Aug 31, 2020

MAINE

Traveling the globe is at a standstill and most people are staying put in their countries due to the coronavirus pandemic. Who knows when countries will open up again for travel? It could be another year, or two. So...if you're longing to leave your dwelling place for a bit whether it's in a big city, mid sized city, small town, in the desert, mountains, or near the sea, or perhaps in the countryside, there are places to travel to. Seven continents, over 195 countries, but for now less travel choices. Today I'm focusing on the U.S.A. where there are plenty of states to choose from, and even some Caribbean islands.

Jan 30, 2020

Enchanting Puerto Rico

Despite a devastating earthquake and hurricane, Puerto Rico is still welcoming tourists from around the world. Whether you choose to arrive by airplane or cruise ship, once you step foot on  the "Island of Enchantment" you'll see that Puerto Rico is still a "hot" vacation spot.


             PUERTO RICO

PUERTO  RICO is a Caribbean island with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls, sandy beaches, tropical rainforest and a cosmopolitan city named San Juan. PUERTO RICO is beckoning. Whether you choose to take a cruise here or fly directly to the island, you'll find plenty of places to stay and lots of things to do on the "ISLAND of ENCHANTMENT." Puerto Rican is a tourist destination that welcomes visitors 365 days a year. Hospitality awaits, pick Puerto Rico for your top travel list!



Puerto Rico was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493

Puerto Rico has several uninhabited islands

El Yunque National Forest has many hiking trails with a rainforest at the very top

The Bacardi Rum Factory in Puerto Rico is the world's largest distillery

The world's most popular drink, the PINA COLADA was created in Puerto Rico

There are 270 mlles of beaches to explore both on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea

3.6 million people make Puerto Rico their home

The primary languages are English and Spanish

Puerto Rico's yearly temperature range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit

Puerto Rico happens to have the largest telescope in the world


On my first viist to Puerto Rico I instantly fell in love with "Coqui." Their sweet sounds were music to my ears and I sometimes just swayed in a hammock in the evening hours just so I could hear them.

WHAT'S A COQUI?

A Coqui is a common frog in Puerto Rico with more than 16 different species found around the island. Coqui's play an important role by increasing nutrient pools in plant biomass and in litter.
The actual sound "co-kee" comes from a male call that's used to attract female frogs and establish a territory. Their breeding season is from April to October during the wet season in Puerto Rico.

My time in Puerto Rico was magical because I was with my mother on a complimentary stay at a
HYATT resort on Dorado Beach (a perk one gets when working for HYATT). This property is now a Ritz Carlton. It was absolute paradise staying on Dorado Beach, from the fresh brewed coffee in the morning to the early afternoon swim in the pool and ocean, to the delicious authentic dinners in the evening, everything blended together perfectly like a Pina colada. A television show was being filmed on the Dorado Beach property so guests enjoyed a taste of Hollywood during their stay. Dorado means "golden" and the richness of this corner of Puerto Rico doesn't disappoint. Just fifteen miles from the bustling city of San Juan, Dorado has glorious beaches, historic homes, good restaurants, golf courses, and museums.

Modern San Juan excites locals and tourists with bars, casinos, nightclubs, restaurants, and shops while cobblestoned Old San Juan with it's 16th century landmarks and colonial buildings is historical and more relaxed. San Juan is a good place to embark on a excursion to El Yunque National Forest and other popular attractions.

PUERTO RICO is known as the "Island of Enchantment" so why not book a trip soon and get enchanted with this friendly and warm Caribbean island.


Puerto Rican "Tostones"
are excelente! They're twice
fried plantains and are perfect as
a snack or side dish. A plantain is
a very firm banana.








Jan 13, 2020

Make SOUTH AFRICA, your destination!



                                             Photo by: DISCOVER AFRICA


The southern tip of Africa (SOUTH AFRICA) has a bit of everything from beautiful beaches to lush vineyards. South Africa boasts eleven official languages and has several points of interests. South Africa is referred to as the "Rainbow Nation" because it's made up of so many diverse cultures and religions.

Table Mountain, is one of the oldest mountains in the world and a top attraction, the 850 km road through Cape Winelands is the world's longest wine route and where you can explore top wineries. South Africa is the land of safari's and you'll find many unique animals to photograph when the opportunity comes along. SOUTH AFRICA is a vast ecosystem with golden savannah, captivating deserts, and sun soaked coastlines intertwined with bustling cities and stimulating culture. Whether you want to travel solo, with a significant other, or with a group, you'll find plenty to see and do in the second most visited country in AFRICA.

