Tag - Holidays

Namibia dreams

When overland tourists meet there is always time to share news and information

When overland tourists meet there is always time to share news and information

The Namib desert is the oldest desert on earth. Yet humans have been living here for longer than in almost any other area in the world, in these valleys, mountains and plains that, today, present a harsh background to a young nation’s struggle to live under difficult conditions.

There are many ways to visit Namibia, and as many facets to see. A popular way is to rent an offroad-capable vehicle and drive, but visitors are advised to be aware that the desert is not your friend! Venturing into remote places on your own, without experience, can be dangerous! Fortunately there are many, experienced tour operators to help, many friendly local people who would advise, and much in the way of tourism infrastructure.

From the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, a vast semi-desert area straddling the southern borders between South Africa, Namibia andBotswana, to the famous Etosha reserve in the north, a variety of nature can be viewed and visited. The southern plains make way to the harsh, yet fertile Khomas highland, where a farmer might count on 18 hectares of land to support one cow or horse.

    These shy predarors dig burrows to give birth nd rear their young.

These shy predarors dig burrows to give birth

From the Capital of Windhoek, still strongly infused with the German colonial heritage, one can cross to the coast, where Swakopmund reminds visitors of a Germany of some years ago. From here you can go south, into the Namib itself, but be aware: permits are required, not only for your own protection against the desert, but also to protect the diamond mining concessions from pilferers!

One can see, at the roadside. the Welwitchia Mirabilis plant, a holdover from the days of the dinosaur. But be careful! These plants are fragile! And, going north, towards Etosha, you can also visit the Brandberg mountains, where the rock
paintings record the history of the first human nations.

And take the time to get to know the people: The Herero who suffered a genocide at the hands of the German colonisers, the bushmen or San people, now only found in remote areas, but for millennia the lords of this land, the Ovambo in the north, and the Himba people, famous for their ochre-coloured clothing. Just a few of the many nations that make up this fascinating country. All proud people trying to make a success of their land despite the vast distances and small population.

    A fight for control of the valuable territory near water, where females have to pass by.

A fight for control of the valuable territory near water, where females have to pass by.


    Some prefer to use animal drawn transport. It is ecological!

Some prefer to use animal drawn transport. It is ecological!

    Ample facilities exist for tourists to enjoy the peace and calm.

Ample facilities exist for tourists to enjoy the peace and calm.

Some useful addresses:

Namibia Tourism: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/

Namibia National Parks: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/national-parks/

Isabis offroad tracks and accommodation: http://www.isabis4x4.com

Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek:  http://www.chameleonbackpackers.com/

Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Great Service and Fantastic Views

    Fairmont Chicago

Fairmont Chicago

Chicago is a fantastic city to visit for a number of reasons, and while there, the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park (www.fairmont.com/chicago, 200 N. Columbus Drive, 866-540-4408) is an excellent base for exploring the city thanks to its location, amenities and the familiar Fairmont level of service.

You can learn more about the many places to visit in Chicago such as the Magnificent Mile, Second City, deep dish pizza and the theatre district, in the “Sweet Home Chicago” episode of the Travel Brigade Radio Show.

From the moment you check in to the Fairmont and get a Tootsie Roll, which was invented in Chicago, you get the unique feel for the Windy City simply by looking out your window. The hotel sits on a block near Michigan Avenue, the Lakefront, Grant Park and Millennium Park, with the latter being home to the Cloudgate sculpture that has become synonymous with Chicago. If you haven’t heard of that name, you may know it as “The Bean,” a huge metallic bean that reflects the surrounding skyline that no traveler can resist taking a picture of.

You can take a stroll of just a few minutes from the hotel through Millennium Park and enjoy the view on the way to the Art Institute of Chicago, an encyclopedic museum complete with a number of iconic paintings that holds one of the world’s great art collections.

Chicago is full of great eateries, but save room for a visit to the Eno Wine Room located right in the Fairmont. Eno takes three items that are great on their own – wine, cheese and chocolate – and brings them together in an irresistible way. You can even take a class at the “Eno-versity” to learn more about them. The hotel also has Aria Restaurant and Aria Bar & Sushi Club, which combines Asian cuisine in the restaurant with a communal sushi bar that also has a noodle menu.

After a long day of taking in all that Chicago has to offer, come back to the hotel and enjoy a massage or other treatment at the 11,000 square foot “mySpa,” which features a full-service fitness studio as well as massages and body wraps. If you’ve spent the day shopping on the Magnificent Mile, you also might want to try the “Sole Salvation” a deluxe foot treatment with a scrub, warm paraffin wrap and foot massage.

The Fairmont brand is noted for its level of service, and one great way to experience from start to finish of your visit is to stay on the Gold Level, which comprises the 15th floor. The Gold Level has its own concierge desk in a large reception area where guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the morning and appetizers in the evening.

Chicago is a great place to visit for many reasons, and the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park will make the trip complete.

All Inclusive Family Fun at West Edmonton Mall

    West Edmonton Mall - Santa Maria

West Edmonton Mall – Santa Maria

When putting together a family vacation, parents will be looking for a fun hotel to stay in, a great pool area, lots of fun activities for the kids and good places to eat. What’s unique about a family trip to the West Edmonton Mall is that all of the above can be found in one place, and it can take days to experience the whole thing. This article will focus on all of the fun things kids will enjoy at the mall, but adults will also enjoy visiting for the shopping and restaurants.

