Singapore goes by many names – the Garden City and the Lion City just to name a few – but no name can truly describe the experience of traveling and … [Read More...]
Los Alamos: A Horseback Destination to Remember
A horseback holiday in Los Alamos? Sign me up. Los Alamos is a European wonderland in the heart of Spain and an exotic, fun-filled destination. Everything from the moment I arrived exceeded my expectations.
I was greeted at the airport by John, our host, who made me feel comfortable from the moment I arrived. John helped show us around, and with a potential language barrier, John made it a lot easier to feel comfortable when arriving to our villa.
The aroma of cheese and bread filled the air as I walked into the villa, with brunch already prepared for me.
When we walked into the villa, it felt surreal. The floor plan was open, so you can see the dining room table, sofa, television and windows all from the entrance. Reclining sofas greeted us as we walked through the kitchen to get a drink.
There was a wide selection of drinks available, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.
When I stepped outside, I was greeted by the gardens and a pool, which I took full advantage of on a near daily basis. The villa was impressive, but I am on a riding holiday, so I was more interested in the horses than the villa itself.
Kevin, the horse manager, did a wonderful job at matching us up with horses that met our riding skill. A sense of confidence is felt when you saddle up on a horse that “fits” you well. Los Alamos horses are on trails almost every day, and these fit horses are used to riders coming in and taking control. Cross breeds and thoroughbreds were available, and experienced riders can opt for the more challenging horses that aren’t afraid to push the rider’s skills to the limit.
A week of riding on the perfect steed was as perfect as it sounds. Horses need a rest, and I was accompanied on my rides by three beautiful horses: Blaze, Star and Jack. Well-trained and polite, I venture to say that the horses in Los Alamos provide more than enough incentive to come back and ride again.
Riding up the rolling hills of El Campo was spectacular, with the ability to see cattle tracks and ancient roads. The hamlet of San Ambrosia was equally as breathtaking, with the area remaining untouched. It’s like riding into the past where humans, pavement and buildings didn’t scatter every city.
Galloping through the natural park is a surreal experience, with every corner providing something new and exciting to explore. Cantering on the beach or going up the firebreaks took my breath away.
The beaches of Cape Trafalgar allow horseback riding twice a week, and the thrill of your steed cantering on the sand is an indescribable experience. When the sun peaks above the horizon, the day riding to match the tides begins.
The horses tend to fill with vigor as they reach the beach, and when the steeds reach the water’s edge, their skills are on display. Riding along the beach to start the day off is a great way to ready yourself for the adventure ahead.
Cantering down the beach with the wind brushing by me was one of my favorite riding experiences.
And then I have to mention the delightful food at Los Alamos. Chicken kebabs, fish, omelets, pork and a variety of other home cooked dishes were served. Local bars provide simple, local delights that are both affordable and tasty.
Los Alamos is one of the most highly sought, most rebooked European destination, and it’s hard not to fall in love with everything, from the food to the horses and the sandy beaches.
We throughly enjoyed our stay, we are now looking to book another horse riding holiday in North America. I would love to have my own horses and find temporary horse stalls for rent and explore everything North America has to offer from the saddle.
Singapore goes by many names – the Garden City and the Lion City just to name a few – but no name can truly describe the experience of traveling and staying in this larger-than-life city. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, Singapore isn’t exactly an “off the beaten path” destination, but it’s a cultural melting pot rich with delicious food, art and wonderful people.
Top Things to See and Do in Singapore
Whether you’re staying for a long weekend or two weeks, there’s plenty to see and do in this futuristic city-state.
No stay in Singapore is complete without a stop in Chinatown. Known as the cultural heart of Singapore, this district is home to several beautiful mosques, pagodas, shops and more.
For luxury shopping, head over to Orchard Road, the city’s premier shopping district. Here, you’ll find high-end shopping, coffee shops, cafes, hotels and nightclubs.
If you’re hungry, head over to Kreta Ayer’s Food Street for a bite to eat.
For a unique nightspot experience, take a tour through the Night Safari, the first wildlife park in the world to offer night tours. The park’s tram will take you on a guided tour of the safari’s 40 hectares of forests. Where else can you catch a glimpse of wild animals in their natural habitats at night?
