Travel Tips and Stories

Friday, November 25, 2005

So You Wanna See A Volcano?

You have done the cruise to Alaska; you have accomplished the tandem freefall skydive in Gananoque, Ontario; you have scaled the face of the Matterhorn and gone trad climbing while the other members of the climbing party were still trying to find a way down; you have considered streetluging, but found it too tame; you are now wondering: what else is there to do? The answer is surprisingly simple: visit a volcano! Actually, you do not have to be a daredevil to make a volcano your next vacation destination, and oftentimes whole families can be seen traversing the terrain in search for an unforgettable sight.

Visiting Stromboli

Stromboli is a small island belonging to Italy. It is part of the famous Aeolian Islands, a group of volcanic islands located in the warmth of the sunny Mediterranean Sea. Despite Stromboli’s still being a very active volcano, an enchanting small town has sprung up at its base, giving travelers the opportunity to stay overnight for a visit.

Guided tours to the top of Stromboli are offered to the thrill seeker while those who do not want to make the trip may wish to visit Sciara del Fuoco, located on the northwestern part of the island, where an active volcanic vent spews magma into the sea. For this adventure, too, guided tours are available.

While watching a continuous wisp of smoke emanating from the crater is not for the faint of heart, thrill seekers love this destination and will not walk away disappointed. The atmosphere surrounding a highly active volcano is unique, and this trip promises to be the adventure of a lifetime.

Visiting Santorini

Santorini is one of the Greek islands. In close proximity are the islands of Thirasia and Apronnisi, which once were a part of Santorini until a volcanic explosion in 1650 B.C.E. ripped the island apart. Today this island is a favored tourist destination.

Access to the top of the volcano may be gained via a gondola trip or a donkey ride. In addition to visiting this still moderately active volcano on Santorini, other points of interest include the famous black beaches of Kamari, a short boat ride away, and the various ongoing archaeological sites on and off Santorini.

This is a beautiful vacation spot the whole family can enjoy just as much as the active adventurer looking for a new thrill.

Visiting Halema'uma'u

Halema'uma'u, a crater located at the summit of Kilauea on Hawaii’s main island, is the supposed home of the volcano goddess Pele. Kilauea is a part of “Hawaii Volcanoes National Park”, and allows for adventurers of all varieties to enjoy an unforgettable stay. Armchair travelers and seasoned hikers alike will enjoy the numerous outlook platforms as well as the more than 150 miles of trails, many of which are wheelchair accessible.

Biking enthusiasts will be able to take in the volcanic sites via the 11-mile Crater Rim Trail; this trail leads over blackened basalt rock that rivals the lunar landscape, only to be suddenly replaced with the glistening leafs of tropical rain forest flora.

This is a beautiful adventure spot that offers a variety of non-volcano activities that adventurers of all ages will enjoy.

Visiting Shiprock Peak

Travelers who wish to avoid the sulfur fumes of active volcanoes will be heartened by a trip to Shiprock Peak, an extinct volcano located in New Mexico. Visitors will want to remember that the volcano is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation, and while it is accessible via a tribal road, permission to get closer must be obtained prior to continuing. Climbing of this mountain is not permitted.

While access beyond the base of Shiprock Peak is not permitted by law, it is an enthralling part of a tour of the Four Corners Area. In addition to the foregoing, alongside the rock is a small jeep trail, which will be a delight for the four-wheeling set.

In closing, whether you are a thrill seeking adventurer who has long left behind the ropes of mountain climbing for bigger and better thrills, or a seasoned armchair traveler who has been around the world and would like to see more, volcano travel is an exciting travel opportunity for the whole family!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Perfect Spa Getaway: 5 Places To Go

If you are looking for a vacation that includes all around rejuvenation, you know that there is only one place: the spa. Yet, not all spas, or all travelers, are created equal, but you are bound to find the perfect spa getaway, no matter what your traveling needs may be.

1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Is this the year where you are vacationing with the little ones? Think you will have to sacrifice your rest and relaxation in favor of entertaining the children? Think again!

Disney's flagship Hotel, the Grand Floridian in Lake Buena Vista, Florida offers in-room child care and a variety of child centered activities that will keep the younger set happily occupied while you indulge yourself in some well deserved rejuvenation.

The spa offers Swedish and sports massages, hydrotherapy, mineral soaks,
Reflexology, as well as a fitness evaluation and body-composition analysis. Not only do they offer you a private treatment room but they also offer health and fitness services. You can enjoy this treatment under the supervision of a personal trainer.

2. The Aveda Spa at Seattle's Alexis Hotel

Couples seeking to get away from it all and reconnect will enjoy the complimentary champagne and chocolate treat that await their arrival at the Alexis Hotel in Seattle, Washington. This hotel also houses the well-known Aveda Spa.

The spa offers a variety of treatments, such as the Total Body Elixir Treatment for around $75, a Total Body Massage beginning at $45, and the exclusive Himalayan Rejuvenation Body Treatment, which combines the use of herbal treatments with aromatherapy to allow its clients to attain a renewal of mind, soul, and body. This treatment is available for about $125. Purchase some skin care products before leaving the spa to continue your special treatment once you return home.

3. Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea at New Castle

Couples who wish to leave behind the hustle and bustle will love the serenity and breathtaking beauty of Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle, New Hampshire which offers a number of spa packages.

