Travel articles don’t have to be lengthy to be entertaining. The Series Travel In 300 Words or Less is a compilation of travel-related articles focusing on a single topic in 300 words, sometimes more, sometimes less.

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Travel in 300 Words or Less

me-in-coffee-shop Travel in 300 Words or Less

Travel in 300 Words or Less

Cruising the Nile Barceloneta Beach The Maldives Caribbean Weddings and Honeymoons Just the Two of Us in Thailand Sunset over Phang Nga Hiking the Cinque Terra It’s Jamaica Man!! Partying on a 2,000 Year Old Stage It’s All Music in Salzburg Doha’s Souq Waqif East Coast, West Coast Thing Ski Vacations in South Korea Bird’s Eye View of Langkawi All Inclusive Honeymoon Planning Seniors Are Cruising for Fun and Romance Brisbane More than the Barrier Reef Boracay From Sunrise to Sunset Defying Gravity in Beijing China I’m Your Bali Beach Bum Backpacking in Europe


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Cruising the Nile

From the British Museum in London to the Metropolitan Museum in New York to the Louvre in Paris– Ancient Egypt stimulates the imagination of the young and young at heart in museums all over the world. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that teenage girls are not immune to fancy the golden hair combs, legends of murdered teenage boy kings and fearless women rulers. Not every little girl dreams about being a princess. Some of them dream about being Pharaoh.

The life and death of the ancient Kings and Queens never cease to amaze us. The appeal in how they lived has been romanticized over and over again in the film to the point that it’s almost impossible to separate fact from fiction—which only adds more interest, more films and more visitors to the once-powerful nation. Add in a few aliens conspiracies about the construction of the Pyramids, the lack of knowledge of the Nefertiti’s rule or legacy and the mysterious deaths surrounding the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb and you have the makings of a story better than anything Agatha Christie could have conjured up.

Speaking of the Nile

A Nile cruise is probably one of the most breathtaking and eye-opening experiences you could ever have. Traveling down what is considered the lifeline of Ancient Egyptians, you will encounter some of the same things they would have seen—local fishermen casting their nets, to hungry crocodiles bathing in the sun.

Daydream while being transported to the ancient, yet dramatic ruins of Karnak, Luxor, and Hatshepsut. But be glad that the cruise is more modern-day hotel than an ancient barge with pools, restaurants and live entertainment that often includes plays, belly dancers and folk music. Visit the local souq and drink tea while sitting in a café by the Nile to experience the true Egyptian lifestyle. Or just do nothing while watching the sunset over the Nile and all that you…Pharaoh rules.


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Barceloneta Beach

It’s hard for anyone to not be in awe of Gaudi’s Modernist architecture. The buildings, parks, and other structures seem more at home on a Disney set than the backdrop for a modern city like Barcelona. And to think, the Sagrada Familia has been under construction for more than a century and its completion date is still anyone’s guess. The wide tree-lined boulevards; history-filled medieval streets, tons of great shopping and delicious food are reason enough to visit the coastal city. But it’s the beautifully restored beachfront that makes the bucket list for travelers both young and old.

Barceloneta is Where the City Plays Too

Barceloneta beach is where many visitors to the city begin their tour of Barcelona. The proximity to the city center makes it possible to visit museums in the morning and get a tan in the afternoon. The beachfront was cleaned up for the 1992 Olympics and it’s so cool to have a beach so close to the center of the city. The 3-mile-long stretch of sandy beach is where the water meets the road. It is the pulse and soul of daily life in Barcelona.

The promenade is fun, lively and filled with a mix of the weird, the wonderful and the wicked. You can’t help but live in the moment and feel you’ve left the ordinary behind. It doesn’t seem fancy or posh, just a mix of people from all walks of life enjoying the same thing—the beach. You can rollerblade, bike, or swim. You can build sandcastles, rent a paddleboard or just eat ice cream while lying on a large beach towel you just bought from a guy with dreadlocks roaming up and down the beach. Music seems to come from every direction and couples dancing in the square, seem to dance without a care in the world. Walk down the promenade, then in and back out onto the side streets of Barceloneta.


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The Maldives

There is a chance for a real-life Robinson Crusoe moment in the beautiful islands of the Maldives. The island nation is comprised of more than 1,100 islands— and only 200 of them are actually inhabited. Home to less than 400,000 citizens or roughly half of its annual visitors, there is an estimated 5 beaches to every man, woman, and child. That’s a lot of territories to explore.

But most of the 1 million annual visitors to the Maldives don’t have any intention of venturing past the wooden pier in front of their huts over the pristine turquoise water or too far beyond earshot of the happy to please poolside staff. The Maldives islands are grouped into 26 atolls visible upon approach. The atolls (live coral reefs) are the first indication that you are in for an unforgettable vacation even before you land. The second one occurs when you actually land and see them up close. The atolls surround and protect the islands from erosion, caused by its unfortunate geography of just 6 to 7 feet above sea level. It’s the same geography that has made the Maldives a strategic player in the Indian Ocean trade route.

