Miscellaneous

Tree-top trail in Guadeloupe

Caribbean islands are best known for their palm-tree clad beaches, white sand lapped by brilliant turquoise water, and almost constant sunshine.  Inland there are many surprises: forests, botanical gardens, zoological gardens, zipline adventures, hiking trails, waterfalls, all the wonders that a tropical paradise has to offer.

The French islands of Guadeloupehave all of the above.Situated between Antigua and Dominica in the Leeward Islands, Guadeloupe consists of the almost Siamese twin islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, plus three smaller isles.  About 20 miles west of the main airport at Basse-Terre one finds the Guadeloupe Zoo and Botanical Garden, known as the Jardin des Mamelles.  The most enchanting of the mammals in the Zoo are the raccoons.

The Guadeloupe Raccoon has been recognized as a separate species, but one would not know it to look at them.  They look and behave exactly as their North American cousins do.  The Zoo has a sizable nursery (the collective name) of raccoons who entertain visitors with their antics.  At feeding time the masked bandits show off the dexterity of their long-clawed hands.  Food is held up for inspection, turned this way and that, and carefully examined before being devoured.

High above the raccoon enclosure is the real reason people stop here.  That’s not really true, because from the road there is little indication that snaking through the tree tops, 60 feet above the ground is an extensive canopy walkway.  Safety is ensured by means of an obligatory harness with two clips so that one can change levels or direction but still be attached to at least one railing.  Nevertheless it can be quite an adrenaline rush.

Back on the ground, possibly with shaky knees, there is still a lot to see.  Insects, birds, a black jaguar, iguanas and other species native to the Antilles are waiting to be inspected by the whole family. There’s something for everyone.

Miscellaneous

Molten Magic at the Corning Museum of Glass

Corning Museum of GlassVery few people would be able to name New York State’s third most visited attraction. After Manhattan and Niagara Falls, more people travel to the small upstate town of Corning, than anywhere else in the state.

Corning is certainly a convenient stopping off point between New York City and Buffalo, but that does not explain why this city of 12,000 draws 400,000 visitors a year.

They come to see the Corning Museum of Glass. CMoG, as it is familiarly called, consists of an expanding campus of buildings dedicated to the history, technology, science and art of a single material – glass. In 1951 Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) chose to mark the company’s 100th anniversary by giving the world a modest museum. Two thousand objects were housed in about as many square feet along with a staff of two and a small reference library.

CMoG suffered serious damage during Hurricane Agnes, which in 1972 caused devastating flooding in New York and Pennsylvania. Every cloud has a silver lining, and this disaster prompted the first major expansion, the silver starfish like building designed by Gunnar Birkerts, where the priceless collection of historical glass is safely housed above the flood plain.

Visitors spend an average of four hours at the Museum. During that time they can explore 3,500 years of glass, including a cut-glass baseball bat, a 100-lb paperweight and a 2,000 year old, 1” high portrait of the Pharaoh Amenhotep.

They can watch demonstrations of working with hot glass at the furnace or the torch. They can make their own piece of glass. They can discover how glass breaks, and how pulses of light can be sent thousands of miles through optical fiber. They can consult every publication known to man related to the topic of glass. They can learn about great technical innovations which use glass: light bulbs, television tubes, windows and heat shields for the Space Shuttle, and Pyrex, all developed by the company that still supports this wonderful museum.

Destinations

Tremblant: A First Time Visitor’s Resort Guide

Tremblant Ski Resort, in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec, sits in a valley of lush greenery in summer and a blanket of snow in winter. The beautiful lake fronting the resort is a source of boating and fishing activity in summer. It is about 130 kilometres northwest of Montreal, and it has been in operation for over seven decades.

quebec tremblant skiingThe pedestrian village is charming, almost post-card perfect and has plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. All skiing and snowboarding equipment can be found at shops in the village, and the resort has equipment repair, so gear damage will not ruin a trip.

So Much to Do, So Little Time

In winter, the point of a visit would seem to be skiing and snowboarding, and it is, but there are many other activities to capture non-skiers’ attention. Try ice-climbing or dogsledding, and dogsledders can drive the team or just ride. Horseback riding is not just for summer, it turns out, and there are two trips to choose from: a 1.5-hour ride or a back-country ride that is good for young children.