Wentworth's spa entices its guests to prepare themselves to be pampered with complimentary beverages in its relaxation room. Offering a wide variety of facial treatments, including the French Ogenage Facial, Paraffin hand treatments, and The Royal Gentleman's Facial, guests are sure to find just the right treatment.

Massages that incorporate fragrant essential oils, warm stones, or even Reiki, await the guests, while expecting mothers will be thrilled to experience the maternity massage that will leave them safely relaxed.

This 8,500 square foot spa offers body scrubs, body wraps, foot baths, and plunge pools. Children between the ages of 12 and 18 can also enjoy the "good start" facial for kids.

4. Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa on Maui

If Hawaii is more to your liking, the Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa in Maui, Hawaii will take your breath away. Boasting a 50,000 square foot facility, the spa is famous for its Termй Wailea Hydrotherapy. Offering all the benefits of the multifaceted art of balneotherapy, guests may choose to indulge in one of five aromatic baths, opt for an invigorating Swiss Jet Shower, or use a Redwood Sauna.

This famous spa is among the top ten spas in the U.S. providing consultants and personal trainers for your benefit. The Spa Grande offers a Japenses Furo bath, a roman jacuzzi tub, and a cold plunge pool. You are sure to recieve the best treatment available when you choose this Hawaiian spa.

For those in serious need of relaxation and rejuvenation, the Spa Grande presents its guests with hydrotherapy, a Sandalwood Serenity Wrap, a Romantic Hawaiian Specialty Bath for two which can be followed up with a Side-by-Side Duo Massage. The price tag for this truly luxurious treatment around $500.

5. Barbados's Sandy Lane Resort

For the spa getaway of a lifetime, the Sandy Lane Resort on St. James, Barbados is the clear first choice. This gem is located in the West Indies and is perfectly attuned to its discerning guests' needs.

Offering the signature Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment for skin revitalization, guests enjoy two hours of first class pampering for only $220. Those who seek to relax in a big way will love the six hour spa experience which includes a water massage, a hydrotherapy bath followed by a full body massage, an aromatherapy facial, deep relaxation exercises, and finally holistic manicures and pedicures. It does not get any more perfect than that!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Vacation In 4 Hours: How To Getaway In Your Hometown

Summer vacation has come to an end and you are basking in the afterglow of the island hopping trip you and your family have taken. Perhaps you and your better half have spent a wonderful weekend vacation at a spa, and you were even able to squeeze in a round of golf or a trip to the local shopping outlet. Unfortunately, it is now time to get back to the realities of work, school, chores, and the other little things that make everyday-life exhausting. It is no surprise that you feel as though you are in desperate need of another vacation at the end of the first week. Alas--this vacation is a full 365 days away…or is it?

The Hometown Getaway

Who says that the only remedy for the hustle and bustle of life is a full-fledged vacation? On the contrary, your hometown is full of amazing sights and sounds that you, with a bit of creativity and know-how, can turn into a magical getaway, without crossing the city limits!

The Hometown Jungle Expedition

While your hometown may not be a tropical rainforest habitat, it is bound to host a large number of city and also municipal parks. Some of these parks will even offer nature walks! Check out the phonebook for a listing under “nature center” and you may be well on your way to a hometown jungle expedition.

If you are planning this trip with your children, this is a wonderful opportunity to incorporate some hands-on learning experiences. Have a backpack for each member of the expedition, complete with binoculars, paper, pencils, collection jar, and magnifying glass. Encourage the children to “spy” flora or fauna before you do, and you will be well on your way to having a relaxing afternoon at the park. If you remember to pack a picnic lunch, you will be able to spend most of the day in the “wild.”

The Hometown Fishing Trip

Granted, your hometown probably does not sport lakes as rich in trout as Colorado’s Lake John, but looking on the bright side, it won’t take you six hours of bumpy roads to get there either. Contact your local wildlife and game department for fishing reports pertaining to your area.

If you are fortunate enough to live close to the ocean, you will be able to enjoy a leisurely fishing trip to the local pier, followed by a relaxing dinner. If you live in a city that has several lakes within a short driving distance, you will be able to choose from any of these locations to cast a pole into the waters.

This may even be the perfect time to take out the RV for a last late summer or early fall weekend trip before storing it for the winter! Taking your family to a local RV park can be a real treat. This takes off the stress of packing for a long distance trip since you will be camping right around the corner.

The Hometown Gourmet Extravaganza

Unless you live in Las Vegas, your hometown getaway will probably not include a trip to the Mandalay Bay’s famous buffet, but this is no reason to stop you from having a gourmet experience within city limits! If you budget wisely, you will be able to have breakfast at the local hot spot, a cup of coffee or tea a little way down the plaza, complete with the possibility of soaking in the morning rays while leisurely reading the paper. If you’re up to it, try a different restaurant for lunch and dinner.

There are several family restaurants that offer entertainment as well as fine dining. The Elephant Bar offers a refreshing dйcor, with a safari environment. Or enter through a cave shaped aquarium to the jungle themed restaurant known as the Rainforest Cafй. While you’re eating enjoy the swinging monkeys, active volcanoes, and the dimming lights while thunder roars overhead. Children will especially enjoy the Rainforest Shop where they can purchase souvenirs.

The trick to a successful hometown gourmet getaway is to choose restaurants you do not usually visit. This adds a touch of adventure, and you may quite possibly discover your new favorite hangout!