Independent in Nature

Ruled as an independent Islamic sultanate for centuries and colonial protectorate by the Dutch and then the English until it gained its independence in 1965. The remnants of colonization still remain and are evident in the religion, architecture, customs, and traditions that exist today. Located in the Indian Ocean just north of the equator, the Maldives has successfully remade itself into an upscale destination with luxury resorts and spas catering to affluent travelers, honeymooners, sport fishermen, and scuba enthusiasts. Most of its visitors still hail from Europe or the Asia Pacific area but are more apt to plant a paper umbrella in a cold tropical drink than the Union Jack deep in its’ white sandy beaches.

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Caribbean Weddings and Honeymoons

Every little girl fantasizes about her future husband and the way he proposes. As teenagers, we tear out pictures of the “perfect” gown years before we find the “perfect” guy. The bride-to-be daydreams about every detail of the wedding, the reception and the honeymoon. And in all those dreams she never imagines anything but perfection. Not surprisingly, many couples spend more time planning the week-long wedding and honeymoon than planning the years of “happily ever after”. And not surprisingly, the most memorable and stressful trip most people will ever take is their honeymoon.

But honeymoons are not exempt from the travails travel just because they are special. And no matter how much planning is done, there is always room for bad weather, bad guests or just plain bad luck. It’s important to take it all in stride and enjoy. None of the above has to ruin your big day according to the certified destination wedding & honeymoon travel specialist at Shamrock Travel. Their romance travel specialists know what it takes to plan the wedding and honeymoon of your dreams without the stress or anxiety that usually comes along with it. So what are some recommendations for the bride-to-be?

Keep These Tips in Mind

  1. The keys to a wonderful honeymoon begin and end with reaching for your significant other and not your wallet, purse or credit cards. It’s enjoying a luxurious beginning to what you hope is your happily ever after while listening to the waves and not waving goodbye to your hard-earned cash.
  2. Some Caribbean islands may require additional planning. Give yourself and your romance specialist at Shamrock Travel plenty of time to plan your cruise, destination wedding, honeymoon or vacation.
  3. Keep an open mind. The Caribbean has stunning beaches, tranquil mountains, and dense jungle terrains. Test the limits of your imagination and comfort zone and set the stage for a realistic and “planned” start to married life.

And finally…

  1. Most people know that a wedding does not make a marriage and neither does the one or two weeks you’ll spend digging your toes into the cool, white-sand beaches. However, make sure you’re both on the same page about what is expected as far as intimacy. Bonding after such a huge milestone is far more important than expensive spa treatments… unless, of course, it’s beachside.
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Just the Two of Us in Thailand

Thailand has the envious position of being both a great destination for family fun but also a couples-only haven where children are neither seen nor heard. We recently spent a week on Patong Beach in Phuket, Thailand where the latter was the preferred order of the day. This is the heart of Phuket and must be experienced both during the day and at night when it is closed to automobile traffic. Lots of neon lights, dancers, beer and cocktails are really cheap. If you prefer not to drink, then just go for the great people-watching opportunities. Phuket’s walking street truly comes alive at night from 6 pm to 6 am. You really have to see it and experience it for yourself.

There is so much going on, you don’t know where to rest your eyes. Bars line both sides of Bangla Road and you constantly have someone coming up to you, trying to entice you into one of them with discounted drinks and a free “ping pong/ sexy” show. (You’ll have to look that up if you want more information).

Keeps Your Wits About You

There are no cover charges for the exotic and sometimes explicit sounding drinks, but the prices are actually inflated, so be prepared to bargain or keep walking. All the clubs have drinking girls who will talk you to death before asking you to buy them a drink, which I’m sure the bar gets a percentage. We had a few drinks at one bar where Nona, originally from Vietnam, worked. She talked to both my husband and me for 15 minutes until he got up to use the toilet. Then she leaned in and asked me to buy her a drink. She really surprised me, and I pursed my lips and respectfully declined.

It just seemed odd, but I left her a nice tip for her time before we moved to another club down the strip. The street is very busy and very noisy, each bar/club is playing their own music and some even have karaoke (unfortunately). There are few things worse than intoxicated versions of “Baby’s Got Back”. The original was bad enough. Most bars have pole dancers that you can watch from the road.

