Nothing can be more calming than the sound of waves crashing, and straw palapas swaying. Book a trip to paradise with these stunning island resorts. From the Islands of Bali, Sri Lanka to Hawaii or Seychelles, the options for a relaxing island vacation is endless.
Bali Island, Indonesia
Head to ‘Bali’ for an oriental high and you’d want to spend your lifetime here! Set amidst the Pacific Ocean, the island of Bali in Indonesia is not just an island, but paradise gained if you plan to spend a few days here. For it’s not just the beach and the skies that beckon; the quaint temples and Balinese culture is sure to soothe your frayed nerves and cleanse your soul!
Ratnadweepa, Sri Lanka
There’s a treasure trove of goodies hidden in Sri Lanka, literally! Ratnadweepa or the Island (dweepa) of Gens (Ratna) is unique for its sparkling sapphires and radiant rubies. It’s believed that a plethora of precious gems lie embedded deep into the soil here. These gems have been collected and today adorn China’s Min Dynasty Tombs and also the crown jewels of Europe! How about gifting these during your honeymoon here?
Fair Island Scotland
This may seem nondescript, but Fair Island is the place you must head for if privacy is your priority. This is true escapism from the maddening crowd of urban life, for, human population is only about 70 here! Fair Island is also a birdwatcher’s haven.
Seychelles sounding like ‘sea shells’ is a refreshing island popular among honeymooners and the lover of luxury! Located on the western part of the Indian Ocean, Seychelles comprises about 115 islands, which offer you unlimited privacy! The marine life in myriad colors comes alive as you dive or snorkel into the tranquil waters. You wouldn’t want to swim back to earth!
Tahiti Islands in French Polynesia, which once were isolated from urbane habitation, today boasts of an international airport. Its coral reefs and hills are what set these ap
Although Santorin has gained popularity in recent times and voted as the world’s best island by BBC. It’s an island straight out of fairytale, with its cobblestone paths and houses colored in blue and white. Homes sit atop precipitous cliffs and with donkeys meandering their way along the cliffs make Santorini an island where time seems to have stopped in a former century!
Famous for its water-sports, Phuket is not just a water-lover’s ‘water-hole’, but a shopper’s paradise as well. Known as the ‘Pearl of the South’, Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. Its virgin beaches and a free-spirited culture makes it one of the best among tourists.
Hawaii with its warm tropical climate and lushness make it the most sought after island in the world. Hawaii is the place that has enchanted water-sport enthusiasts and biologists alike. Lanai one of the lesser known island in Hawaii, was once upon a time known as the ‘Pineapple Land’ for the abundance of pineapple there. You’d not be disappointed with its two popular resorts and a couple of golf courses. This is a place where you can laze leisurely and see the world go by.
The ultimate island experience is undoubtedly in this set of islands! Famed for its electrifying nightlife, salubrious, balmy beaches and adventurous water-sports, Cayman Islands are tiny pockets into which you can zero in and escape from the routine of life.
Mauritius and island are quite synonymous! Mauritius beckons the romantic as well as the romantic at heart. Mauritius remains steeped in history with its several historic sites and marvels tourists with its coral reefs. Palapas are thatched hut like places where you can huddle together, sipping your drink. The place is dotted with Palapas which make this island unique.
Are the winter blues setting in and getting you down? If so, this is the prime time of the year to take a break from your day to day routine and to make a getaway. However, instead of falling back on the same old destinations you’ve been to time and time again, consider one of these top three travel destinations.
Turks and Caicos
Ever close your eyes and imagine that you’re lounging on a beach? If so, consider the Turks and Caicos – a real life, carefree paradise that is an absolute must see. It’s an under-the-radar travel destination located in the British West Indies that is still so undiscovered by many. Complete with white sandy beaches and beautiful blue waters, this destination truly is a relaxing place to enjoy time away from it all.
Home to roughly 30,000 full time residents, Turks and Caicos is made up of 40 islands and cays, with only eight that are inhabited. The islands are located a little over 500 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Between the months of June and November, the islands take on hurricane season. During this time, the average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees and, from November to May, the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees.
So, what attracts visitors to Turks and Caicos? Water Sports, whale watching, historic island tours, and taking in the natural beauty of the islands all come to mind. Visitors also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour the shores on horseback or spend a day at Grace Bay taking in the local culture, restaurants, shops or simply strolling along the soft, hot sand.
