Author: Richard Telling

Mal Pais Costa Rica

Tourists can come here to completely unwind and rejuvenate the mind and the body. This may also be the reason it attracts the rich and the famous, including Hollywood actors and international celebrities. As a result, Mal Pais always has that happening, yet understated class to it. A vacation here usually means spending relaxing days on sandy beaches and enjoying gorgeous sunsets.

The beaches are, of course, the highlight attractions in Mal Pais, which boasts a coastline that spans about 6 kilometers. Most of the coastline is occupied by long stretches of sand, but you can also find some considerably big sets of rock. Near the shore is a lush jungle rich in flora and fauna. The beach itself barely has any development. The hotels and resorts are mostly found on the sandy stretches of its sister village of Santa Teresa. This is also where you can find bars, restaurants and shops to rent surfing equipment. A number of people include Santa Teresa and the Playa Carmen area when they talk about Mal Pais.

Unlike Nicoya Peninsula’s neighboring villages like Montezuma, there are less tours and activities offered in Mal Pais. This is actually the point of coming here, to relax and do very little. But after a few days of lazy relaxation, you may feel like doing something, and you can always go fishing, ride a horse along the beach or sign up for canopy tours to nearby forested region.

The Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve is quite accessible from Mal Pais and makes a great day trip destination for those who love the jungle environment. Cabo Blanco covers about 1,270 hectares of land area, and is the first protected area in Costa Rica. Bird watching has also become a popular activity in the area because of the wide range of coastal and migratory birds that frequent here. Some of the bird species to watch for are falcons, kingfishers and scarlet macaws.

Mal Pais is highly regarded for its big swells and long beach breaks, which are consistent throughout the year. That is why it is no surprise that surfers from all over make their way to this sleepy beach town to ride the waves. From the water, you can admire the volcanic formations that populate the shore. The breaks generated in Mal Pais is perfect for intermediate and expert level surfers. If you are a surfing novice, there are some spots you can go to for practice. In addition, Santa Teresa’s beaches have swells ideal for beginners.

Honeymoon on a Cruise Ship

Honeymoon on the ship itself and not just at any destination. Most soon to be couples
may have seen a cruise ship as just a means of transport. Something that gets you from point A to point B while you enjoy all the amenities on board. Many may somehow believe that most of the fun is to be had at the destinations and not on the ship itself …

But does that have to be that way? Modern cruise ships are floating miracles. They are overflowing with every conceivable amenity that can delight you. And to say that they provide cozy and comfortable accommodation is an understatement. And the food on board may be better than what you can get at many restaurants on shore.

Another thing that may have deterred potential honeymooners from considering a cruise may be the cost. If so, you might want to take into account the length of the cruise while comparing costs. If a two week cruise sounds very expensive, what would it cost you to go on a two week vacation on land? And considering all the attractions on board a cruise ship and also at the destinations, would you have a similar experience on a more conventional vacation ?

That said, while going on a cruise vacation to celebrate your honeymoon may be a good idea, you might not want to board just about any cruise ship and sail away in the direction of the rising ( or setting ) sun … you see, some cruise ships target certain types of people only – families, seniors, adventure lovers and so on.

What you really require on a honeymoon is at atmosphere that gives you plenty of room to be amorous … an atmosphere that allows romance to flourish. And if there are kids running all over the place or people partying till early morning, then you possibly might find the experience a bit off-putting …

Which is why you will want to do some research on the vessel that you plan to be sailing on. What type of people seem to choose it most ? What is their age group? What will the atmosphere be like on the cruise ship? and so on. All you would have to do may be visit several forums and see what people who have already been on the ship are saying about the experience. You might also want to consult a travel agent who has been in the business for a while and knows about the ship and the destinations.

Formal Cruise Wear Night

For some men, it’s the agony of picking out your finest formal cruise wear, carefully packing them in your suitcase, unpacking and un-wrinkling them, and then, worst of all….. having to put the threads on. For other men, it’s the romantic ecstasy of seeing your dazzling beauty dressed in her finest, and walking arm-in-arm through the elegant dining room.

For some women, it’s the agony of deciding what to pack for the formal cruise wear night. Should it be black or brightly colored? Long or short? Or should it be slacks or a gown? For other women it’s the ecstasy of a wonderful romantic night of elegance.

Formal wear is somewhat subjective when it comes to cruises. Most often for men, it will mean wearing a dark suit or jacket and a tie. Tuxedos on some cruises are more common. In fact, many cruise ships will have tuxedos and formal cruise wear available for rent – in advance from the cruise line. You will however want to pre-plan and book your rental as soon as possible before you sail so you won’t be disappointed.