Hopefully you are inspired to look to your hometown for a wonderful getaway opportunity. Get to know your surroundings! Who knows, when looking at your hometown through the eyes of a tourist, you may discover sights and sounds so enticing that next year you decide to vacation at home, at the perfect hometown getaway within four hours of your front door!

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Whole New World: Things to see and do in Disney World

Going on vacation to Disney World does not have to be terribly expensive if the proper research and planning is done. There is a whole new world of things to do at Disney that are totally free. So before you make a reservation or commit to a resort or hotel, spend some time comparing vacation packages and weigh the pros and cons. After all, you want to make the most out of your vacation in the least expensive way.

The average vacation to Disney World is five to seven days. This is actually as much time it takes to see everything. Whether you are on your honeymoon or taking the kids to a whole new world, make the most out of Disney World and make it a trip to remember. But you don’t have to go broke while creating these memories. Take for instance all the free things you can do in and around Disney World that won’t even require park admission.

Downtown Disney has wonderful interactive exhibits such as the Lego Imagination Center, laden with some eye-catching Lego sculptures and a 3,000-square-foot outdoor play area filled with thousands of Lego blocks to play with. You don’t have to be a child to have fun with Lego’s, be creative and splurge.

The Interactive Fountains are amazing and fun and will make a great back ground for your vacation pictures. Jump in, splash around and make it a Kodak moment for your keepsakes. Check out the free magic shows at the Magic Masters. You can learn a few magic tricks to take home with you.

Pleasure Island is totally free during the evening hours. You can roam and revel in the shops and restaurants while you enjoy the entertainment and fireworks display. Admission is only required if you choose to go into one of the many night clubs on Pleasure Island, that is unless you have a pass, then entrance is free.

The Disney Boardwalk offers a nice variety of freebies as well. If you are lodging in a Disney resort or hotel, you can use Disney’s transportation to get to the boardwalk. If you choose to drive to the Boardwalk, you can get a free 3-hour parking permit from the lot attendant.

Have fun strolling down the Boardwalk and enjoy the street performers. From jugglers to jazz musicians, take in the atmosphere and enjoy. For dancing and live bands with no cover charge, stop by the Atlantic Dance Hall.

Just being a Guest at a Disney resort offers an array of free activities. You can choose from multiple children’s activities to swimming to free Disney transportation. Stop by the resort shops to see what clearance items are available as souvenirs.

Resort Guests or multi-pass holders are eligible to ride the Monorail free of charge. The Monorail is a favorite of Disney Guests, offering a spectacular tour of many of the parks inside Disney. Also as a resort Guest you can take advantage of the nature trails and walkways.

Enjoy cruises from Port Orleans along the Sassagoula River to Downtown Disney and back. While you’re in Port Orleans be sure to visit the Butterfly Garden located behind Acadian House.

You can enjoy a romantic cruise of Crescent Lake and visit Epcot, the Yacht and Beach Club, Swan and Dolphin, and MGM along the way. While you’re enjoying the open water you can take the boat that visits the Magic Kingdom, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge, Ft. Wilderness, the Polynesian, and Grand Floridian. At night you can watch for the magnificent Electric Water Pageant as it floats around the lake stopping at each of the resorts.

While Ft. Wilderness is open to all Walt Disney World resort guests, it would be a nice way to end a night by stopping in for roasting marshmallows on a campfire and a movie shown on a large outdoor screen. This is held every evening, near the Meadow Trading Post. The evening starts with a sing-a-long song and marshmallow roast. You can purchase food there or bring your own. Disney characters will be there to meet the guests, to sign autographs, and pose for pictures. There is seating available or you can bring along a blanket to lay on and relax while enjoying the entertainment under the stars.

Take advantage of everything Disney World has to offer and enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Kissimmee: Ten Attractions that AREN’T Disney World

Florida is one of the most popular states to vacation in due to the fact that Florida has the most popular vacation attractions. Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World are the most popular and sought after vacation spots, but Florida’s attractions go far beyond these. Kissimmee, Florida has multiple attractions in itself that are not related to Disney World.

Kissimmee has its own popular and family oriented attractions that entice thousands of tourists into returning each year. When planning your next visit to Florida, check out a few of these top rated attractions in Kissimmee that has had visitors boasting and eager to return.

1. SkyScapes Balloon Tours specialize in private hot air balloon rides for couples and groups. Advance reservations are required because they only schedule one flight per day. Flight amenities include a Champagne Toast, when you will learn about ballooning and how it all got started. The After Flight Celebration will include a light snack of fruit and cheese and a First Flight Certificate to commemorate your first flight. Weekends fill up fast so it’s best to reserve at least two weeks in advance.

2. Flying Tigers Restoration Warbird Museum has a fabulous collection of restored WWII planes. There are many aircrafts on display and available for flight. Some of the aircraft’s include: B-52, B-25 Mitchells, P-51 Stearmans, C-47 Dakota, a Vampire and many more. This would be a wonderful and educational experience for everyone.

3. Reptile World Serpentarium invites you into a world of creepy crawlies. Featuring a large collection of snakes from around the world and kept in their own natural environment. You can attend a venom harvest demonstration, where you can learn about the process of harvesting venom that benefits international medical research.