Better yet, the mall sits surrounded by Canada’s Festival City, which hosts over 70 different festivals per year and has plenty of other fun activities for a family. For more information on other places to visit in this fun city, check out the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation. (800-463-4667)

West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall(780-440-5200, 1755, 8882 170 Street) is the largest mall in North America and the fifth largest mall in the world. The 800-plus stores and restaurants alone are amazing, before even getting to all of the attractions such as a water park, theme park, two miniature golf course, sea animal exhibit and more. It’s even got its own hotel on site.

Since there is so much to see and do, a good place to start at the mall is at the Guest Services office on Level 1, Phase II, to look into a “Multi-Play Pass” that will allow a family to pay one fee for access to the many different activities available. It’s also a great time to pick up a “Super Savings Coupon Book” full of great deals throughout the mall.

Fantasyland Hotel

The Fantasyland Hotel (780-444-3000, 17700-87 Avenue, fantasylandhotel.com) sits right in the mall, so it has the advantage that guests simply need to walk out of the elevator and past the front desk to be where everything is.

However, Fantasyland is also a great option because of the many different themed rooms that kids will love. They can sleep in a luxury igloo, or the bunk beds that are the “County Jail” in the Western-themed rooms, or enjoy the aura of being in the Polynesian or Roman themed rooms.

World Water Park

The world’s largest indoor wave pool is found in in World Water Park, along with 17 different water slides and 24 different activities spread out over a five-acres that are kept at a balmy 82 degrees regardless of the weather outside. The slide options range from the tame to the “Cyclone,” which drops the rider over 50-feet straight down before taking them on a 360-degree loop and back down again.


The world’s largest indoor amusement park sits in the mall at Galaxyland. There are over 24 rides and attractions, including the Mindbender coaster, which is 145 feet-tall.

Other Attractions

While Galaxyland and World Water Park can easily take up two days worth of activities, there’s still so much more in the mall. For those up for a little friendly competition, there is a bowling alley, two miniature golf courses – including one that is glow-in-the-dark and the “Deep Sea Derby” where everyone gets to captain their own bumper boat equipped with a squirting device that lets them try to soak the other drivers.

The adventurous will enjoy the Ropes Quest course which allows guests to walk across ropes high above the ground. The less adventurous will enjoy the fact that they are harnessed to bars all over the course so they won’t fall. The physical activity can continue at the Ice Palace, a glass-domed rink that is open for visitors to skate on but also hosts many events.

Children will be enchanted by the creatures at the Sea Life Caverns, an underground aquarium that is home to over 100 species of fish, turtles, penguins and more. After coming out of the Caverns, guests can go right next door to Sea Lions’ Rock to watch the amazing animals perform in a show.

There are many different things that come together to make for a great family trip. At West Edmonton Mall, those things are already together in one place.   

Edmonton: Canada’s Festival City

    Festivals Folk Music Festival

Festivals Folk Music Festival

How many festivals do you need to host before you can claim to be your country’s “festival city?” Ten? 20? More? Whatever the official number is, Edmonton has hit it and then some as “Canada’s Festival City.” The official list numbers in the 30s, the actual list pushes 70. During most of the year, you can pick any month and find at least three festivals. During the summer months, you can pick pretty much any day and find something going on.

Being a festival city is about more than just numbers. There has to be a feel about your town that it’s a place where everybody’s welcome. There has to be a certain sense of fun that permeates the place. Edmonton has all of that as well. One thing that impressed us when we were able to attend some festivals during our visit was that there was a place for everybody at the festivals. Young and old, singles and families, everybody seems to find a way to hang out together. To hear more about how much we enjoyed it, listen to the Edmonton Episode of the Travel Brigade Radio Show.

A full list of the official festivals is available by clicking here. Since there are so many, here are a few of the highlights.

Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival – January:

Think of something that’s fun to do in the snow, and you can find it on Alberta Ave. Ice and snow carving, skating, curling, street hockey and even “Deep Freezer Races” – a large freezer set on skis that people sit in and race down a hill on.

Global Visions Film Festival – early March:

Canada’s longest running documentary film festival celebrated its 30th birthday in 2012. The four-day festival operates with an overall theme that we are all interdependent citizens of a global village.

International Children’s Festival – late May, early June:

Originally launched in the downtown area over 30 years ago, this gathering focusing on children’s theatre is now held in the small, historic community of St. Albert. Performers from across the globe come to perform on five indoor and outdoor stages over five days.

Servus Heritage Festival – early August:

This festival takes over an entire city park as every national, ethnic or cultural group that has found a home in Edmonton puts up a pavilion highlighting its history, arts, clothing and, best of fall, food! There are an astonishing 62 pavilions representing 85 different cultures, including those from Africa, Asia and South America.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival – mid August:

This would qualify as one of the top music festivals based on its lineup alone as top performers take to multiple stages over the course of four days of concerts. What really puts it over the top as a music experience is that the main stage sits at the bottom of a grass hill. Audience members bring blankets and sit on the hill in the pleasant summer evening air and get a view not only of the stage, but across the river and onto the downtown skyline of the city.