There are tons of street performers: fire eaters, magicians, virtual reality games and the infamous “ladyboys”. Ladyboys are actually Thai boys by day and dressed to the nines in ladies clothes by night. Be aware that some of them are hard to distinguish from the real thing and none of them expect to be photographed for free. Bangla Road is not for everyone, but I strongly recommend that you stroll from one end to the other at least once with an open mind and a sexy m*fucker in hand. You might also enjoy reading Sunset Over Phang Nga.

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Sunset Over Phang Nga

Over the years I have seen some striking sunsets, but none of them affected me so deeply as the one I witnessed from the top deck of a boat anchored in the Phang Nga Bay off the coast of Thailand. The sky turned from blue to warm gold, a sort of gold leaf effect over everything it touched. Then it turned to a deep, rich red that was so sexy in a matter of minutes before all light beyond the boat was extinguished entirely and we sat in an unworldly blanket of pitch-blackness.

The light changes were so dramatic against the murky blue-green water and brown cave formations jutting out all around us. I literally was dumbfounded, unable to speak, let alone take a picture. Luckily my husband did. But that sunset is etched in my memory forever and no picture could ever convey how I felt at that moment. And that’s travel as it should be. You might also enjoy reading Just the Two of Us in Thailand.

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Hiking the Cinque Terra

We strolled to the starting point just as a few drops of rain began to fall. Then the sky opened up and the deluge that followed had us think about turning back more than a few times. I kept lying to Kish about being able to see the summit. But I knew she’d be proud of herself and I guess I was a little selfish too because we all knew she’d rather be in a nice spa sipping on something cool and refreshing.

But like a good friend, she plowed up all those steps, built into the mountain and across trails only wide enough for two feet, where a missed footing had you tumbling off the side into the dark blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea below. The day started off cool, but as we climbed higher and higher the clouds dissipated and the sun beat down on our backs. I tried to forget that this was only one leg of the 5-leg trek. You may also enjoy reading these other hiking posts Three Hikes in Daegu Korea and Backpacking in Europe.

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It’s Jamaica Man!!

What makes Jamaica the Best Caribbean Destination? Easy. There is something for everyone in Jamaica. And in true Jamaica fashion, everyone is welcome and the island motto, “One Love” is just as all-inclusive as many of its popular resorts. Jamaica’s landscape is varied, its weather is warm & sunny and its people are a delightful mix of all the above.

It has some of the most beautiful white-sand beaches where huge all-inclusive resorts offer endless amenities that cater to your everybody and world-renowned restaurants dish up delicious meals that cater to your senses. Cruise ships dock daily at the well-known cities of Negril and Montego Bay along the west coast, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio on the northern shores and its capital city, Kingston in the south. You can’t go wrong with a stay at any of the island’s port cities. But Jamaica has so much more to challenge the more adventurous in spirit. Dense jungles offer hiking adventures, Jeep off-roading and zip lining over cascading waterfalls. Or maybe you’d prefer to commune in nature with a therapeutic stay at a mountain lodge where you can experience Jamaica in real-time away from the crowds where time is relative. Get out of life’s daily grind with the locals where the only tourist you may run into is the one staring back at you in the bathroom mirror.

Jamaica sways to a reggae pulse all its own but also imports several phenomenal music festivals in everything from blues to rock n roll. The island also offers an excellent girl-friend getaway that rocks or a stunning backdrop to the destination wedding or honeymoon that sets the tempo for your happily ever after. Your experience in Jamaica is limited only by the confines of your imagination. However, no matter what you plan to do, start your vacation research to the island by contacting El Sol Vida Fun Tours a trusted local transportation and tour operator with more than 20 years experience creating travel experiences that last a lifetime.

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Partying on a 2,000-Year-Old Stage

Athens is a large city, except when it comes to tourism. Most of the attractions typical tourists come to see—the Parthenon, Plaka, Ancient Agora, Temple of Zeus and Syntagma Square—are conveniently located in the city center. And now many of them are easily accessed via pedestrian-friendly streets and walkways.

The Acropolis, one of the most magnificent archaeological monuments in Europe, never fails to evoke feelings of grandeur. The ancient monuments were built in the 5th century B.C and are an enduring symbol of Greek culture and civilization and an impressive place to begin your Athens adventure. After the changing of the guards by the high-stepping Evzones in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, wander along Syntagma Square and its imposing government buildings and Parliament to the historic triangle of Monastiraki, Thission and Plaka. Old mansions intermingle with modern department stores, family-owned shops that have been there for generations, stylish restaurants and traditional tavernas highlight and reflect the revolving eras in this ancient city.

But Athens is much more than an ancient city. Today’s Athens is as much for the history buff, as for today’s fun and excitement seeking travelers. And thanks to the 2004 Summer Olympics, the city now delivers modern amenities that make Athens more convenient. It has an underground railway, buses, and trams to the southern seaside towns on the coast.