If a remote, uncrowded beach is more your style, venture over to Taylor Bay while enjoying the company of loved ones. Here you can enjoy swimming while encapsulated in the clear blue water, surrounded by starfish visible in the shallow shore waters.
Revel in the beauty of a classic American favorite. As the birthplace of surfing, land of brilliant, crashing waves and home to an extensively rich culture, Hawaii is on the top of many people’s travel bucket lists. The six major islands include Maui, Kauai, Molokai, Oahu, Lanai, and Hawaii with each offering something unique to its visitors. The most travelled islands are Oahu and Maui, which may be due to their heavy dose of nightlife, shopping and entertainment offerings. Some highlights include Oahu’s North Shore – a famous surfing hotspot, Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor while Maui is more laidback and is known for picturesque beaches and scenic slopes.
If you are looking to visit a place that allows you to simply kick back and go with the flow, consider Molokai, Lanai or Kauai - best known for their romance factor. Visit the beautiful Napali Coast via an eloquent boat ride in Kauai, experience small town life in Kaunakakai, a quaint town in Molokai, or enjoy Hulopoe Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful beaches located on the island of Lanai.
A must-see activity on a Hawaiian vacation is an authentic luau. Learn a hula dance, listen to unique, native music and experience original Hawaiian cuisine at one of the many area luaus. It really is the best way to immerse yourself into the history of the Polynesian and Hawaiian culture.
Located in the heart of Central America and surrounded by both the Pacific Ocean and stunning Caribbean Sea, you’ll find the country of Costa Rica. When visitors choose to retreat to this lush paradise, they can expect a year round tropical climate, which is split into two periods: the dry and rainy seasons. With a steady average temperature of 80 degrees, the dry period extends from December to April and the rainy season from May until November.
While Costa Rica is a great spot to simply relax and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, it is also an eco-tourism hotspot and place to experience one-of-kind adventures. Staying true to its namesake, Costa Rica translates, in English, to “rich coast” and there is no denying that it truly is rich in culture and activities.
Popular activities on a Costa Rican vacation include rafting and snorkeling the clear blue waters, hiking the rainforests and trails off the beaten path or simply soaking up the sun while relaxing on the picturesque beaches. If you’re looking for activities you can’t find anywhere else, you’ll love what Costa Rica has in store. Visit Barra Honda National Park to see the alluring caverns that you can actually reserve an overnight bunk in (the price is low, but space is limited). Another cannot-miss-it adventure is trailing over to Marino Ballena National Park, where you can witness the humpback whale migration between the months of December and April. Finally, experience life as a local and take a dip in the natural hot springs.
These three locales are the ultimate in tropical travel adventures. Each provides a little something different, but none are short on culture, adventure and beauty. Next time you are looking to splurge on a trip and escape the real world, you’ll know exactly where to go.
Author: Bailey Martin blogs for Elite Destination Homes (www.www.elitedestinationhomes.com, a fractional vacation home ownership and vacation home rental company, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. They have luxury homes available across the world in locations such as Paris, Tuscany, St. Barth’s, Turks and Caicos, Hawaii and more.
Studying our popular culture gives us insight into the power art has over us and within us, like taking a pulse on what we value and enjoy the most. To understand it is to understand how and why we consume art. The history of American pop culture is as vast as it is varied. One cannot discuss its influence without bringing up Rock ‘n’ Roll as a profound force. A historically American genre of pop music, Rock ‘n’ Roll was borne out of our need for expression, curiosity, and independence.
If Rock music rattled our cultural conventions, Seattle, Washington, has been one of its most spirited epicenters. Seattle has fostered some of Rock’s most revolutionary acts to date. Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Modest Mouse, The Foo Fighters, and Macklemore are on the short list of Seattleites who have transformed Rock forever.
Enter stage left: the EMP Museum, located in the bustling Seattle Center within a stone’s throw from the Seattle Space Needle. The EMP isn’t just a museum: it’s an experience, fashioned by pop culture fans for pop culture fans. Its mission is to inspire us to explore and develop our own creative and imaginative potential by making our own art.
The brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the EMP Museum opened in 2000 to unprecedented acclaim among music buffs, pop culture critics, academics, artists and musicians. Allen’s original vision for the museum was to commemorate the legacy of his childhood Rock hero, Jimi Hendrix. The EMP Museum began as Allen’s tribute to Hendrix and other pop music icons, but it has evolved into a celebration of pop culture in general. Not only does the EMP memorialize the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hip Hop, and Disco, it also honors the legacies of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror genres.