That was easy for the men. There is formal cruise wear available for rent for women as well. The same early planning and booking applies as for men. However…

For many women the task of preparing formal cruise wear can be much more exciting or much more daunting. Formal evening gowns are elegant and can be show-stoppers. But pant suits and slacks or skirts and tops can be glamorous as well! In fact a very practical article for any woman to pack is a pair of black silky “cocktail” type slacks. They take up very little room in the luggage and resist wrinkling! Matched them with a couple of tops, and you have formal cruise wear ensembles with very little fuss. And, most have stretchy waistbands so you can enjoy the wonderful culinary masterpieces in comfort! Flat or low heeled shoes make navigating onboard much easier and more comfortable.

These formal nights can make your cruise a wonderful romantic getaway! Exquisite cuisine, elegant dining rooms, intimate lounges, stage shows and reviews all lend themselves to enhance romance on board. Imagine a nightclub filled with tuxedoed men and sequin covered dresses on women. And everyone is basking in the radiant delight of the evening.

Some of the cruise lines request that you remain in your formal cruise wear for the entire evening. Others are more relaxed about the attire. And some, like Norwegian cruise lines operate on a relaxed “Freestyle” cruising atmosphere.

For those of you who absolutely despise getting all gussied up, most cruise ships have dining areas that always allow casual cruise wear. Remember however that most reservation only dining restaurants require formal or informal dress attire.

It’s always best, if you have any concerns about what constitutes formal cruise wear on your chosen ship, to check with the cruise line in advance.

Cruise Discounts

Early Booking Discounts

This type of discount is available from most cruise lines and for most itineraries. If you book before a certain date, the cruise line offers a special discount price for your vacation. Now these discounts may not be the ‘best prices’ you can get but by booking early you will most often get the cruise you want, on the cruise ship you desire, and the itinerary of interest, in the stateroom or suite of your choice. All of these items combined can make this type of vacation discount the very best value for your cruise. You may say that if you wait, with the cruise ships being so large these days, you can get exactly what you want. Be forewarned! Cruises do sell out.

Last Minute Discounts

This is by far the riskiest discount to plan on. If your preferred cruise sells out, you’re stuck without that cruise vacation. If you would prefer a balcony stateroom, all that may be available at the time could be inside rooms. However, having said all of that, these discounts can at times provide the very best pricing. So if you are flexible in itinerary, cruise ship, vacation date, and stateroom preference, perhaps this is your best bet.

Group Booking Discounts

If you can generate some interest in your planned cruise vacation with others, you could qualify for a ‘group rate’. Not all cruise lines would offer this – or any other – discount but it is certainly worth pursuing. The rates again may not be as low as for a last minute cruise discount but you can get in early enough to ensure that you get the preferences listed above.

Low Season Discounts

Should your vacation schedule fall into one of the ‘low seasons’ for cruise vacations, you would be in luck. In the Caribbean for example, the so-called ‘Hurricane season’ provides many great cruise rates for potential passengers. Now I know that ‘summer season’ is a better name for it from a marketing standpoint but we may as well call it like it is. Keep in mind that on a cruise, should a major storm happen, cruise ships can divert to calmer waters. Today’s cruise ships can out-run storms as well. If you were to be in a resort on a land-based vacation, you would have no choice but to flee or take cover.

Value Added Cruise Pricing

This type of ‘discount’ does not change the price of the cruise itself. It does however give guests specials additions and ‘perks’. One such added value could be stateroom upgrades – you pay for a certain category of stateroom and the cruise line automatically bumps you up into the next category. Another common value-added feature is an on-board credit. In this case, the cruise line adds a credit to your stateroom account that can be used while on your vacation. Other perks can include free logo-wear or a bottle of wine in your stateroom.

Previous Cruisers Discounts

For first-time cruisers, this type of discount will be un-attainable. But next cruise on the same cruise line, you may be offered many different specials that you may find attractive. These could include free upgrades and on-board credits as detailed above.

Whether you take advantage of any of the possible discounts available for cruise vacations, one thing is certain. A cruise aboard one of the magnificent cruise ships will be an experience to cherish!

Da Lat Vietnam

When you reach Da Lat, you will immediately experience a fairly strong French influence. This is not surprising as these European colonists treated Da Lat as a place of relaxation and retreat because of its more secluded location and consistent climate. In the climate it is often referred to as the “Eternal Spring”. Several hotels and homes here were built in French architectural style during the colonization period.

