The build up was over. Half way through The Hotel Inspector's first show of the new season I saw myself on the screen.
I'd been invited to Clover Spa & Hotel in Birmingham to promote my unusual accommodation website and voice my impressions of the hotel. As Britain's first naturist hotel it firmly fitted into QuirkyAccom's criteria of being different. I was delighted to add it to the directory.
We were straight in at the deep end. Tim, the amiable owner, showed us around in the nude. During the next couple of days being surrounded by naked people became old hat - not that it made me feel the need to join in. Apart from a dip in the hot tub my robe stayed firmly on. A naked spa experience is one thing - wandering around the hotel corridors and eating with nothing on is quite another. Apart from a dig from one hardy naturist, everyone was very relaxed and accepting of our chosen limits.
Shambala is a wonderfully diverse and quirky festival that’s bursting with silliness, with such a lot to do for such a small festival. There is entertainment around every corner and the location is magical. If you take a wonder through the woodland at night you will be greeted with amazing psychedelic lighting, art installations and experimental soundscapes for those who want to immerse themselves deeper in the experience.
Shambala prides itself on not revealing the line up before the event, but its never a let down when it comes to music. They choose such a wide range of genres that there is something for everyone. Chill to some dub or reggae, dance madly to some electro swing, lie under the stars to ambient psychedelic with a cup of chai, get your bass face on to some drum n’ bass or wonder around the smaller tents to find an eclectic mix of live bands and performances.
Its not just Music they have on offer, if you have a love for theatre, circus, cabaret or Art then you are in luck. In The Social Club and the Kamikaze tents I skated at the roller disco, laughed at the comedians and witnessed a spandex clad woman hanging upside down juggling knives! Just walking from a café to the toilet there is sure to be something weird and wacky going on, a Cinderella ramming flip-flops onto unsuspecting men’s feet, six brides searching for husbands or some vets artificially inseminating people dressed as endangered animals! The festival is not short of lyrical geniuses either, whilst having breakfast in Coyote Moon Café I listened to many creative people getting passionate and soulful opinions off their chests with spoken word and poetry.
Each year many cities and towns throughout Spain go to great lengths to produce impressive parades and re-enactments of the battles that took place between the 8th and 15th century between the Moros (the muslims) and the Christians. The Valencian region takes a particular interest and the event in Alcoy, in April, is the most well-known.
When you live in Spain its good to rotate your fiesta events as repetition is the name of the game. This year I wanted to see the Moros and Cristianos parade in Moraira, on the Costa Blanca, as I had friends involved in it. Moraira is a very pretty coastal town with boutique shops, a cobbled street, a harbour and beach and many restaurants spilling out on to the pavements and plazas. Lovely as it is, it is not typically Spanish. There are a large number of resident foreigners and tourists which mean that you can still eat your British cooked breakfast and your Sunday roast, all ordered in the reliable old English language. But this doesn't dampen the enthusiasm of all to be involved in the traditional fiestas and parades of the region.
From 9-17 June Moraira streets hosted concerts, discos and live music. Gunshots had filled the air for some days and Saturday had seen the taking of the castle and a battle on the beach. But it was the Sunday parade that I came to watch. White plastic chairs lined the route, rented out at €3 a pop. Parents were bullied into buying overpriced balloons and the whole town began to buzz with expectation...afterall, in true Spanish style, we were made to wait. But once the rhythm of medival reed instruments and banging of drums set the pace, a steady stream of dramatically dressed Moros and Christians trode the streets of the town to the click and flash of cameras.
As anyone who has been to India knows, its a very special place like no other.
A friend who lives and travels in India has shared some of his photos.
QuirkyAccom.com has had its first birthday and already has 400 wonderfully interesting and unusual places to stay within its directory. And there is an endless list of places I hope to add. This is the largest listing of its kind on the internet. If you want to find accommodation offering something different look no further!
On my current favourites list of properties I'd love to get to is
Base Camp, US - The remote, raw desert in Utah would be great for hiking with Kobae the resident tortoise. When the heat gets to you, jump in the Colorado River that runs alongside.
The Hanseatic Wharf, Norway - I'm lucky on this one as I will be there later this year. If visiting Bergen in the fjordlands this hotel is in the picturesque, historic hub.
- A Story from Base Camp in Utah
- Briefly in Barcelona
- Funky Fitzroy - Melbourne city living at its best.
- Filming The Hotel Inspector
- Local Fiestas in Spain
- Sport Heaven - Club La Santa
- Sydney Beaches - Manly to Bondi
- Weird is Wonderful
- Ski Sierra Nevada
- New Year in Sydney - The Place To Be
- Healthy Holidays
- Get Naked
- Tips for Learning a Language
- Alternative Weddings
- Motorbike Madness in Ho Chi Minh City
- Hiking in Spain
- Unusual Hotels
- Stopover in Dubai
- Sri Lanka - The South Coast
- A Taste of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka - the Emerald Interior
- Travelling Alone
- Chiang Mai Party Train
- Expat Christmas
- Chang beer on the Koh San Road, Bangkok
- Make Things Happen - Volunteer Work Abroad
- Ethiopia - Land of Mystery
- InterRail: How my travels began
- Support Japan - Go There!
- Futuristic Travel (part 2) - On Earth
- Futuristic Travel (part 1) - Space
- Coast to Coast
- Cape Town
- Ibiza - Mature Clubbing
- Hotels in Disguise
- Top Travel Reads
- Camino de Santiago de Compostela
- Sleep Well & In Style at UK Festivals
- The Pyrenees and Beyond
- Is a Bull Run Fun?
- Latitude Festival Review
- Socially Conscious Accom
- Brighton V Blackpool
- Lake District Tips and Tipis
- The Straw that Broke the Camels Back
- My Top Quirky Places to Stay
- Semana Santa in Guatamala
- Introducing Myself