PLACES TO VISIT:

Kruger National Park

Cape Town, Western Cape

The Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal

Durban's Golden Mile, KwaZuluNatal

The Garden Route

Robben Island, Western Cape

Johannesburg, City of Gold
_______________________________________________________________
If you fall in love with South Africa and want to become an EXPAT there's always TEFL
TEFL, teaching English as a second language is the gateway to a career as an English teacher.A TEFL Certification gets you ready to teach English around the world. Why not teach abroad in South Africa? If you're looking to get certified you can take a course at TEACHING HOUSE, CELTA, in Cape Town or ASIAN COLLEGE OF TEACHERS in Cape Town. Once you complete your studies you can start seeking places to teach English in the vast South Africa.
_____________________________________________________________

WINE, WINE, WINE          


SOUTH AFRICA has a warm climate and it's grapes get very ripe and produce full high alcohol wines. There are over 60 different wine regions in South Africa and most are family owned farms. Furthermore prices for wine tend to be lower in South Africa than in other countries around the world. South Africa is quickly gaining recognition as a "wine destination."

A SAFARI TOUR!

Discover exotic famous animals; buffalo, cheetah, elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and more on a safari tour. It's one thing to see a safari on the pages of a magazine or in a video but to actually be on a live safari tour is something quite wonderful.  There are loads of safari tours out there fit for all kinds of budgets. Explore the internet for tours that spark your interest. A few links are listed below.

adventure-life.com

safari.com

ECO LODGES:

The ultimate way to experience the nature of SOUTH AFRICA is to stay in an eco lodge.
An eco-lodge is a nature-dependent tourist lodge that meets the philosophy principles of eco tourism. An eco lodge has comfortable guest rooms and main areas and is made of local and viable building materials. Eco lodges are set in a natural setting with preserved vegetation and sustainable energy. Food supplies often come from local farmers and there are activities pertaining to natural and cultural sites. Bakiga Lodge in Cape Town is an example of an eco-lodge.


                                             
                                        
                                             THE SHIRA ECO-LODGE; Trip Advisor


www, shire.co.za

WHAT TO WEAR:

With a relatively mild climate, the dress code is casual in South Africa if you're on vacation. Breezy Clothing, Brim Sun Hat, Insulating Layer, Light Jacket, Hiking Boots, and Beach Wear is what you want to have on hand while in South Africa. Be certain to have sunglasses!

If you're in South Africa on a business trip, a business suit is advisable for both men and women.Women can wear a dress as another option.

Come visit the second most visited country on the African continent. The weather is temperament enough to visit any of the twelve months of the year. South Africa beckons to those wanting a truly unique travel experience. Book a flight to SOUTH AFRICA today!


africa travel; call 020 7843 3500






















Jan 1, 2020

Where Do You Want to Travel in 2020? Spotlight: BHUTAN

Choices, Choices, Choices....in this day and age it's easier than ever before to visit volunteer, or vacation in several countries around the world. Whether you travel by air, train, or ship chances are you'll land somewhere. Which continent do you wish to travel to? What country is beckoning to you?

BUTHAN, a Buddhist kindgom with friendly people and stunning scenery is the birthplace of
Gross National Happiness. Why not put this country on your list of places to see in the world.


SPOTILGHT ON BHUTAN:


www.gadventures.com
G Adventures is a reputable travel company with
tours all around the globe including BHUTAN.
Check out their website!
________________________________________________________________________
It's tucked between China and India, it's small and predominantly a Buddhist nation. This country has no traffic lights and smoking is illegal. Monasteries abound in Bhutan and monks spend their days meditating and chanting.  BHUTAN is what you can call (Shangri-La) because of it's breath-taking beauty and peacefulness. The people of Bhutan are happy because they manage spiritual and material happiness equally, they don't care about the internet, television, and radio, The Bhutanese are environmentally conscious. They have less pollution than other nations, they're well rested, they're mostly Buddhist, and they're surrounded by stunning scenery.

BHUTAN is situated in the Himalayan Mountains and well over 60% of the country is untouched wilderness. Fifty percent of Bhutan is protected as a national park. All this natural beauty, and caring for the planet brings happiness to this nation. There's also a high price to pay to visit BHUTAN so the country is not overcrowded with tourists.

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Bhutan?

In US dollars, it's $250.00 per day with a $40.00 surcharge per person for those in a group of one/two. From December to February, and June to August the rate is $200.00 per day in US dollars and a $40.00 surcharge for those in a group of one/two.

This daily fee includes your accommodation, meals, transport in Bhutan, a guide, entry fees, and a $65.00 royalty that goes to the government.