4. Gatorland is fun for the entire family and is located near the border of Kissimmee and Orlando. Come visit Alligator Island and observe the alligators as they live and nest in a natural environment on this 110 acre theme park and wildlife preserve. Gatorland is also home to several crocodiles, flamingos and a variety of other animals as well. Come enjoy the train ride, petting zoo, nature walk, shows and so much more!

5. Old Town is home of the largest weekly car cruises with over 300 classic cars. Old Town is a great place to visit for shopping at 75 specialty stores, taking on 18 thrilling ride and dining at 8 delicious restaurants. Old Town has had visitors raving about their phenomenal experiences and eager to come back.

6. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament where you can experience life as it was in the 11th Century. Enjoy feasting on a hearty dinner that is served to you by a wench, as you watch a Princess profess her love for her Knight and a betrayal is unveiled as the King addresses his audience. During intermission you will see an outstanding performance of horse tricks and falcon show.

7. Arabian Nights, the most honored dinner attraction in the world. You are invited to a wedding of a Prince and a Princess. Come into the Palace of Horses and meet your humble servant that will cater to your every desire. Enjoy a bountiful meal as you watch the story unfold as the wedding is threatened by an uninvited guess. The show is filled with many surprises and full of majestic costumed horses and riders.

8. Fun ‘N Wheels Fun Park provides the best value for go-cart racing and arcade fans of all ages. There is a snack bar loaded with food and beverages. Best of all the admission is always free.

9. Water Mania is a water park full of fun for the whole family. Attractions include swimming, rafting and golf. This water park is great for the younger children in your family.

10. Green Meadows Petting Farm is a fantastic place to take the kids for a two hour guided tour through the farm of over 300 animals. Milk a cow, ride a pony or go on a hay ride. Expect plenty of fun and education for all ages.

All these attractions are suitable for families and are deemed very affordable. You can always make the most out of a vacation in Florida without going to Disney World. Kissimmee is truly a wonderful place to be all year round.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Call of the Wild: Best Safari Vacations

Tanzania. Deep into the heart of Africa, lies the great plains of the Serengeti, rolling into the distance as far as the eye can see. This is where herds of animals run free in an untamed wilderness and predators hunt for their prey. Serengeti comes from the Masai word “Siringit” meaning “the place where the land runs on forever.” The flat grassy plains which make up about a third of the park along with the savannahs, ensure that the area is jam-packed full with plains game.

The Serengeti is well known for the wildebeest migration. Every year two million animals move clockwise around this 14,763 sq km ecosystem in search of grazing and water, followed closely by predators.

Spend your days and nights among the lions, elephants, cheetahs, impala, hyena and warthogs in a land abundant with wildlife. Sit besides a campfire, under an African sky lit brightly with millions of stars. Experience Africa, a world left unchanged by time. Explore the exotic, historic and most beautiful places in world. Enjoy astounding sunsets, mystifying landscapes and the hospitable, open-hearted people.

Come to Kenya and begin your own great adventure. Travel as an observer or become an active participant with boundless opportunities to observe natural wonders and exotic wildlife. Explore celebrated archaeological sites and important antiquities and enjoy serene waterways and magnificent architecture.

Kenya has been described as having everything that is beautiful in Africa, from the scenic immensity of the rolling savannas to the desert regions of the north, the glaciated peaks of Mount Kenya to the white coral beaches and the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Special holidays of all kinds are also catered for- from Camel Safaris in Samburu land, through walking safaris for ornithologists, to mountaineering on snow-capped Mt. Kenya; and from golfing to big game fishing.

Visit the Maasai Mara, widely recognized as the finest reserve in the country, where thousands of Zebra and Wildebeest migrate to during the months of July and August, thus providing an endless banquet for the larger predators. Maasai Mara is an unforgettable spectacle for visitors.
Throughout the country, distinctive environments are home to diverse ethnic groups and an equally broad range of wildlife. In the North, home of the Samburu people, the waters attract a plentiful array of wildlife.

Kenya’s coast offers tantalizing attractions. Lamu Island offers white sand beaches with archaeological sites that open a window on pre-colonial African history. While Malindi provides plenty of fishing, surfing and snorkeling.

Going on Safari doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to rough it under canvas tents, you can choose from hotels, game lodges, tree hotels, and self-catering chalets in the most dramatic surroundings. All of these selections also offer amenities such as rest rooms, clean beds and fine dining. Fast modern roads link one natural wonder to another. Most parks and reserves are easily accessible for big game viewing. Enjoy a cosmopolitan meal and Kenyan beers and wines, which have competed with the worlds best in winning gold medals for excellence.

Transportation is available for hire, cars, motor coaches and luxury minibuses, from scheduled air services with the most sophisticated charter network outside of North America. One of the worlds most romantic train journeys runs between Nairobi and Mombasa. On arrival and departure, visitors are welcome to avail themselves of the World of Kenya large duty-free shops at the international airports. There are regular daily flights from Mombasa and Nairobi to most European capitals, with onward connections to other parts of the world. Kenya overwhelms all who visit her. A holiday spent in Kenya is one of the most rewarding travel experiences of a lifetime.

