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An Interview With Andrea King
How many years have you been selling travel?
What are your hobbies?
I like to travel, watch movies, and write fiction.
What type of resort activities do you favor? ie water sports, lounging by the pool, etc?
Swimming and walking on a beach. But I'm more interested in exotic, off-the-beaten-path experiences - diving off the stern platform of a cruise ship into 30 meters of water in the Bora Bora lagoon; zip lining in Costa Rica; sunrise at the summit of Haleakala on Maui; tramping around volcanoes, geysers and boiling mud pits in Iceland; cruising up the Javari River between Peru and Brazil; partying with a tribe of Iban (who used to be head-hunters) on Borneo.
What are your favorite destinations?
Bora Bora, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Iceland, Amazon rainforest, Borneo.
What languages do you speak?
Alberta, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Central, Eastern, Ski, Western
In short, Australia is awesome. This was a travel agent familiarization trip with Goway Travel, one of Maritime Travel's preferred suppliers.The food is superb - similar to our North American diets, yet superior in taste. After speaking with the locals and discussing possible reasons with others in our group, I speculated that it may be because they don't have the same population density. Therefore, their food supply doesn't need to be force-fed/force-grown to speed up production to meet demand. That's not necessarily a fact, merely a supposition.Brisbane, the capital of Queesland.Hilton Hotel Brisbane - a 4-star centrally located high-rise with great views of the city and an inner atrium with balconies on every floor.day tour in the city with local operator Kiff & Culture, began with coffee and delicious treats from Agnes, a trendy and popular bakery. Followed by a five-course lunch at Brisbane's favourite Asian fusion restaurant, Happy Boy. Next stop was City Winery for wine tasting, then on to Stone and Wood Brewery for craft beer tasting.Spirit of the Red Sand Dinner Show at Beenleigh - an immersive Aboriginal live 'roving theatre' and dinner experience, portraying an historical re-enactment of the Aboriginals' encounter with the British who first arrived in Australia. As the account unfolds, you will progress from location to location throughout the original historical site, finishing with an excellent meal. But I feel compelled to include a word of caution - this performance is not for the faint of heart. I have no doubt of its historical accuracy and the British were cruel. I did, however, get the impression that (understandably so) the actors themselves are resentful of the way their ancestors were treated and were attempting to instill a sense of guilt and shame into the audience. The thing is, we can't go back in time to undo what was done to their forefathers. Today, the Australian government has made tremendous efforts to repair the damage that was done to the Aboriginal people and their culture, and to restore a peaceful relationship between the two peoples.day excusion to Tangalooma Island in Moreton Bay
Amstar is a world class destination management company offering their AMResorts-branded properties, ground transportation services, shared (pre-planned) and private (custom tailored) excursions in five countries - Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Hawaii. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of their services in any country. Since my experience was in Cancun, this review features the following AMResorts, all of which are fabulous, secure properties, some gated. The beaches in Cancun are among the best in the world. As for the influx of sargassum seaweed, it's unpredictable. When it appears, resort staff work diligently to clear it away. Much of it is recycled for agricultural use. All Secrets Resorts are adults only with designated "romamtic spots" dotted throughout and on-site shopping. Dress for dinner. All Dreams Resorts are family oriented, also with on-site shopping. Rooms and suites are spacious, luxurious, well appointed. Depending on the resort, many have private balcony or terrace. Preferred Club guests have their own check in lounge, along with exclusive access to Preferred Club venues and amenities, the substance of which varies from one resort to another. We also visited one each of the Now, Reflect, Zoetry, and Breathless resort brands. All offer spas, fitness centres, gourmet dining and wedding services. Check terms and conditions for complimentary green fees at golf courses. Secrets Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort - of the three resorts at which we stayed (including this one), and the eleven others we inspected, this was my favourite. Located at the northern end of the Cancun hotel zone, next door to sister property Dreams Playa Mujeres. Main lobby, gourmet restaurants, spa, fitness and recreation facilities are grouped around the arrival area. Accommodation buildings cluster around a sprawling freeform pool and entertainment area with several informal dining options, close to the beach. The two sections are separated by a protected flora and fauna zone. Guests can walk, or golf carts provide transportation between the two sections. Master Suites with private pools front the beach. All guests have access to venues and amenities at Dreams. Golf carts shuttle between the two, or guests can walk. Complimentary green fees at Playa Mujeres Golf Course. Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort - similar amenities to Secrets next door. Adults staying at Dreams have access to all amenities at Secrets, but not children, given that Secrets is adult only. Complimentary green fees at Playa Mujeres Golf Course. Dreams Sands Cancun Resort & Spa - beachfront with pristine white sand, in the heart of the Cancun hotel zone, 25 minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from downtown. Everything on the resort is close together. Walking distance from great shopping, restaurants and bars in Cancun. Complimentary one round per person, per day at Playa Mujeres or El Tinto golf courses. Reflect Krystal Grand Resort & Spa Cancun - luxurious beachfront on the Gulf, in the heart of bustling downtown Cancun. Families welcome, yet also offering adults only seclusions for Altitude Club guests. Golf nearby, but may incur additional cost. Secrets The Vine Cancun - beachfront, upscale casual luxury, modern décor and ambiance. Fitness centre, spa, convention and business centres, pools and whirlpool. A variety of restaurants, cafes and grills, lounges and bars, with venues and amenities exclusive to Preferred Club members. Complimentary green fees at Playa Mujeres Golf Course. Secrets Akumal Riviera Maya - the Mayan word "akumal" translates to "place of the turtle". Luxurious, elegant U-shaped beachfront resort located in the heart of Riviera Maya. Excellent snorkeling. Multiple pools and outdoor lounge areas clustered within the U. Choice of dining and relaxing venues. Complimentary green fees at Riviera Maya Golf Club. Secrets Maroma Beach - beachfront U-shaped complex, with unlimited luxury, gourmet dining and elegant accommodations. Wide range of options for dining, entertainment and activities. Pristine white sand. Complimentary green fees at Gran Coyote Golf Riviera Maya. Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa - this was the second resort at which we stayed. Lush, casual luxury, family oriented, grouped compactly for easy access to all areas. Spa in its own tropical zone. Complimentary green fees at El Tinto, Gran Coyote Golf Riviera Maya and El Camaleon Mayakoba golf courses. Now Jade Riviera Cancun - luxury resort with separate zones for children and teens. As with all the other resorts, plenty of pools, beach, and sports activities. Complimentary green fees at Gran Coyote Golf Riviera Maya and El Camaleon Mayakoba. Secrets Silversands Riviera Cancun - just 12 miles south of Cancun International Airport. Decadent luxury, pristine white sand beach. Complimentary green fees at El Tinto and special pricing at El Camaleon Mayakoba golf courses. Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita - one of The Leading Hotels of the World, and holder of a AAA five diamond award, this upscale resort frequently hosts celebrities. Quiet, serene, ultra-luxe, with its own jetty and private catamaran. Nooks and crannies abound, offering privacy and seclusion. Gourmet dining, activities designed to enrich your senses and indulge your creativity. Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa - three distinct sections: quiet, active, and energetic. Each section has its own pool and activities program. Guests are welcome to indulge in all three, regardless of where their room is, but are expected to respect the atmosphere and ambience of each. Websites: www.secretsresorts.com www.dreamsresorts.com www.reflectresorts.com www.nowresorts.com www.zoetryresorts.com www.breathlessresorts.com
Definitely a trip worth doing. For nature lovers, this destination ranks among the best. Costa Rica pioneered eco-tourism and is a world leader in ecologically sustainable infrastructure. People are friendly and welcoming. Spanish is the first language, although many speak at least some English. Deluxe accommodations include Wyndham San Jose Herradura Hotel & Convention Center (an oasis of serenity in the middle of the city, with a Hard Rock Café nearby); Crown Plaza San Jose Corobici Conference Center (boasts an excellent Japanese restaurant); Tabacon Grand Thermal Resort & Spa (with terraced hot springs that cascade from Arenal Volcano); Peace Lodge at La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Park (luxury in the rainforest); Tango Mar Beachfront Boutique Hotel & Villas on the Pacific coast (offering its own golf course, horseback riding and local excursions). If fabulous moderate accommodation is more to your liking, immerse yourself in nature at Selva Verde Rainforest Lodge - a reserve in the heart of Sarapiqui county; Arenal Observatory Lodge - name self-explanatory; Arenal Volcano Inn, facing the volcano - with an awesome view. Expediciones Tropicales specializes in authentic Costa Rican experiences, such as a day visit to La Paz Waterfall Gardens and Park; explore national parks and nature preserves; volcanos, hot springs, beaches (Caribbean and Pacific); cross the continental divide. Adventure tours - zip lining, hanging bridges hike, white water rafting, ATV tour, ride through the rainforest canopy on a gondola aerial tram. Tour a coffee estate and purchase delicious Costa Rican coffee. Take a San Jose city tour. Enjoy a meandering boat ride on the Sarapiqui River in search of wildlife. Visit Sarchi, home to the majority of Costa Rica's artisans, where you can shop for beautifully handcrafted souvenirs. And don't forget to take a camera. The scenery is spectacular!