Things to Do:

The only international airport in Bhutan is PARO where all flights arrive and depart. A four to five day visit allows for plenty to see and do.

1) HIMALAYAN MOUNTAIN TREKKING

You're surrounded by the world's most famous mountains and hikes range from simple to extremely grueling. Before you trek the Himalayas be prepared with knowing your fitness level, equip yourself with proper boots, clothing, and trekking sticks, bring along plenty of food and water. There are experienced guides offering trekking tours in Bhutan.


2) TIGER'S NEST MONASTERY (TAKTSANG MONASTERY)

Located close to Paro Airport, this monastery that sits on top of a mountain is a spectacular trek.The monastery clings to the side of a cliff. It's a working monastery and monks still live on the mountains. Be certain to have lunch and tea in the cafeteria.

3) CHANGLIMITHANG STADIUM AND ARCHERY GROUND

Bhutan's national sport is archery. Competitions take place at the National Stadium. If you miss an actual competition at the stadium you can observe free of charge, a practice.

4) SUSPENSION BRIDGE

This 160 meter long bridge spans the Po Chiu River and is the longest bridge in Bhutan.
Take a walk across the bridge that connects the town of Phunaka with Phunaka Dzong.

5) BUDDHA DORDENMA

A slow drive up a hill brings you to the huge statue of BUDDHA that stands at 51 meters tall and overlooks the city of Thimpu.


6) THIMPHU

The capital of Bhutan and the largest city with lots to see and do.


7) PHUNAKA DZONG

Dzongs were once fortresses with massive complexes and exterior walls. The Phunaka Dzong was built in 1637 and is the second oldest in Bhutan. When visiting you can explore the temple and courtyard and watch monks walking the grounds.

8) KHAMSUM YULLEY NAMGYAL CHORTEN

Take a 45 minute hike through rice fields to the Chorten (shrine). You'll be rewarded with spectacular views and a feeling of serenity. The Chorten was built as a dedication to the well being of the kingdom.

FOOD:

Meals are included during your daily fee in Bhutan. The national dish of the country is
"Ema Datshi" a spicy stew made of chili peppers, onions and locally produced yak cheese.
You'll also enjoy red rice, spicy curry stew, pork with red chilies, and SUJA-Bhutanese Butter Tea!

SUJA: (Churned Tea)

2 pinches of black tea leaves
2 cubes of unsalted butter
a quarter cup milk
2 1/2 cups of water
pinch of salt

Step One: Boil the water in a pan and them lower the heat. Put two pinches of tea in the water and continue to boil for a couple of minutes, then separate the tea leaves.

Step Two: Combine the tea, salt, butter, and milk in the blender and blend for 2-3 minutes.

Step Three:  Pour tea into the cup and enjoy.

MAKE BHUTAN YOUR DESTINATION IN 2020!

























Dec 10, 2019

A Finnish Christmas

Finland has been named the happiest country in the world by World Happiness Report. With a population of just over 5.5 million people this country has a high quality education system, minimal homelessness, a strong safety net and an uplifting community spirit. December in Finland is a standout because the Finnish really know how to celebrate Christmas. It's in Rovaniemi, Finland near the Arctic Circle in the Finnish Province of Lapland where somebody famous resides, SANTA CLAUS.

Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus. Visiting and spending time in the happiest country in the world makes for an exceptional Christmas present.


Santa Claus can be visited everyday of the year in Rovaniemi in Santa Claus village but December is the most magical time to see him in person.


To make your visit to Rovaniemi, Finland extra special stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, a world of Glass Igloos, Midnight Sun, Northern Lights and other treasures.


KAKSLAUTTANEAN ARCTIC RESORT

kakslauttanen.fi

JOULUKUUSI:


1) your December
2) your Christmas moon
3) Christmas six
4) Christmas spruce


A Christmas tree is selected in the forest where trees grow and brought to the Finnish home to be decorated. It is a tradition to eat rice porridge at Christmas, watch a broadcast of "Snowman,"enjoy the sauna, and have a bountiful Christmas dinner. Santa Claus visits each home and comes through the doors with gifts.

JOULURAUHA means Christmas peace.

There's so much to eat during the Christmas feast in Finland. The Finnish enjoy all kinds of traditional dishes.

RICE PORRIDGE:


Ingredients:


1 cup of uncooked white rice

2 tbsp unsalted butter
4-5 cups of whole milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
3 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, or ground cardamom
Sliced almonds

Cook the rice over medium high heat, in a medium saucepan filled with an equivalent amount of water so that the water is barely covering the rice. Add butter and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.Add half the milk, and let cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the milk is absorbed.