There are islands, beaches, and towns not far from the city center and after sunset, Athens rocks. Techno clubs with massive indoor and outdoor dance floors, concerts thump everything from blues, rock, and jazz to traditional Rembetika transforming the ancient monuments from old marble ruins to a vibrant backdrop for today’s generation of Greek “deities”. Athens is the cradle of democracy and the template for many of today’s civilizations. It offers the sense that you are not only seeing history but because you’re here, you’re now a part of it too.

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It’s All Music in Salzburg

Salzburg, Austria is alive with the sound of music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born there and the city will forever be linked with the 1965 film The Sound of Music starring Julia Andrews as the headstrong novice governess Maria. More than 300, 000 people visit the city every year to relive their childhood memories and visit the sites depicted in the film.

There are numerous guided and self-guided tours available. Many of which are located within the city center and can be visited in a single day. Head to Mirabell Palace Gardens, a pretty little park where the beautiful Pegasus Fountain takes center stage. Channel Maria and the von Trapp children (Liesl, Louisa, Friedrich, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta, and Gretl) as they dance around the fountain singing Do re mi—one of the most memorable songs in the movie.

Don’t leave the gardens before visiting the stairs where they created a musical scale or the pergola vine tunnel and hedge maze at the Southwest corner of the royal gardens. All were featured in the film and will make a memorable backdrop to your photographs. But none more memorable or authentic than the von Trapp home where the family actually lived from 1923 to 1938. They left the villa after losing everything in a bad investment and fearing reprisals from the Nazi when the patriarch refused to serve. Maria taught the children to sing (to make ends meet) and they began touring around the world as the Trapp Family Singers, the basis for the book and movie loosely based on the colorful family’s life.

The 19th-century mansion has gone through many transitions since the family left it more than 80 years ago. It served as both a refuge for an Order of Missionaries, a summer residence for the German SS Officer Heinrich Himmler, only to be returned to the Order in 1947 when it underwent an extensive renovation to restore it to its former glory. It was converted into a hotel in 2003 where you can live as a von Trapp for as little as $150 per night. Daily tours are offered at noon.

The tour price includes a short film and a walk through the house and gardens and costs 15 Euro for adults and 7 Euro for children over 14. Check the rates and reservations. Mirabell Palace Gardens are open Monday, Wednesday, & Thursday 8am-4pm; Tuesday & Friday 1-4pm.

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Shopping in Doha’s Souq Waqif

Although Doha is best known for its’ skyscrapers and shopping malls, it’s not too difficult to escape the world of steel and plate glass to enjoy shopping and the smoke perfumed atmosphere of the more traditional souq markets. The souqs, located all around the city, are the best places to purchase souvenirs of traditional goods, spices, perfumes, and wool and silk pashminas.

One of the biggest and most popular is the century-old Souk Waqif which has recently been restored to its original glory, transporting you to your own Arabian night’s fairytale. Souq Waqif is Urdu for “standing market”. And generations of animated merchants have been vigorously waving their hands and goods, engaging would-be shoppers and bargaining for a price both buyer and seller could agree upon. Always start low and slowly work upwards until you get to the price you are willing to pay.

Thousands of people traverse the cobblestone streets and rest under the numerous arches out the glare of the heavy sun during the day. And sample the sweet taste of shisha and traditional candies under the starry nights. Lately, it has become a hotspot for art galleries and trendy restaurants. It is also a wonderful place to people watch and captures a few great character-filled pictures with your eyes and your digital camera.

Shopping isn’t the only thing you can do in at the Souq Waqif. There are activities for every age to include pony and camel rides, a brightly colored and very loud bird market and traditional musical performers and entertainers strolling the narrow streets and alleyways at night. And finally, just off the beaten trail, near the equestrian area, you’ll find the Falcon Souq. It’s home to everything needed in the training, maintenance, and care of the lofty bird. However, look but don’t touch the prized birds, which are treated like members of the immediate family and generally cost more than your car back home.

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It’s an East Coast, West Coast Thing

The US has some fantastic skiing coast to coast. Ski resorts on either side of the country offer a wide range of slopes, terrain, and activities for beginners, experts, snowboarders and non-skiers alike. It really just depends on what you’re looking for in a ski vacation.

Some of the best skiing is located in the mountains of Colorado. Colorado and skiing are synonymous; you can’t think of one without the other. Twenty-seven resorts, huge resorts scattered in all four corners and across the Rocky Mountains. Many of them are recognizable even to those who have no idea what a green, blue or black diamond refers to– let alone fallen on one. Breckenridge, Aspen, Telluride, Vail, Keystone, and Winter Park are magnets for celebrities and ski enthusiasts alike. And with 55 peaks higher than 14,000 feet in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, there’s plenty of powder to go around.