Number 1 on my bucket list. Without question, French Polynesia is paradise on earth. Exotic. Alluring. Romantic. With destination specialist, Tours Chanteclerc - Maritime Travel's preferred supplier to the South Pacific - one can be assured of experiencing a dream come true. This review covers five islands I was privileged to visit - Bora Bora, Moorea, Taha'a, Tahiti and Tikehau - plus a catamaran cruise with Haumana Cruises. All offer delicious Polynesian food with a distinctly French influence. Warm hospitality - no tipping required! Some resorts present traditional Polynesian dance shows. Shop - especially for Tahitian pearls, and vanilla. If you spend time in Papeete, you may find lower prices there than on the other islands. If you want manoi oil - great for the skin, with excellent healing properties - try a grocery store! However, I recommend that if you spot an item you seriously want, buy it, regardless of the price. That may be the only place you'll see it. As for the sun, you may find it to be much gentler there, in the middle of the Pacific, far from industrialization. I suspect the ozone layer is still relatively intact over that part of the globe. Bora Bora - James A. Michener, author of the epic novel, Hawaii, said, "Bora Bora, above all." He was right. Along with Maupiti, 50 km away, Bora Bora is the oldest of the Society Islands. The airport is on Motu Mute, where water taxis await. Ringed by numerous motus (Polynesian for islands), the lagoon is three times larger than its land mass and has a reputation as being one of the most beautiful in the world. Boasting a colourful history, and long a favourite with celebrities, Bora Bora does not disappoint. Opportunities abound - explore breathtaking scenery; on the main island, visit remnants of U.S. military installations from World War II; shop; swim, scuba dive and snorkel in waters rich with marine life; sky dive; charter a fishing boat; dine at Bloody Mary's; or just lie on a beach and soak up the sun. There are numerous accommodation options strategically located around the main island and a number of the motus. I highly recommend the 4-star Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts www.leborabora.com, located on Motu Tevairoa, with a spectacular view of the main island's signature twin pitons, Mt. Pahia and Mt. Otemanu. Moorea - where the movies were filmed . . . The Bounty, starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins, as well as the original Mutiny On The Bounty, starring Marlon Brando. Otherwise known as Tahiti's little sister, it, too, has long been a favourite. Arrive from one of the other islands by plane, or it's just a 20 minute fast catamaran ride from Papeete's waterfront. Moorea has much to offer - spectacular beaches, land excursions, scuba, snorkel, skydive. Rent a car or scooter and explore on your own. Interior mountains, waterfalls, and valleys; pineapple, banana and vanilla plantations. Hike, bike, or just stay put. 5-star Hilton Moorea Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa www.moorea.hilton.com. 4-star Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort http://sofitel-moorea-iaora.com faces Tahiti across the lagoon. 4-star Manava Beach Resort and Spa Moorea www.manavamoorearesort.com. Taha'a - the vanilla island, produces 80% of French Polynesia's world famous vanilla. Quiet and serene, with 8 villages, breathtaking scenery, vanilla plantations and pearl farms, land and lagoon excursions, scuba diving, fishing charters. Check it out www.tahiti.com/island/tahaa. Reached by flying to the island of Raiatea in the same lagoon, then a boat ride. 30-40 minutes from the airport to Le Taha'a Island Resort and Spa www.letahaa.com, a luxurious 4-star resort tucked away from the world on a private motu. Tahiti - capital island of French Polynesia with the country's administrative centre located in Papeete. Home to 75% of French Polynesia's population. International airport at Faa'a, just outside Papeete. A large island formed by two extinct volcanos - Tahiti Nui, the big one, and Tahiti Iti, the small one - joined by a narrow isthmus. It offers many sports and nature related activities - including some of the best surfing in the world - sweeping scenic vistas and restored archeological sites. 4-star Intercontinental Tahiti Resort and Spa is 5 minutes from the airport. www.tahiti.intercontinental.com. Only 10km from Papeete is 4-star Le Meridien Tahiti Contemporary Resort. www.lemeridientahiti.com. Situated between the two is 4-star Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, also of contemporary design, but with a Tahitian influence. www.manavatahitiresort.com. Tikehau - a coral atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago - it consists of two major islands and numerous islets (many uninhabited) that ring a huge lagoon. The airport is located on the southern tip of the atoll. Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort and Spa, 4-star relaxed elegance on a small private islet, reachable only by a 20-30 minute boat ride across the lagoon from the airport. Designed to blend with nature, constructed of bamboo, pandanus, woven coconut palms, and teak. www.tikehaupearlbeachresort.com. For swimming in the lagoon, I recommend water shoes to shield feet against being cut by the coral. Excellent snorkelling and scuba diving. Since it's the only facility on the islet, there are no other options for dining or shopping, apart from taking the resort's water shuttle to the main island. If, however, one seriously wants to drop off the face of the earth (and very possibly not be found), this is the place. Haumana Cruise - for those who love to be on and in the water, barefoot, on a catamaran - 4 days, 3 nights, Bora Bora to Tahaa'a and Raiatea round trip. Shore excursions, including breakfast on a beach. Water sports - kayak, paddle board, snorkel, or simply dive off the stern platform. Fabulous food, attentive crew, superior accommodations. The website says it much better than I can - https://haumana-tahiti.com.
