Archive | November 2013

5 Reasons to Ski the Sierra Nevada This Winter

A ski holiday is not the first thing people usually think of when considering a visit to Andalucia; however, the Sierra Nevada ski resort is for many reasons a terrific alternative to the Alps and other European ski destinations. With world-class slopes and facilities, this site overlooking the Mediterranean sea and the culture rich city of Granada played host to the FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Cup Super finals in March of this year and is already slated to host the World Championships in 2017. With the top station sitting 3300 meters high and a ski-able vertical drop of 1200 meters, this resort is no joke.

Sierra Nevada Spain

Consider five reasons to book your ski holiday in the Sierra Nevada this season:

The sun

This is still sunny Andalucia after all, and the Sierra Nevada ski resort is in fact the southernmost ski resort in Europe. It’s also the sunniest ski resort in Europe with more than 80% sunny days during the ski season. You can see the Mediterranean from the slopes on a clear day, and as the beach at Motril is within about 45 minutes drive from the resort, you can even ski and take in the sun on the beach all in the same day.

The Sulayr Snow Park

In preparation for hosting the freestyle ski and snowboard World Cup in March, 2013, the Sierra Nevada resort expanded the already impressive Sulayr Snow Park with nine brand new features to bring the number of jumps, rails, half-pipes and various other obstacles up to 70. Forty-six of these can be done consecutively in what is now Europe’s longest such run. There is a dedicated “Kidspark” within the zone and practice areas for intermediates to provide a safe as well as fun environment for freestylers of all ages and skill levels.

Fewer crowds and virtually endless off-piste slopes

The resort still seems to cater more to local patrons than for weeklong holiday makers, which means that on weekdays the crowds are often very thin, and even on weekends long queues for the lifts are rare. The Spanish habit of siesta still plays a role as well, so the midday slopes are even more luxuriously unoccupied.

But for those who really want to get away from the crowds, the entirety of the Sierra Nevada resort sits above the tree line so with a good snow it is possible to ski virtually the entire mountain. However, such off-piste excursions are not advisable for any but the most knowledgeable and expert skiers. Avalanche prevention measures off-piste are minimal, but with a bit of information and advice there are vast areas of skiable, natural mountainscapes.

Proximity to diverse attractions

It is often the case that the best ski resorts are so remote that it’s not possible to explore the region beyond the slopes. Again the Sierra Nevada resort offers a stark contrast. The resort itself is known for a livelier-than-most nightlife, but with such proximity to the historic city of Granada and the World Heritage site of the Alhambra at only about 20 kilometres away, it’s not so much of a possibility as a must. Malaga, at about 160km is also workable on a day trip and half of that is coastline for any desired beach stops. Cordoba and the Mezquita are also about a two-hour drive from Granada (a train also runs) offering further World Heritage sites and deep cultural explorations.

Length of the season

The Sierra Nevada ski resort is usually open from late November to early May, making it one of the longest non-glacial ski seasons in Europe. There are fewer than 50 ski resorts in the world open in May for late season skiing and the Sierra Nevada is one of them. The slopes are now already open for 2013, with the first skiers and snowboarders carving up the fresh snow from 23 November. That gives you a full six months to plan and schedule your visit this season!

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Ms Johnnie Wright

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The Most Unique Cruise Ship Features!

Cruise.9Back in the golden day of cruising, travelers could barely believe their eyes when they stepped aboard a luxury cruise liner and found fully equipped gymnasiums, relaxing Turkish baths, and even well stocked libraries and outdoor, European-style cafes. Of course, all of these features, and indeed much, much more, are pretty standard across the board now, with most of us expecting high-end restaurants, shopping malls and casinos at the very least when taking a cruise. With the bar being well and truly raised, cruise companies around the world are seeking out new features that will make their ships stand out over all others and what the industry is starting to see on the newer ships, and on those that have been recently renovated, is a level of excitement and a level of utter luxury that has simply never before been seen at sea.