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival – late August:

This celebration of “Fringe” has been going strong for 30 years, brings half a million people to Edmonton, and has helped turn the Old Strathcona neighborhood into a fun and thriving arts district. The 10-day street festival highlighted by theatre people experimenting with entertainment has become the model for fringe festivals around the globe.

Edmonton International Film Festival – late September, early October:

Now in it’s 26th year, the EIFF has been a place where directors such as John Waters, Werner Herzog and Norman Jewison have premiered new work. Entries from all over the world are on the roster.

Edmonton Comedy Festival – mid October:

Two dozen top stand-up comedians from across North America come to Alberta to do shows on a six different stages. The 2012 lineup includes Jay Mohr. Whatever the season, whatever your interest, you’ll find that Edmonton has a festival that’s right up your alley.

Cruising Out of Southern California Ports

Disney Cruise Ships

Disney Cruise Ships

Cruising makes for a great vacation, and what makes it even better is finding a great port city to sail in and out of that offers fun things to do before and after the cruise. Southern California offers three ports to choose from for cruises to Hawaii, the Panama Canal and Mexico. Cruise lines are also coming up with new ideas to draw vacationers to the West Coast such as Coastal California tours that focus on the ports of California with some even including wine tasting tours. For example, in the fall of 2012, Disney Cruise Line (800-951-3532) will be doing new California Coastal cruises featuring Pixar characters. To hear more about these ports, listen to our radio show by [clicking here]. Cruising out of Southern California ports gives you many options. Here are highlights for each of the three ports.

Long Beach:

The Port of Long Beach is a port for Carnival Cruise Lines and the area has made an amazing transformation over the past 10 years. (800-452-7829) Shopping and entertainment areas such as The Pike at Long Beach and Shoreline Village offer lots of great dining, shopping and activities, and are easy to get to from the cruise terminal.

Port of Los Angeles:

This port located in San Pedro (310-SEA-PORT) is incredibly busy in terms of container shipping, but also is an important embarkation point for cruises. The Port of L.A. is undergoing numerous long-term changes to its waterfront, with two new attractions, the U.S.S. Iowa ( 877-4-IOWA-61) and a craft market called “Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles” (310-732-1270) giving cruisers two new things to check out before embarking or after getting back from a trip.

San Diego:

The beautiful city of San Diego is full of great things to do, and its hard to think of a city where the port () is so near to so much to do. It’s easy to spend a day going to the Gaslamp Quarter for shopping, dining or a Padres game, or visit the many other attractions near the port, and still make it on your boat before San Diego port embarking, or make your flight home after a trip.

Southern California offers three different port cities that all have their own distinct character, and each one has attractions that make it a great place to start or end a cruise.

Renting a House in Newport Beach, California, Makes a Perfect Family Vacation

Newport General

Newport General

One thing that makes Newport Beach, California unique as a beach destination is that families, including extended families, or groups of friends, can rent a house together right on the beach.

While some beach cities have hotels or stores along the beachfront, or just parking lots, Newport has homes running all along the beachfront, and also on the bay front on the other side of the peninsula. Many of them are available for rent, and many families make a tradition of renting a beach house together for a week or more every summer. Craig Batley, owner of Burr-White Realty, (2901 Newport Blvd., 855-675-4630) notes Newport has a long history of having vacation homes and says, “We’ve been renting vacation homes to families for decades.” To hear our interview with Craig, and get more info about Newport Beach, click here.

Here are some things to keep in mind when renting.

Rental areas of Balboa Peninsula: Different sections of the city are noted for drawing different types of rental crowds. The area above the Newport Pier, also known as “West Newport” is known for being more lively and is close to a number of bars and clubs. Singles or younger people who want to be where the “action” is, will like this area. The area between the Newport and Balboa piers, below the Balboa Pier, and on the Bay Side, are quieter areas, and generally a better rental option for families with children.

Newport Beach Side vs. Balboa Bay Side: Being in a beachfront home with a porch that sits right up against the boardwalk can be fun for people watching as joggers, bikers, walkers and everyone else parades by. They’re a great place for hanging out and you just have to take a few steps to be on the sand. However, these are also the most expensive rentals. As you move off the beach, prices drop, and the best deals can sometimes be found over on the bay side of the peninsula. It’s more laid-back and quieter, and since the Balboa Peninsula is only a few blocks wide, you’re never more than a five-minute walk from the beach.

Great rental deals: Weekly rentals on the Balboa Peninsula generally start at just below $2,000 and go up from there. When you hear a price, remember a couple of things if you’re comparing numbers against the cost of staying in a hotel. First, divide the price by six or seven, since that’s the number of nights you’ll have it. Second, keep in mind that if you’ve got a large or extended family, you’d have to rent at least two or three or more hotel rooms. Third, remember that you’ll have a full kitchen and can therefore save money by eating out less. Whatever you’re looking for, Batley points out, “There’s a price point for everybody. All families can really afford here.”

Families traveling together: The whole feel of a family vacation in a beach house is very different from being in a hotel. For large or extended families, you would need to rent multiple hotel rooms, so there’s really not a big gathering place where people can hang out together. There’s also not a large kitchen where you can do family meals together. “It’s a family experience you can’t replicate in a hotel,” Batley says.