Merlion Park is another must-see for anyone visiting Singapore, with the park’s iconic lion offering a great photo opportunity. Don’t forget to stop by the Gardens by the Bay, a 101-hectare nature park that offers stunning views of the Marina Bay.
Sentosa Island is home to an artificial, sheltered beach, and offers attractions for visitors of all ages. From a 4D movie theater to a dolphin lagoon and insect conservatory, the resort is a vacation all its own.
If you’re traveling with the kids, Universal Studios is a must-do. The park is the only one in Asia with a Hollywood theme, and takes you on a journey through some of the most popular films, including Battlestar Galactica, Jurassic Park, Madagascar, Shrek and Transformers. Take a stroll down the Walk of Fame, and dine at one of the many restaurants in the park.
For truly stunning views, head up to the Tiger Sky Tower, the tallest viewing tower in Singapore. The Tiger Sky Tower offers panoramic views of the city at 131m up in the sky.
Head over to the Singapore Botanic Gardens to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The 156-year-old tropical garden is found just on the outskirts of Singapore’s main shopping belt. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning garden has been ranked a top attraction since 2013. Top sites at the gardens include the Orchid Garden, Rainforest, Botany Centre, Ginger Garden and the Children’s Garden.
We managed to squeeze in all of these attractions during our week-long stay in this uniquely beautiful city, but there’s plenty more to see and do if you’re staying longer. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or something more adventurous, Singapore has something for every traveler.
The Sights and Tastes of Dublin
Known for its pints and opinionated people, Dublin is a city you can’t help but fall in love with – and fall in love we did. After a weekend stay in the Fair City last month, we came close to unpacking and staying a while. Sure, we hit every spot on the usual beaten path, but at the end of it all, we found that this colorful city is a treasure trove of delightful sights, many of which we had never even heard of.
What to See
There’s so much to see and do in Dublin that we couldn’t possibly fit everything into a weekend trip. But we did manage to hit some of the best spots on the beaten and off-beaten paths.
Not surprisingly, we started our trek with a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, a must-see for every visitor. If the complimentary pint isn’t enough to draw you in, then the 360-degree views at the Gravity Bar will. The interactive tour takes you through the history of this iconic brand.
If you’re in the mood for something a little livelier, head to the medieval Temple Bar district for a true Irish bar experience.
Next on the list is Ha’penny Bridge, built in 1816, which crosses the Liffey. The Four Courts building is nearby on Inns Quay, where the main courts of Ireland can be found. The Christ Church Cathedral, which dates back to 1038, is a short walk from the bridge, and a must-see for lovers of history and architecture.
Speaking of history, don’t miss a visit to Trinity College, where you’ll find the Book of Kells in the college’s famous library. The tome was transcribed by Celtic monks back in 800 AD.
If you’re a lover of art, play a game of scavenger hunting to find all of the city’s statues – there are plenty. They have nicknames, too, like the Molly Malone statue on Suffolk Street, which is known affectionately as “The Tart with the Cart” or the “Dolly with the Trolley” (we much prefer the second name, personally).
Visitors looking to escape the sights and sounds of the city for a while should stop by the Huguenot cemetery, known as one of the most poetic sites in Dublin. The cemetery dates back to 1693 and is dedicated to the Huguenot family, a group of French Protestants who fled France to escape religious persecution.
Where to Eat
Dublin’s dining scene is remarkably diverse. Whether you’re in the mood for classic Irish fare, curry or sushi, you’ll find it all in the heart of the city.
For a great cup of coffee, head to The Bald Barista, a quirky new cafe that serves up more than just coffee. For a quick bite to eat, The Bald Barista offers a wide range of sandwiches and breakfast items.
The Pig’s Ear is a popular joint that has earned a Michelin gourmand bib. The Hairy Lemon Café is a great choice for a hot bowl of Irish stew.
For dessert, head over to The Queen of Tarts or Butlers Chocolates for a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Get Bikini Body Ready for the Holidays
No one – certainly not me – wants to wait for April to try and get bikini body ready for the summer. I want to starting getting bikini body ready for the holidays, too. Friends and family should be in awe of your body during the holidays instead of saying, “Oh, you gained some weight.”
Why not look great for the holidays, too?