North Star, Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

The North Star, which features aboard Royal Caribbean’s newest vessel scheduled to set sail in 2014, is the first of its kind in the North Star, Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbeanworld. Suspended by a rotating arm-style mechanism attached to the ship’s uppermost deck, the glass-encased gondola can only be described as a blend of the capsules of the London Eye and the glass elevator in the Roald Dahl classic. Holding up to 13 passengers at any one time, the North Star gives unrivaled 360-degree views over the vast ocean, from a 300 meter high vantage point. Royal Caribbean wanted to create a new feature that would simply be irresistible to travelers, and based on the 6.8 million annual visitors to the Eiffel Tower, and the 3.65 million people who ride to the top of the Empire State building each year, it seems that high viewpoints are right on trend. There’s just something about the perceived breathtaking sights that travelers cannot say ‘no’ to. It’s anticipated that the newer ships of the Quantum class will also feature a similar attraction.

Movies Under the Stars, Grand Princess, Princess Cruises

Movies Under the Stars, Grand PrincessOutdoor movie screens are becoming quite common on newer cruise ships as more and more cruise companies aim to make use of the great weather, particularly throughout the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and around the Australian coast. However, none are quite as spectacular as the ‘Movies Under the Stars’ screens on many of the Princess Cruises vessels. ‘MUTS’, as it has become known, debuted on the Grand Princess and, with a screen measuring 300 square feet, it is now one of the largest outdoor movie screens in the world. Located poolside for the ultimate in atmospheric impression, the screen shows up to 7 recent Hollywood blockbusters each day, along with sporting events, concerts, and kid’s films. Utilising state-of-the-art technology, the screen can be seen and heard even in brilliant sunlight and against the sounds of the ship’s engines, so you get excellent quality all of the time. The latest edition to the fleet, Royal Princess, unveiled an even larger screen towering over the open deck space.

Virtual Balconies, Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean

Balcony cabins are a great choice of accommodation that give you the chance to gaze out over the ocean from your own private space. Virtual Balconies, Quantum of the SeasIt’s an especially good option for those taking a romantic cruise, to enjoy the intimacy of watching the ship sail along the water’s surface together. Sadly, balcony cabins don’t always fall within the holiday budget, but all that is about to change. Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, features 373 ‘virtual balcony’ cabins, which include 80 inch LED screens stretching from floor to ceiling of an indoor cabin. What’s even more impressive is that these virtual balconies display real-time images of the outside, both at sea and in port. You can even turn the screen on and off as you please, so if you’re trying to have a little nap in the day, just switch the screen off for instant sleep-inducing conditions. Virtual balconies are expected to be rolled out on other Quantum class ships, as well as Navigator, Voyager, Adventure, and Explorer of the Seas, and it’s estimated that they will revolutionise cruise accommodations to a point where indoor cabins become the most popular rooms on the ship!

Marco Pierre White Room Restaurant, Ventura, P&O

Marco Pierre White Room Restaurant, Ventura

Love him or loathe him, Marco Pierre White has become a household name in the UK, and his culinary skills cannot be questioned. Marco lends his name to not one but four different restaurants across a number of P&O vessels with The White Room aboard Ventura considered by many to be one of the finest speciality dining venues at sea. The menu is varied but has a definitive European theme, with French-inspired chicken coq au vin, Italian risotto, and, of course, the obligatory snail side dish. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the man himself, who frequently steps aboard to whip up some mouth-watering cuisine and ensure that standards are being maintained. He’s even been known to offer on-board cookery lessons for children, helping to teach them about good health, good nutrition, and the finest of foods. If you’re keen to dine at a celebrity chef restaurant on board, try to reserve a table when you embark, as these restaurants do book up quickly. If you’re traveling in a suite aboard Ventura then you will also have exclusive use of this superb dining venue for breakfast each morning, should you wish.

Cruising is evolving to a point where it is almost unrecognisable from the days of the 1920s and 30s when simply a good meal at sea was considered to be an amazing feat. As more and more ships are being designed and constructed, we’re starting to see features, activities, and attractions that were once never mere pipe dreams now becoming spectacular realities. Bumper cars, skydiving simulators and the worlds most talented performance artists are just some of the additional features we can expect to see on ships in the near future.

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The Kempinski Seychelles Resort on the Mahé Island

Are you looking forward to spending your precious spare time at a unique, exotic location, upon an isolated island? Then look no further as we found the gorgeous Kempinski Seychelles Resort – Baie Lazare – a wonderful island getaway able to provide you with both relaxation and exhilaration.