Ever popular with Atlantic Canadians for its tropical climate, great beaches and all-inclusive resorts. This was my first trip and I was more impressed than I expected to be. Lots of entertainment - I loved the Cuban music. The food was good - they've made great strides in improving it in recent years. It has a cleaner taste than many foods here. Resort staff were friendly - we stayed first at the Ocean Vista Azul, then at the Family Concierge by Paradisus, newly opened as an additional section of the Varadero resort. Take insect repellent. Be aware that the CUC is valued on par with the U.S.$ and so are prices if shopping at resort shops or the airport. Take a vintage-car taxi into the town of Varadero to do some shopping, where prices are more reasonable. Or even just for the ride - very cool. A day trip to Havana (about 2 1/2 hours by bus, each way) for a walking tour of the old city was well worth it. Arrange excursions at your resort tour desk.
Flights hosted by Condor Airlines. Halifax-Munich outbound - worth the additional cost to upgrade to Premium Class for more comfortable seats, extra amenities, priority check-in and baggage handling, and increased baggage allowance. Service on par with Air Canada and Westjet. After early morning arrival and check into Maritim Hotel Munich a block from the railway station, two of us boarded a train to Fussen in southwestern Bavaria, with a bus connection up a mountain to the village of Schwangau. We pre-planned this excursion ourselves - reserved train times and purchased our tickets before leaving home, on DB BAHN (Deutsch Bahn), the German Rail website. The train took a couple of hours to roll through beautiful June countryside, with station stops at typical German-looking towns along the way. We had also pre-booked a tour of Neuschwanstein Castle - the one after which Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland California is modeled - our reason for taking this excursion after flying all night. I strongly recommend reserving your tour time on the castle's website - the waiting line for those without a reservation is extremely long. One could conceivably stand in line half a day, only to be told the tours were all sold out. With pre-reserved times, we simply had to pick up our admission tickets at least an hour before the tour began, and there were perhaps two people ahead of us when we entered the exclusive queue. Worth the trip. Had lunch in a bistro inside the castle, which was very cool. Tip: our advance research revealed that the castle is a steep forty minute walk up the mountain from the village. Alternately, at additional cost, are a motor coach, which stops at about a fifteen minute walk from the castle; or horse-drawn wagon, which stops at about a ten minute walk from the castle. Without further specification from our research, we opted to take the wagon up (six euros), and the bus down (one euro). Turned out we should have done the opposite. The wagon stopped below the castle, so we still had a very steep uphill walk. The bus stopped above the castle, so we then had another steep uphill walk to get to it after we were finished. Had we done them in reverse, we'd have had downhill walks both times. Lesson learned! Another thing that's good to know: the tour begins on a mezzanine one floor above the main entrance and proceeds upward, covering five or six more levels. We climbed probably 600 steps, give or take. There is an elevator for wheelchair access, but only one. The village of Schwangau was interesting - very touristy with lots of shops and some appealing eating establishments. At no additional cost, we caught an earlier train back to Munich than the one we had booked. Gotta love the flexibility of European rail travel. The next day began with a morning city tour of Munich. An afternoon to shop, explore, or do as we pleased. Some hopped a train and went to the former concentration camp at Baden Baden. It ended with dinner at an authentic German pub, followed by a bit of pub-crawling for some. Not everyone was impressed with our hotel or its location, but I had no problem with either. I thought the hotel lived up to its 3-star rating and provided a great breakfast buffet to rival that of an all-inclusive resort. I didn't mind being in a working class neighbourhood. For anyone who wants to be centrally located with easy access to subway, tram, and national rail systems, it's excellent. After two nights in Munich, we took a train to Frankfurt for one night there before returning to Halifax on Condor's direct flight. Checked into the Ibis airport hotel early afternoon, then went into the city to shop and explore. Not impressed with this hotel. It's rated a 2-star and is certainly no more than that. It would be fine for someone on a budget who wasn't looking for much more than a place to sleep and a couple of meals, but don't expect more. Its one redeeming quality, apart from its proximity to the airport, is that a tram line ends just around the corner. It was a straight shot into the centre of the city, with no transfers needed. In the end, we agreed that Frankfurt is just another big city in the world. We were all happy to be able to say we'd been there, but none of us cared if we ever went back. It was mostly levelled during WWII and has been completely rebuilt, but to more contemporary architectural styles. Munich, on the other hand, we'd do again in a heartbeat. That city retains much of its history and character, including a number of buildings still showing pock marks in the concrete foundations made by bullets from WWII gunfire. Restoration of destroyed buildings has been as close to the original architecture as possible.