That’s not all; go for a sleigh ride or have a spa day. Snowmobiling and outdoor paintball await the more adventurous. Ride up to the top of the mountain and grab a snack in Le Grand Manitou, skiing or not. The scenic ride is an activity in itself on the tallest of these mountains. Snow-tubing, cross-country skiing, zip-lining, ice skating, ice fishing and snow-shoeing are other alternatives. Helicopter rides are available for a real panoramic view, and dune buggy tours are yet one more daring pursuit.

If you are interested in visiting Tremblant, click here for pricing on flights, hotels and package deals.

At Your Service

How tedious is it to get up to the top? It is not tedious at all with 14 lifts, two of which are gondolas. The cabriolet is an open gondola so visitors can enjoy a brisk winter ride before warming up in the mountain-top chalet. The other lifts consist of triple chairs, quad chairs, high-speed quad chairs and magic carpets, ground-level conveyor belts.

Five Reasons to Ski at Tremblant

1. Choice. There are 95 trails and four mountain faces to ski down: the north side, south side, sunny side and the edge. That last one is difficult; imagine cutting through the trees, which might be thrilling for some extreme sports lovers. Skiing down the north side in the early morning is considered a good “challenge.” In fact, 50% of the trails are expert level, and another 33% are intermediate, leaving the rest of the trail space for beginners.

2. Snow parks galore. There are three snow parks with more than 50 rail and jump modules that range from beginner to expert levels. Skiers and boarders need an Adrenaline Park Pass from Guest Services for these parks, and helmets are mandatory in all of them.

3. Something for everyone. In the nearly 79 kilometres of trails, the maximum slope degree is 42, and the vertical drop elevation is 645 metres with a mountain elevation of 875 metres. Overall, there is something for everyone. Ski school and kids’ programs are also offered, and there are rentals for those who want to try their wings before buying.

4. Tremblant has a snow patrol. If you are concerned about the safety of your group, particularly of your family members who may wish to ski more challenging slopes, you can be reassured that there is a snow patrol.

5. There is a medical clinic. And if things do go wrong, which they hopefully won’t, the resort has its very own clinic to look after any cuts, bruises or breaks.

Reserve, pack and go – it’s fun!

Destinations

Best ski resorts for partygoing groups

If you’re arranging a fun activity holiday for yourself and an outgoing group of friends, you’ll want to pick a destination where there’s plenty of opportunity to party once you’ve retired from the slopes; keep reading for my top resorts with the best apres-ski scene.

Ischgl, Austria

If you’ve picked Austria for your action-packed getaway, the resort of Ischgl is ideal for fun-loving travelers. The winter months are known locally as the party season, and a concert is held on top of a mountain here to open and close the skiing season. Stars including Alicia Keys and Katy Perry have performed at the resort’s world-famous musical events.

There is a good selection of apres-ski bars to choose from when you decide to leave the pistes and hit the town, including the popular Trofana Alm, where waiters transport trays of beer to thirsty skiers and revellers dance sing along many timeless classics.

A more traditional drinking hole is the Schatzi Bar, which plays modern music and almost always gets partygoers dancing on the tables.

Alpe d’Huez, France

Many French ski resorts are expensive for apres-ski, but not Alpe d’Huez. If you’re planning a break with a budget-conscious, outgoing ski group, Alpe d’Huez is the ideal destination.

There are dozens of bars throughout the resort, with popular haunts including The Crowded House and the Irish pub O’Sharkeys. Smithy’s Tavern is a good spot for drinks offers and tasty Tex-Mex meals, while Freeride is a must-visit as a result of its famous bar slide to the toilets.

Saas Fee, Switzerland

The traditional skiing resort of Saas Fee has a youthful side thanks to the snowboarders who visit the settlement, and these energetic travelers head into the center of the resort come late afternoon.

You can enjoy the laid-back vibe of Black Bull as the sun sets, and then head on to Nesti’s Bar, which you shouldn’t arrive too late as the venue is particularly popular.

Popcorn is another well-known spot, and the snowboard shop transforms into a pub-cum-club after closing time. Live bands play here regularly and there’s also a quieter bar area to visit if you feel like some time out from partying.

Sauze d’Oulx, Italy

Italy’s Sauze d’Oulx resort is another great winter sports destination which also offers a buzzing apres-ski scene. Especially popular with Britons, Sauze d’Oulx has both old and new town areas, where you’ll find great restaurants, pubs and bars.

