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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Grand Canyon

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Spring is in the air…Okay, well not really in this very cold city of Boston. I can still look at the calendar and remember only a few short days ago, it snowed during the night. Still, I’m ready to move on to warmer days with flowers blooming and trees budding. I’ve traveled across country twice in my life. I enjoyed every minute of it and when I did I always had the desire to see the Grand Canyon. But I never stopped because I had in the back of my mind what movies always depict it as. You go, you see (for a few minutes) and you leave. I don’t know. It never seemed worth it. I realize how wrong I was and am ready to make the journey across the country and actually stop this time. 

The Grand Canyon is located in the state of Arizona in the southwest of the United States. The Grand Canyon is approximately three hundred miles long and twenty miles wide. Not a small canyon by any means. Going through the bottom of the canyon is the Colorado River. The actual walls of the canyon are about a mile long from the top to the bottom floor. 

Get your cameras ready. First and foremost when you get there you’ll want to take in the scenery of this magnificent place and enjoy its view. Afterwards, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know you can explore the area in more ways than one. There are guided tours you can take, what type of tour is up to you. You can travel by foot, bike or if you really want to be outside the box, a mule. Depending on how long you stay you can hike for a day or you can gather up your gear, grab a backpack and explore the canyon for multiple days. The trails range from a few miles to twenty miles. When you’re done hiking head down to the Colorado River and you can do a little rafting (book well in advance).  This can also be a one day rafting event or several days. If you want to see the canyon from the sky, go on an airplane or helicopter tour.  If you have family with younger adults there are programs just for them. They will even receive their own certificate, badge and patch by completing activities listed in the junior booklet.

The places to stay near the Grand Canyon vary depending on your taste. There are upscale inns, old lodges, and campgrounds. I am always pleasantly surprised at how naïve I am when it comes to the world and traveling. The Grand Canyon is no exception. While it is beautiful to pull over on the side of the road and take a quick peek at the canyon, knowing I can explore the area and learn some of its secrets has certainly caught my interest and has made its way onto my bucket list. 



Spring is almost here, and I can’t wait. As the warmer weather arrives I have to admit as much as I dislike being cold, I will miss the snow. I love the idea of going outside making snow angels, building igloos and coming back in to warm my hands by the fire. Do I want to do this every day? Probably not. I could definitely live in a place where palm trees were the norm. With that being said, I would still want to see snow on occasion and if I had the nerve, take a trip to the North Pole to experience it in a way not possible in my back yard. 


First let me start off by saying getting to the North Pole can be done in all kinds of dramatic ways. Let’s face it, any way you get there is dramatic but you have options to make it even more spectacular. You can go by dog-sled, helicopter, skis, ice-breaker ship or simply parachute in. Seriously? Seriously. 


As you make your way to the North Pole, you’ll be on an ice-breaker ship part of the way and will see the front part of the ship cut away at the ice and push it to the sides as it makes its way through. I would not venture out into this expedition if you have any fears of whales tipping ships (I may have one or two) as you might see them swimming in the ocean as well as native birds that will land on the ship. When you arrive you have the option of getting out and taking a small hike to the “top of the world.” Most tours do a champagne toast. Because each tour is different, you’ll have all kinds of options like taking a helicopter ride and sky-diving over the North Pole. You can make your own mini movie or take lots of pictures to brag to all your friends and family back home. 


Just like how you get there, where you stay is as dramatic with just as many options. You can visit for the day and take as many pictures to show all your friends and family or you can stay at or near the North Pole in an igloo. Igloos are all different. You may be the rugged kind and want to go all out. This is definitely doable. In Svalbard, part of the islands in Norway, you can stay in an authentic igloo. While there, check out the museums nearby, go dog-sledding and depending when you go, you may see the Northern lights. 


Perhaps staying in a real igloo is not for you but you still want the experience.  In Finnish, Lapland, the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village (located above the Arctic Circle), there are a few ways you can stay warm. They have log cabins, authentic igloos and not to be outdone glass igloos which are by far the most romantic. At least I think so. The bottom part of the igloo is nestled down into the ground with only the top part showing. The top or the roof of the igloo is made of glass, so as you sleep you can watch the night sky. Romantic right? Each glass igloo has its own beds and bathroom. In the morning if you really want to be adventurous you can swim in one of the ice holes or head to the sauna. Once a year the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village builds sculptors made out of ice, including an ice bar, chapel and a snow restaurant. 


After planting your spring flowers and watering your gardens, a trip to an igloo with huskies, polar bears and the occasional jump out of a helicopter to drink champagne may be in order. 

