Author: Richard Telling

Buck Island

This gorgeous island covers 176 acres of land area and is enveloped with the elk horn coral barrier reef. The coral system is highly admired for its extraordinary formation, and is home to an abundant number of underwater animals, which include reef fish, crustaceans and hawks bill turtles.

Since the island is a highly protected destination; don’t expect to find the usual water sports like jet skiing, fishing, surfing and kite surfing conducted here, as they are all prohibited. But what you can truly enjoy while here is hanging out on the beach, having picnics, swimming, snorkeling and just soaking in the tranquil and secluded ambiance. Although scuba diving is not permitted at the underwater trail, there are two scuba moorings in the north lagoon. There are no tourist accommodation facilities on Buck Island, and it is closed to visitors during sunrise and sunset.

To reach wonderful Buck Island, which is less than two miles north of St. Croix Island, you need to take one of the boats from concessionaires authorized by the National Park Service. Once aboard, you can sail to the island and admire it from different perspectives. If you are coming from overseas, you can first fly to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix and then plan a trip to Buck Island.

You have the option choose whether to sign up for a half day or full day trip with the concessionaires. But if you do have the time, it is highly recommendable to linger on the island for as long as you can. It is the perfect spot to feel that you are away from it all. It is even more special for those who adore snorkeling, beaches and lush forests.

You can find the concession boats docked at Green Cay Marina and Christiansted Wharf. If you wish to come to the Island by private vessel, note that it is only allowed if you have obtained the necessary permit. Permit applications are processed by the National Park Service visitor contact station at Fort Christianvaern, located in downtown Christiansted.

Once you step foot on Buck Island, you can easily access the outer reef and underwater trail by boat. There is only one foot trail on the island and it connects Turtle Beach and the reef area. The trail takes about 60 minutes to complete, and makes a nice hiking experience. Turtle Beach is a very famous destination on Buck Island. Hailed by National Geographic as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this is a dream-come-true destination for any beach lovers or romantics.

Find A Last Minute Cruise Deal

If you have been thinking of taking that first cruise ship holiday and have been told to book well in advance, then it may pay to check out the last minute cruise deals on offer and take your holiday a little sooner than you anticipated.

You see, there is a little phenomenon in the sales world that seems to apply across most areas and that is the last minute rush for bargains. The cruise line industry is no different and savvy bargain hunters have snapped up some amazing deals late in proceedings. But be warned, you will require some patience and a little nerve as you seek out the late specials.

Where To Look For Last Minute Deals

As companies attempt to fill their staterooms before their intended departure date and realize they aren’t going to fill them as anticipated then they may start to lower their prices. Bear in mind, last minute cruise deals can be booked up to 90 days in advance so if you have got some extra vacation time owing then it still gives you plenty of time to organize the time off from work.

Believe it or not, thousands have taken advantage of the last minute cruise deal rush over the years and in dollar terms, the aggregate savings made would run into the millions. Has this hurt the cruise lines? Well undoubtedly they would like to obtain “full tote odds” for their staterooms but let’s face it, selling them at a reduced price and having them occupied would be a lot more beneficial for them than to have empty during a cruise.

The trick is finding these late minute bargains. Don’t expect to see them advertised en masse in the local dailys or electronic press. After all, cruise lines need to protect their full-fare paying business. Travel agents are normally your first “port-of-call” when searching for a discount fare. But the internet has opened up a whole new world for the cruise enthusiast and there are some excellent sites specializing in deals. Do a search online for discount or last minute cruise deals and you’ll get wide selection of sites who have done the “hard yards” and “sniffed out” the bargains.

Cruise Specials Online

Another handy tip… some of these sites, particularly the higher ranked and more established ones offer a mailing service online where you can sign up to receive regular newsletters detailing cruise holiday bargains in a whole variety of categories.

It is also a good idea to check out the various cruise line company websites. More often than not, last minute cruise deals will be featured here. Take it a step further and give them a call. Let them know you have some spare vacation time coming up shortly, how much you have to spend and of course, if they have any discounted specials available during the next couple of months.

Performing a little due diligence will pay off for you in the long run. Last minute cruise deals in most cases are like “little nuggets of gold:” you have to search for them.

About Volcano Cruise

The island of Santorini, which is located in the Cycladic island complex in Greece, is a unique natural phenomenon. It has the largest caldera of the world, which resulted after a volcanic eruption hundrends of years before christ. This is why Santorini has been for years now a famous tourist attraction.