In addition to its eclectic, 140,000 square foot interior, the EMP’s remarkable exterior enjoys international celebrity. Designed by the world-renowned, architectural virtuoso, Frank O. Gehry, the EMP’s layout is unconventionally innovative. The psychedelic and serpentine coherence of its patch-worked shapes is aesthetically compelling, urging visitors to begin an unforgettable voyage.
Its fluid, metallic sheen has an organic and futuristic elegance. It’s as if all the glamour of Rock ‘n’ Roll were reincarnated into one building—and that’s the point. In conceptualizing the EMP’s appearance, Gehry sought to capture the undulating nature of music, itself. He cut apart a number of guitars and reassembled them into a rippling collage, which became his blueprint for the final look of the museum.
The Sound Lab is the crown jewel of the museum and truly makes the EMP special. The Sound Lab offers visitors an interactive, multi-media environment in which to engage their own musicianship. If you’ve never played an instrument, and have always wanted to learn, you can choose from a wide variety of instruments to experiment with. A sweeping collection of guitars, drums, keyboards, samplers, and mixing consoles encourage the creative imagination in everyone. Already familiar with the guitar? The Sound Lab features hands-on modules, which teach you new riffs and techniques. You can even jam with your friends on different instruments at the same time in Lab’s Jam Studio or in one of its Soundproof Rooms. As it opens your mind to your own, unique, creative potential, the Sound Lab will electrify your imagination well after your visit to the museum.
325 5th Avenue, North
Seattle, Washington 98109
Located at Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass is an imaginative oasis that celebrates the inspiration and life’s work of local artist Dale Chihuly.
Who is Dale Chihuly?
Washington native Dale Chihuly enrolled in the glass blowing program at the University of Wisconsin in 1965. In 1968, Chihuly was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship where he went to work at the Venini factory in Venice, learning his now identifiable technique of team glass blowing.
In 1971, Chihuly cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School, and is currently known as the educational leader in blending an avant-garde aesthetic with glass as fine art.
“We use the same tools today [in glass blowing] used 2,000 years ago. The difference is that when I started, everyone wanted to control the blowing process. I just went with it. The natural elements of fire, movement, gravity and centrifugal force were always there, and are always with us.” – Dale Chihuly
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly began development plans for the 1.5-acre plot with Center Art. Keeping environmental best practice in mind, the group chose to repurpose existing buildings for the project. Chihuly decided to use specific artworks from his career, combined with new sculptures for the site.
Take a Tour
Journey through the breathtaking Glasshouse, the eight galleries and three Drawing Walls of the Exhibition Hall and the lush Garden exhibits of Chihuly Garden and Glass.
The centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass is the Glasshouse. A 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space, the Glasshouse is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories.
At the center of the Glasshouse sits a 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.
The Exhibition Hall
The eight galleries and three Drawing Walls of the Exhibition Hall offer a widespread collection of Dale Chihuly’s significant series of work. The artworks demonstrate how he pushes the boundaries of glass as an art medium in concept, execution and presentation.
Presenting some of Chihuly’s early experiments with glass, the Northwest Room features a Tabac Baskets table, wooden shelves with Baskets and Cylinders, along with Soft Cylinders and Edward S. Curtis photogravures, Northwest Coast Indian baskets and American Indian trade blankets.
We only have a web version of this image, so we may have to cut.
Some of the not-to-miss gallery installations include Glass Forest – artwork featuring electrically charged neon and argon glass stalks or stems created by simultaneously blowing and pouring molten glass from the top of a stepladder to the floor below.
Throughout various artworks in the Sealife Room, Chihuly interprets various elements of life in the water. A Tower and vessels with sculpted sea life forms such as starfish, octopus, conch shells, sea anemones, urchins and manta rays are presented along with several Sealife Drawings.
Chihuly began the Persian series in 1986 while experimenting with new forms. Originally, he displayed Persians in pedestal compositions, often with smaller shapes nested in larger pieces. Later, working with an architectural framework, he mounted larger forms to walls and suspended them as overhead compositions. The first Persian Ceiling was presented in his 1992 exhibition at the opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum.
Anchored by four monumental sculptures, the exhibition Garden provides an opportunity for discovery and surprise. A rich backdrop for the art, it features paths lined with trees, plants and flowers.
“I want my work to appear as though it came from nature so if someone found it… they might think it belonged there” – Dale Chihuly
Chihuly Garden and Glass
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, Washington 98109
Welcome to the great Pacific Northwest, known for its crisp air, high-reaching mountains and lush green landscape. In this upper left corner of the nation, Seattle is truly one of the best places to experience such natural magnificence.