Road trip. Worth it. A ferry ride from Caribou, NS, to Wood Islands, PE, then another from Souris, PE, to Cap Aux Meules, QC, is do-able in one day. We chose to spend a night on the way there at Summer Winds Cottages in Georgetown Royalty, PE, so we could stop at the Maroon Pig, a fabulous sweet shop and art gallery, also in Georgetown. The cottage was good, in a great spot with lots of room for children to run freely, a playground, and right-of-way access to a beach. The CTMA ferry to the Magdeline Islands is a 5 hour trip. Advance reservations required. Passengers must be at the terminal and checked in at least 1 hour before departure time, both directions. The ship offered much more than we expected - several dining options and a bar, shopping, games arcade, movie theatre, guest cabins and wireless internet. We rented a cottage - Chez Angele - which turned out to be a 3 bedroom house, on Cap Aux Meules. It's rated a 4 star property by Tourism Quebec. I concur. The owners lived in the basement and were a lovely couple. We stayed 4 nights, which gave us 3 full days to explore and shop, after which we decided that one more day and night would have been perfect. There was a terrific beach park only 1km from our house. If we'd stayed one more day we would have taken a picnic lunch and spent some time there. Each day, we packed a picnic lunch to take with us while we roamed the dunes, then we had our evening meal in a restaurant. It was good dining, although we were there in mid-September and some establishments had closed for the season. A restaurant called Decker Boy was walking distance from our house. It was great. The only chain restaurants are A&W, Dixie Lee, Subway and Tim Hortons. Strangely, we didn't find one French pastry shop. These islands are a haven for nature lovers, artists and artisans, and sports enthusiasts - hikers, bikers, wind- and kite-surfers - but the water is too cold for swimming. Surfers wear wet suits. You can also get there by plane, from either Montreal or Quebec City, with an additional stop in Gaspe enroute.
Grand Bahama Island offers lovely beaches with swimming in warm Atlantic water, golf, shopping, an easy pace of life. There are plans to develop the tourism infrastructure, but at present it's still mostly natural. I recommend you take at least one day to get out and explore the island, which is 96 miles long, 75 miles across at its widest point. Local excursions are available by bicycle; jeep, with kayaking on the inland canal system; off-road ATV advendures. Most of these include a stop at the botanical Garden of the Groves, where you can shop at the boutiques and have lunch at the on-site cafe. A city tour of Freeport can include visits to a perfume factory, a candle making factory, and a brewery. Take in the fish fry at Teino Beach on Wednesday evenings. If you like the heat, April to November are good. If you prefer it cooler, temperatures can dip down into the high fifties Fahrenheit in January. Accommodations at 4.5 star Grand Lucaya Beach and Casino Resort, 4 star Memories Grand Bahama Beach and Casino Resort, 3.5 star Pelican Bay, 3 star Castaways, and 4 star Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach Resort.
Second visit. Went previously in 2008. The Oregon coast is lovely, but the Pacific Ocean is very cold, even in summer. Waldport is a quiet, pleasant town at the mouth of the Alsea River, where seals sun themselves on a sandbar at low tide. About 10 miles north is trendy Newport: shop for local crafts and artwork, dine, visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, take glass blowing lessons at The Edge Glass Blowing Studio & Art Gallery. Sandwiched between the two communities, allow time to stop at Yaquina Light House, and Seal Rock.
Sadly, the downtown core is nearly a ghost town. A high crime rate in the inner city has driven most of the major retailers out to the newer shopping centres in the suburbs.
October wedding in Canmore. Tucked into the foothills of the Rockies, it's definitely scenic. Close to Kananaskis Country. Winter skiing, good accommodations. A town with ambiance. Banff, of course, is worth the trip. It is, however, inside the national park, so you have to pay the admission fee. The town is trendy with upscale shopping and dining; golf in summer; ski in winter at Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mt. Norquay.