East Africa is a great destination all year round. Each season has its advantages and each area has its best moments. If you have already decided to go on a safari, visit a travel agent specializing in safari vacations to plan an itinerary that will allow you to get the most out of your trip. You can benefit by having a travel agent custom design you vacation and find you the best deals on airfare, hotel accommodations and transportation, tour guides and more. Most importantly, you will have the peace of mind that your vacation will be planned out most efficiently and tailored to your needs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Great Outdoors: Best Campsites in the U.S.

No summer is complete without a weekend in the Great Outdoors. Camping is a great way to get away from the everyday life and indulge oneself in a little adventure. To lay out beneath the stars, or in an RV, and bond with nature can be great therapy. Whether you choose to RV beside a lake, rent a cabin in the woods or pitch a tent, take time out for yourself and enjoy all nature has to offer you.

Camping can be enjoyed as an individual or as a family. Campsites are available almost everywhere and are usually not too far from home and are very affordable. Every state has its own selections of campsites to choose from, but if you are willing to travel for the best, here are the top five best campsites in the United States.

1. A.B.C. (America’s Best Campground) in Branson, Missouri, the Live Entertainment Capitol of the World. A.B.C. offers 162 RV and tent campsites with electric, satellite T.V., and phone service hook ups. There is also a concrete patio, table and grill available at each site. Pets are welcome, as long they are kept on a leash and you clean after them. Camping Cabins and Deluxe Cabins are available complete with air conditioning, heat, T.V., bathroom, kitchenette, covered porches, picnic table, grill, and outdoor hydrant. No pets or smoking are allowed within the cabins. Branson offers plenty of attractions like amusement parks, dinner shows, and outlet malls and so much more all within a reasonable driving distance from camp.

2. Petit Jean State Park near Little Rock, Arkansas is the legendary first State Park in the U.S. This campsite features 127 campsites and 33 cabins. The park offers playgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, and hiking trails. Camping equipment is also available for rent. While you’re there, walk along the Cedar Falls Trail and you will come across the majestic Cedar Falls’ Water Fall and be amazed. Take your camera along for this one, there are so many beautiful sites and area attractions you might want to capture the moments so they may last a life time.

3. Montana de Oro (meaning “Mountain of Gold”) State Park in Southern California is a beautiful place for camping on a beach. It’s most popular for the ocean access, wide array of golden flowers, and hiking trails. A walk along the bluff reveals a steep drop off with a fantastic view of sea lion colonies. There are four locations available for hike-in only campers and you must bring your own supplies. There are no camp fires allowed and you must bring your own small grill and pack your own bottled water. At Montana de Oro, you will be truly “roughing it” so don’t forget your hiking boots.

4. Angel Island State Park located in San Francisco Bay can be your own private island paradise. You are transported to the island by a ferry boat, where only a handful of campers and rangers pitch their tents for the night. At night while you breathe in the cool salty air, you can view the flamboyant lights of San Francisco and have a phenomenal view of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are nine campsites available, with a picnic table, running water, pit toilet and barbeque grill. There are trails to hike around the island where you can find shops, bicycle rentals and the Cove Cafй. Angel Island has a lot more shops and activities, if you have the hiking boots to walk the trails you can discover everything paradise has to offer.

5. Fort Welikit Family Campground is in South Dakota. Camping is near three large lakes and is less than an hour away from all the area attractions, such as, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Mountain, Custer State Park’s Buffalo, caves and many golf courses. Fort Welikit offers horse camping with several major trails. RV hook up, tent area and cabins are also available. Pets are allowed anywhere but inside the cabin rentals. This campground also offers on site trailer rentals and propane sales.

The Travel Industry Association reports camping to be the number one outdoor activity in the United States and is enjoyed by citizens from all walks of life. Pack up your backpacks, load up the maps and grab a compass and prepare to create memories to last a lifetime.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Sailing, Skiing and Surfing: Best Vacations for the Water Sports Enthusiast

For many people an ideal vacation means a warm and comfortable climate, sandy beaches and an ocean shore nearby. Vacations are a great way to remove your self from the routine of every day life and take that desperately needed. For those who enjoy sailing, skiing and surfing, as well as a variety of other water sports, here are some number one hot spots for all you water sports enthusiasts.

Set your sails for adventure and prepare your body, mind and soul for paradise when you visit the Island of St. Lucia, a truly tropical island paradise, 27 miles long by 14 miles wide and a dream come true for sailors. The western coastline features exciting anchorages and adventures for explorers of every type. Sail the west coast up to Rodney Bay and enjoy the beach on Pigeon Island National park. At night there is a superb selection of attractive restaurants and bars for you to enjoy a fabulous meal and cocktail.

Then set sail to Soufrière and visit the Volcano, the Botanical Gardens, Diamond Falls, and the Mineral Baths. Then drop anchor at Ansa Cochon, a magnificent deserted beach that was made just for snorkeling. Set your sights on the famous Pitons, where a romantic night under the stars awaits you. Sample the natural wonders of St. Lucia, enjoying snorkeling as it was meant to be at Anse Chastanet. In the afternoon enjoy the beach at the Jalousie Plantation Resort or continue your snorkeling adventure at the Coral Gardens.

Then return to the Marigot before dark. Dine at your choice of spectacular restaurants and enjoy the most dramatic view in the Caribbean.

Where the Atlantic’s powerful breakers reach an accessible shore in the Caribbean, there you will find surfers. In Barbados, the “Soupbowl” at Bathsheba has attracted water sports enthusiasts from the world over, including champions of the sport who spend training vacations here and appreciate the uncrowded waves, warm water and friendly atmosphere. Bathsheba is famous for its fast walls and big thundering barrels.