Named after Chief Si’ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, Seattle was originally known as a logging town and shipbuilding center. Its history dates back to early settlers and industry pioneers of the late 19th century and has a past that is as colorful as any Wild West settlement.
Today this gem on Puget Sound is a bustling city as famous for its eco-friendly ways and art-infused souls as for its reputation as a launch pad for technology. Industry leaders and groundbreaking innovators such as Boeing, Microsoft, Expedia, and UPS took flight in Seattle, as did retail giants Nordstroms, Eddie Bauer and Amazon, and coffee franchise Starbucks.
On the music scene, Seattle is known as the home of Jimmy Hendrix and Heart but also is the epicenter of the grunge genre with local groups such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. Many of these bands also got their start through local independent label, Sub Pop. Seattle also boasts a very current rap and hip-hop scene with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis topping the charts this year. There’s also a lot of jazz history that helped launch the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, and others.
Start off your tour of this great city at Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. Enjoy the view from above at the Space Needle, grab a bite at the SkyCity Restaurant and then wander the grounds of this striking 74-acre center. Stop off at the International Fountain and then stroll through impressive and eye-catching venues like Chihuly Garden and Glass, EMP Museum, Gates Foundation Visitor Center, the Pacific Science Center, and more.
While in the mode of museum hopping, head up to the South Lake Union area and stop by the Museum of History and Industry, or MOHAI, for a deep dive into the past.
Attracting visitors and locals alike, Pike Place Market is a top destination for the area. One of the oldest continually operating farmer’s market in the country, look forward to fresh fish and produce as well as abundant arts and crafts, and goods from around the world. Grab a cup of joe at the original Starbucks or enjoy any of the amazing nearby restaurants such as Le Pichet, Café Campagne, and Place Pigalle Restaurant & Bar, to name a few.
One of oldest neighborhoods in Seattle, Pioneer Square once housed the original skid row and had no shortage of saloons and brothels to support the pioneer milling industry. Now it offers a neighborhood filled with art galleries, shops, restaurants, clubs, and bars. For a walk through history, be sure and take the Underground Tour to explore the now subterranean storefronts of the original neighborhood.
No trip to this city is complete without wandering along the waterfront. Head down to the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, stroll Waterfront Park, take a spin on the Great Wheel at Pier 57 or even catch a ferry to neighboring Tillikum Village or Bainbridge Island.
While in town, be sure and sample Seattle’s famous cuisine with farm-to-table ingredients and a synthesis of local and international flavors that are best served paired with award-winning native wines. Also, take the time to venture out and explore all of the unique neighborhoods for a true taste of all things Seattle, as they serve up personalities and offerings as diverse as the local landscape. From eclectic Fremont, vibrant and trendy Capitol Hill, and always humming University district to the Scandinavian charm of Ballard and the diversity of the International district, the greater Seattle area has something for everyone!
Unlike its reputation, it actually does not rain all the time in Seattle. It actually gets less rainfall on average than Boston, New York, and Atlanta. Most days in the late fall through spring offer no more than cloudy skies and a drizzle while most summer days are typically sunny and bright.
Metropolitan Grill – Seattle’s Classic Steakhouse
If you find yourself in Seattle with a craving for a good steak, make your way down to Metropolitan Grill. Located in the heart of the financial district and nestled in the historic Marion Building, the restaurant is frequented by celebrities and industry big wigs. Why are they so popular with those in the know? Once you have had a taste of their mouthwatering steaks, you’ll understand.
From beginning to end, the focus is on quality. As Executive Chef Eric Hellner explains, “We do a lot of research and homework on…what we felt was going to be the best beef program in the country”. They begin by sourcing the meat from high quality farms selected for the way they feed and treat their animals. But the real secret is in the preparation; all of the meat is dry aged, prepped with some of the strictest cutting standards in the industry and seasoned with the restaurant’s signature (and top secret!) E3 seasoning.
Not only are their steaks impeccable – their service and atmosphere are hard to beat. Servers adorned in crisp white jackets are there to ensure your experience is one of a kind. As Chef Heller states, “You are able to come in and just enjoy yourself; have really high quality food, high quality service just have a good time and know that you are going to be able to be comfortable just being yourself in here”.
And if that weren’t enough to convince you to put this on your “must do” list, the restaurant sources most of their vegetables in season from local farmers. Since nothing pairs better with a great cut of meat than a fantastic glass of wine, Metropolitan Grill has gone the distance to ensure your pairing is perfection. The restaurant’s wine menu is carefully crafted by Wine Director Noel Doty.