Waco is home to the Official Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame. The Alamo and its museum are in San Antonio.
365 fabulous beaches - one for every day of the year. Antigua's climate is ideal. Constant trade winds keep the temperature comfortably in the mid- to high 70s Fahrenheit. Accommodations range from modest to upscale.
One country. As the tourism department coins it, two islands - one paradise. If you're looking for safety, a comfortable environment and a welcoming population in a destination that's not as heavily frequented as others, this one delivers. - St. Kitts is a gem of an island with good beaches, warm water, kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving (including wreck diving), deep sea fishing, golf, tennis, fine dining, catamaran and sunset cruises; rainforest, volcano and full island tours, horseback riding and a hot! hot! hot! Caribbean nightlife. Accommodations range from modest to upscale in hotels, plantation inns, villas, resorts, and converted sugar mills. - Nevis is for nature lovers. The smaller and quieter of the two islands, it offers the same variety of activities and truly impressive accommodation options, including the 5 star Four Seasons Resort (Trip Advisor rates it 4.5 star, but I'm going to dispute that).
Number 3 on my bucket list. I give it a 5 star rating, not for the standard of living, but purely for the destination. For those who seek adventure and uncommon experience in exotic corners of the world, this one should be high on your list. Before you go, check health and visa requirements. Also, check the website travel.gc.ca for any advisories that may be posted concerning the areas you plan to visit. Book and pre-purchase excursions rather than go on your own. For the most part, the people of Peru (outside Lima) and along the Colombian side of the Amazon are friendly and easy going. In Lima and Brazil, be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Don't tempt pickpockets and muggers - keep valuables secure and out of sight. Peru isn't the first place one thinks of for a beach destination, yet its elongated Pacific coast offers awesome surfing. One caution - the beaches near Lima tend to be dirty. Lima - you will likely need to overnight here on your way to or from anywhere else, but unless you have a serious hankering to see it, you can skip the city tour and not really miss anything. Cusco - 10,000 feet (3000+ meters) up in the Andes Mountains. Daily flights from Lima. Definitely worth the trip. Best Western Los Andes de America, rated an accurate 4 star by Trip Advisor with its Spanish Colonial architecture and ambiance. Take a local excursion and explore remnants of the precision of Inca construction in the city, or one that includes the Inca ruins at Saqsawaman. Be aware that the air is thin, which, with exertion, may result in shortness of breath. Altitude sickness might also be a factor. You may experience any or all of the following symptoms: light-headedness, dizziness, headache, nausea. Drink lots of coca tea. It does help. Another effect of the altitude is that with the lower atmospheric pressure, the air inside containers of liquids, gels, and toothpaste you take with you will expand. The first time you open them at altitude, do it slowly over a sink to allow the air to escape, otherwise the contents will likely spurt all over the place. When you return to lower altitudes, the opposite will occur - with the increase in atmospheric pressure, the air in your containers will contract and create a vacuum seal the first time you try to open them. Machu Picchu - allow at least a full day for this excursion. The train ride from Cusco takes 4 1/2 hours each way and descends to an altitude of 5000-5500 feet (1500-1675 meters, give or take) in the Andean interior. Or, physically fit adventure enthusiasts can hike the Inca Trail, which will take several days. - The actual precinct is on a plateau above the modern village, at roughly 7500 ft. You've seen the famous photo that overlooks the excavated ruins, but to come upon that view and behold it with your own eyes is nothing short of spectacular. You'll feel the effect of the thin air at this altitude. The peak that rises in the background of that famous photo is the Huayna Picchu. There are more ruins at the top of it, accessible by a gruelling climb up steep steps carved into the mountain - not recommended unless you've prepared yourself with high-altitude physical conditioning. Iquitos - Known as the Frontier Gateway to the Amazon, it serves as a departure/arrival point for a number of Amazon River cruises. Trip Advisor gives El Dorado Isobel Hotel & Suites an accurate 3 star rating. I liked the ambiance, especially the tropical setting around the pool in the courtyard, and it's only 2 blocks from an interesting park/promenade on the Amazon River. Nearby, on the same square as the hotel, is the Iron House, designed by Gustav