If you find yourself in Santorini, then a volcano cruise is something you should definitely have το visit.
The volcano is also known as Kameni island (which actually means Burnt in Greek), as it is all black due to the eruptions. You can reach the island with a volcano cruise, disembark and climb up the volcano. But is not the only thing to see; The Thermes Piges, Hot Springs that are at the volcano island, are a real temptation. Dive into the hot water, which is known for its medical attributes (at least your skin will be perfect for the following days)

Then the cruises continue to the Thirassia Island, couple miles western of the Kameni. Disembark at the traditional old port and ride an donkey up to Thirassia village!

A volcano cruise on Santorini can be held in the morning but also in the afternoon. I strongly recommend the latter, as there is no experience that could be compared to watching the Santorinian sunset while being on board…

Glacier Bay Cruises

The rational ground people are drawn to this far-off part of the is plainly considering it holds so much natural beauty . While on a cruise through Glacier Bay, you can expect to see massive, beautiful glaciers, White covered mountains and exotic wildlife such as whales as well as harbor seals.

Because most of the square footage of the Glacier Bay National Park is water, the real action lies on the shore. Shores of the bay are lined with thousands of species of flowers as well as lush trees. The array of plant life when it plays a part in Glacier Bay makes it the perfect environment for 220 various species of birds.

Proprietors of Glacier Bay cruises advise on bringing your binoculars to get a close-up estimation of land mammals such as moose, mountain goats, brown and black bears, wolverine as well as coyotes.
These amazing life forms can all be seen from the comfort of the ship’s deck. If your low-priced allows, you may even get to see these thrilling sights from your own private balcony .

For a usual 5 day, 4 night cruise you can design to spend between $1600 as well as $2600 per person. It all depends on what sort of amenities you want. Greatest packages include shipboard accommodations, ocean transportation, on-board entertainment, on-board meals and non-alcoholic drinks. Continually included is transportation to as well as from the airport. Once budgeting for a cruise to Glacier Bay, remember to invite money if you wish to partake when it plays a part in a shore excursion. Prices for these vary dramatically from group to enterprise, so be sure to ask before you reserve your cruise. Some other expenses you should take into consideration are alcoholic drinks, personal expenses as well as gratuities. Yet another overhead that’s not typically covered when it comes to an advertised rates is government local tax. These can range from about $5 to $110 per person.

The finest time to plan your Glacier Bay cruise is during the summer months. From May to September, the climate is typically nicer as well as Glacier Bay National Park services, such as wildlife-sighting rangers, are when it plays a part in lined swing. The earlier when it plays a part in the season you book your cruise, the less it will expense.

While Glacier Bay cruises can seem expensive, most people find the experience they have to be benefit every cent they took out for it. The truly boundless sights will turn into etched into your memories for a lifetime. The peaceful, relaxing atmosphere mixed with the novel, crisp air of the north will leave you more relaxed and happy than you’ve felt when it plays a part in a long time. Indeed, if Glacier Bay isn’t on the overhead of your vacation destination list, it should be.

Bend Oregon

During winter, Bend becomes a playground perfect for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The mountains all around Bend receives an average snowfall of 30 feet. Among these mountains is Mt. Bachelor, which has its own ski resort that has become a favorite among families, especially because kids who are 12 and under get to ski for free! The resort offers plenty of opportunities when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. You can also sign up for a snowshoeing guided tour into the stunning forests near Bend. There are many local tour companies that are happy to organize such adventures for you.

Summer is equally fun in Oregon, including the months of August through September. There are many activities to choose from; Cycling, golfing, kayaking, fly-fishing, rafting and more. It is difficult to get bored in a place like Bend. The outskirts of the city is a hiking mecca. Hiking enthusiasts from all over make their way to this American city to complete the Bend Ale Trail, dubbed by many as the biggest beer trail in the west. This distinct trail showcases 14 of the best breweries in the region. Tackling the Bend Ale Trail means adhering to a set of rules. Some of them are quite fun such as getting a trail passport that will be shown and stamped at each brewery you visit.

There are also multitudes of more traditional hiking trails in and around Bend. One of them is the 3-mile loop Deschutes River Trail that starts at Farewell Bend Park. This trail promises to be quite scenic leading you to waterfalls and whitewater rapids. Other equally picturesque trails are the ones at Century Drive, Shevlin Park, Smith Rock State Park, as well as the Green Lakes Trail.