So the next time you find yourself planning a trip to the Emerald City, add this restaurant to your list of must-eat locations. But be sure to plan ahead because we weren’t kidding about the restaurant’s popularity – Metropolitan Grill recommends that you reserve a table at least 7 days in advance.
820 Second Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104
SIDEBARS / NOTES / CAPTIONS
The restaurant sources their meat from Snake River Farms and Washington beef, both of which work with Temple Grandin to ensure a safe and humane treatment of animals on a daily basis.
“We have our own dry age room, which is very important – each steak is dry aged to remove some of that moisture and get that intense beef flavor.”
-Executive Chef Eric Hellner
American Wagyu Ribeye (long bone), asparagus with brown butter, almonds and citrus, and roasted poblano scalloped potatoes.
Chef Eric Hellner
Most of the produce used at Metropolitan Grill comes from local farms.
The Marion building, where Metropolitan Grill is located.
The ambiance at Metropolitan Grill is nothing short of warm and inviting.
Soaring high above the Seattle skyline is Kenmore Air, one of the largest and most well respected seaplane operations in the world. Founded by three high school friends who reunited after WWII, this well-known company has offered an airborne perspective of the Northwest since 1946 under the simple yet powerful philosophy of “do the right thing.”
Passengers aboard one of Kenmore Air’s twenty-five planes begin their experience with an exhilarating water takeoff. Every seat aboard the seaplanes have a window view, ensuring that all travelers have an unobstructed view of the city, waterfronts, mountains, stadiums, and campuses below. These 20-minute tours are narrated, making the experience not only memorable, but also educational.
In the 68 years since the company’s inception, Kenmore Air has become far more than just a tour company. You can dodge the hustle and bustle of large airports with Kenmore’s daily departures to over 45 Northwest destinations, touching down on lakes and harbors.
Should you find yourself in Seattle between the months of April and October, be sure to seize the opportunity to take part in Kenmore’s whale watching tours. This all-inclusive experience charters passengers on the forty-minute flight to San Juan Island where small groups board a 55-foot whale-watching vessel. The chance of seeing the notorious Orca (or killer whale) is an astounding 90%.
Whether it be for scenic views, efficient transportation, or a thirst for adventure, make certain to add Kenmore Air to your Seattle itinerary. You’ll never look at Seattle the same.
6321 NE 175th Street
Kenmore, Washington 98028
Above is a quick video I filmed on a random night out with my friend @Croyable while in old town Budva, Montenegro. This video will give you a glimpse of what the old town scene is all about. It’s one of my favorite spots these days as it has everything I need to be happy and more. Beaches a minute or two away, lots of interesting people, countless dining options and a solid nightlife which seems to get going every night at about 10:30PM or so; before that it’s kinda slow but after that it’s full on.
I spent a good two weeks or so in Montenegro and really loved it. I used Budva as my base and besides a few days in a hotel, spent most of my time in an apartment which I rented in the heart of the old town. If you are going to be coming to Budva for a few days or so, I highly suggest you spend your time and especially nights in the old town as it’s where all the action is happening. During the day you can make countless trips to other spots on the Budva Riviera or Montenegro in general.
Then again, Budva isn’t that different than lots of places, is it? It makes sense to stay where the action is happening and venture off to do other activities during the day. Much like on some small islands it makes more sense to live in the small village to partake in the nightlife and take day treks to the remote beaches type thing… I’d go back to Budva in a heartbeat and loved it so much I flew my mom out for a visit.
Sophie Collard on behalf of the BudgetTraveller spends the day on the New Forest Tour – an open top safari in the New Forest National Park
William the Conqueror created the New Forest in Hampshire, south England, to hunt in.
Where once it would have been a day’s horse-drawn carriage ride from London, today its 90 minutes by train to the largest village, Brockenhurst. The last leg of the South West Trains journey from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst – which is on special offer at just £15 day return at present (or £7 for kids) – announces the New Forest, the way travelling through the Rockies announces Canada. “You’ve left the city!” it cries. And thank goodness for that. Lush green trees rise above the ferns either side of the track and you can almost breathe the fresh forest air. Mmm, foresty.
From 28th June to 14th September there’s a ‘travel concierge’ service just outside the Italian restaurant as you exit Brockenhurst station. It’s bright green, so you can’t miss it. They encourage visitors to get in touch before arriving, as this means they can give advice about tour times and things to do if you decide to hop off en route. There’s also a ‘Tech Crèche, a safe where you can leave all your gadgets behind for free.