Eiffel (yes, the same one who built the Eiffel Tower). Occupying the second floor of the Iron House, Cafeteria on the Amazon is one of the finest restaurants in Iquitos. The food is superb and not overly expensive. Amazon River Cruise - This is like river cruising in Europe, except the ships aren't as upscale. The original 7-day itinerary was down the river from Iquitos, Peru, to Manaus, Brazil. (It also operated in the reverse direction.) But due to a unique situation at the time of this particular departure, the cruise operator had to alter the itinerary to sail as far as the Javari River (the J is pronounced like a Y), which forms the border between Peru and Brazil, then up it for 2 days - up being south - and back to Leticia, Colombia. From Leticia, we crossed the border into Tabatinga, Brazil, flew to Manaus, stayed the night, then continued home. - I've been told that farther down the Amazon, it's so wide in places that if you're in the middle you can't see land on either side, so sailing it is not so different from ocean cruising. Also, due to the heavy volume of commercial traffic, the banks of the Amazon have become considerably populated and civilized. By contrast, the trip up the Javari was a pristine rainforest wilderness experience we wouldn't have had otherwise. Settlements along the banks of the Javari were few and far between, each one consisting mostly of 3 to 7 thatch-roofed open-air huts built on stilts to protect the residents from flooding, animals and reptiles. Since this was a hastily planned excursion, stopping to visit was a trial and error experiment. We found that on the Peru side, any place we stopped welcomed us. But on the Brazil side, it was a different story. One settlement in particular was barely receptive. We didn't stay long. Despite that single incident, those 4 days on the Javari fulfilled the reason I went. And with no ambient light to interfere, the night sky was spectacular. Leticia - Opposite the mouth of the Javari, it's isolated, separated by hundreds of square kilometres of rainforest from the rest of the populated country, accessible only by air or water. Colombia can be dangerous, but it's also beautiful. At no time in Leticia did I feel I was in danger. The people appeared to be laid-back and friendly. You can walk down a street that parallels the border with Brazil, turn the corner and enter that country. Tabatinga - Pronounced like Tabachinga. Brazilians speak Portuguese. Even though there was no physical barrier on the border between these two countries, there was a noticeable difference in the feel of each city. In stark contrast to Leticia, Brazilian's wore an attitude that caused me to be much more alert to what was going on around me. I knew I was in a different country. Very interesting phenomenon. Manaus - Situated at the confluence of the Negro and Solimões (upper Amazon) rivers, commonly referred to as the "meeting of the waters". I stayed at the Taj Mahal Continental Hotel, centrally located near the Opera House and good shopping. Trip Advisor shows varying reviews, but rates it a 3 star, which was my experience with it. Swimming pool and revolving restaurant on the roof, lobby gift shop offering fine jewellery and stunning gemstones.
My rating is for the destination. I didn't stay at a hotel. I was visiting my son in Ilsan, across the river from Seoul. The cities are densely populated and heavy with pollution, but the people are friendly and courteous. Cost of living inexpensive by our standards - a good deal for your money. Good shopping at the International Market. Subway system efficient and safe. A visit to the observation deck at the top of Seoul Tower is worth the cost of admission. Tourists can take an excursion to the Demilitarized Zone. Bear in mind, the Korean War has never ended. The North and South have merely been in a state of cease-fire since 1953, so tensions periodically flare up. Regardless, life in the South bustles and prospers.
Gulf Coast - excellent beaches and swimming; wide range of accommodation options from modest to condo and home rentals. Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay - popular theme park offers rides for all ages, international dining opportunities, animal parks and exhibits, shopping, and entertainment from around the world. Orlando accommodation options offered by Holiday Escapes - hotels and vacation homes.
Lots to see and do. Good shopping. Many varieties of accommodation - expect European rather than North American standards. If you plan to use the tube (subway), pre-purchase a pass before you go. The UK is pricey - be sure to have access to sufficient funds.
Spectacular scenery. Rented a car and played tourist - Sea to Sky Highway as far north as Whistler/Blackcomb; coastal ferry to Hopkins Landing, then to Gibsons; up the Fraser Canyon to Hell's Gate; Harrison Hot Springs; upper northwestern corner of Washington state/Mt. Baker ski area.