Newport Beach offers a wide variety of rental options near the beach, it’s just a matter of finding the best fit for you and your family.

You can also listen to Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin on the weekly  Travel Brigade Radio Show at TravelBrigade.com. 



Top 10 Activities in Quebec City

    Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac / Provided by Quebec City Tourism

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac / Provided by Quebec City Tourism

With over 400 years of history, Quebec City and its surrounding areas are loaded with things to see and do. We’ve tried to perform the impossible task of narrowing it down to a mere 10. To hear more about these and other activities, listen to our Travel Show on Quebec. Below, in no particular order, (because they’re all so fun) are our favorite top  10 activities.

The Old City

The combination of buildings and streets dating back centuries, a walled city and people speaking French (don’t worry, the locals are mostly bilingual and very nice about speaking English) gives you the feeling of being in Europe. Stop by the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (866-540-4460, 1, rue des Carrieres), an incredible hotel sitting high on a cliff above the St. Lawrence River that has become the symbol of the city. The boardwalk in front of the Chateau offers amazing views of the river below.

The Lower City

This crescent right below the cliff that holds the Old City, has plenty of history and beauty in its own right. A great way to learn the history of the area, and the city as a whole, is to explore it on a bike tour with Cyclo Services Bicycle Tours (877-692-4050, 289, rue Saint-Paul).

The St. Roch District

This area, pronounced “ Saint Rock,” has been revitalized over the past decade to become the city’s hip new neighborhood filled with restaurants, clubs and boutique shopping. Stop by Les Bossus Restaurant (418-522-5501, 620, St.-Joseph Est) for great food and atmosphere, or stay at Hotel Royal William (888-541-0405, 360, boulevard Charest Est) for a location convenient to a variety of areas of the city.

The Citadel

his fort in the Old City has played an important role in the history of the city, and the Citadel (418-694-2815, 1, Cote de la Citadelle) is still an active military facility for the Royal 22e Regiment of the Canadian Forces. A 60-minute tour is both interesting and very valuable for learning the history of the area.

The Plains of Abraham

After taking the Citadel tour and learning about the 1759 Battle of Quebec, walk right over to where it took place on the Plains of Abraham, which is now a huge, beautiful park with its own exhibits, concerts and things to do.

Aquarium du Quebec

Kids will love seeing polar bears, seals, walruses and a variety of other animals is the Aquarium du Quebec (418-659-5264, 1675, avenue des Hotels). Parents may want to call ahead and find out about a program that allows children to assist the animal keepers, and even learn to teach the animals tricks for the shows.

Whale Watching

If the seals and walruses interest you, go see the biggest animals in the ocean by doing a whale watching trip. Cruises AML (866-856-6668) runs whale watching trips out of Tadoussac, Baie-Sainte-Catherine and other ports that are a bit of a drive out of the city, but well worth the trip for the chance to see a variety of whales, including belugas.

Grosse Ile

A fascinating piece of Canadian history can be found at the island of Grosse Ile (888-773-8888) not far from Quebec City. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the island was used as a quarantine station for immigrant ships, and today it is a beautiful national park where many of the buildings have been preserved to use in a historical tour. Take a fun boat trip on Croisieres Lachance (1-888-GROSSE ILE, 110, de la Marina, Berthier-sur-Mer) to get there.

A Sauce Like No Other

Visiting L’Entrecote Saint-Jean (418-694-0234, 1080, rue Saint-Jean) is an opportunity to try “Entrecote Sauce,” a delicious combination of curry, mustard and other secret ingredients poured over steak and fries. The restaurant claims to be the only place to find this sauce in North America.

Summer Arts

The arts are in full bloom in the summer. Cirque du Soleil puts on an outdoor show only performed in Quebec City, “The Image Mill” turns the giant grain silos in port into a huge outdoor screen, or try the festival celebrating French heritage or music festival.

For more information on these, check out the tourism offices for both Quebec City (877-783-1608) and the Quebec Province (1-877-BONJOUR).

Quebec City is full of great things to see and do, picking just 10 is hard to do.

Three stunning Lake District towns

Lake towns- transientlight.co.uk

Lake towns- transientlight.co.uk

The Lake District in the north west of England is a truly stunning part of the world. With beautiful vistas, lakeside walks and countless mountain trails, as well as charming chocolate box towns and villages making it an incredible holiday destination. Here are some of the very best places that are not to be missed!


The market town of Keswick situated in the heart of the Lake District. The popular tourist town attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, all flocking to Keswick to make the most of its traditional charm and the beautiful Lake District National Park that it stands in. Located just a stone’s throw from Derwent Water and not far from Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick is ideally situated for a walking, especially for the four highest mountains in England – Scafell Pike, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw, that are all easily accessible from the town.

But it’s not just walking, scenery and lakes that Keswick has to boast about. Keswick is a fantastic destination for a more relaxed break making the most of the abundance of shops, cafes and restaurants that make Keswick an absolutely stunning holiday destination. Keswick also hosts an annual beer festival which is now in its 16th year and attracts nearly 6000 beer fanatics to enjoy locally produced real ales and unusual brews as well as ciders and lagers. What could be better than sitting back, enjoying a pint and listening to one of the many live bands that play throughout the festival?