If you start now, you’ll be able to get bikini body ready so that you impress your family this holiday season. A few things I’m doing to look fabulous this year are:
1. Goodbye Junk Food
Junk food isn’t the enemy in moderation, but when you’re trying to shed those few extra pounds, all of that sugar won’t be good for your bottom – or stomach. A few of the foods I am eliminating or limiting are:
- Fried foods – goodbye friend chicken
- Fast food – don’t even think about it
- Sweets – just a sliver of cake this holiday season for me
You know which foods you should be eliminating. Ditch all of those processed foods, and say hello to a slimmer you.
2. Water is my Drink of Choice
All of those empty calories in soda and soft drinks – even alcohol – aren’t going to help you shed weight. If your diet includes a lot of sugary drinks, it’s time to get rid of them and switch to water.
Yes, you can enjoy:
But try to limit all of that excess sugar you’re putting in your drinks. It took me weeks to get used to the lack of sugar, but I’m feeling great now.
3. Eat Healthy and Control your Portions
If you think supermodels are just lucky to have their bodies, you’re delusional. You need to eat healthy and learn to control your portions. There are a lot of people that exercise their butts off and don’t see results because their diet is lacking.
There are a lot of diet plans and plans to transform your body.
Pick a plan and stick to it. Consistency is the key to success with every awesome bikini body.
4. Exercise 3 – 6 Times a Week
I’m not under the assumption that I’ll be able to sculpt my body without putting in the hard work. Are you under this assumption? If you are, I have bad news for you: it takes a lot of work to look good.
There are a few components every exercise plan needs:
- Cardio: A cardio plan should be included to allow you to burn excess calories quickly. There are so many different forms of cardio to choose from such as you could hop on your home rowing machine, do core body exercises, dance whereever you have the space, go for a run, swim, skippinh – anything that gets your heart pumping is recommended.
- Strength Training: Ladies, don’t be afraid to enjoy some strength training. You’ll be able to build muscle without getting too bulky because we lack testosterone. You want to strength train 3 – 4 times per week. If you’re in a rush to lose weight, a full body workout will help burn more calories and get you in shape quickly.
So, who’s going to kick their butt into shape this holiday season? I know I am.
Even though my visit to Rome was some years ago, it’s a city that left a lasting and favorable impression. At the time I felt as if it wasn’t necessary to see any other part of Italy; however, perhaps this assessment is unfair because the country is delightful in many ways. But, I digress. Rome is, for all intents and purposes, an outdoor museum. There are reminders around every corner that this was the center of an immense and powerful empire. I didn’t speak Italian beyond the basics of “yes,” “no,” “please,” and “thank you” but Rome is a place where it doesn’t take too long to find the big attractions and the locals are helpful!
First, I went to the ornate Trevi Fountain. Naturally, I wasn’t alone when I got there. The crowds only thinned out either very early in the morning or late at night. The spot where the fountain now stands was the end point of an aqueduct, and these structures were vital to the ancient Romans. As the story goes, throwing a coin into the fountain while your back is turned means a return to Rome. No wonder so many people stop to visit. For me, that hasn’t happened yet but there’s lots of time!
The Vatican is in a walled enclave inside Rome but is a separate state. I joined throngs of tourists to marvel at Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. There was a series of long corridors to pass through with impressive artwork on the ceilings before reaching the central chamber. Then, the most important moment arrived and I looked up. The first instinct was to grab my camera. Alas, no photography was allowed.
I learned about the bloodier side of Roman history upon visiting the Colosseum. Built by slaves, the elliptical-shaped Colosseum is the attraction that screams: “Welcome to the show!” Roman citizens didn’t have to pay to enter the Colosseum and the contests kept them glued to their seats. The gladiator spectacles were the Super Bowl games of the time. The Romans were cruel to the people they conquered and to each other, so what could slaves, criminals, and prisoners of war expect when they were forced to fight? I was impressed with the Colosseum but shuddered at the same time. Even though ancient Roman society had positive aspects, it was barbaric and unmerciful.
Visiting Japan was like a dream come true. I started taking judo lessons in 1984, and that’s when I learned to count from one to ten in Japanese. I was intrigued with languages and Japanese fascinated me. Later in high school I began studying it under the instruction of a teacher born and raised in Tokyo. In 1992, I found myself in Tokyo with a group of my classmates for an exchange trip. I was anxious when I met my host family. Would my Japanese be good enough? Would they laugh when I garbled the words?