Puerto Plata - Atlantic coast. Popular. Great for an affordable week on the beach at an all inclusive resort. Just be aware of the local conditions. If swimming in the ocean is your thing, be cautious of riptides. Take the flag warnings that are posted on the beach seriously: green = okay to swim; yellow = only strong, skilled swimmers should venture into the ocean; red = riptides too strong for safe swimming. The resort area is crowded and tourists share the beach, Playa Dorada, with residents. Street and beach vendors are prevalent - fine if you want to purchase T-shirts/hats, local artwork/handcrafts/jewellery, or have your hair braided. Sadly, poverty is a factor, which always spawns a criminal element. Avoid frequenting local night spots. Tourists are often targets of scams, some of them dangerous. Better to stick to the nightlife on your resort. For adventure and sightseeing, take advantage of local excursions available to purchase at your resort rather than going off on your own in a taxi to explore. The DR offers excellent horseback riding, 4-wheeling, and eco-tourism opportunities to enhance your all inclusive stay on a beach. Sosua - a beach town east of Puerto Plata, still on the Atlantic, considerably less populated. Golf nearby. Unlike Puerto Plata, resort nightlife is low key and tends to wind up around 10pm when guests gravitate to swinging hotspots on the village strip. Punta Cana - on the eastern point of the island, where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. Fabulous beach, great resorts. A bit more isolated from the general population, so perhaps safer than Puerto Plata. This beach uses a flag system, as well. The surf can be rough where the Atlantic and Caribbean collide. Santo Domingo - the capital city, on the Caribbean Coast. The resort area is lovely. Great beach, good for snorkeling. The water is calm and shallow for a long way out. Good spot for glass-bottom boat rides and scuba diving.
This is a great city, just avoid the Northeast district. If you're looking for a funky night spot, try Madam's Organ in Adams Morgan.
Just off the coast of Venezuela, this small island is south of the hurricane belt. The climate is more arid than tropical, the vegetation more like a desert, although palm trees grow along the coastline where most of the resorts are situated. There are more than 50 beaches. Playa el Yaque is popular for windsurfing. Favoured for lounging and swimming are Playa Parguito, Playa Caribe, Playa Punta Arenas, Playa el Agua, and Playa Puerto Cruz. Accommodations range from moderate to deluxe. Most are European stying with a strong Spanish influence. For sporting enthusiasts, golf, windsurfing, surfing, scuba diving, bike tours, sailing, and horseback riding are all available. You can also rent a scooter. Porlamar, the largest city, hums with a funky Latin rhythm.
This was the inaugural season for this ship. Dress up or dress down; elegance and comfort without being too stiff and formal. Vision class vessel - 11 decks, 8 pools & whirlpools, 8 bars & lounges, variety of dining options, casino, live entertainment, spa and fitness centre, nursery, children's program, teen hangouts, duty-free shopping.
Iceland is expensive, but awesome. It's a land of glaciers and volcanos, geysers and hot springs, boiling mud pits, the midnight sun and midnight golf in June. If you're into geothermal, you'll find it all here. This is how I imagine the earth must have been before the dinosaurs roamed. The north is very different from the south. Definitely worth the same day round trip flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri for a land excursion from there. In the north, where in places the terrain is similar to the surface of the moon, you can see where the astronauts trained for moon landings. You can also straddle the rift between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The tourism infrastructure runs like clockwork, with a whole catalog of excursions available. Try to pick a few! Certainly more economical than renting a vehicle and exploring on your own. Accommodations range from farm stays in the country to the moderate hotels in Reykjavik. You can do the Blue Lagoon excursion on your way to the airport the day your flight departs for home.
Negril is a 1 to 1.5 hour transfer from Montego Bay airport, but the beach is worth it. Good spot for snorkling and scuba diving. For the latest features and amenities offered at Sandals, sit down with your agent.
Good snow with steep terrain.
Challenging terrain. Not as friendly as Stoneham.
Molokai: the Friendly Island - step back in time to the mid-20th century. Life moves at a much slower pace here. Rugged coastline; fabulous beaches; golf; good resorts. Rent a car and roam the island. View the world's highest sea cliffs - their claim, not mine - from Palaau State Park on the north shore.
Awesome snow, challenging terrain. Friendly atmosphere. Ski-out, ski-in accommodations available.
Awesome skiing. Steep, challenging terrain. Nancy Green once said, "It's the best skiing east of the Rockies."
Number 2 on my bucket list. It did not disappoint. Accommodations vary from hostel to modest to luxury. Many local excursions available, including a luau. Rent a car and explore. Snorkel, scuba dive. Oahu: the Gathering Place - Waikiki; Polynesian Cultural Center; surfing on the north shore; Hanauma Bay teems with marine life. Maui: the Valley Island - sunrise at the summit of Haleakala; do the coastal drive to Hana; visit Lahina town; golf one of the world's best courses. Kauai: the Garden Island - this island is popular with movie-makers; visit Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Hawaii: the Big Island - visit Volcanos National Park where Kilauea is still active.
It doesn't have the altitude of many resorts, but the skiing is good. Excellent accommodation in condo-style units.
For those who like exotic adventure travel. Penang Island in Malaysia has fabulous beaches. Singapore is a modern, clean city. Borneo offers a rain forest/jungle experience.
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