For years locals and overseas surfers alike have enjoyed the surfing at the “Soup Bowl” in Bathsheba. This picturesque fishing village becomes a hive of activity in November, when the waves are at their best and the International Surfing Championship takes place. Surfers rent “bay houses” and mingle with the locals, enjoying the friendly laid back atmosphere.

St. Vincent also has good waves at Lagoon Bay as well as Shipping Bay on the Windward side, not a venue for the faint hearted, while Trinidad has a good surfing spot at Minister Bay on the east coast. From sunrise to sunset bodies on boards await the break and the Caribbean doesn’t disappoint.

Water skiing at Ski Paradise, located in Acapulco, Mexico has been rated as the “best ski site in the world” by Water Ski Magazine. Whether you are a beginner or want to improve on your water skiing skills, you will have a great time. Ski Paradise is the ultimate water ski and sports vacation, including great accommodations and instruction from celebrity guest coaches. If you would like to experience the greatest ski vacation of your life, then visit Ski Paradise, who also caters to golf, tennis, and sport fishing.

Acapulco is a city of over a million people with a great night life, distinguished beaches and the worlds most perfect climate. You will experience a magical week of great skiing, great instruction, friendly people, excellent accommodations and fabulous food. Even slalom addicts need to take a break from skiing every now and then. You can explore the Fuerte de San Diego, a landmark Spanish fort built in 1616. If you’re in the mood for a little adventure, you can hire a taxi and have them drive you through the winding streets of the old town to show you the best and beautiful historic sites.

Although these are the top hot spots for water sports enthusiasts, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t more great places out there to go sailing, skiing or surfing. Whether you’re on the East coast or West coast or anywhere in between, you can always find a nice affordable vacation to revel in water sports and simply have a great time.

Friday, November 04, 2005

5 BAD Vacation Destinations and Why You DON'T Want To Go There

We don't plan them, but they do happen, sometimes beyond our control. Some vacations aren't as good as they are made out to be, maybe it's a case of false advertising or maybe as a tourist you are taken advantage of by the locals. If you're planning a road trip, the worst part could be the traffic jams, sometimes left stuck in traffic for hours with no explanation of why traffic was backed up. On top of a traffic jam, maybe you will find that your hotel reservation had expired and was given to the next person in line. Or maybe your luggage arrived from the airport a day or two after you did? In any case, it's hard to pinpoint the worst vacation destinations without taking into consideration all the things that can happen. Most disappointing vacations can usually be prevented.

In order to prevent one bad vacation turning into two, let me give you a list of the top five BAD vacation destinations and why that were rated just that.

1. Many of America's popular vacation destinations are being choked by unhealthy smog levels. Continued exposure to ozone smog is a powerful lung irritant that has a cumulative impact on the body. It's especially dangerous to children, elderly people or those suffering from asthma and other lung diseases.

Although there is no escaping air pollution in most of the United States, you can at least avoid the vacation destinations that have the highest ozone smog in the U.S.: Cape Cod National Sea Shore, Boston, Maine's Acadia National Park, Philadelphia, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Maryland's Eastern Shore, Washington D.C., Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indianapolis, and Lake Michigan, Pennsylvania (including the Amish farmland and the city of Lancaster).

Take this into consideration before traveling to any of these destinations, especially if you are traveling with children, the elderly or those with asthma.

2. When looking at the brochures for the Nickelodeon Family Suites in Orlando, Florida, you may think they look beautiful and fun to stay in. But once you actually get there, expect it to take a few hours away from your vacation time when you are trying to check in. The check-in lines are usually extremely long and by the time you get up to the desk to speak with a desk clerk, your room may not even be ready. Then by the time you get to the room, some appliances are defective and the cleaning service doesn't even dust and may miss cleaning several things. The pool is over crowded with hardly any room to sit and there is no changing room. The pool side bathroom becomes crowded with people trying to change into their bathing suits, for lack of another place to change. I've seen better accommodations at a Motel 6.

3. Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Beware: The bed bugs really do bite!

4. New Orleans, Louisiana. Even before the terrible tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has been one of the hottest spots in the country, despite the fact that they have one of the country's highest crime and murder rates.

5. Iraq. Self-explanatory.

You can travel to the most wonderful vacation destination in the world and have things go wrong. It could be poor customer service, mediocre cleaning services, surcharges and creepy crawlies in your bed. Your worst vacation, can be another persons' best and while everything may not run as smoothly as planned, here are a few tips to help you avoid being a victim: Stay away from travel offers that sound too good to be true, especially if you have been solicited by phone or mail. Never give out your credit card or bank account information over the phone unless you initiate the transaction and are confident about the company you are doing business with. Get complete details in writing about your vacation arrangements prior to making a payment. These details should include the total cost, including taxes, service fees, surcharges, port charges; including the terms and conditions, restrictions and cancellation penalties. Walk away from high pressure sales people that won't allow you time to evaluate an offer. Be cautious of companies that require you to wait 60 days to take your trip or require you to select various dates of departure.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Pony Up! Vacations for the Cowboy in All of Us

There is a cowboy, or cowgirl, in all of us. Playing a cowboy on a ranch in the country can be the most rewarding vacation. Away from the city life, pollution and technology in general, you can step away from reality and fulfill a childhood dream. So, grab your cowboy hat and slip into some boots and pony up!

