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As usual the new year has brought a slew of opinions across the travel press about where to head in 2016. In extreme-remote terms the Financial Times suggests Greenland and Kyrgyzstan (implying that its supremely well-heeled readers are hell bent on wilderness and cool temps) here while the New York Times seems only just to have discovered Morocco’s Atlantic Coast, albeit NOT Agadir.


Ahem, a confession – I first explored this coast soon after Jimi Hendrix’ sojourn in Essaouira (above) back in the 1970s— but I’ll give the feature its due, it does cover lesser known seaside towns like El Jadida and Oualidia (surfing and oysters) – both up and coming.

It’s the kick off of 2015 and they’re all doing it (the mainstream press that is). So, as a professional traveller I thought I’d add my pinch of salt – or spice. Culled from decades of travel, here’s my short-list of affordable destinations that give you the best of all worlds … in 2015.

Cuban food has always had a bad press but things are definitely looking up for footloose foodies. Fine dining is permeating the Soviet-style system, above all as the island’s financial doldrums are pushing the cause of entrepreneurs. Raul Castro is now bowing to the inevitable, slashing half a million public sector jobs and opening the doors to local dynamos – who include cooks. Private restaurants – aka paladares – are on the up after suffering years of on-off status.

I’ve been reading two books about Cuba, both American, both covering a key period in the island’s history, the early 1990s, when the local economy went into freefall. The first, Cuba Diaries by Isadora Tattlin (a pen-name) is an account of four years spent living in colonial-style comfort as the wife of a high-level expat – even Fidel came to their dinner table. The second, Trading with the Enemy by Tom Miller, was written a year or so earlier, before the proverbial s*** hit the fan.

OK, so I’m using a lazy alliteration for the title of this post – a modest comeback to my blog after over a year’s web-absence. That didn’t mean I wasn’t travelling but as blogging seemed to have taken over the media, I decided to take a break. But this latest trip was just so inspiring that it needs to get some online oxygen.