The trails are steep, long, dotted with few trees and characterized by unmanicured runs and heavy snowfalls. Few trees create opportunities to make big sweeping turns unlike the trails found on the East Coast. Three thousand miles away, the Appalachian Mountains almost mirror the Rockies in length and latitude. However, resorts like Lake Placid, Stowe, Killington, Sugarbush and Sugar Loaf on the East Coast have considerably less altitude than the Rockies. Ten thousand feet would be considered considerable, right? In addition, there’s less snowfall, more humidity, which makes the snow heavier and the resorts are forced to rely on snowmaking machines because they just don’t have the annual snowfall their counterparts on the west coast do.

The trails tend to be manicured, narrower with less vertical. However, it could be argued that those differences might require skiers to be more skilled at shredding. Great Eastern Trail, for example, a green trail that wraps for four miles (from peak to base) around Mount Killington, Vermont is perfectly fine when the resort opens in the morning. However, by the end of the day, it is quite treacherous. All the snow is “skied” away and skiers are forced to shift their weight and use their edges to cut into the icy base or end up picking themselves up off the cold and unforgiving mountain floor.

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Ski Vacations in South Korea

Do you know that the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang? South Korea may not be your first choice for a skiing holiday, but if you’re a beginner or haven’t strapped your boots to your bindings in a while… it’s the perfect place to take a few lessons or get your ski legs back. Many of the resorts are within 3-4 hours from the capital city of Seoul. This offers easy access to weekend trips to the slopes. However, the closer the resort is to Seoul, the lower the mountains and the shorter the slopes and the runs. In addition the more likely you’ll be skiing on the artificial stuff and with the crowds.

The typical ski season starts mid-December through the end of February. Despite its southerly latitudes, Korea experiences a fairly severe winter. Temperatures can dip as low as -20°C during the winter months. Due to South Korea’s location on the North Pacific edge, winters are usually long, cold and dry. More than three-quarters of South Korea is covered in mountains. The country has 17 ski resorts on the peninsula, with three distinct ski regions. Gangwon-do, Seoul Metro and Central Korea.

The Pyeongchang region in the Gangwon-do province is ground central for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, with 9 distinctly different ski resorts to chose from. Alpensia Resort will host the games. It will also be the site of the ski jumping, cross-country, luge, bobsled and biathlon events. The Olympic village for athletes will also be built at Alpensia. However, the majority of the alpine events will take place on the neighboring slopes of Yongpyong and Phoenix Park. Yongpyong sees an average annual snowfall of 250 centimeters, far greater than any other resort.

It also enjoys the longest ski season, from mid-November until March or April. During the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, Yongpyong will host the alpine competitions. Phoenix Park will be the site for the snowboarding and mogul skiing. The facilities are great and the slopes are perfect for beginners, making the overall experience a good one. Accommodation ranges from dorm-style rooms to condos to suit any traveler’s needs. Rentals are available at the resort or at the many shops around the area. Visit for more information.

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Bird’s Eye View of Langkawi

Most visitors to Langkawi, Malaysia start off by lounging poolside at one of the many beautiful resorts. If tourists do vacate their seat, it’s to explore the island from an exciting vantage point. And Langkawi has a good one. You can get an eagle-eyed view of the beautiful island by taking a 15-minute ride via cable car to the summit of Mat Cincang. You may even see a few of them too. The cable car makes two stops. The first part of the climb is very steep and windy.

The wind plays a crucial part in the experience—stimulating all your senses. You hear its soft gale forcing its way through the air vents into the interior of the cabin. You smell the fresh breeze as it swings the car to the left and then right. You can feel the wind on the back of your neck. And when the clouds hang low, you can see the condensation form on the outside windows as you ascend the island’s second-highest peak.

Tip: If there is no one in line, don’t get off at the first stop—go directly to the summit. Walk up the flight of stairs to the observation deck. Once there, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view, 2,170 feet above sea level. You can see Pantai Kok beach, the Seven Wells (Telaga Tujuh) Waterfalls and rain forests that form a warm, thick blanket of green around the entire island. And on a clear day, you can see Southwest Thailand across the crystal clear blue waters. If you have your land legs back from the steep climb up the mountain, walk across the Langkawi Sky Bridge that connects Mat Cincang to a nearby peak. The Langkawi Sky Bridge is a 410-foot curved pedestrian suspension bridge built-in 2005. It is not for those fearful of heights especially if you stand on top of one of the glass panels that allow you to see (or not see) the ground beneath you.

Due Diligence: The cable car and sky bridge are state of the art but do not operate in bad weather, so check with hotel staff or call ahead before venturing out. There are several stalls selling food and t-shirts. Opening Hours: 10 am – 8 pm Address: Jalan Telaga Tujuh Teluk Burau, Langkawi, Kedah 07000 Tel: (604) 959 4225.