Kempinski-Seychelles-Resort-on-1This one-off five-star resort is situated in an exclusive corner of Baie Lazare, which is in turn found on the Island of Mahé. Surrounded by stunning granite hills and sharing breathtaking views towards the turquoise waters of the local bay, Kempinski Seychelles Resort comprises a total of 150 superbly finished rooms and suites, with the beach just within reach. The 63 hectares of lush gardens around this resort are being constantly encircled by warm lagoon breezes.

With ample opportunities to practice snorkeling, island hopping on your personal tan, to explore hidden bays or even take benefit of rejuvenating spa treatments, this resort is bound to provide guests with almost otherworldly experiences. In fact, the Kempinski brand dates back to 1897, being one of the oldest luxury hotel groups in Europe.

It also comes with exquisite fame, from state of the art endowments and services of top-level, to luxurious layouts and intricate finishes.

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22 Epic Places That You Didn’t Know Existed!!

The world is full of wonders… wonders we know about (the Grand Canyon) and those we might not (see below). But it’s important to note that this earth we all live on is an insanely beautiful place. In case you don’t have the time (or funds) to visit these spectacular places, we thought we’d do you a solid and show you them anyway.

Herewith…

The Sossusvlei pan’s Dune 45
Visit these Namibian dunes–often referred to as the highest in the world–
either early in the morning or at sunset when the heat is less intense.
sossusvlei dune 45


Sótano de las Golondrinas (Cave of Swallows), Mexico

Adventure seekers can BASE jump into this open-air cave, some 1,200 feet down.
cave of swallows


Tane Mahuta (lord of the forest), New Zealand

New Zealand’s largest living kauri tree can stand up to 167 feet tall.
tane mahuta


Great Australian Bight

Like the Cliffs of Dover, but not, these cliffs stretch roughly 720 miles along Australia’s southern coast.
great australian bight


Rub’ Al-Khali (Empty Quarter), Oman

The world’s largest area of continuous sand measures around 250,000 square miles and covers four countries.
rub alkhali


Ushuaia, Argentina

Commonly known as southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is the jumping off point for Antarctic explorers.
ushuaia argentina


Oymyakon, Russia

The world’s coldest inhabited place is nicknamed “Pole of Cold.”
oymyakon russia


Gangkhar Puensum Mountain, Bhutan

The highest point in Bhutan, this mountain is often referred to as the world’s highest unclimbed mountain.
gangkhar puensum mountain bhutan


Socotra, Yemen

An archipelago of islands 220 miles off Yemen, the island is among the most biodiverse on the planet.
There are nine species of the dragon’s blood tree (seen here) on the island.
socotra yemen


Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

Measuring in at roughly 1.8 miles long, this tunnel sits deep in the forests of Ukraine.
tunnel of love ukraine


Red Beach, Panjin, China

This red-hue on this “beach” is actually created by the seaweed Sueda, which starts growing in spring,
stays green in summer and then turns this maroon-y color come fall. The beach is located within the
biggest wetland and reed marsh in the world.
tunnel of love ukraine


Bamboo Forest, Japan

In Kyoto’s Arashiyama district sits this unique forest of super tall bamboo in Sagano.
bamboo forest japan


This street
in Bonn, Germany

For roughly 2-3 weeks a year, the cherry blossoms bloom in Bonn, creating a rosy canopy on this street.

https://i2.wp.com/distilleryimage4.ak.instagram.com/9b1f17a2b01011e29dbc22000a1f9e59_7.jpg


Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Fuji Gardens, Japan

Ok, so it’s manmade, and you can only really see it in April and May, but how cool is this?
kawachi fuji gardens


Door To Hell, Turkmenistan

There are, as it is, several gateways to hell but this one features
an underground gas fire that has been burning for 30+ years.
door to hell turkmenistan


Catedral de Marmol (the Marble Cathedral), Lago General Carrera, Patagonia, Chile

Erosion has created beautiful caverns in the marble of these mineral formations.
You just need to take a small boat to see it in person.
catedral de marmol


Son Doong Cave

The world’s biggest cave, set in Vietnam, could fit a 40-story skyscraper within it.
111516692


Lake Retba, Senegal

The pink-hued lake gets its awesome color thanks to a bacteria which is drawn to the lake’s natural saltiness.
The bacteria produces a red color to absorb the sunlight, thus giving the lake its hue.
It’s particularly colorful in dry season (November through June).
retba lake senegal


Rainbow Mountains, China

Part of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, these UNESCO World Heritage-designated
mountains get their rainbow name as a
result of red sandstone and mineral deposits being pressed together for more
than 24 million years
.
rainbow mountains


Cappadocia, Turkey

Conical formations caused by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago dot this stunning landscape.
Now tourists stay in the many cave hotels that dot the area.
cappadocia turkey


Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Ok, so this place is well-documented (and well-visited), but it’s super cool to look at.
antelope canyon


Mount Roraima, South America

This crazy eerie formation creates a natural border between Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil. It’s surrounded by 1,300 foot cliffs.
mount roraima south america

SEE YOU AROUND THE WORLD AND GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!!