Hardcore nature lovers test their limits by climbing Smith Rock, and they are greatly rewarded by the spectacular panorama when they reach its top. Smith Rock is located within a state park that was named after it. The park covers a land area of over 600 acres, and is set on the high desert plateau with an elevation of approximately 3000 feet. Even if rock climbing is not your cup of tea, you can still visit the park year round for picnics, camping and hiking.

Saas Fee – Switzerland

The town represents a true mountain village with its narrow streets, cow sheds and quaint chalets. It is actually one of the four villages in Saas Valley, Valais Switzerland. But it is most often called the Pearl of the Alps because its consistent snow and spectacular surroundings, made up of mostly alpine peaks standing at about 14,000 meters!

Saas Fee boasts more than 20 lifts and pistes stretching to 100 kilometers. If you are not an Alpine skier, you can also try to out walking trails, cross-country skiing paths and toboggan runs which are also available. You can explore the Allalin Ice Pavilion, which reveals the beauty of glaciers, or if you are up for some adventure, take on the fixed rope route that crosses the brook gorge. On this route, you will have to use cables and rope bridges, but you will be assisted by a professional mountain guide. Another attraction that is popular among thrill seekers and adventurous travelers is the Adventure Park. This is a suspension rope park that challenges its guests with a range of rope obstacles of various levels of difficulty. And while you are sweating it out in the park, you will always have a gorgeous glacier backdrop to remind you why you’re here.

Doing a toboggan run is a great alternative to skiing. The Feeblitz toboggan run is an excellent example. It features a 55-degree inclination that will guarantee an exhilarating decline! And if you think this is not special enough, try going tobogganing at night. The adventure will be magical with the route lit up to provide contrast to the darkness. All these activities will make you very hungry at some point. Although there are many restaurants and cafes in town, why not dine in style? Saas Fee’s Revolving Restaurant on top of the Mittelallalin glacier promises a dining experience like no other as you eat your delicious meals while looking over the fantastic alpine landscape.

From Saas Fee, you can get a lift pass that can get you to the other neighboring villages like Saas-Grund and Saas-Almagell. Saas-Grund lies at the center of the valley, and is a good jumping point for skiing trails, while Saas-Almagell, is renowned for natural dam Mattmark. The third Saas community is Saas Balen, whose main landmark is the late Baroque style circular church which is a national heritage.

Bahamas Booze Cruises

If you love the ripples of rum and ocean, the booze cruise could make your Bahamian vacation a memorable event. The half day fair of drinking, eating, dancing, and play, along with Bahamian delicacies to snack on, DJ music and unlimited beverages, is the nicest gala that you can possibly experience.

You will be able to anticipate that the whole trip would be like one big, giant, floating party. You can even snorkel in the Bahamian waters if you are feeling adventurous. A word of caution to heed if you want to stay on the top deck: apply sunscreen liberally and often.

If you can spend a little more money, glass bottom cruises can also be a thrilling experience like no other. No other attraction or sightseeing tour can beat the fun of a Bahamian booze cruise that takes you to the heart of the turquoise sea of the Bahamas, and looking through the floor to see it all. Most of the trips offer unlimited drinks, delicious lunches, and the folk music of the Bahamas. You can go snorkeling along the beautiful reefs and tour the famous Sea Gardens. The occasional stops at the secluded beaches of the Bahamas are also exciting. Next time you plan a cruise vacation, take a trip to the Bahamas and soak in some sunshine, tank up on booze and have an exciting and enjoyable vacation!

Impressive Skytree Tower, Tokyo

This prominent structure was originally built as a television broadcasting tower and was opened in May 2012. Despite its modernity and hi-tech features, Skytree was designed to depict the traditional traditional Japanese architecture, particularly the concave sori curves and convex mukuri curves as seen in most of the country’s ancient temples and buildings.

Some of the highlights of visiting the Skytree tower are its two observation decks. The first observation level is named Tembo Deck, and is located about 350 meters above the ground. But its height is not its only jaw-dropping feature. This observation deck has 5-meter high panels that unveil a 360 degree view of the Tokyo and the whole Kanto region.

Just an elevator ride away and 100 meters above the Tembo Deck, lies the Tembo Galleria. Considered the highest skywalk in the world, this special deck is composed of a sloping spiral ramp that circles the tower. This ramp leads visitors to a 110-meter long glass paneled flooring. If you dare look down while walking the transparent flooring, you will be seeing Tokyo and its skyscrapers at your feet. Now this can be very challenging for those who have fear of heights. But if you overcome such fear, you will be rewarded by a wonderful experience – a bird’s eye view of the urban jungle of the prominent Japanese city.