Some of the French-influenced buildings in the town include the Hang Nga guest house, dubbed as the “Crazy House” and the Dalat Railway Station. There is even a radio mast structure in town that is shaped like the Eiffel Tower. You will also spot some independent artists all around town who are eager to show you their work and happy to talk about their bohemian lifestyle.

At the heart of town likes Xuan Huong Lake, also called Lake of Sorrow. If you head out to the local market, your senses will be teased by colorful flowers like hydrangeas, vegetables, silk and traditional dresses. While here, grab the opportunity to try out famous local products like dried fruits, avocado and delicious strawberry jam.

The town proper is not the only thing that lures visitors to this side of the country as Da Lat is the perfect gateway to some of the spectacular attractions in the region. Its countryside is surrounded by waterfalls, lush forests, gardens and lakes. There are numerous ways of truly experiencing Da Lat’s beautiful landscape. There are many tour operators in town that can organize guided activities like white water rafting, canyoning, hiking and mountain biking.

If you head to the north, you will encounter serene Lak Lake, populated by lovely minority villages. One of the unique experiences you can have while here is observing the distinct lifestyle of the tribal people. A common sighting in the area is hill-tribe women carrying babies on their backs with the aid of a piece of cloth, which is tied in the front and strapped on one shoulder.

Caribbean Luxury Travel

Out of all the Bahamian islands in the Caribbean region, Andros is one of the less well-known. And yet, its subdued allure is what makes it even more appealing as a Caribbean luxury travel destination. With an area of 2,300 square miles and home to only 8,000 people, it is one of the least explored places in the western hemisphere.

However, don’t even for a second think that Andros is just one of those dime-a-dozen island destinations which the Caribbean is full of. Andros is the largest island in the country so you have plenty of grounds to have fun and enjoy the warm Caribbean sun. And because the island is yet undeveloped, there are few phones, few bus lines, and other facilities that could distract you from your relaxing vacation.

In truth, the island is not just one island but a group of islands tightly meshed into one archipelago. With its rocky shores and a web of creeks, this Caribbean luxury travel destination has never offered the kind of obvious harbor found on other Bahamian islands so, apart from the odd fishing lodge and Caribbean luxury travel retreats, development has largely bypassed it. However, what has made the island unsuitable for urban evolution makes it perfect for eco-tourism.

The Caribbean luxury travel resort of Tiamo is remote, even by Andros’ standards. Set three, road-less miles from the nearest village and surrounded by palm trees, banana plants, orchids, herons, tiny tree frogs, and some vicious mosquitoes, Tiamo is only accessible to guests by boat. Relying on its solar power system and solar-heated rainwater showers, the resort stays true to its ecological philosophy but at the same time offers you with an idyllic retreat is incomparable anywhere else.

Tiamo’s wooden cottages come with massive beds, hand-painted “do not disturb” signs, brightly tiled mirrors and showers lean towards safari-chic, especially when taken in with their painted, corrugated-iron walls. And in a clever twist on recycling, even the wood left over from building the cottages were used to build this Caribbean luxury travel resort’s funky outdoor furniture.

But while the interiors are outstanding, the main features of all the cottages though are their open porches. They have fans rather than air conditioning, but you don’t need to worry about the heat. The open sides of the cottages are designed to help keep temperatures down. Climate control aside, the real beauty of these porches is that they offer you panoramic views of the forest and the beach.

Lagoon Catamarans

THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN LAGOON MULTIHULL

In April 1988, The Lagoon 55 was unleashed to the world during Océanides, at Brest, winning immediate accolades and sparking an international demand for high-tech cruising catamarans that continues to this day.

The JTA staff moved seamlessly between construction of the Lagoon 55 and other competition boats, thus fusing competition technology breakthroughs with commercial cruising catamaran design.

VARIOUS VICTORIES; NEW MODELS INTRODUCED

The advances were significant: In 1990 JTA trimarans won all the top places in the Route De Rhum and group opened up a new shipyard in Nantes to organize the production of the Lagoon 55, Lagoon 57, and Lagoon 47. At the same time it continued to push the envelope in racing multihull construction.

While JTA continued to amass sailing victories and break records in the Pacific, it also started to produce ever more complex prototypes, continually testing and improving the technology and the underlying materials.

The result of all this activity and progress was the request for two new models, The Lagoon37 and Lagoon 42, which found their way into the North American charter market.