The Old Town is laid-back and traditional, while the New Town is more contemporary and upbeat. Head to the Village Cafe, which serves everyone a free first drink, while the British-owned Moncrons bar is popular for its cocktails.

When you’re feeling brave enough to dance, you can call in at one of the nightclubs, such as Banditos or Schuss, and party until the small hours.

Breckenridge, USA

Located in Colorado, Breckenridge is a bustling resort with an equally vibrant apres-ski scene. There are around 20 bars and clubs dotted throughout the area, and you’ll find settings to cater for all tastes.

Cecelia’s is arguably the liveliest spot, but if you prefer a more laid-back ambience choose Liquid Lounge. If you’re a live music fan, head either to the Motherloaded Tavern or Three20South to watch bands perform.

Destinations

Take in astounding art in Brooklyn

New York is certainly a great place for art lovers to visit, and although Manhattan has a wealth of iconic museums and galleries, I think it’d be wrong to think that it’s the only borough in the city that has amazing paintings and installations on display. In fact, I’d say you’d be making a BIG mistake, as Brooklyn has more than its fair share of world-class art.

Here are just some of the best places in this part of New York for culture vultures.

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum is spread over some 560,000 sq ft (making it one of the largest art museums anywhere in the United States), I don’t think that it should be too much of a surprise to hear that it contains a vast array of art spanning all disciplines and eras of time.

No matter what your personal tastes are, I’m fairly certain you’ll come across at least a few works that will appeal to you. Indeed, the museum’s expansive collection includes everything from contemporary paintings to ancient African sculptures.

As well as the permanent galleries, the Brooklyn Museum hosts a range of exciting temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Often focusing on a particular subject or the works of a certain artist, these displays are on a few months. If there’s something in particular you want to see, you should act quickly and book a flight from the UK to New York .

This year has seen the museum host collections of several local artists, including Shura Chernozatonskaya and Heather Hart, while there have also been Andy Warhol exhibitions and  about the impact of 9/11 in previous years.

Look North

Head to the Red Hook district of Brooklyn and you’ll come across an array of fantastic galleries, although I think there are few, if any, that are as cool as Look North. Situated on Conover Street in a former warehouse that overlooks the city’s harbour, this amazing institution is dedicated to displaying the best in contemporary Arctic art.

Here, you can take in an array of sculptures – many of which depict animals like owls and bears that have been crafted from materials such as basalt and serpentine – produced by leading names in this movement. Several of the artworks on display are available to purchase, while prints of traditional Inuit art can also be bought.

Slate Gallery

Situated in the Williamsburg region of Brooklyn, the Slate Gallery is a wonderful place to stop by if you are keen to see the latest developments in the contemporary art scene during your holiday.

This free-to-enter institution, is located on Wythe Avenue, puts on an ever-changing array of temporary exhibitions. James Rosenquist, Erika Ranee, Nickolas Roudane and Jay Milder are just some of those to have had their work displayed here over the past few years. With the gallery committed to showcasing artists who use both traditional and non-conventional methods, I’m sure there’ll be something that catches your eye. Who knows, by taking a trip here you might come across a new favourite painter of yours!

These are just a few of Brooklyn’s leading art galleries and museums, but if you can think of any more that are worth visiting, please leave a comment and let us know.

Destinations

Ireland – A Perfect Winter Wonderland

Fancy living a low paced lifestyle far from the madding crowd? Head to Ireland, where an old world charm, unavailable in most developed countries, is on offer. The destination offers pleasant rural vistas, a slow paced life style and friendly people. We know you are looking forward to this when winter comes along, and thus Ireland is for sure a favored destination for many travelers.

Ireland can be a wonderful winter wonderland, with short days and long evenings that make cuddling in front of a fireplace an amazingly romantic idea. You’ll find many attractions open throughout the winter, like places you can visit like the castles, high crosses, stone circles, dolmens and cathedrals. read more »

Destinations

The beauty of Damascus

Damascus has understood that tourists can be a real gold mine. Taking the example of restructuring riad in Marrakesh sites, L’Hotellerie Syrian (declared the “pearl of Syria”) went through a “restyling” for a serious return to the ancient splendor of the historic buildings. After this, many numerous boutique hotels appeared, including the Old Vine and Hananiah — which we strongly advise you to pay a visit if you’re in the country.

