Thursday, 26 July 2012

Olympic Profile: Cuba

With the London 2012 Olympic Games one day away now, we thought it would be interesting to see how some of our destinations have fared over the years since the first Olympic Games took place in Athens 1896, with 241 athletes from 14 countries. The games have grown enormously since then and London 2012 will host closer to the 10,500 competitors from 204 countries in Beijing 2008, today's featured country is Cuba.


Cuba has an intriguing Olympic history involving boycotts and medals in abundance, especially in recent decades. Cuba first participated in the games in 1900 and since then have sent teams to 18 of the 26 Summer Olympics. They were part of a famous boycott of the 1984 games in L.A and also opted out of the following games in Seoul. They boycotted L.A '84 along with nations such as the Soviet Union, East Germany and Bulgaria due to safety concerns and the attitude of the United States. Cuba's decision to boycott the games came as a shock to the States and they said it was a "serious blow to boxing and baseball."

Cuba really excel in Boxing, and they have an incredible record at the Summer Olympics having amassed 63 medals in the sport. 
32 of these medals have been gold, although they endured a disappointing games in Beijing 2008 as they failed to win a single gold, despite winning 8 boxing medals in total. 

The late Teofilo Stevenson, a legend of Cuban boxing
 Raul Fernandez has been training the nations top boxers for three decades and is sure that they will return from London with a better haul of gold medals this time round. Teofilo Stevenson was a legendary Cuban Olympic boxer and he became the first boxer in history to win 3 gold medals in the same class, winning in 1972, 1976 & 1980, Stevenson sadly passed away earlier this year, aged 60.

Boxing plays a huge role in Cuban society and fighters are often put into the ring at the age of 9. There is no professional boxing in Cuba and their boxers are taught to box for the love of it and to do their families and country proud. Fernandez says that this will and heart is worth a fistful of medals and so it has proved in decades gone by.

Dayron Robles (right), powers to Olympic gold in Beijing
Star Athlete & Medal Hopes

Along with a long list of medal hopes across a range of sports including many in boxing, Cuba have a real star on the track in the 110m hurdles. The 110m hurdles should prove to be an incredible spectacle in London, with the three fastest ever sprint hurdlers set to go head-to-head.

One of those three is the world record holder, Dayron Robles of Cuba who has gone as quick as 12.87 over the distance. Robles won gold in Beijing, but one of his closest rivals, Lui Xiang, also the home favourite limped out in the heats. That proved to be Cuba's only gold medal in athletics and they would hope to build on that in London.

We have a range photography and singing dates available for you to enjoy the soulful rhythm of Cuba for yourself in 2012 & 2013, all accompanied by our fantastic professional tutors and local guides.

For more information on our Cuba holidays or any of our other destinations please visit: or call 01453 328 823 to order a brochure, make a booking or with any other enquiries.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Olympic Profile: India

With the London 2012 Olympic Games getting under way this Friday, we thought it would be interesting to see how some of our destinations have fared over the years since the first Olympic Games took place in Athens 1896, with 241 athletes from 14 countries. The games have grown enormously since then and London 2012 will host closer to the 10,500 competitors from 204 countries in Beijing 2008, our first featured country is India.


India's first Olympic medallist in 1900, Norman Pritchard

India first participated in the games back in 1900, where they won two medals in athletics, both courtesy of Norman Pritchard. However, it was not until 1920, in Antwerp, that they sent a full team to the Summer Olympic Games, although they have done so in every single games since then.

Indian athletes have won 20 medals in total, the majority coming in field hockey. For a huge period of time, India's men's field hockey team was dominant in Olympic competition, they won eleven medals in twelve games between 1928 and 1980. This run included six successive gold medals from 1928-1956.

Beijing 2008 & London Hopefuls

India's first Olympic Gold Medallist, Abhinav Bindra
The 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing was the most successful games ever for India. They won three medals across three different events, including their first individual gold medal in the history of the games, won by Abhinav Bindra in the men's 10m rifle. Bindra has since become a national hero in India and been granted, amongst other honours, with the freedom of India's railway for life, as the nation voted his gold medal it's 'greatest sporting feat of all time.' He is aiming to repeat the incredible feat at the London games.

MC Mary Kom from Manipur is a five time world boxing champion and mother of two! She has been boxing for ten years and is also gunning for a gold medal, in the women's flyweight category (51kg), at this summer's games.

Authentic Adventures' Activity Holidays in Kerala

We have a range painting, photography, singing and walking holiday dates available for you to enjoy the magical sights of India for yourself in 2012 & 2013, all accompanied by our fantastic professional tutors and local guides. 

For more information on our Kerala holidays visit our website: or call 01453 823 328 for more information, to order a brochure or to book an authentic adventure!

Photography Master-class with Julio in Wanderlust Magazine!

Our charismatic photography guide in Cuba, Julio Munoz features in a fascinating article in Wanderlust's annual magazine 'Take Better Travel Photos 2012'. The article, entitled 'Capturing Cuba', takes you through a day in Julio's street photography boot camp, around the streets of Trinidad, Cuba. The article encapsulates the soul of Cuba and the fantastic, unique attitude of Julio. 