BENETEAU ACQUIRES JTA AND THE LAGOON RANGE

While market conditions deteriorated between 1993 and 1994 and dampened production levels, 1995 was another turning point when Jeanneau was acquired by Beneteau and the link was established between Construction Navale Bordeaux (CNB) and Lagoon.

TECHNOLOGY RE-APPRAISAL

JTA-LAGOON made good use of those two years of transition to make an in-depth appraisal of the technologies available for constructing their boats. High-level competition resulted in more and more boats being built using ultra specific technology (pre-preg vacuum at over 200°F, even autoclave).

SECRET RESEARCHS LEADS TO INFUSION TECHNOLOGY

To the staff at JTA, this seemed too costly to adapt to cruising sailboats as the ratio of price to technology needed to remain reasonable. It was during this period that the choice turned toward infusion, which was developed after thousands of hours of research in secret to make it a viable and efficient technology.

HOLLYWOOD COURTS JTA-LAGOON

At the same time, JTA’s notoriety enabled them to sign a contract with Universal Pictures for two 60′ trimarans to be used in the filming of Waterworld.

TECHNOLOGY VALIDATED IN REAL WORLD

Infusion technology was officially validated when a JTA prototype – small and nimble – won the Mini Transcat 97 and 99 and allowed JTA-LAGOON (Lagoon) to launch into infusion construction on a larger scale that is now the benchmark for the multihull industry and being successfully used to build the Lagoon 500, Lagoon 570 and Lagoon 420.

Presently, Lagoon remains intimately connected to CNB and has ceased to build racing boats. However, the team retains the historical legacy of cutting edge research and development in new prototypes including a sixth sense when it comes to understanding what the traditional sailor requires in terms of comfort, speed and performance.

Stay Slim On Your Carnival Cruise

The Carnival Sensation has an outdoor 9 hole mini golf course located on the sports deck. There is no extra charge for the use of the clubs and golf balls. There is also a gold pro on board who can assist you with golf lessons and arranging tee times in various ports.

The gym and spa together are over 12,000 square feet. The gym is equipped with free weights and treadmills. There are also stationary bikes and elliptical machines. Classes are offered in aerobics, yoga, kick boxing cycling and Pilate’s for a small fee. The spa is an oasis of relaxation offering the usual manicure or pedicure and hair salon. They also offer a dreamy hot stone massage. The lime and ginger massage is an exfoliating treatment with massage. The ultimate is the Swedish massage for two. Those under 16 aren’t allowed in the gym or spa. Passengers between 16 and 18 years old can go in but only with an adult accompanying them.

There is an outdoor jogging track that loops around the sun deck. Eight laps around equals one mile.

There are three swimming pools, one just for children. The main pool has a 114 ft water slide. Pool games and scavenger hunts are held in the afternoons. Six whirlpools are available for your use, several do not allow children. The main pool area does get congested in the middle of the day so if you don’t intend to dip in get a chair one deck up and enjoy the sun and peacefulness of no crowds.

Afternoon activities are concentrated around the main pool on Lido deck. There is usually a steel drum band or reggae singers performing island music to put you into the vacation mood. By the main pool is where many games take place like the ever popular hairy chest contest which is less about hair than how to work the crowd.

There are wine tasting and art auctions. If you go to the art auction and see something you like you don’t have to bid, just wait until someone else wins and ask later if you can have the same picture for the same price.

If you find you have too much money on hand the Casablanca Casino can help you out in a matter of minutes. The casino has slots, blackjack, And Caribbean Stud Poker. There are Mega cash slots that are linked with all Carnival cruise ships where the jackpot has been as high as a million dollars. There are 2 cent slots where you can win a car. You can use old fashioned cash or your ship account card in the casino. If you need to you can also get a cash advance in the casino on your credit card.

On all Carnival ships a daily events newspaper is distributed to each cabin. This is called the Carnival Capers. The Capers lists all activities for the day. This will help you to schedule non food related events. The list of scheduled activities such as Bingo and slots tournaments is listed in the Capers. You will also see and perhaps be puzzled by other listings.

On every Carnival ship there is a meeting for friends of Bill W meeting. Now, you may wonder about this, as I did after several cruises. Who the heck is Bill W and how many friends does he have that he gets his own meeting place on board? This is a euphemism for an alcoholic’s anonymous meeting. Bill W is the founder of alcoholic’s anonymous. You will also see in the Capers a friend’s of Dorothy meeting scheduled. This is a quiet way of announcing a meeting for those who are gay or lesbian or their friends.