The New Forest prides itself on not just being literally green, but environmentally green too. Leaving the car behind and taking the bus is a great way to see the forest and coast and there’s an open-top bus tour that takes visitors all over the area. Sitting on the top deck is an English safari experience, with stunning views of the trees and heaths and a better chance of spotting more of the 9,000 animals that live here. The New Forest Tour has three routes, red green and blue and visitors can hop on and off as they please.
I did the green and blue routes in one day, but would recommend choosing just one per day, or just a bit of each, as otherwise your stomach is having a four hour ride with you, which might be a bit much even for the most hardened traveller.
Beccy from the travel concierge service told me a lot of people like the blue route best, as it travels past the coast and you can get out to look for fossils at Barton-on-Sea, or ride the wee ferry boat to Hurst castle from Keyhaven. The blue route also takes in Burley, where you can visit little shops selling trinkets relating to witches and fairies, ‘believed’ to have lived around the area many years ago. Bikes can be rented from Forest Leisure Cycling so you can cycle past the trees and heather-covered heaths. And both routes feature ponies, horses and cows with gigantic horns, all of who have right of way over vehicles.
If you’re not going to rent a bike, and only have the day, personally I’d choose the green route. There’s a tad more forest flora and fauna to see and some great stops. On the green and red routes you can stop at Lyndhurst for a cuppa and walk to St. Michael & All Angels Church, where Alice Liddell AKA Alice in Wonderland’s grave can be found.
The blue and green routes both stop in Lymington, with a sweet Quay from where you can go crabbing. (I’m a massive fan of crabbing, a favourite pastime as a child visiting Swanage). The green route also has Beaulieu – ‘much more than a motor museum’ – where you’ll find a park with its own monorail the Beaulieu Abbey; purportedly one of the most haunted places in Britain and of course the Motor Museum. Your tour ticket gets you a 20% discount on the £19 entrance fee but if you don’t want to fork out for a ticket you can alight at the next stop, Beaulieu village, which is very charming and has a view of the abbey. There’s also a good walk from Beaulieu Village to Buckler’s Hard that goes past Beaulieu River.
You’ll find a map for it in the guide that comes with the tour ticket. Also on the green route are the 20 miles of flower-bedecked pathways in Exbury Gardens that have their very own teeny tiny steam train. In Hythe there’s another train, the electric pier train, which is the oldest pier train in the world. You can take a 45-minute ferry to Southampton and back too.
For just £14 (10% discount if you book online at http://www.thenewforesttour.info) the New Forest Tour is well worth it, especially if like me you don’t drive. If you’ve enough time in Brockenhurst itself, see if you can find the donkeys and say hello from me.
There are three routes that traverse the national park – the red route, green route and blue route. The green and blue routes can be picked up from outside Brockenhurst station. The red route can be changed onto from the blue route at Burley, or from the green route at Lyndhurst. Alternatively, there is a station at Ashurst for the red route as well as bus connections from Bournemouth, Salisbury and Southampton.
PS I didn’t have time to do the blue route but below is a video of it. Not many people realise that the New Forest has a coast!
I’m writing this from around the corner of the Sagrada Familia where I picked up an apartment for the last few nights; solid spot. I’m just getting acquainted with this beautiful lady of a city called Barcelona and all I can really say is that, well, she’s cool. I have merely scratched the surface of what it’s like here but I like it, a lot. When I first got here, my batteries were on that blinking light from a wild time in Belgrade but now that I’m back in the green, everything is rolling full steam and so glad I finally made it to Barcelona…
I’ve been doing a mix of this and that with lots of seriously long sunny sidewalk strolls. When you’re on a roll it doesn’t really matter where you go because wherever you end up is somehow where you were meant to be, yes? On these random strolls I’ve found myself by the beach, La Rambla, Barcelona Cathedral, in the gothic quarter, at the Sagrada Familia and even made a trip up to get an eagle eye view of this fine city from Park Guell. That Gaudi was a real genius and I spent the day today just strolling around. I can see why people fall in love with this place, it’s quite easy to do.
I will mention that the subway to Barceloneta which is the stop by the beach is utter madness and I’ve learned first hand what it’s like to be a sardine in a tin. I will mention that you should watch your stuff and it’s not that I feel this city is dangerous, it’s just there is so much going on with so many people from all around the world staring at the sights that it’s no surprise stuff goes missing from time to time. It’s simple math and one could also say “welcome to the big city”. Sights aside which I’ve only seen a sliver of, this place is just cool.