Nestled at the head of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is an excellent base for many outdoor activities inclucing walking, hiking and mountain biking. Nearby, it is fantastic place to take a steamer on the lake to take in the beautiful scenery on the lake and the dramatic surrounding mountains. Ambleside is extremely popular with tourists and with lots and lots of accommodation to choose from as well as pubs, restaurants and tourist shops. When you fancy a leisurely afternoon, picturesque Ambleside is a great place to head, to make the most of its beautiful buildings and charming shops.


The traditional market town of Cockermouth is situated just outside of the Lake District National Park. The town still has plenty of its historic charm and character especially due to its delightful slate and stone buildings and it’s recently renovated Market Place. The Jenning’s Brewery has had a long association with Cockermouth since the brewery moved to Cockermouth well over a hundred years ago. Nowadays, the brewery tour is a chance to learn about the history of the brand and of course to sample a pint of the produce at the end!

Luxury Boston Hotel at the Fairmont Copley Plaza

Front Entrance of Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza

Front Entrance of Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza

In 2012, the Fairmont Copley Plaza will celebrate its centennial with the completion of a $20 million dollar renovation with a complete schedule of activities and events, including hotel history tours that will lead up to the anniversary on August 19, 2012.

From the moment the guest steps out of their car or taxi in front of the hotel, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston staff begins to deliver superior service. One may even be greeted by Catie Copley the “Canine Ambassador” of The Fairmont. It’s a level of service that will last throughout the guest’s entire stay, no matter what the setting.

Boston Historic Hotel

The building, which opened the same year Fenway Park was built, is a 383-room symbol of Boston’s history located within walking distance of Boston Common, the Freedom Trailand Beacon Hill. Right across the street from the hotel one can find the Boston Public Library, Trinity Church and Hancock Tower.

Nearly every 20th Century American President stayed at the hotel. As part of the building’s renovation, the Fairmont has added eight themed suites which focus on Boston’s unique history and culture. The rooms are classic with modern conveniences meant to give a residential feel to the stay.

Fairmont Gold

While the service at the Fairmont Copley Plaza is excellent, visitors have the option of choosing the Fairmont Gold service, which takes the service to an even higher level. Guests have their own reception area on the fourth floor along with access to the lounge, which offers breakfast in the morning, appetizers and cocktails in the early evening, as well as coffee, tea, sodas and an honor bar throughout the day.

Fairmont Gold guests have a concierge at their disposal to provide personal service for them during their stay. If a guest mentions they have tickets to the Red Sox game, the next day they might find an information card in their room giving them information about how to get there, game start time, expected weather and the starting pitchers. The staff at the Fairmont anticipates needs and helps guest enjoy their stay.

New Dining Experience

As part of the hotel’s renovation, the hotel is developing a new restaurant set to debut in the summer of 2012. Local flavors and cuisine are sure to have a place on the menu, as they always have at Copley Plaza, but there will also be a lifestyle menu catering to healthy eating and special diets.

Catie Copley, Canine Ambassador

Perhaps the most famous member of the Fairmont Copley Plaza staff is Catie Copley, the hotel’s official canine ambassador. Catie, a black Labrador, has her own spot in the hotel lobby where guests can stop by to pet and feed her and hopefully feel more at home at the hotel. She also has a small dog house outside one of the doors where guests can greet her. Guests can even schedule an appointment to take Catie for a walk.

Catie has her own business cards and e-mail address and has even published her own children’s book. Copies of the book, complete with Catie’s footprint signature, can be purchased in the hotel’s gift shop.

The Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

138 St. James Avenue  Boston, Massachusetts  02116

(617) 267-5300

There are many reasons to visit Boston – great food, history and catching a Red Sox game. While there, there are many reasons to enjoy a stay at the Fairmont Copley Plaza.

Have a Mele Kalikimaka! Merry Christmas in Hawaii

Merry xmas, cr- hubpages

Merry xmas, cr- hubpages

Snow on the pumpkin?  Really??  A surprise October blizzard last month turned carved-out Halloween gourds into jack-o-sicles, left a lot of people shivering through power outages and got some of us wondering just how cold will it be this winter?!  According to Farmers Almanac, pretty cold: they’re  forecasting a season of “Clime and Punishment” for 2011-12!

That is enough to turn anyone’s dream of a white Christmas blue!  Then again, there’s  nothing wrong with wishing for a blue Christmas…if it’s set in the warm state of Hawaii.  In fact, the Aloha State (did I mention warm Aloha State?)  is the perfect place to share in the Christmas Spirit: Aloha means “joyfully sharing life”.

Christmas Traditions with a Tropical Twist

225 years ago – on December 25th, 1786 – the captain and crew of the good ship Queen Charlotte raised their glasses to family and friends back home in England and toasted the  holiday with grog made from rum and coconut milk.  Anchored at Waimea Bay, Kauai, in what were then the Sandwich Islands, Captain George Dixon and his men celebrated Hawaii’s very first Christmas.  76 years later King Kamehameha IV officially decreed the Christian feast day a Hawaiian holiday.