If you have not had your fill of being up high above the city, then make your way to SoraKara Point, which marks the highest accessible point of the tower. With a height of about 451 meters, being here feel like the floating with the clouds in the sky. Aside from its observation decks, Skytree is a commercial hub filled with sections that do not fail to impress and entertain guests during their visit. The middle floor of the tower is occupied by a souvenir shop and the Musashi Sky Restaurant. This sky restaurant offer diners by a superb French-Japanese fusion cuisine menu. There is also café on the ground area.

About Travel and Disorientation

During the months we’d been gone, we drove back to check that all was well but stayed only for a few days; sort of feeling like visitors here, strangely more at home in our cozy, tiny space in the RV.

While it feels great being back in our home, I feel disoriented by the spaciousness of our home compared to the 400 square feet we lived in for 120 days. Also that I’ve missed out on time here; mostly Christmas. Back around December 22nd, we decided to have a party at home with our Nevada friends and their kids. Probably the best party we’ve had in years, I raced like crazy to put up Christmas decorations the morning of December 22nd, the day scheduled for the party, because we were expecting several children at the party. We had purchased gifts from Santa for them; giving them out made the party for us and everyone else but then we left only a few days later to return to the California coast leaving all those Christmas decorations sitting here in our empty house.

Since we just returned home yesterday, this morning was the first chance I had to put away the Christmas decorations and to switch out the wreaths on the front door from Christmas to Lent. Doing so made me think about Christ, of course, and for the first time since I’ve been a Christian, I counted up the days from the end of Christmas-Epiphany, this year on January 8th, to Ash Wednesday: 41 days.

Forty-one days to cover the birth of Christ, the smidgen we know about the lives of the child, his mother and father in Bethlehem, Egypt and Nazareth, his public ministry then whap; we’re in the forty days of Lent. He lived for 33 years and we cover his entire life in 89 days or so it feels to me as I ponder the timing of the liturgical calendar.

Argenton-Sur-Creuse

We had a late dinner, and by the next morning I found myself on a train heading south to new destinations. The train station is connected to the airport. It is even dirtier than Charles de Gaulle aéroport. Tar stains on the walkway from decades of foot traffic, and the smell of unkempt bodies mixed with grease. But beyond the city were sights to cleanse the eyes. Lush green rolling farms, and postcard towns throughout the countryside.

This was a business trip with my new boss, yet it became so much more. The people, the food, the history, the architecture. My sensory perception felt inadequate to the task. The further south we traveled the more my anxiety grew. That I might not be able to remember it all, to be able to recount the wonderful experiences.

The highlight occurred at a place I least expected. A small town in central France, more to the south than the north, more east than west. Argenton-sur-Creuse. I can best describe it as a poor man’s version of Venice. A river runs through, with water lapping at the edge of buildings. Throughout the town are cobblestone sidewalks, rough on the feet but apropos to the setting. The multi-colored buildings, some with a slight lean, provide an architecture which could make you believe you are a character in a Charles Dickens setting.

Our morning meeting was short, leaving us four hours to wait on our train. We found a sidewalk café, the smell of baked pastry wafting from the inside. I ordered a glass of white wine. The food in France is fantastic. Basic dishes you might turn your nose up to in the States. It is all fresh. Something as simple as french fries, called pomme de frites, assaults your nose with cooked potato, oil, and salt. Even a cheese plate opens your senses; the sweet smell of slightly sour milk, in beautiful yellows and beiges.

As the waiter set my glass of white wine on the table, a slight sweat on the outside of the sparkling glass, she arrived. Did I mention the women of France? They are beyond beautiful. Slim figures with thin Parisian faces, highlighted by tight lips from years of pursed pronunciations. Slightly pronounced cheek bones, accentuating luring eyes.

But this lady stood out above the crowd. Long legs with tight jeans, tucked into tall black boots. I am partial to blondes, but she had long brunette hair, ending at the small of her back. Dark eyebrows on top of olive skin, and piercing brown eyes.

She sat at the table next to mine and stared directly at me with a pronounced smile. My heart skipped a beat. Not because I was suddenly in love. More out of embarrassment that she might have caught me gazing at her beauty.

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