Friday, 07 March 2014

Rock Climbing by the Sea

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       I have always been afraid of heights. Still, that being said, I have always wanted to go rock climbing. I don’t know why. Maybe it was watching Tom Cruise hang on the side of a cliff in Mission Impossible and I became inspired. Of course when the camera panned out and you saw him just holding on with his hands outstretched I decided, maybe that isn’t for me after all. But I can’t help but come back to the idea of it and after seeing my cousin’s multitude of pictures of her doing the same thing as Cruise, I decided, why not. I only live once. 

       Morgan Bay is part of the Wild Coast in South Africa and rock climbers from all over come here to climb the sea walls next to the ocean.  There are all kind of trails, whether you’re a novice like me or a trained rocker climber. Some of the trails are bolted routes with trad lines, that you can top-rope. Most of the routes you’ll be climbing have definite crevices in the rock for easy climbing. While there are seven bolted routes, you can find hundreds of trails all over the cliff wall. The more famous trails are named like the “ticket to ride,” “the feeling is tight” and “the carnival is over.” Each area is named, so if you’re with friends but want to rock climb solo (there are trails just for this) you can meet up at a selected place. 

Down below at the beach you can use the campsite and enjoy the lagoon. At the lagoon you can go swimming and boating in its waters or instead just sit back and watch the wildlife that lives here. There are horse trails for one day or over-night excursions that can last up to two weeks. The trails will take you through villages, the forest, past waterfalls and the beaches. Which if you’re like me, might decide rock climbing is like skiing; I’m better off drinking hot chocolate in the lodge or if I’m at Morgan Bay, give rock climbing a try, realize as I’m dangling off the edge, horse-back riding or lazily wading through the water at the lagoon might be the better option; while I take pictures of my friends reaching the top of the cliff. 


Friday, 07 February 2014

Bora Bora

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        I don’t know where you are, but where I live there’s snow everywhere. And more is to come by next week! I love the snow, I do. But after the third or fourth snowstorm, shoveling my car out of the driveway and having to drive to work an hour early just to make sure I get there on time; well, I’m in need of a little sun and a beach. I could say any beach will do but that’s not completely true. I have beaches near me. Cape Cod is a great place to vacation during the summer but now I want the weather to be as hot as it can get. Or enough to warm me up and not think about hot chocolate and snow boots. 

There are many beautiful places all over the world and I could list a bunch of them but of all of destinations,  there is something about Bora Bora that is so completely beautiful it makes me want to jump on the next plane and stay until spring. The waters are rich in color; the sky is clear with big fluffy clouds in the sky. The sand is warm on your toes. Straw umbrellas to keep the sun out of your eyes as you fall asleep listening to the waves crash to the shore. Depending where you stay, you can be on the ocean in a water bungalow or stay inland in a garden bungalow.  Some of the water bungalows will have glass floors so you want to watch the ocean while you’re relaxing in your home away from home. You can opt for ocean views, mountain views or both. All of the resorts have at least one restaurant and a bar. Depending on where you stay, you will have the privilege of having your own private pool, swimming in the lagoon or visiting a spa. If you have children, there are resorts that have kid’s clubs to keep your little ones as happy as you are.  And to make you happy there’s snorkeling, golfing, a little hiking to explore the surrounding areas and of course shopping. But who wants to go shopping when you can put a towel over your face, lay flat on the sand, umbrella by your side and no traces of snow to be seen. Yea, I’m already there. Someone please feed my kittens while I’m away for the next two months. 


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Peace and Privacy

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       Looking for a little quiet time this February with your loved one, where it’s only you and your significant, full of privacy and romance with no cares in the world about errands, work and everything else that comes with everyday life. A place called Maldives in India will be your personal sanctuary for the few days you’re there. 

Step into another world as you’re transported to an island. You’ll have your own private bungalow with open wall and straw like roof. The bungalow stands on stilts on top of the ocean where you can wake up and watch the sunrise or sip island cocktails as you watch the sunset. Dive into the ocean and explore one of the many corals reefs. Swim in the crystal blue waters and by mid-day find yourself a hammock in between two palm trees to lazily bring in the afternoon. In the evening enjoy a picnic on the beach. 

Maldives has all the luxuries you could ask for. Whether you want to grab a kite for the day or go wind-surfing. Scuba dive with hammerheads, snorkel in shallower waters or dine on a candlelight dinner on the beach. For those ready to experience complete bliss, bask in a private spa treatment in your bungalow and then take a dip into your pool. At night do a little fishing or take a romantic boat ride as you gaze at the moonlight rays cascading on the waves. 

The best time to visit is December through March but of course you can visit during any season. Ready for some R & R after a long holiday season, this will more than make up for all the baking, shopping and wrapping you did over the past few months. So much so, you’ll be ready for December all over again. Well, maybe not that soon, summer is almost here and with summer comes some fantastic places to visit. 



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