Add the rest of the milk (2 cups to the saucepan) and continue to cook over medium heat. Keep cooking until the rice thickens and achieves a creamy appearance. Now you can put the heavy cream into the saucepan to make the rice even creamier.


Add salt and remove porridge from heat.


Sprinkle your choice of spices on top of the porridge and some sliced almonds.

_________________________________________________________________________

The Finns have a tradition of placing one single almond in an entire pot of rice porridge.
Whoever happens to receive the almond in their bowl will have very good luck the following year!










Nov 1, 2019

A Transylvania Holiday




Right about this time of year people are drawn to Transylvania, a region in central Romania.
Transylvania is known for its baroque buildings, medieval towns, mountainous borders, and castles. One castle in particular is the Bran Castle, a Gothic fortress associated with the legend of the famous Dracula.Transylvania is located in a historic region of central Romania and is often referred to as "The Land Beyond the Forest." The Carpathian mountain landscape makes it a popular destination for hiking and skiing.

With so much to see and do why not have a Transylvanian holiday?

                                                               
Attractions in Transylvania:

*Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle)
*Black Church
*Peles Castle
*Rasnov Citadel
*Poiana Brasov (Ski Resort)
*Turda Salt Mine                    
                                                                   

Transylvania Main Towns: 


*Alba Iulia
*Bistrita
*Brasov
*Cluj Napoca
*Deva
*TG Mures
*Sightsoara
*Sibiu

Places to Stay in Transylvania:

*Armatti Hotel
*Boutique Hotel Casa del Sole
*Casa Lia Bed & Breakfast
*Hilton Sibiu
*Kronwell Brasov Hotel
*Savri House
*Teleferic Grand Hotel

What to Eat in Transylvania:     



*Apricot Cake
*Cabbage Rolls
*Ciorba De Perisoare (Pork & Rice Meatball Soup)
*Csirkepaprikas (Chicken with Paprika)
*Mamaliga Cu Smantana (Romanian Polenta with Sour Cream)
*Mititei (Grilled Sausages)
*Szekelyalmas (Pork with Apples and Cider Cream Sauce)


B R A N   C A S T L E  


Situated near Bran and in the vicinity of Brasov, BRAN CASTLE is a landmark and national monument. The castle was built in the 1377 and was made of thick walls and hard to get entrances. The secret passage was used to connect the first floor off the castle to the third
floor. It was an escape tunnel built inside the wall and used by the castle offices in case of emergencies. This medieval castle once contained a water well. The water was necessary for
drinking and putting out fires. Perched atop a steep cliff, the castle, the cost of this famous castle is 80 million.

Who was Vlad III Dracula? He's considered one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and a national hero of Romania.

DRACULA written by Irish author Bram Stoker was a fictional character in the Gothic novel written in 1897.


ROMANIAN CAKE WITH APRICOT MARMALADE

4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
apricot marmalade

Mix egg yolks with sugar, add the sour cream, vanilla, and baking soda. Next, add the melted butter and the 1 cup of flour. Knead the dough, add more flour if need be. Divide dough into three parts and roll each into sheets the size of a baking sheet.

Place one sheet, spread a layer of apricot marmalade, cover with a second sheet, and spread apricot marmalade, cover with a third sheet. Bake the cake at a low temperature than increase it.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes.

Let cake cool and sprinkle some confectioner's sugar on top before serving.



Oct 10, 2019

The Emerald Isle of America, Beaver Island, Michigan!

BEAVER ISLAND    


IRELAND is a popular country that gets lots of visitors, including myself. However when you don't have the funds or time to visit Ireland you can check out places closer to home that just might have a bit of the Irish in them.

Over in the midwest state of Michigan is an island that rests on a freshwater Great Lake; Lake Michigan. The island is called Beaver Island (Emerald Isle of America). Ferries and planes depart daily from Charlevoix to Beaver Island. A ferry ride takes approximately two hours and a plane ride about 15 minutes. Weather conditions must be considered when visiting Beaver Island so the best time to visit is from the end of May to the end of October when the weather is most favorable.

In 1847 James Jesse Strang brought his small band of Mormons to Beaver Island  and in 1849
Saint James was established on the island. James Jessee Strang crowned himself King and was the only king every crowned in the United States. Today Saint James is a lively harbor town and the main  hub of the island. This is where you'll find everything from the chamber of commerce to lodging to restaurants.