The Hartley Guest Ranch located in Northeastern New Mexico bordering the Canadian River is a family owned cowboy paradise with an operating cattle ranch of over 25,000 acres. There are mesas, canyons and rim rock with 200 miles of trails through dense forests of juniper, oak and ponderosa pine. The Hartley Ranch has an outstanding stock of thoroughbred and quarter horses. There are all day cattle round-ups to move cattle to different pastures and scenic rides on 200 miles of trail.

An orientation is given to all riders at the beginning to match you up to a suitable horse and feel out your riding ability. All rides are guided and vary in length with guests choosing how long they want to ride. Once qualified by a wrangler, there are cantering and loping rides available. There are also pack trips and over night camp outs. Guests can take part in gathering the cattle, separating cows from the calves and help with marking the calves in season. Branding is generally done from May to July. The guests are allowed to sit back and watch, or join in and help. They can flank, throw and hold down calves, brand and vaccinate. You can do as much of or as little as you like.

Enjoy the great fishing for Bass, Catfish and Perch. The well stocked ponds are close to the main lodge and are easy catches. Other parts of the ranch have more challenging fishing. You may hike on your own or have a guide with you to point out interesting sites such as dinosaur bones, ancient Indian sites and unusual geological formations. There are deer, wild turkey, bear, mountain lions, fish and coyotes. Raccoons are down at the creek and visit often. Just sitting underneath a tree in the beautiful New Mexico sun, taking in all the sounds of nature is what Hartley Guest Ranch is all about.

The Blue Mountain Cattle Drive north west of Cedar City, Utah in Beaver County is for anyone who wants to experience the West as it really is. This is the area that the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy came from. In fact there are descendants of the famous outlaw working this dude ranch. Participate in authentic cattle drive adventures, other local dude ranches, and horse back riding trips. Lodging includes meals, trail rides, cattle drives, camaraderie and ranch chores that will give you a real taste of the old west. Magnificent scenery with old-fashion hospitality and wildlife almost close enough to touch.

This fabulous dude ranch is less than a two hour drive from Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. In just under four hours from the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Lake Powell, this vacation is a real out door adventure. The following activities are available for you to enjoy; Horse back riding, campfire singing, cattle driving, western entertainment, cattle roping, wildlife viewing (elk, deer, antelope and wild horses) and Chuck Wagon dinners. This is really the ultimate experience!

Grapevine Canyon Ranch, Arizona dude and working cattle ranch, offers horseback riding vacations, pack trips and adventure horse treks, in the prettiest part of Arizona. The Dragoon Mountains, rich in western history as well as Indian history, were once the home of Apache Chief Cochise and infamous Geronimo, feuding cowboys and Indians, miners seeking riches in the towns of Pearce, Tombstone and Bisbee, all notorious names in the history of the Old West. Old Mexico and the Chiricahua National Monument are located nearby.

Experience how the West was once secluded and secure, remote and unspoiled. Step into history and enjoy one of the most spectacular and beautiful canyons in Arizona. Here you will experience vast distances where the air is crisp and clear and you can enjoy the warm summer nights under the full moon.

Long, lazy afternoons blend into dusky evenings at this Arizona cattle ranch. The constantly changing light along the canyon walls is found to be a beautiful sight. This ranch is situated in the high desert of southeast Arizona, an hour drive from Tucson, its located high in the mountains near the historic Cochise Stronghold. The terrain varies from wooded rolling hills to mountains, with plenty of birds and wildlife. Here you will find over seventy horses for all levels of experience, beautiful trails to hike, old Indian village sites and ghost towns to explore. Stay in the furnished cabins and suites, enjoy the pool, hot tub, game room, and book library.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Cold Hard Cash: A Guide to Currency Conversion

Have you ever exchanged your money in a foreign country and gotten much more or much less money than you had before? Exchange rates can fluctuate depending on the travelers who convert their currency into another form. Every time you exchange currency, you are contributing to the strength of both currencies. The Foreign Exchange Market (Forex) has learned from the strengths and the weaknesses of the worlds floating economy and therefore has started a business of exchanging massive amounts of money into foreign currencies, operating solely on supply and demand.

The world currencies started to measure their economies in accordance to supply and demand, rousing unlimited profit possibilities if handled properly. This is when the buying and selling of currency started. Forex came into being, allowing people to buy and sell ample amounts of foreign currencies, almost like a stock market.

Forex became available for all to use in 1995, for any one person or corporation who wished to gamble a few dollars in search of profit. Every day, over two trillion dollars exchanged hands through buying and selling through Forex. Buying and selling occurs in pairs, when an investor buys in one currency while simultaneously selling in another. As an example, an investor might decide to buy American dollars while selling the British Pound.

It's as simple as exchanging your currency into another lower currency and exchanging it back when the lowermost currency improves. Just by interchanging your currency, you are helping to strengthen that particular currency. This market is affected by all of the investors doing the same thing you are, therefore you can see the need to understand the trends in the market are important. You must learn the art of anticipating market trends by learning the two basic strategies: Technical and Fundamental.

Technical Strategy is the act of anticipating market trends by analyzing the currencies preceding growth, volume and exchange rates and comparing them to the current currency trade rates. You will then utilize this information to make an informed decision on future trading of the currency.