Hawaiian-style Christmas observances incorporate Polynesian practices and allow for the lush locale: Christmas dinner might be a luau, Christmas bells are ‘rung’ on slack-key guitar and choirs sing Po La’i E (Silent Night).  The Clement C. Moore classic gets a pidgin retelling as children are read “Wuz da Nite befo’ Christmas” .  And the Big Man himself – Santa Claus –  arrives on a beach wearing shorts and flip-flops, flashing a shaka sign and shouting “Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) to all!”  He trades his sleigh for a red canoe and dolphins – not reindeer – lead the way! Hohoho!

Spreading Christmas Cheer Island Style

Yuletide merrymaking can be found on every island of the archipelago during the month of December.   A calendar of events posted on Hawaii’s official tourism site The Hawaiian Islands lists 36 holiday happenings state-wide:

  • On Kauai: there’s the FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, featuring beautiful handmade decorations created by the late artist Josie Chansky, 12/02/11-12/31/11; Rice St.; Lihue, HI 96766
  • On Lanai: The “http://www.gohawaii.com/lanai/events/internal/1014111434”>LANAI ANNUAL CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL & TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY  is held on the front Lawn of the Dole building.12/03/11-12/03/11 2:00pm – 7:00pm  Dole Administration Building 730 Lanai Ave, Lanai City, HI 96763
  • Molokai has the CHRISTMAS LIGHT PARADE & HOOLAULEA  12/03/11; Kaunakakai Town, Kaunakakai, HI 96748
  • While Oahu hosts The HAWAII STATE BALLET’S “THE NUTCRACKER” , directed by John Landovsky. 12/10/11-12/18/11 at the Mamiya Theatre, 3142 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
  • And a celebration of Jesus’ birthday takes place on the Big Island, at Hawaii’s first Christian Church with the MOKUAIKAUA CHURCH CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE , 12/24/11-12/24/11 8:00pm – 10:00pm  Mokuaikaua Church; 75-5713 Alii Drive; Kailua-Kona, HI 96740

From community parades to outdoor concerts and more…so many reasons for the season!

This winter take a  break  from the cold and escape to the Paradise of the Pacific!  Spend your  holidays in Hawaii where “peace on earth and goodwill to men”  is more than just a Christmas wish – it’s way of life.   Mele  Kalikimaka!

National Parks in Morocco

Mount Toubkal, Cr-wikipedia

Mount Toubkal, Cr-wikipedia

Due to a significant loss of habitat, plant and animal species started to disappear so the Moroccan government created their first national park. In 1942, Toubkal, in the Atlas Mountains became the first of Morocco’s national parks. Souss-Massa National Park, created in 1991, is Morocco’s most recent addition.

Creating these National Parks in Morocco has worked well in protecting the native plant and wildlife species and has prevented the extinction of the Bald Ibis, Barbary macaque, African marsh owl and the Spanish festoon butterfly. Only 0.01% of Morocco’s land is currently protected territory at the moment. However, there are plans to establish other national parks in the Moroccan Sahara desert and Atlas Mountains in the next few years.

Mount Toubkal-There’s more to Morocco than Marrakesh

Toubkal National Park is 70km (43 miles) away from Marrakesh and it is a must-visit destination for any wildlife enthusiasts on their Morocco holiday. The park is in the High Atlas Mountain range and it covers an area of 380km (939 acres). Jbel Toubkal is the highest peak of the park at 4,167 metres (13,671 feet).

The park is an ideal place for nature lovers, hikers and a families and is one of the most visited tourist attractions near Marrakesh. The park is easily accessible from any part of Marrakesh as you can rent a car or get a local driver to take you there.

Inside the national park, there are some of the most spectacular sights and you can also go on one of the adventurous treks offered. If you have the kids with you, make sure beforehand the hike won’t be too arduous for them. If you have some time, take the opportunity to visit the biggest village in the region, Imlil. There are quite a few villages of varying sizes in the valley of Ait Mizane, where the national park is located.

If you would like to gain some insight into Morocco’s rural life,then a walk to the villages will offer you the chance to do just that.

Imlil is the starting point of the long trekking route to the villages. Imlil has modern facilities and there is also a car park in the village centre. You’ll find the basic necessities in the region’s villages– eating outlets, cafes and other shops. Imlil is the centre of mountain tourism in Morocco due to its unique position. From here, 90% of visitors head up to Toubkal, the highest mountain in Morocco. Imlil,  the end of a tarmac road, is a good place to hire mountain guides and mules for the onward trek. Imlil was created to cater for the large numbers of tourists pouring through, en route to Toubkal.

The best time to visit the Toubkal National Park is during the spring. Many visitors come to the national park during this season due in part to the cooler weather and to view the blossoming trees, making it the perfect  setting for photos and scenic walks to the highest point. The Toubkal National Park should be avoided in the summer months as it can be very hot. The park is inaccessible in the winter as the roads are covered in snow. However, May onwards, the ascent to Mount Toubkal is relatively easy but be cautious to avoid altitude sickness. If climbing up Mount Toubkal, bring sturdy, broken in hiking boots and wind resistant clothing. Trekking poles can also be useful when climbing the summit. It is possible to climb the mountain in two or three days first stopping at the refuge of Toubkal, then on the second day reaching the summit and then going back down to Imlil.

