini)!For some, Mykonos is synonym with crazy parties, drinking tones of alcohol, and sleep until 2PM due of the hangover from last night. For others like me, Mykonos (like Ibiza) can be a place to chill, get distressed, and relax away from the crowd.

I went back to my favorite place in the Island: Cavo Tagoo. Some friends from Moscow actually loved my IG photos so much that they booked a stay in this hotel just 3 weeks after.

Cavo Tagoo has became my home away from home when I head to Mykonos, from the lovely breakfast delivered to my villa every morning, to the incredible vibe around the main pool and bar area, this place represents what Mykonos is all about! There is no words to express it, you need to get there and see/feel it!

3 days was a bit too short for Mykonos. Next time I will definitely spend at least a week or 10 days there! People don’t believe me when I tell them there is no way someone gets bored in Mykonos! There is so many beach lounges and restaurants, and so many pool parties, I mean… there is always a lot going on!

Since Cavo Tagoo is located just at 20mins walk from the little Venice (Mykonos town), Diogo and I opted to get our lunches and dinners there and explore one more time its white and blue streets rather taking a cab to go further (last year we went to Scorpios for lunch which is a 20mins ride).

If you are vegan, I would totally recommend Nice n Easy restaurant in little Venice – they have awesome food, great service and the best view to the sunset!

The sunsets are wonderful here in Mykonos even more from our lovely villa and bathroom.

Time to leave and spend 3 more days in Athens before coming back to Malta for another week with Diogo’s family.

Have you ever been to Mykonos? Where do you usually go? If you have never been, don’t forget to read my first stay in Mykonos here.

Xx,
Melanie

Credits
Photography: Diogo Novo
Where I staid: Cavo Tagoo Mykonos

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NICE http://melaniemartins.com/nice/ http://melaniemartins.com/nice/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 21:29:23 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7491

Ah… Nice! The most beautiful city we have visited so far in the South of France (or maybe in all of France?).

Don’t get me wrong, Cannes was also very beautiful, but the Vieux Nice is simply the most picturesque part of France with its charming narrow streets and colorful buildings, a fusion between the Italian dolce vista (think Positano) and the elegant French touch.

Diogo and I finished our Cote d’Azur itinerary with a couple of days in Nice – the biggest city in the French Riviera.

I’m not a big fan of the beaches in the South of France (who goes there for the beaches anyway?): Nice has a huge coastline with many beach lounges but the water is so cold and there is no sand but small rocks. But we go there for so many other reasons!

Nice is a very old and historical city, mainly the Vieux Nice which is where the majority of those pictures where taken.

If you go to the French Riviera, don’t skip Nice! There is so much to visit and do! From shopping, to get lost around and enjoy their great food (we actually found many good vegan restaurants there)!

After Nice, it was time to take our flight back to Malta.

Bye Cote d’Azur! We loved to have spent these 17 days with you! Can’t wait to come back next year and visit other incredible parts of the French Riviera (from Antibes, Cap-Ferrat, Villefranche-sur-mer, etc.)!

Have you ever been to the South of France? Where did you go? Let me know in the comment section below! Talk soon!

Xx,
Melanie

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Verdon http://melaniemartins.com/verdon/ http://melaniemartins.com/verdon/#respond Sun, 09 Jul 2017 03:00:35 +0000 http://melaniemartins.com/?p=7667

 Verdon is a hidden gem we found on the road to Valensole. Diogo and I couldn’t believe how turquoise and clear is the water at the Sainte-Croix Lake!

We stopped there for around 30mins to contemplate its incredible natural beauty. In fact, this river canyon is often considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful.

In the first photo I’m overlooking the lake and the little town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.

I hope next year to come back to this beautiful place and have more time to enjoy its natural park, hike around and of course sail across the famous Gorge du Verdon.

If you have any tips for my next trip to Alpes-de-Haute-Provence let me know!

Xx,
Melanie

CREDITS
Photography: Diogo Novo
Outfit: Dress Maje .
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