In the Fantasia lounge that seats over 1300 people you can see a comedy show at night. An early kid friendly show is scheduled along with a late night R rated version. Austin Powers dance classes take place in the same lounge. Also in the Fantasia lounge is Game Show mania for passengers to play on stage.

In the Touch of Class disco there is an evening piano sing a long if that’s your thing. If you really want to sing by yourself the dance club has a karaoke night. Popular dance music plays every night at Michelangelo’s disco. You can dance any extra calories away.

Fascinating San Diego California

Seaport Village is home to several luxury yachts as well as a wide variety of charter services. Spend a day at sea whale watching or just kick back and enjoy San Diego’s beautiful coastline.

Head to what is considered North County and pay a visit to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. From mid-July to early September, the fairgrounds are converted into the legendary Del Mar Racetrack. The horse racing venue once served as a stomping ground for some of the world’s most influential entertainers such as Jimmy Durante, Ava Gardner, Pat O’Brien, and of course the legendary Seabiscuit.

In the heart of the city you will find Mission Valley-a central haven for some of San Diego’s best shopping. The outdoor Fashion Valley Mall features designer boutiques as well as premiere department store giants including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.

I’s downtown Gaslamp District boasts plenty of boutiques, top-notch restaurants, five-star luxury hotels, and a whole street lined with some of the city’s most popular nightclubs. A newer addition to the downtown area is the state-of-the-art Petco Park. The Gaslamp District caters to the swarms of tourists by offering activities such as sight-seeing charter buses, pedicabs and horse-drawn carriage rides.

And with the city’s trolley system in place the perils of parking are easily avoided. Luxury hotels include the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Hotel Solamar, Horton Grand Hotel, The Omni, The Westin Horton Plaza, the Hard Rock Hotel, the Westgate Hotel, and more. Take a closer look at luxury hotels in San Diego.

Experience California’s history while strolling through the Old Town. As the first European settlement in what is now California, Old Town has been dubbed the state’s birthplace. The cultural landmark- home to the first California mission showcases Spanish history through its Bazaar del Mundo. Another popular attraction is the oh-so-creepy Whaley house, which offers insight into what some people call Haunted San Diego.

When people think of San Diego the thought of bikini-clad beaches is often what first enters their heads. It has earned this reputation for good reason as its coastline offers some of California’s best natural beaches. There are plenty of beach communities that seem to cater to every stereotype out there.

First off, there is the overcrowded (but fabulous) Pacific Beach, which offers party-goers a wide variety of hot spots all within walking distance from each other. Travel a little south and you will hit Mission Beach, which offers all the perks of P.B. with the added luxury of Belmont Park. Keep heading south and you will end up in Ocean Beach, a small community filled with vintage shops, dive bars, and some wonderful undiscovered little cafes and restaurants.
San Diego Bay is yet another popular destination, known mainly for its ample water-sports.

And with neighboring mountain ranges in close proximity, San Diego is ideal for avid skiers and snowboarders alike. The kiddos will enjoy the famous San Diego Zoo, Wildlife Park, and Legoland. And adults will find a playground of their own as the county also offers several Indian gaming sites, casinos and luxury resorts.

Places to Go in North Wales

If you’re looking for somewhere to go in North Wales then one of the best options is without doubt Snowdonia national park, where you will find the famous Mount Snowdon. Standing at 1085 metres above sea level, Snowdon is the highest point in the British Isles excluding the Scottish highlands. It is one of the most popular places in the UK for hikers, climbers and tourists looking to find a good view. Despite its height you do not need to be an experienced climber to reach the top. There are several paths of different difficulty leading to the top or if none of them take your fancy you could always just catch the train all the way up, where there’s a café waiting for you!

However if you’re looking for something more adventurous and challenging then there are a range of events that run on and around Snowdon. If you want a physical challenge and want to see Wales from top to bottom then you could try taking on the Welsh three peaks challenge. An adaptation of the British three peaks challenge, the Welsh three peaks challenge involves walking up the three highest peaks in Wales. Starting in the south on Pen y fan in the Brecon Beacons you will then move up to Cadair Idris before finishing up the mighty mount Snowdon and all this should be done within 24 hours!

Alternatively if you would rather stay in North Wales and fancy yourself as a bit of an endurance athlete then you could take on the Man vs Mountain race organised by Rat Race events. This event is not for the faint hearted as it covers over 20 miles from the bottom of Snowdon to the top and back down again, and to make it that little bit more difficult they’ve also thrown in some obstacles along the way for you to navigate. Man Vs Mountain is one of the highlights of the year for obstacle course racers and is and incredible achievement and experience if completed.

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