Souss-Massa National Park

The Souss-Massa National Park is located near Agadir. There are many national parks in Morocco but the Souss-Massa has the most spectacular variety of bird species found in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities are taking various steps to protect the habitat and the wildlife of the park.

The Souss Massa National Park is extremely beautiful and is a great destination while travelling in Morocco. It has a diverse terrain that ranges from rocky cliffs and fields to dense forests and endless beaches. The park is well known for its extensive range of migrating birds and bird species. Avid bird watchers flock here. Visitors to the park can look forward to seeing Booted Eagles, Spoonbills, Great Spotted Cuckoos, Purple Herons, Swallows, Bee-eaters, Barbary Falcons, Marbled Ducks, Hoopoes and Ruddy Shelducks just to name a few of the 275 species of birds known to inhabit the park.

The birds share their stunning surrounding with other animals including the African Wild Cat, Leopard Lizards, Weasels, Red Fox, the Jackal, the Algerian Hedgehog and also a wide range of rare amphibians and reptiles.

The main reason tourists make the stop at Souss-Massa on their Morocco tour is because they are hoping to see the Northern Bald Ibis. The Souss Massa National Park is one of only two parks that are home to the endangered, Northern Bald Ibis. The number of this species has been so dramatically reduced in recent years that there are believed to be only 100 breeding pairs remaining – of which 75 are located in the Souss Massa. Ten years ago, the park was home to 33 breeding pairs but due to major conservation and breeding program put in place by the Moroccan government, the numbers have doubled. You can visit the park year round but November is a particularly good month for exploring the coastal wetland sites as the winter migrants arrive. March to May is the best time to see a wide range of migrants and residents. For more inspiration and help building your perfect trip to Morocco, visit: www.moroccotravelplan.co.uk

Author: Sophia Fadil, Morocco Travel Specialist at Morocco Travel Plan. ‘Like this? Read more travel tips and tales at http://www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/blog/

Patagonia, The World’s Best Fishing Destination !!!

flyfishing, cr-flywatertravel.com

flyfishing, cr-flywatertravel.com

Sport Fishing in Patagonia

Without a doubt, Tierra del Fuego island, located in the South extreme of the South American cone, is by far, one of the best places for Sport Fishing all over the World.  The 48,000 km2. island, shared between Chile and Argentina, is rich in rivers and lakes where large size salmonid specimens abound. Amongst all these places, Lago Deseado (Lake Deseado) really stands out by its extraordinary scenic beauty, amidst untouched, natural landscapes, abundant native vegetation and wild fauna.

“Lago Deseado” Fishing  Lodge, with its cozy and well implemented cabins on the shores of the lake, offers the best choice for all game fishing lovers that want to enjoy unforgettable days of relax and nature.
There are also  excursions to other water courses such as River Azopardo, Lakes Blanco and Fagnano, etc., and the possibility to practice Winter Sports and navigation through the lake.  Due to its condition of cross-border lake, fishing is allowed all year round.

If you are interested to get more information about how to get there, price, bookings, etc.

Just send us an email and we will send you detailed information.

Our email:  contact@patagoniabrand.cl


Mendocino Village Provides a Scenic Trip Back in Time

With its very well preserved 19th century New England-style Victorian buildings Mendocino looks like we had just stepped into a page in a history book.

Just a three hour drive north from San Francisco through some of the most diverse landscape including gnarled oak trees, vineyards, rustic farmhouses, the most beautiful large Redwoods and some of the best ocean views on the west coast is Mendocino, California  the beautiful, serene village that dates back to the California gold rush days.

Mendocino Village-Photo by Gary Steman

Mendocino Village-Photo by Gary Steman

One look at The Sea Rock Inn a Bed and Breakfast on the north end of town and it is clear they are the ultimate romantic getaway that they promise to be on their website; what may not be as clear at first glance is how much more this sea-side village has to offer its visitors.

Headland State Park And Its Path System Allowed Us To Explore the Rugged Headlands

The cozy cottage inn is surrounded in the great smells of wide green lawns and beautifully landscaped flower gardens that were contrasted by the backdrop of ancient cypress trees. The view from the suites looks across the street to the spectacular panoramic view of the rugged cliffs of the Mendocino Headlands that drop over 45 meters or 150 feet to the Pacific Ocean below. The scene has inspired many filmmakers and can be spotted in movies and television programs including “The Russians Are Coming”, “The Summer of ’42”, “Same Time Next Year”, “Dying Young”, “Overboard” and “The Majestic”. The television series “Murder, She Wrote” was filmed in the town of Mendocino and one of the homes on Little Lake Street was used as Jessica Fletcher’s Cabot Cove home.

After a relaxing continental breakfast, included in the price of the room and served in the main area at a very casual, romantic table that looked out over the headlands and the ocean below, the intricate path system of the Headlands State Park is waiting to be discovered. You could spend hours winding your way through the beautiful wildflowers of the Park across the top of the great cliffs, where the ocean crashing and throwing itself over the top of the rocks provides great photo opportunities.