Fundamental Strategy is the act of anticipating market trends by comparing its ethical, political, and monetary policies and comparing them to the current currency exchange rate. Political instability and protective monetary practices can have a crucial impact on how a country's currency will be considered by Forex investors.

Another valuable tool traders can use as a source of incredible profits is leverage. Leverage is a way for traders to move large sums of currency without actually touching the money. Employing leverage would allow a trader with access to a myriad amount of cash to be able to trade in larger numbers of currency than normally. This can add up to millions of dollars very quickly and therefore should only be used by experienced traders. There is never a guarantee that a trader will profit, the potential for loss and gain weigh evenly.

Forex is an exciting market to explore, if you have the money it takes to start trading without going for broke and taking the time to study and understand all prospects. Anyone with an internet connection can be a potential trader.

It is suggested not to attempt any trade without receiving the education and training you need to become a successful trader. Forex offers a free introduction and tutorial to get started in currency conversion, along with a free demo account and lessons with all the tools and utilities you will need to get started. Once you complete the free trials and decided that currency conversion is right for you, you can register yourself with Forex and take the plunge. Invest in as much or as little as you choose. You will have all the resources you need to begin trading currencies on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with live help when you need it.

As the business of currency conversion grows, and becomes more widely known, it will undoubtedly be picked up by other companies who wish to make profits and start their own business of currency conversion. So, take advantage of the free offers Forex has to offer and take a plunge into the wonderful world of foreign currency conversion and see how well you profit.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Shop Til You Drop! The Ultimate Shopping Vacations

Now honestly, when you think of what would be the ultimate shopping vacation in the United States, what comes to mind? None other than the Mall of America located in Bloomington, Minnesota. The Mall of America is our nations largest retail and entertainment complex with many attractions. There are more than 520 stores all under one roof with restaurants, AMC theaters, night clubs and special events that you won't find anywhere else. Of course you'll need a few days just to see everything the mall has to offer.

Camp Snoopy is the largest indoor family theme park in the nation, inviting guests to take a whirlwind ride on their latest roller coaster, the speeding and spiraling Timberland Twister. The park is home to seven acres of fun with more than 30 remarkable rides and attractions, nine mouth watering places to eat, plenty of entertainment and shopping. This theme park is a load of fun for the kids.

The Lego Imagination Center provides four stories of LEGO fun. Plenty to play with, see and buy. See more than 90 full-size LEGO models, including dinosaurs, astronauts and the world's largest animated interactive LEGO clock tower. This LEGO Center is truly amazing and a must see.

Underwater Adventures is the ultimate place for adventure. Imagine traveling 14 feet under water where sharks, stingrays and giant sea turtles that swim so close, you'll feel like you can reach out and touch them. With over 1.2 million gallons of water, this aquarium features a 300 foot-long curved tunnel, complete with a moving walkway that simulates a scuba diving adventure - but without getting wet. Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to touch a real shark? Find out at Starfish Beach and take "The Plunge" in a virtual submarine ride. With over 4,500 living sea creatures, see why Underwater Adventure was voted "Worlds Best Shark Encounter" by Discovery's travel channel.

At Jillians you will eat, drink and play. This Video Cafй features over 16 giant screen TVs for optimal sports viewing and a new menu with an eclectic blend of insatiable appetizers, delicious entrees and yummy desserts. The 9-Ball Lounge has tournament quality billiard tables. The Amazing Games Room is filled to the rafters with the latest electronic and simulation games. Hi-Life Lanes is an over the top multi-media bowling alley and many other dining and entertainment venues including dancing.

Try NASCAR if you've got a need for speed, satisfy it here! The roar of 700 horse power engines and 195 mile per hour speeds are all part of this electrifying, high tech indoor stock car racing competition. Slide into the cockpit of a professional stock car and speed off! This is stock car racing as real as it gets!

Four nightclubs combine to make America Live. America's Original Sports Bar, Lt'l Ditty's, Flashbaxx and Players offer everything from pool, karaoke, live bands, dancing and dueling pianos. This great selection of nightclubs offers something for everyone.
Step into the world of a fighter pilot at ACES Flight Simulation. Here you can fly the US Navy's F-18 Hornet jet fighter or the legendary WWII P-51 Mustang. These flight simulators faithfully replicate piloting the actual aircraft. Experience the intensity of aerial combat against your friends and see what it's like to land aboard an aircraft carrier.

While you're in Minnesota, check out all the attractions Minnesota has to offer. Tour the Twin Cities noted for its array of intriguing theater, fine orchestras, art museums and a sculpture garde. Pacific Place is downtown and features premier shopping, dining and entertainment centers. Come enjoy shopping with some of our nations best stores including: Tiffany & Co., MaxMara and Coach along with J. Crew, Chico's, Ann Taylor, Helly Hanson, L'Occitane, Pottery Barn, Barnes & Noble and Williams-Sonoma. Take time to enjoy the 11- screen AMC Theatre complex. Cross the Skybridge Connection to the flag ship Nordstrom store and lots of affordable parking. It's a place for fashion, food and film. Let's not forget about the ultimate shopping vacation you can experience from the comfort of you own home. The most addictive of all shopping experiences: eBay. Where you can find cherished items that stores stopped selling, from that doll you wanted as a child to that hard to get collectable's.