I told them I wanted to visit Akihabara, a section of Tokyo known for electronics. I remember the days when Japan was the most prolific manufacturer of electronic goods, and in the early 1990s Sony was a highly respected brand. I was mesmerized by the glowing neon signs I wasn’t quite able to read yet. Buying something wasn’t possible because Canada and Japan didn’t have the same voltage, so it was a strictly “look but don’t buy” trip. Still, I loved taking a peek inside these wonderfully exotic stores!
Tokyo Tower resembles the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and although it hasn’t gained the kind of international acclaim as its French counterpart, I had no complaints when my hosts took me there the following night. The evening view of Tokyo was stunning from the observation deck. Tokyo Tower is painted orange, not black. To be honest, I thought it was more attractive.
One part of the city I didn’t get to see, but have heard a great deal about, is Yoyogi Park. Located next to Harajuku Station and the Meiji Shrine, the park is known for its beautiful cherry blossoms. Rebellious youths gather in the park on Sunday afternoons to blow off steam and thumb their noses at Japan’s stiff corporate culture. My itinerary was already planned by my teachers who had accompanied our group, and Yoyogi wasn’t on it.
I spent three nights in Tokyo and that wasn’t nearly enough to savor everything the city had to offer. With almost twenty million people, the city is terribly crowded and it’s expensive. But, what I like most about Tokyo is that it’s remarkably safe to walk around at any time. I will go back!
I admit, appreciating Toronto takes effort. The city is still working on its identity — and, frankly, visitors may wonder what is so great about Toronto in the first place. As a native, I can state with confidence that what makes Toronto stand out from other major cities around the world is its multicultural atmosphere. People from over fifty nations now call Toronto home, and while they don’t always agree or get along, they manage to put their differences aside and civil strife is very rare.
Toronto is Canada’s largest city and the most important hub for financial services and tourism. The downtown core is compact and can be navigated on foot, although I would recommend setting aside half a day to walk around. There is the Eaton Centre, Toronto’s largest mall. Nathan Phillips Square is next door, along with the twin buildings of City Hall. I’ve always thought Kensington Market is Toronto’s hippest neighborhood. The coffee bars, restaurants, and quirky shops attract a younger crowd, particularly university students. This area is most lively during the summer months. In fact, Toronto is best visited from May until October.
Winter doesn’t put me off at all. In November and early December, Toronto has a festive vibe as residents prepare for Christmas. I loved to skate when I was a kid and although I don’t do much of it now, I can always go down to the rink at either Greenwood Park or outside Ryerson University if I’m in the mood to glide on the ice.
What’s Toronto’s best attraction? The CN Tower gets my vote, and I don’t say that because I live here. It has been a while since I’ve gone up and enjoyed the view of the city from the Skypod, almost 1,500 feet above the ground. The EdgeWalk goes outside, around the rim of the pod. Maybe 2016 will be the year I finally do that!
Toronto isn’t London, New York, or Tokyo, and it will never be like any of those cities. I don’t think Toronto has to be, in any case. Myhome town has its good points, and one of them is that it’s still remarkably safe to walk around at night. That’s a bonus during the summer!
What to Take With You Before Travelling
Your passport is valid. Your immunizations are up to date. The ticket is booked and paid for. Now it’s time to gather the essential items on a packing list. As you probably know by now, airlines tack on monstrous fees for overweight luggage. Pack light – you don’t need that much. Roll your clothes instead of folding them; a suitcase will hold more items that way. Travelling to a destination with warmer weather? In that case very few garments are needed, and if the destination is known to be cheap – Thailand, for instance – leave room in the suitcase for great deals!
Copies of Travel Documents and Money
Protect yourself before leaving home by copying the photo page in your passport. This will save considerable frustration and significant paperwork later on if a passport turns up missing. Bring extra photos for visa applications if, for example, you plan to visit Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.
Go to your bank at home and order some currency of the nation you intend to visit, instead of having to wait in line at an exchange counter when you arrive. The rates offered at airport exchange kiosks are terrible, in any case. ATMs give out local cash, but you’ll be charged a fee every time you do this and the notes (bills) are typically large, and hard to break. An extra stash of U.S. money is a good idea, because it still goes the farthest in many corners of the world. Just make sure the notes are new and without rips.