Destinations

Top 5 Romantic things to do in Venice

If you are looking at places to go for a romantic vacation, you will soon realize that the city of Venice is pretty much on everyone’s mind. Be it your trusted travel expert or a casual traveler, Venice will always top their listing as the best place to go  for a romantic getaway. Its intricate canals and the floating gondolas make Venice an eternal favorite among one and all.

Here are some of the things that you should not miss out when you are in this picture-perfect place:

  • A gondola ride through the canals as you go past the renaissance buildings and the lovely markets of Venice is definitely the most renowned image of Venice and arguably one of the most romantic ways to spend your time in the city. A slow trip through the maze of waterways and bridges will leave you with a lifetime of memories
  • Watching the Grand Canal light up with a million shades as the sun starts setting is arguably one of the most romantic moments you will ever encounter not just on your vacation to Venice, but in an entire lifetime. Watch the dusk take over from the Rialto Bridge and meander past the wooden Accademia Bridge as you enjoy late evening. Make sure you get one of the hotels nearby on sites like venere.com or hotels with waterfront locations just to ensure you do not miss the Grand Canal sunset.
  • A boat ride to the islands nearby is equally appealing and a journey across the Venetian lagoon to the relatively secluded and stunning islands will give you plenty of amazing sights and sounds to take in.
  • Enjoy the Sunset on St Mark’s Square as you take in the many shades of the city and marvel at the backdrop of the Basilica San Marco. A lovely way to spend a great evening enjoying!

The Dorsoduro district next to the Grand Canal is the more rustic part of Venice where life slows down even further (if that is possible) and the streets become narrower and the village atmosphere takes over. Spend some time here leisurely as you shop through many of its gift stores

Destinations

Copenhagen: Viva la revolucion!

Even though the summit on global warming held here in December last year was considered by many a failure, the Danish capital was confirmed as one of the most “green” cities in Europe. True protagonists of the “green revolution” are the long bicycle trail that traverses each city thoroughfare. Here bicycles can be rented for free. And because Copenhagen got through the so-called “re-qualification of urban areas”, Nørrebro, once an ill-famed neighborhood, now has turned into one of the preferred areas of students and intellectuals who meet in the Sankt Hans Torv Piaza. Fun is guaranteed, and the premises are open till morning.

Destinations

Sri Lanka: The Tropical Zoo

Even if military checkpoints still remind us of the 25 years of civil war, Sri Lanka, the island-garden off the Indian Ocean coast, may finally get to show tourists its fabulous treasures. To be provide easier access to Nilaveli Beach, a resort located on the east coast, 275 km from the capital Colombo, a new airport in Matara will shortly be inaugurated. This town was decimated by the tsunami in 2004 but it’s now full of guesthouses and boutique hotels.

An example? Sun House: with its colonial style, it seems as if it has been built for the Queen of England… We’re sold!!!

Destinations Travel Deals

Give the tourist rush a miss by exploring the awesome outdoors of Tenerife

The most populated island in all of Spain and the largest of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife is an effervescent hub for tourism and activity.

With great connectivity thanks to the many flights to Tenerife, you will have no problem in reaching this beautiful and at times, breathtaking island.

But considering both the population here and the simple fact that over 5 million tourists visit it on an annual basis, it can be a pretty crowded place indeed, if you do not know exactly where to go to find some peaceful stay.

With events like the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which is one of the largest carnivals in the world, escaping the crowd might be the best way to explore the hidden beauty of this mesmerizing island.

There are plenty of ways you can do this and avoid the usual tourist package of fancy hotels, expensive stays and lovely evenings that are bound by time next to the pool. The island is blessed with wide variety of geographical features that include gorgeous valleys and ravines, the Dorsal Mountain Range that is spread across Tenerife, the spectacular and uneven contours of the massifs and awe-inspiring rock formation thanks to the volcanic nature of this fabulous island. You can also explore the vast protected area (which pretty much makes up almost half of entire Tenerife) which includes the wild beauty of the famous Parque Nacional del Tiede natural forest.

In case you are someone who prefers the wind and waves and the white sandy beaches to the vast stretches of green and imposing mountains, then the rugged coastline has plenty to offer as well. The Montañas Negras in the North-West along with the many rock climbing spots at Mount Tiede will entice adventure sport enthusiasts. From crowded carnivals, to idyllic walkways, Tenerife is a getaway where you can find everything; if you only know where to look!