The History of this Logging Community That Looks Like A Page Out Of The History Books Dates Back to 1850

Mendocino Village, by G sterman

Mendocino Village, by G sterman

When you’re ready for a break from the fresh air and exercise a walk into town is a must.  Mendocino was once a prosperous logging community founded in 1850 and originally named Meiggsville after entrepreneur Henry Meiggs who sold lumber to several businesses along the pacific coast from his home in Catskill, New York.  Meiggs relocated to San Francisco when he discovered gold on one of his lumber delivery trips. The town’s name was later changed to Mendocino in honour of Don Antonio de Mendoza, the patron saint of the voyageur and the first Viceroy of New Spain or Mexico.

This eclectic village features some great artisan stores, art galleries, a haunted hotel, some of the best restaurants and the local watering hole, Dick’s on the beach, a great little pub full of photos and collectables that told the history of this great town.

The Mendocino Hotel is the only hotel that remains from a time when Mendocino was a booming port full of lodgings for the workers in the logging trade. The original structure dates back to 1878 and was originally opened as a “Temperance House” in a time when the town reportedly had 19 saloons.

If You Stop In Maybe You Will Get A Visit From The Hotel’s Ghost

R.O. Peterson purchased the run-down hotel in 1975, and with the assistance of brilliant designers and local artisans and craftsmen he had it authentically restored to include period wallpaper by Schumacher, a rug custom designed and woven to simulate a piece from the era, period mirrors, original oil paintings an enormous sideboard purchased in England, and a 1920s coffee machine. There are rumors that the Hotel has a ghost, a Victorian lady who haunts tables number six and eight in the dining room and has been seen in one of the lobby mirrors. Front Desk workers have also apparently heard their names being spoken in the middle of the night and when they turn around to answer… no one is there.

Both the economy and the population of Mendocino declined after 1940, and it became a somewhat isolated village until artist Bill Zacha founded the Mendocino Art Center and revitalized it in the 1950s. Today, the vibrant town’s calendar of events is limited only by visitors’ imaginations. The Arts and Crafts Fair, held in July each year hosts more than sixty arts and crafts booths with unique handmade artwork. The annual Mendocino Whale Festival allows visitors in the first week of March to watch as some 20,000 gray whales make their way north from Mexico to their Alaskan summer home.  In June, The Mendocino Film Festival showcases independent filmmakers and their work and the Music Festival, a musically diverse concert series held through two weeks in July on Main Street in the Mendocino Headlands State Park.

I have no doubt that your stay in this beautiful village, like the two days I spent there, will be a rare experience and a cherished memory to hold forever.


The facts that helped me tell this story of a beautiful Pacific Ocean Village were found using the following resources:

  • Information about the beautiful Sea Rock Inn on their website searock.com,
  • Information on the scenic area of Mendocino County found in the Mendocino Coast and Wine Country Guide published by the Mendocino Coast Chamber of Commerce,
  • Information on Mendocino found at “Sally’s Place” on her website sallybernstein.com
  • Information about the attractions in and around the village at the website mendocino.com
  • Information on the history of the Mendocino Hotel found at www.menocinohotel.com

Jordan Petra Holidays Vacations and Holidays Tours

by Lily Candice,

Jordan Petra Holidays Vacations

Jordan Petra Holidays Vacations

Before moving out from your home to enjoyable Holidays Vacations or Holidays Tours, you would always like to make your tour memorable. It is quite possible while you take care of few factors and make your tour enjoyable and memorable.

Planning with Trustworthy Tours Companies Online planning for Vacations and Holidays Tours has become more popular. Increasing popularity of the travel websites has made Vacations and Holidays Tours possible for people to book trips to Jordan just a matter of few minutes. Experts advice to employ set of measures to check if the travel company you are planning with should trustworthy one. Check for sign of “authenticity” in website, such as anti-hacker seals, the use of encryption technology, prominent display of security and quality seals, money-back guarantee and client testimonials.

Hassle free Holidays Vacations and Holidays Tours If you wish to everything done at single place about your Holidays Vacations and Holidays Tours for reservations and appointments. Take experts important advice, you should ask to travel company to do these arrangements for you. The travel company will take care of everything for you to make your Holidays Vacations and Holidays Tours enjoyable. For example, when you are on tour with your family, your travel company can offer best and affordable accommodations in Jordan Petra for your vacation holidays. Since tours are pre-planned and arranged by travel companies, you could enjoy and relax with your family while everything is planned by your hired travel company.

Discounted Packages for Holidays Vacations and Holidays Tours
While enjoying the vacation tours, discounted packages is the first and most factor you would always like to consider. Travel experts say and agree – who are looking for discounts on their holidays tours. You should also take care for several factors like in order to avoid the high budget; you should plan the vacations during off-peak seasons. If you are on a budget and would prefer to have the vacation with your family, in this case you contact the travel agent and get important advice to plan your vacation holidays without having a high budget. If you are planning to make your tour in Jordan Petra, “Red Rock” is the ever best travel planner for you. Lots of attractions are in Jordan Petra Tours, Petra Jordan Holidays and Jordan Vacations. Go ahead and take initiative while calling the “Red Rock”, your Jordan Vacations Planner.

About the Author: Lily Candice is content writer at Red Rock. Travel company in Jordan for Jordan Petra Tours and Petra Jordan Holidays.