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Honeymoon Planning

Q: What’s the most memorable trip of your life? A: Your Honeymoon. Q: So what’s the most stressful trip to plan of your life? A: Your honeymoon, of course. But it doesn’t have to be according to the folks at the Sandals and Beaches Resorts who specialize in all-inclusive vacations, consistently ranking high in customer satisfaction polls. Why? Because one of the keys to a wonderful honeymoon is reaching for your significant other and not your wallet, purse or credit cards. It’s enjoying a luxurious beginning to what you hope is your happily ever after. So what are some recommendations for the Bride-to-be?

  1. Start planning early. Why add to the stress of the wedding by worrying about finding someplace on short notice? It is one less thing to worry about and also something to look forward to in the middle of the “unavoidable” wedding planning stresses.
  2. If you do choose a Sandals Resort, check-in online no later than one week ahead of your arrival at Click on the link and follow the instructions. Check-in also entitles you to a free honeymoon romance experience offered at the resort. The honeymoon package includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a flower-petal turndown on your bed on the first night of your stay and breakfast in bed any morning you choose.
  3. Call ahead, if you are interested in making reservations for the Candle Light Dinner, Couples massages or any of the tours offered by the resort.
  4. Keep an open mind. Work out what you really want and/ or will make you happy. Too many people settle for what they think a honeymoon should be without really thinking what it’s going to give them. Test the limits of your imagination and comfort zone and set the stage for a realistic start to married life.

And finally…

  1. Most people know that a wedding does not make a marriage and neither does a honeymoon. However, make sure you’re both on the same page about what is expected as far as intimacy. Bonding after such a huge milestone is far more important than visiting another museum, beach or shopping mall… unless, of course, that’s what you both want to do.
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Seniors Are Cruising for Fun and Romance

Just like any other segment of the population, seniors just want to have fun. Baby boomers have always represented a large segment of the cruise population and an even larger segment of the repeat cruise business. That is actually fantastic news for the cruise ship industry because that opened up the possibilities to cater to this growing demand. They have responded with an array of services and amenities for this category of cruise passenger to choose from. Millions of seniors choose to cruise for the service, great food, accessibility and convenience, amazing itineraries, and all-inclusive and endless possibilities to travel alone.

Many cruise lines have also begun catering to the older market with a variety of onboard cruise programs and amenities such as life enrichment lectures, extensive medical facilities, access for the disabled, special diets, and grandchild programs that help bridge the generation gap with programs that are fun for both the young and the young at heart. Many even offer the services of “gentleman hosts” to entertain the growing single senior’s population. Every cruise line appeals to a different age and style of a passenger. Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Princess Cruises generally cater to all travelers in the moderately priced cruise category. You’ll pay a pretty penny to cruise with Cunard, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Crystal Cruises.

And for those with yet deeper pockets and a few more years, yachts like Seabourn and Silversea offer top of the line services in the luxury category. In addition to the mega Ocean Liners, canal lines or barges offer seniors the opportunity to design their perfect vacation. They can choose to watch from the deck, as the revolutionary locks of the Panama Canal crank open and shut. Or sip a cocktail as life slowly pedals by on two wheels on the banks of the Seine in France. Or straddle the continents of Asia and Africa as they sail back in time, drifting along the ageless currents of the Suez Canal. There are no bounds or curfews on cruising options for today’s senior.

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Brisbane More than the Barrier Reef

Brisbane, Australia is the capital of Queensland, on the Gold Coast or Western coast of the country. It is renowned for its beauty, proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and its wildlife. It is a haven for nature enthusiast with several national parks, recreational island habitats, curious botanical gardens, waterfalls, and pristine beaches.

Top Thing to Do and See

Brisbane is a beautiful and modern city built on the banks of the Brisbane River and nestled within the “outstretched arms” of the Moreton Bay. More than 10 bridges carry traffic across the horse show shaped river, including the Story Bridge, stage front in many photographs of the city. Other landmarks include the Wheel of Brisbane located in the Parklands and the unforgettable dominance of the Coot-tha Mountain peak, home of Brisbane Botanic Gardens, hiking trails and 360°panaramic view of the city below.

The Botanical Gardens are open 8 am – 5:30 pm from September to March and close down 30 minutes earlier from April to August. Tropical and sub-tropical plants and flowers fill the perfectly landscaped gardens. Interactive displays and sculptures will entertain both young and old.

The lagoon lake area is very beautiful with a lot of waterbirds in their natural habitat. And if that’s not enough, there is a planetarium next door for those thirsty for our place in the cosmic world, a bonsai house for those thirsty for the meaning of life, and a café for those that are just, well thirsty. The gardens are free to everyone except dogs, which for some reason, aren’t permitted. You can get to the gardens by car (free parking), bus or bike.

