This is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
A land of extremes. Vast wilderness, exceptional walking and hiking trails, rugged coastlines, cozy beaches, abundant wildlife (furry, feathery and finned), quaint towns, small harbors, golfing, world class wines, beers and spirits, farmers markets, culinary delights, indigenous cultures, marvelous gardens, boutique inns, seaside lodges and elegant hotels.
This is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
A charming town located approximately 30 minutes from our Rhine River cruise stop in Breisach, Colmar is considered to be one of the prettiest towns in France. Intrigued by this description, and wanting an opportunity to photograph half-timbered houses, I decided to take this optional tour, despite a little bit of rain. This tour did not disappoint.
Colmar was like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale.
Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney
Do you ever ask yourself what happened to all that time you thought you had? I sure do - every year seems to zip by faster and faster. And I find this especially apparent when I see friends and family with children. Seems like one day they have toddlers and the next day they have young adults headed off to college (or out on their own).
I'm not sure exactly why I am so fascinated by the polar regions. Maybe it's the beauty of the mountains, snow, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Having flown over/near the arctic circle a number of times on my way home from Europe, I always wondered what these islands below looked like at sea level. It could also be the allure of the polar bears.
A marriage of wine and culture, the Bordeaux wine region in Southwest France is a perfect pairing for river cruising, wine lovers and culture seekers alike.
The Bordeaux region is home to over 7000 beautiful chateaux and over 14,000 local wine
Courtesy of The Brando
The world is full of amazing destinations, amazing accommodations and amazing experiences that come along with them, by land and by sea. Here are 7 of my favorites:
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
Off the south eastern coast of Greece lie some of the most stunning islands of the Aegean Sea – the Cyclades Islands. Meaning “encircling”, the archipelago is named such because they form a rough circle around the island of Delos, the legendary birthplace of Zeus’ children, twins Artemis and her brother Apollo. As stated on the Visit Greece tourism site, Delos is the head priest of the Cyclades, the birthplace of immortals. Delos is not a museum. It is not there to tell a story. It is history itself.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
Every air traveler today is required to present a valid (not expired) form of identification to get though airport security and board a flight. Common forms of ID include driver’s licenses or state photo identification cards, passports, passport cards, DHS trusted traveler cards (ex. Global Entry) and military ID cards.
When the weather outside is frightful (or even when it's not), a number of warm drinks come to mind: a hot cup of coffee (with or without a splash of "something"), hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy cane melts or maybe a chai tea. But my favorite warm winter drink is definitely a mug of Glühwein (hot spiced mulled wine).
One of the top questions I get is how to snag the best airfare for an international trip. I’ve seen good tips and many more myths (at least in my opinion) on the internet about this topic.
So I’m sharing ones I know work consistently over time.
It’s been a while since I’ve read about ancient history, but I’ve always imagined what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Pharaohs, to wander among impressive ancient temples, curious how they were built. I find this all absolutely amazing, considering the sites and artifacts date back over 2000 years.
Honeymoons and romance are what most often come up to describe these destinations. And rightly so. Serene and sublime – perfect places to relax, play, unplug, a chance to be together. A spectacular tropical getaway.
Who knew there were so many options to think about when planning a Galapagos cruise? Cruise vs land? Sailing yacht or small ship? Which itinerary? What time of year?
Excerpt from the Ensemble October monthly magazine - written by Craig Tansley;
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - taken by Chris McLennan
Perhaps you’ve tasted a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Oyster Bay, but little else is known about the country’s wine throughout North America. While Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay hog the Australasian limelight, New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best wine in the world’s most unique vineyards. We share some of the secrets…
Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises
It’s my opinion that many non-cruisers believe all cruises are the same. The image they often describe to me: big, massive ships, lots of people, 24/7 parties, an experience similar to being a sardine stuck in a can. As someone who loves cruising and knows just how great of an experience and value it is, this breaks my heart.
Those who have cruised know this description is not accurate. Sure, there are big mega-ships, and yes, some are "fun" ships. But certainly not most, and certainly not being stuck in a can.
When on safari, you have several types of accommodation choices, from high end, five star luxury lodges to simple campsites and a lot in between. Following are the descriptions for the top three most common choices.
Did you know that Tanzania's great migration of wildebeest, zebras, gazelles and other migratory animals is a year round event in the Serengeti? Constant movement of nearly 2 million animals – following the rain and fresh green pastures in a clockwise direction.
Serengeti National Park is a vast ecosystem covering over 5700 square miles. Where the herds are depends on the time of year. And because the animals are unpredictable, one never knows the exact time of arrival in a particular region, but they do eventually arrive.
When thinking of South America, Peru, Brazil and Argentina often get the most attention. But don't overlook Chile, a country with a diverse landscape north to south and ample things to see and experience.
It's no secret. I fell in love with this country over 10 years ago. Warm and friendly people, great food, wine, interesting history. And for me, the absolute best was the amazing scenic beauty and wildlife. There is no doubt I'll be returning.
Here are my top 8 reasons to visit:
Labor Day weekend is the kickoff to a "new" season. Summer and all the adventures that come with it are coming to a close. School is back in session. Fall sports and activities are back in full gear. Cooler weather is on the horizon. We get back into normal daily routines.
Everyone is, well, busy with life. Right?
Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways.
Cruising the world’s rivers continues to be extremely popular, especially in Europe. This segment of travel has seen tremendous growth in the last ten years. New ships, new and revised itineraries - it's getting a lot of attention. According to the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), cruises on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube and Elbe have grown 53% year over year. The Douro, Po and the waterways of France have grown between 24% and 30%.
Having been on three cruises myself, I understand the attraction. It’s a fantastic experience, an easy and relaxed way to travel. Unpack and pack once, the captain does the driving, wake up refreshed and ready to explore a new town. Tours and free time included. Great food and drink. Making new friends. Need I say more?
I rave about river cruising and and I believe the overall experience is a great value for all that is included. But it’s not for everyone.
Following are several points you should know before booking any river cruise for the first time. Better to be armed with knowledge than being unpleasantly surprised.
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
I love the ocean. I am fascinated by the creatures that call it home. I enjoy snorkeling, and someday I'll learn how to scuba dive to get an even closer look. As with many other places on this earth, some things you need to see with your own eyes. Pictures just don't do it justice.
When time and budget allows I always try to add a few days before and after a cruise to explore the surrounds, especially when traveling overseas. Flights are a big investment, so you might as well take advantage when you can. I did just that on my recent Rhone River cruise, with a self-drive trip exploring Provence and the Loire Valley.
Read about my pre-cruise adventure here.
My post cruise adventure took me to the Loire Valley to check out a few chateaux. Having never been to this area I did not know what to expect, but I had this image in my mind of beautiful chateaux literally everywhere you look. Hmm, well, not quite!
Finding them - another story. Thank goodness for GPS! Surrounded by forests they weren't always easy to find. Some had signs, others were more evasive. However, once found, oh my!
The chateaux we saw were magnificent - interesting, beautiful, historic, breathtaking.
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