                                          A view of Lake Michigan!
                                     

When you land on Beaver Island with "Beaver Island Boat Company" you'll be right in lovely
Saint James Township  Just steps from the ferry is my favorite place to stay, Harbor View Motel.
Overlooking Saint James "harbor" this classic motel has views of Paradise Bay. It's within walking distance of the public beach, community center, shops, restaurants, and the lighthouse. Two bedroom cottages and deluxe motel rooms with a homey atmosphere are offered for reasonable rates. There are grills, outdoor tables, games, and a lovely outdoor swimming pool on the premises. Request room #15 when booking your reservation at Harbor View Motel.

Biologists and nature lovers are drawn to the magnificent beauty of Beaver Island. Students and working professionals can take courses through Central Michigan University which has a biological station on Beaver Island. Courses such as Bird Diversity, Foundation of Ecology, and Freshwater Biology are offered during the summer months and enrollment keeps growing every summer.


                                           A lighthouse on Beaver Island!

Approximately 35% of Beaver Island is state forest land. The island is 13 miles long and 3 to 6 miles wide. Surrounded by the majestic Lake Michigan, there are dozens of idyllic spots to enjoy sand and beach. Inland lakes include Lake Geneserath,  Greenes Lake, Fox Lake, Font Lake, Egg Lake, Round Lake, and Barneys Lake. A good map will help you navigate around the "emerald isle" and find some real hidden gems.

It's an adventure just getting to and from "Beaver Island" because the only two modes of transportation are via airplane of ferry. Fresh Air Aviation and Island Airways offer daily flights. The 15 to 20 minute flight has a few departures from Charlevoix to Beaver Island and from Beaver Island to Charlevoix. The ferry run by Beaver Island Boat Company takes approximately two hours each way and has the most departures during the busy summer months.

If you enjoy camping, the campgrounds here will really connect you with nature. Saint James Township Campground and Bill Wagner Peanine Township Campground offer rustic campsites. There are no showers or electricity, just pit toilets and hand pumps. The cost for a campsite is $10.00 per night. If camping is too rugged, Beaver Island has plenty of Airbnb rentals in private homes.

                                          St. James township, Beaver Island

The enchanting Beaver Island has plenty of things to do even if it is small. Whether you wish to bicycle, walk, or drive around the island you'll find hidden treasures at every corner. Beaver Island is a one of a kind place; here you can still keep your car and house unlocked, friendly locals will give you a complimentary ride, strangers will greet you with a smile and hello. Time goes by slower on Beaver Island. It's uncrowded and there's no traffic jams or loud sirens either. Pristine wilderness, an idyllic harbor village, historic homes, fishing boats, and glorious beaches make Beaver Island a true emerald isle gem.

Churches:

Beaver Island Christian Church
Holy Cross Catholic Church
St. James Episcopal Church


Museums:

Beaver Island Toy Museum
Beaver Island Historical Society
Beaver Island Marine Museum


Places to Stay:

Beaver Island Lodge is nestled in the woods on Lake Michigan. The 13 room lodge has plenty of comforts including an on site restaurant serving award winning food. A ten minute to 15 minute walk from the ferry.

Harbor View Motel has an ideal location and rooms are cozy and sparkling clean. An outdoor swimming pool is open from June until Labor Day.

Lazy K Farms Bed and Breakfast is a 60 acre horse farm located about two miles from the harbor.
Owners Bill and Andy will make you feel right at home. A bountiful breakfast is served in the morning.

                                       The "Grilled Cheese" food truck has good comfort food!


Shops and Restaurants:

The Blue Pearl is a ladies shop specializing in clothing. A lovely shop.

Grilled Cheese Food Truck is right across from the ferry dock. Amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and mac & cheese made by the owner.

Island Treasures Resale Shop has lots of merchandise at good prices.

Dalwhinnie Bakery & Deli serves breakfast and lunch. It's cozy inside and the staff is friendly.
Here you'll get great food like the Irish Skillet and Veggie Haystack for breakfast and burgers, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, and quesadillas for lunch. Mouth watering bakery items are also available from opening to close.

McDonough's Market is a full service grocery store catered to locals and tourists.

Power's Do it Best Hardware is the islands convenience store offering lots of important products under one roof.

Shamrock Bar & Restaurants is where you'll find the locals sitting at the bar having a beer and meal.
There's a fireplace inside to enjoy on colder days and live entertainment.

                                                   Eat like the Irish on Beaver Island!

                                         
Island Highlights:

Beaver Island and St. James Lighthouse

Beaver Island Community Center

Donegal Bay

Mt. Pisgah Sand Dune

Spectacular Sunrise and Sunsets

                                           A local hangout, Shamrock Restaurant & Bar







MAINE

Traveling the globe is at a standstill and most people are staying put in their countries due to the coronavirus pandemic. Who knows when co...