I’ve been lost, I’ve asked questions and I’ve had chats with randoms on the streets; everyone for the most part was beyond hospitable, helpful and happy. The vibe here is contagious and as I’ve mentioned before and will do again, I’ve only tasted this city ever so slightly. What a predicament I find myself in now as I’ve got an ambitious plan of sorts to see more of Spain but quite happy just hanging out here in Barcelona. If you like ham, you’re in heaven as I’ve never seen so much. The tapas on countless street corners are delicious and this place is also quite reasonably priced for such an international city on the beach…
Tomorrow I have to check out of my pad and I’m torn as to what I’m going to do. I do believe the only reasonable thing to do is take a bus to Andorra for a few days to hang out in the Pyrenees before returning for another day or so and heading south. I wanted to make it here in 2010 when I was riding the rails but sadly, the connection I wanted was full and as a result, I never made it. That said, had I made it, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the last two days here with my current mindset which is clearly different than it ever could have been four years ago and a little clearer, might I add.
I always say it’s important to live somewhere inspiring if you work for yourself and this city most certainly is. Barcelona is cool and if I didn’t have a flight to Rome from Valencia on the second of September, perhaps I’d look into apartments. That said, when seeking out asylums to spend time and get down to business; you can always come back. Barcelona is beyond easy to get to with most major airlines and yeah; thrilled I made it. If the whole world is one big school, and you’ve hung with lots of its students; you always appreciate coming somewhere new and meeting a city that’s cool.
I’d continue but last minute planning / scrambling aka SHABL’s specialty is in order for tomorrow.
P.S: My Spanish is skyrocketing in the short amount of time here; indeed.
“Play is more than just fun.”
Dr. Stuart Brown
In Dr. Brown’s TED Talk, which you can view at the end of this post, he makes an interesting historical observation. He suggests that adults five centuries ago played more than we do today.
I certainly understand the truth of this observation. Fortunately, through travel, I find opportunities to break this pattern and play.
Unhindered by the demands of daily life, presented with opportunities to try new activities, travel encourages me to stretch the boundaries of my life – especially the physical ones.
So, when Johnson & Johnson got in touch about their “Built for Play” campaign I was enthusiastic to take part. The theme behind the campaign is consistent with the values we have for Solo Traveler and, on a more practical level, it allows me to share with you what my first-aid kit looks like.
My Travel First-aid Kit
The mud of Wilhelmshaven is deep and thick and could have tripped me up – though it didn’t. The doors of the hutong in Beijing have an ancient kind of beauty and while there was no apparent danger in taking a photograph I tripped over a short post resulting in serious injuries as you can see in the photo below. Yes, city or country, accidents can happen and it’s best to have the first-aid kit to deal with them – but nothing too heavy so that my carry-on only packing strategy is not compromised. Here’s what I carry:
- Band-Aids. They’re essential.
- NEOSPORIN® NEO TO GO!® First Aid Antiseptic/Pain Relieving Spray is a compact antibiotic spray. It’s perfect for travel. I used to carry the traditional NEOSPORIN® Original Ointment - the go-to antibiotic since we got rid of iodine in the 60s – but I now leave it at home and use NEO TO GO.
- For blisters I carry the BAND-AID® Advanced Healing Blister. I don’t get many blisters as I usually travel with shoes that have been well worn but blisters do happen and these are great for them. The extra cushioning beyond the usual band-aids and their tendency to adhere better to an active foot makes them the better choice.
- Acetaminophen. I don’t take Ibuprofen as I only have one kidney and it is harder on kidneys than Tylenol. But either will do.
- Imodium. I’ve never had to take this and only would in an emergency. It’s important to let your body work things out if that’s possible.
- BENADRYL® Extra Strength Spray. I used to use calamine lotion but it makes such a mess and stains everything. It’s also hard to put on as it spills. This spray is a far easier to use and just as, if not more, effective.
- Johnson & Johnson COACH® Sports Tape. This would have been perfect for my fall in China. I now carry it for sprained fingers (did that in July) or other such problems. The tape sticks to itself and can be used on a preventative basis.
- DEET free Insect Repellent such as Incognito.
- BENGAY® Cold Therapy. I bring this when my trip involves hiking as I have one knee that acts up.
- Any meds recommended by my travel clinic.