And if you still have energy, you can walk up to Mount Coot-tha after you see all the above. Mount Coot-tha, in addition to having one of the coolest names, is a great place to renew, refresh and revitalize the spirit and senses. Not one but two restaurants offer visitors a place to relax and enjoy a meal while taking in the breathtaking views of the city, Moreton Bay and islands in the bay that appear to have broken off from the mainland. Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island National Park look like the flippers of an old fashioned pinball machine, so be careful not to tilt the machine or you’ll have to leave Brisbane immediately.

What’s For Dinner?

The Summit is an upscale restaurant popular with the locals for weddings, while Kuta Café is popular with tourists for a quick bite after taking in the view from the lookout and heading back down the mountain into the city.

Looking for one of those Australian steaks you heard about at home? Go to Ric’s Bar in Fortitude Valley with your mate for live music and a beer while nibbling on their After Dark menu that includes $6 steak from 6-9pm every Sunday and Wednesday night. But take a date to Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill for one of Brisbane’s “signature” cuts of beef and a glass of Chardonnay. Book in advance, for a seat with a view to the nonstop ebb and flow of the Brisbane River.

If you’re looking for more than a restaurant, then take your mate and your date to Cloudland in South Bank for a pan-Asian experience with shared plates, two bars, music and an energetic, yet playful atmosphere. Birdcages, tons of oversized foliage, and fanciful booth areas comprise the “over the top décor”. There’s even a cascading waterfall at the entrance that screams… you aren’t in Kansas anymore.

On the Outskirts

Lamington National Park is a wonder in biodiversity. It covers a vast area of land where hot, cold and tropic flora and fauna thrive. It’s a great place to hike, cycle or test the limits of your imagination through the lens of your digital camera. Most people come for the bird watching—for good reason. There are more than 160 species of sub-tropical birds making their nests in the rainforest. Guides, camping, a private lodge, and other amenities are available nearby. Consult the website for park fees and regulations prior to visiting.

The park is a 2-hr drive from Brisbane’s city center and accessible by car and bus. Finally, no visit to Brisbane is complete without seeing a koala bear. The best place to do this is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, open daily from 9am-5pm except on Anzac Day (Australia and New Zealand Memorial Day celebrated on April 25) when the park is open from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm. The sanctuary is accessible by car or bus from Brisbane. It occupies a pretty piece of land near the river and is home to 130 It’s home to koalas, kangaroos, possums, wombats, and many native birds. But it’s the koalas that steal the show and they know it. I dare you to pick one up and not fork over the $16 it costs for a picture. I double dare you.

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Boracay From Sunrise to Sunset

At only 4.5 miles long, Boracay in the Philippines is small enough to navigate by rented bicycle or motorbike. However, what it lacks in size it overcompensates in beautiful beaches, luxury resorts, inexpensive massages, and stunning sunsets. And December is a fine month to explore it all.

Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia, White Beach covers almost half of the western coast of Boracay. You can lie on the beach and watch the brightly colored fish in the warm, turquoise waters from the comfort of your lounger or watch the people parade along the path under the warm blue skies—both just steps from the lapping waves.

The Mood Changes at Sunset

Once the sun sets, the bars on the beach come alive with acoustic guitar music, fire shows and some nights there are even fireworks over the shoreline. Yapak Beach, commonly referred to Puka Shell Beach, on the other side of the island, is just as beautiful. The beach is covered in native Puka shells and offers a quiet respite from the crowds and buskers that troll White Beach. While it might be a little more of a hike, once there, you may be rewarded with a little bit of paradise all to yourself.

There are many beautiful accommodations on the island. We stayed at the Lingganay Hotel and Resort, a quiet haven with 360° views overlooking the island, the activities on White Beach and the horizon beyond. The hotel, reminiscent of an old-world castle, is one of the nicest resorts on the island. It offers many amenities including two pools, lush manicured gardens, a full-service restaurant & bar and a private, secluded bay where the residents are starfish and you have a front-row seat to magnificent sunrises every morning.

And while we highly recommend the hotel, we were a little disappointed with the slow service we received and food selections on the breakfast buffet. Otherwise, the hotel offers great value for the money and a wonderful home base to uncover all the island’s treasures.

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Defying Gravity in Beijing China

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Beijing, China is the Flying Acrobatic Show where young acrobats and circus performers seem to defy gravity, perform acts of unbelievable strength and daring “hit or miss” feats that leave spectators on the edge of their seats. Chaoyang Theatre is one of the best places to witness the artistry and magic of Chinese acrobatics while on holiday.