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Ms Johnnie Wright
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Seven Snowbird Cities You Should Visit This Winter!!

Are you a snow bird? If you answered yes, you’re probably packing your bags and getting ready to make your yearly migration down south for the winter. Warm weather locations like Arizona and Florida have long been coveted destinations for snow-birds looking for a refuge from Jack Frost’s fury. Whether you plan on staying for four months or four days, these toasty locations are worth a winter visit:

PuntaGorda_R.jpg
Punta Gorda, Florida | Just north of Fort Myers on the Port Charlotte Harbor you’ll find Punta Gorda. This relatively small Gulf Coast city features the sought-after warm weather the Sunshine State is known for (plus the beaches!), as well as the history or a centuries-old port town. Walk through Fishermans’s Village or along the Harbor walk and marvel at Punta Gorda’s intricately restored historic district – complete with brick roads, street lamps and tin-roofed buildings.
Average Winter Temperature:
75-85 F

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Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | If you’re looking to leave the States on your winter migration, fly to the largest Yucatán Peninsula city, Mérida. Many expats have already made this Yucatán Gulf Coast destination their home, and it’s easy to see why: a walk through the city will reveal Mérida’s ancient Mayan culture and colonial background through its historic buildings. Delicious cochinita pibil (marinated pork) and papadzules (egg tacos with pumpkin seed and tomato sauce) are just a few of the Yucatecan foods snow birds can readily dine on here.
Average Winter Temperature: 75-85 F

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Morro Bay, California | Part of a cluster of San Luis Obispo County waterfront cities, Morro Bay is most recognized by its landmark Morro Rock – a more than 500-foot-tall volcanic landform in the harbor. Snow birds flock to this ocean side village, which dates back to the 1500s, for its laid back atmosphere, sprawling beaches and fresh seafood, including albacore tuna and oysters.
Average Winter Temperature: 55-65 F

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Boulder City, Nevada | Those looking for a desert retreat close to both natural and manmade beauty will find Boulder City to be a perfect winter home base. The town was originally built for Hoover Dam workers to live in while they were building the dam. The city slowly evolved into a retirement city for those seeking a dry-climate locale that was both affordable and offered plenty of leisure activities. Near Lake Mead, it’s just 20 miles southeast of Las Vegas and a morning’s drive to the Grand Canyon.
Average Winter Temperature: 70-80 F

Alamogordo_R.jpg
Alamogordo, New Mexico | Tourists have been passing through the city gates of Alamogordo since White Sands National Monument opened in the 1930s. The Sonoran Desert city has become a haven for snow birds looking for miles of white sand and mountains without the salty ocean air. Those arriving in late September can watch Technicolor hot air balloons rise over the Tularosa Basin during the White Sands Balloon Invitational.
Average Winter Temperature: 55-65 F

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Tucson, Arizona | Most people looking to escape the northern snow settle on Arizona as their winter retreat. If you’re thinking The Grand Canyon State, ditch the traffic in congested Phoenix and head to Tucson. While it is the second most populated Arizona city behind Phoenix, Tucson offers a more natural setting for snow birds who appreciate outdoor activities. Take a look at old Tucson in the downtown Presidio District, or venture to one of five mountain ranges surrounding the city, including the gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains.
Average Winter Temperature: 65-75 F

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San Carlos, Guaymas, Mexico | In the Port City of Guaymas you’ll find San Carlos, a beachfront community known for its picturesque panoramas of the Sea of Cortez, as well as its exceptionally warm waters. Snow birds who favor watersports can take advantage of unforgettable diving spots in the shallow bays along the coastline. It’s not uncommon for divers to enjoy underwater visibility of more than 100 feet.
Average Winter Temperature: 75-85 F

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