No matter where you go, a small medical kit is essential! You can fit a whole bunch of supplies in a side pocket of a suitcase or carry- on bag. You might include bandages, tweezers, rubbing alcohol, tape, cold/headache medications, and mosquito repellent (not mosquito coils).Speaking of mosquitoes, malaria and dengue fever are still big problems in Africa, Asia, and the sweaty areas of South America. Taking doses of anti-malaria pills may be necessary before departure and during the trip.And, bring a hat along with sunscreen! Ditto for a pair of sunglasses, prescription or otherwise. Sunlight is fierce in many countries.
Other Useful Items
Toilet paper is a scarce commodity in many places, but is taken for granted in North America. You’ll be in a tight spot in foreign restrooms that don’t have it. You know those little bottles of hand sanitizers in pharmacies? Buy one before you leave. Soap might be unavailable even in nicer establishments; you’ll certainly need some after a squat toilet experience.
Books are handy for long plane and train rides. To block out the noise of the people around you, carry an MP3 player to while those long journeys away with your favorite music. Finally, invest in a small flashlight because power cuts are common in some countries.
What Not to Take
Leave the expensive watches, jewelry, and cosmetics at home. Taking a money belt? Don’t. You might as well hang a sign around your neck that screams, “I’m a tourist, please rob me.”
Because it’s the seat of the United States of America, Washington, D.C. boasts some of the finest museums and monuments in the nation. I got one of the richest history lessons of my life in the relatively short time I spent in the city. There was also the awareness of being in the presence of incredibly powerful individuals: The White House, the Pentagon, embassies from most of the world’s nations, and Capitol Hill were all within a short distance of each other. I found it all quite dizzying. The funny thing is Washington, D.C. didn’t have that big city feeling I experienced in other places; in fact, it felt rather small and provincial. Maybe it was because there weren’t any big office towers.
The Lincoln Memorial was the first on my “to see” list. No other American President has been memorialized in this fashion. At the time of my visit I didn’t know much about “Honest Abe,” which was the nickname Lincoln got when he worked as a store clerk in New Salem, Illinois. As the story went, he walked three miles to a customer’s home to return money he collected by mistake. A massive sculpture of Lincoln faces east and his steady gaze is locked on the long reflecting pool. As I gazed at the statue, I wondered how U.S. history might have changed if Lincoln had stayed home on April 14th, 1865. The “what-ifs” abound to this day.
I moved on to another monument close by, one that’s much darker in color and represents a deep scar on the American psyche, which hasn’t fully healed. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is made of shiny, black granite and is ten feet high at the centermost point. The mood changed – it wasn’t excitement but something more akin to mournful, grave, and humorless. The Vietnam Memorial is inscribed with soldiers’ names – more than 50,000 of them, and locating a specific one can be daunting because they’re engraved by date of casualty and not in alphabetical order. Again, I didn’t know much about the Vietnam War but I learned a lot more about it that day. For Canadians, the Vietnam War doesn’t stir up any discussions or memories. Americans, however, remain sharply divided.
The Secret to Maintaining Smooth Legs While You Travel
The secret to keeping your legs nice and smooth while you travel is finding best laser hair removal device for you which will depends on your hair type. The thickness of your body hair will determine how fast you will see the results of treatment. Thicker hair will absorb more laser energy, while finer hair requires more patience. I got mine from amazon thanks to a recommendation from BeGoneHairRemoval.com.
Laser hair removal machines have pros and cons. The Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X provides quick results, according to user reviews. It’s a cordless machine, and the laser head is small making it easy to treat areas such as the upper lip. On the other hand, arms and legs aren’t so simple.
The Remington IPL6000 ILight Pro Plus Quartz is larger than the Tria model, making it ideal for removing hair from the chest and back. It can also be used for longer periods without recharging it. IPL means “Intense Pulsed Light” and it’s not quite as strong as a laser system, so results will be slower.
The Silk’N Flash & Go has a lot going for it. It’s cheaper than other hair removal devices, and uses pulse light technology instead of lasers. That means less pain for consumers. The good thing is this machine can be used on big and small areas of the body. On the downside, results will take longer to materialize.