Julio with two of his students on the streets of Trinidad, Cuba
The article comes under the sub-heading 'Get Inspired' and there are some truly wonderful tips as given by Julio. His character beautifully depicted with the quote "You can learn from the master," as he demonstrates his craft by taking a perfectly composed shot complete with worker, spade and Dalmation that his class of photographers all missed.

Julio has a unique gift for street photography that has developed over the years working with some of the best street photographers in their field; such as Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey and British photographer Keith Cardwell.

Julio says of this shot "Unless the shot shows the barber
 with an instrument, as you eventually captured, that man could
have been killing, slapping or massaging that man."

It is, however, his personality that brings the historic streets of Trinidad to life during his boot camps and the article contains some fantastic quotes that set Julio apart as such a special photographer and personality.

"The idea of street photography is to work quickly and unseen, like a ghost"
"Your right arm should work like a tripod. Imagine you're shooting with a rifle"
"Reading the camera manual will make you depressed"

This is why we love to introduce Julio into your photography lives on our Cuba holidays!

Julio's casa, complete with his horse!
Our 10 night holiday to Cuba gives you a real insight to Cuba and allows you to learn so much about the art of street photography in great company. As well as gaining unique photography tips and experience on our tour, our local guides, along with Julio, open up the real Cuba for everyone to enjoy. We take you to both Havana; with its crumbling walls, gorgeous colonial buildings and historic streets, and to Trinidad; with Julio's gorgeous casa, cowboys and charming streets.

If this tickles your fancy, y
ou could still go out and join the remarkable Julio in Cuba along with our equally charismatic tutor Jonathan Perugia, as there are still limited places available on our November photography trip to Havana and Trinidad.

For more information on our photography holidays visit our website or call 01453 823 328 for more information, brochures and bookings.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Amazing Aracena

Aracena Natural Park remains one of our most beloved destinations after hosting over a decade of our holidays. In June, Roger Jones returned with yet another happy bunch of painters and walkers, and it made me want to know why Aracena is such a great destination for Authentic Adventurers, year in and year out? Roger tells us a little about his most recent Aracena experience and why it is such a special location to paint.

Above Alajar, the village where we stay
Alajar was our destination within the Aracena Natural Park on this occasion, and it provides everything an Authentic Adventure holiday aspires to. Alajar and the nearby villages lie amid a green oasis of cork and holm oaks within the valleys of the Sierra de Aracena, north of Seville. We've brought painters and walkers to this area before, and we now have a fantastic family hotel, run by Angel and Lucy, to cater for us. The hotel offers a welcoming and serene environment  boasting outstanding comfort and local cuisine, not to mention a pool to bask beside to boot!

As before, we call upon the skills and extensive local knowledge of Peter and his wife 'MJ' as our walking leader and tutor's assistant. Alajar and the surrounding area has always been one of my favourite painting locations, more so now I've added the hamlet of Cabezuelo (a gem of a place), to a mix that so well represents, scenically, what we can offer our guests.

Cabazuelo - 'a gem of a place'
Alajar deserves to remain on the Authentic Adventures radar as it is such a satisfying location for painters and walkers alike; and it runs so smoothly with all those involved. It is barely two hours from Seville (closest airport) and in spring can rival anywhere I know in Spain or Italy with its beautiful flowers and, even further afield, the scenery of Gozo, Malta.

Aracena Natural Park encapsulates our philosophy of how holiday locations should be. Whether walking or painting, it combines stunning scenery with a sincere and friendly welcome, a taste of local cuisine, comfort, contentedness and, to make it even more magical, meeting local friends of ours along the way. Angel will show you how to carve, others can show you how to make your own fan or offer you the local delicacies (the finest cheeses & ham!) all, of course, washed down with the local wine!

Roger with one of his oil painting demos
Those who were tutored by Roger in Aracena seem to share his opinion of the region and the holiday, here is some of the feedback we received upon their return:

"I really felt we discovered authentic Spain."

"Quite superb hosts & cooks, we hope they do really well!"

"Excellent company and a superb holiday."

We have a host of upcoming dates to Aracena as well as a range of other exciting destinations, including those led by Roger in Sardinia, Gozo, Jersey and hopefully a return to Alajar!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Gozo & Comino recieve a Gold Award in the Quality Coast Awards 2012

In May, Torres Vedras in Portugal played host to the Quality Coast Awards where the president of the Quality Coast jury, prof. Francesco Taveira Pinto awarded certain regional government representatives with the 'Quality Coast Gold Award'. Among those to receive the Gold Award was Gozo, one of Authentic Adventures' favourite painting and walking destinations, along with Malta's other sister island, Comino.

At the event, the Quality Coast Top 100 was also revealed; highlighting the hundred holiday destinations that best maintained their local identity, their natural and cultural heritage, their scenic beauty and a clean environment. Gozo & Comino came 3rd, behind only the Azores and Ierapetra (Crete) who were 1st and 2nd respectively.

Quality Coast is a programme of the European Coastal and Marine Union, supported by the European Union. The Quality Coast Top 100 is the result of extensive research and a rigorous assessment of nearly 1000 coastal and island destinations, so this really is a great list to feature so highly on!

You can experience the cultural heritage and scenic beauty of Gozo for yourself on one of our fantastic walking or painting holidays, for more information visit:
or call: +44 (0)1453 823 328 for information on any of our holidays or to order a brochure