Really want to get away from it all? Consider a hotel that’s so remote, you can get there only by boat (or seaplane if you’re a tycoon). Think Robinson Crusoe without the shipwreck. Here, some of the standouts.
The dock leading to paradise — Ilet Oscar Guest House
Ilet Oscar Guest House, Martinique
Take a 10-minute boat ride from Francois Marina to Ilet Oscar and you’ll completely unplug. The spit of land on the southeast side of Martinique has nothing more than a colonial-style, four-bedroom guesthouse and amazing views of the sky and ocean. There’s no Internet, no TV, and no phone service.
Instead, guests can savor gourmet Creole-French meals and then paddle over to the shallow swimming hole known as Josephine’s Bathtub, where the Martinique-born wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, Empress Josephine, once chose to swim, according to legend.
Islanders can also kayak, snorkel, and water ski. Or simply enjoy the view from the veranda.
A guest room with a view at Verana
High above the Bay of Banderas, yoga is practiced close to the clouds. The infinity pool offers a stunning view of the beach below: In fact, the entire boutique resort, complete with spa, is perched on a steep hillside.
Relaxation is in order, because just to get to Verana takes some effort: From Puerto Vallarta, guests drive to nearby Boca de Tomatlán, the last beach reachable by car.
Then a 30-minute boat ride transports you and your luggage to the Yelapa coast. You’re not there yet: You take a vigorous walk up the hill while mules haul your suitcases.
Although Verana has many luxurious touches, such as gourmet meals and a romantic setting, it’s a rugged retreat. The bungalows without walls are set in the jungle, so there are few prying eyes. But guests should expect to share their rooms with the natural — buggy — world. Day trips give guests options to whale watch, horseback ride, and fish.
The Florida Keys’ Little Palm Island
Little Palm Island, Florida
With its turquoise waters and secluded white-sand beach, Little Palm Island feels like the “south seas,” according to one glowing TripAdviser review. The 30 tropical-themed suites of this upscale Florida Keys resort are accessed by seaplane or boat. Luxe extras abound, such as a “bath butler” and private dining on the beach.
Guests love the seasonal restaurant menu, the outdoor showers, and the tech-free nature of a holiday that focuses on water sports like scuba diving, sailing, and kiteboarding.
A hideaway on Catalina Island
Aurora Hotel, Catalina Island, California
Is it possible to have an island holiday without busting your budget? Yep. Catalina, off the coast of Southern California, is home to hotels with a wide range of prices.
The Aurora isn’t the cheapest, but it’s a good deal when you look at what you get: A four-day, three-night midweek package for two with round-trip boat transfer, standard room, and continental breakfast is just under $800.
Visitors can enjoy a range of activities on the lively island, including shopping and concerts, water sports, golf, and even a walking ghost tour.
WATCH: How to Camp on Catalina Island
Low-key living in Crete
Oasis Hotel, Crete
This hidden Crete gem is also a great deal. Reachable by ferry from the town of Chora Sfakion, the small, family-run hotel offers a few rooms at bargain prices — during high season, a double is just 45 euros a night (about $60).
Guests can take in the panoramic view of the bay and ocean from the hillside location and walk down the trails to experience the waterfront bars and restaurants of the sleepy fishing village.
The locale is so peaceful, the Oasis Hotel has become a destination for meditation retreats during the off-season.
A Norway lighthouse hotel
Littleisland Lighthouse, Norway
Don’t bother bringing a bathing suit: this isn’t that kind of island. But if you’re a fan of the northern lights and want to experience life as a lighthouse keeper, this northern Norwegian sojourn may be for you.
The island guesthouse can accommodate up to four people in two rooms. The peaceful retreat is perfect for bird watching, whale watching, and kayaking. Guests are served island-grown organic vegetables and locally caught seafood.
The trip to Littleisland Lighthouse is “an adventure in itself,” notes the website. There’s no direct route, but the options involve planes, local buses, and then a ride on the little island boat. The open-water trip takes about 15 minutes — a little more if “the sea is uneasy.” Then there’s a 300-step climb to the lighthouse, so pack lightly.
A Capri find
Hotel Canasta — Capri
While it’s certainly possible to plan a day trip to this Mediterranean paradise — ferries leave from Beverello dock in Naples — visitors may be tempted to stay a few days to take in the sights.
The small, family-owned Canasta Hotel offers rooms with garden views and is within walking distance of the main La Piazzetta square. Visitors can explore the famed shopping and restaurants or enjoy less pricey pursuits, such as an island hike and a panini.