The performers are highly trained and the show is entertaining and light-hearted. Utilitarian words like a high chair, drum, and umbrella, take on a new meaning on the stage as a young acrobat climbs a hill of metal chairs, very near the ceiling while balancing himself and the chairs in ways that that appear will topple at any moment.

Tumblers fly through the air, through hoops and over one another’s heads—all to the beat of a drum. And young girls hang themselves on a large “handle” as they balance the weight of their bodies by their teeth. The finales vary, but often involve feats of daring. High impact is how the theater describes the motorcycle show where two riders enter a huge steel cage at the center of the stage.

On the Edge of My Seat

The audience starts off quiet, but the tension and the excitement rise as every few seconds another cyclist rumbles onto the stage until there are 8-10 riders zigzagging their way around the inside of the metal ball, lights and horns blazing above the loud music. It’s great fun for children of all ages. The theater is located at 36 North East Third Ring Road in the Chaoyang District, but many tour operators offer discount tickets and provide transportation to and from the show. It is also accessible by car, subway, and the rapid rail transit system.

Two shows are performed nightly at 17:30 and 19:00. Ticket prices will vary, starting at 220¥ or about 33 USD, based on the proximity to the stage. No cameras or photography of any kind is permitted during the performances and souvenirs are available at the conclusion of the show.

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I’m Your Bali Beach Bum

Bali has a reputation for being a wind surfer’s paradise and a cultural haven for people who appreciate spirituality. However, the beauty of Bali is in its people, adherence to tradition and its varied landscapes. The island is situated 8 degrees south of the equator and surrounded by coral reefs. You’ll enjoy dry, low humidity on the beaches as long as you avoid monsoon season, which takes place from October to April.

There are no shortages of beautiful accommodations, however; beach vacations can vary distinctly in their culture, commerce, and clientele based on where they are. Nusa Dua (South) Nua Dua is a mass tourism enclave where the Balinese are actually restricted by law. Many of the hotels large, offer numerous amenities and are managed by large Chain hotel groups. The area was built for the all-inclusive client.

The coast spans the beach fronts of several five-star resorts. Nusa Dua will have the greatest variety of accommodations, shopping, and restaurants, authentic cultural shows—all close to the airport. Amed (East) Amed was once the preferred location for the hippie class. These days the cheap thatched bungalows have been replaced with a lot of good low to mid-priced hotels and villas. Very little to do besides relax, dive and snorkel. Kuta (Nearest Capital) If you are looking for something more celebratory, check out Kuta.

There are some really good restaurants, shops and places to stay. You’ll also have the best chance to interact with the colorful locals and witness one of the most beautiful and romantic sunsets on the island. There are also a few small islands with beautiful beaches, accessible by boat for day excursions. Nusa Penida’s Crystal Bay was named for the sand, top-notch wind sailing on Nusa Lembongan and the thrill-seekers island of Nusa Ceningan, accessible by a rickety suspension bridge that connects it with Lembongan, where you can visit the stunning Blue Lagoon with numerous vantage points to watch the more daring dive off the craggy reefs into the stiff white peaks below.

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Backpacking in Europe

Backpacking in Europe has changed in the last few years. It used to mean backpacks the size of a small child, staying in overcrowded, non-descript dorm rooms with shared bathrooms with questionable cleanliness, padlocking your belongings from would-be thieves and munching on cheap food and cheaper beers.

The lure of hostel life is foremost the price, but also that they are usually located in prime locations, near nightlife, popular sites, and attractions, which gives the transient traveler an opportunity to meet more people and make the most of their meager funds. But there’s a revolution taking place in the world of hostels all over Europe—from Portugal to Greece—and it’s called the luxury hostel. Staying in a hostel doesn’t have to mean sacrificing basic—or even luxury amenities anymore.

Nowadays there are lots of “upscale” accommodations for those would-be backpackers who prefer a little style in their travel and feel the life of the typical backpacker is better suited to the 20s set. Some of these hostels updated communal living spaces, making them chic and comfortable. Bunk beds have polished mahogany, instead of pine; the bathrooms boast marble counters and fresh-cut flowers that instantly feel more like a five-star resort than a backpacker’s lodging.

Still, others have plush leather couches, game rooms, spacious rooftop gardens, private balconies, flat-screen TVs and indoor pools. And while there is always a communal kitchen, many offer today’s backpacker, hardy and delicious home-cooked meals that recount memories of their own mother’s cooking and deliver the fortification of a satisfying meal for all the travels ahead. Fancy Downton Abbey, stay in a reasonably priced room within the stone walls of an old English castle, complete with the grand staircase and a well-stocked bar. Or maybe you’d prefer the laid back charm at a German hostel with weekly yoga classes, a sauna, and a rooftop bar.

There’s a luxury hostel for everyone and a few great places to start your search are, or just Google “luxury hostels” and you’ll receive a wealth of information.

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