Tag: "holiday"

Where would you go on solo holiday?

A while back Sharon wrote a travel plan for visiting Anguilla alone. Rereading that plan got me thinking and now I’ve been thinking about solo travel for the past few days. Mainly because I am jealous. I’ll be home with the dogs while my wife visits family in Korea about a month from now. She takes lots of vacations from me (admittedly she deserves them for putting up with me). She took that trip to Hawaii, she has been to Beijing, she has been to Hong Kong (that one is even since I went to Hong Kong without her).

My wife is usually meeting friends or family. I also want to meet some old friends that I don’t see often. But when it’s my turn to take a trip without wifey, I think I might do something by myself. Visiting friends and family is good too, but so is alone time and meeting new people. There are certainly places for it in Europe. They have tour operators specializing in singles holidays for solo travelers where they give you more structure or more free time depending on what you want. Some people take these holidays year after year, and each time they meet some new people an see some familiar faces from previous trips.

It may be a result of too much studying, but I might try to start off by writing objectives for a solo vacation. Then I would plan activities that align with those objectives. Just like I would while writing training materials to make sure trainees achieve their goals. Although I certainly realize it may be a little sad that I am trying to plan a vacation based on the instructional design process I am studying in school.

I will meet new people.
I will meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
I will move and shake and exercise and be active.
I will see something new and beautiful.
I will spend some time alone.

I think my solo vacation will be a European one. I have a friend who promised to take me swimming in the Danube in Vienna. She would probably introduce me to some locals. That takes care of objective 1 and objective 2. And the swimming helps with objective 3. Plus I have never been to Vienna so there is objective 4. After a few days in Vienna, Rothenburg is next.

Rothenburg is a walled medieval city. All the stone buildings here should also be beautiful and I’ve never been to Rothenburg. I like medieval towns and I think I could walk around for a few days and relax while taking in the sights. This would achieve the fifth objective, spending some time alone. I probably have to avoid certain times because Rothenburg is a tourist destination. I have nothing against tourists, but I don’t like crowds.

Riding a bike around Anguilla sounds good too, but I don’t know anyone there and it would be fun to meet at least one old friend and one new friend during a solo holiday. Where would you go on a solo holiday? Would you try to meet new people, old friends, or be by yourself? Would you see something new or see something again? How much physical activity would you aim for?

Vacation Destination – Mallorca in the Mediterranean

The island of Mallorca (Majorca) off the coast of Spain was chosen for several scenes in the sci-fi movie Cloud Atlas, released in 2012. The film is based on David Mitchell’s book of six interwoven stories. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and other members of the cast experience success and failure while traveling from the past to the present and beyond to the year 2300. We are reminded of Orwell, Melville, and Huxley, as the Cloud represents the changes and adaptations of the characters within a predictable pattern, the Atlas of human nature.

Of course most of us will be walking around Spain rather than traveling through time. The warm, usually mild climate in April, May, and June is perfect for walking holidays in Spain and attracts travelers worldwide, as well as members of the Spanish royal family and many artists and celebrities who visit or live on the island. Filming locations for Cloud Atlas included Port de Sóller, a small village away from the tourist areas, Sa Calobra beach nearby, the cliffs at Cap de Formentor, and Puig Major, the highest mountain on Majorca for the post-apocalyptic scenes. We will focus primarily on Palma the capital, as most visitors arrive at the airport here.

Things to See & Do:

Bellver Castle is an excellent example of 14th century architecture with 3 towers, a moat, and central courtyard. Besides a great view of the city below and the Bay of Palma, the castle has a museum of artifacts, the Despuig Classical Sculpture Collection, and the chapel of St Mark.

Hours: Daily. 8am-8pm, Oct thru Mar. 8am-9pm, Apr thru Sep. Sunday hours vary. Admission: Adults, $3.50, Students & Seniors, $1.50, Under 14 Free. Guided group tours free.

Pueblo Espanol was originally designed as a small village replica of famous architecture and artisan workshops. After changing ownership, however, the original atmosphere has changed into a place to hang out with discos, cafes, and fast food outlets as the main attractions.

Open: Daily, 9-7pm. Admission: $6.50 & $4

Visitors enjoy walking around the interesting old historical center within the city walls of Palma. There are many small shops, sidewalk cafes, and art galleries, with some of the best shopping along the Passeig des Bom and Avenida Jaume III. Shop at Antiguedades for locally made jewelry, Arte-Facto for handicrafts, or at the Placa Major underground shopping mall. Produce, fish, and craft markets open early at 6 or 7am, 6 days a week; Olivar indoor market receives positive reviews.

Spend some time at the small museum featuring the collection of the wealthy banker Juan March. Here are permanent displays of 70 paintings by Picasso, Dali, and Miro, the masters of contemporary art, as well as temporary exhibits by over 50 national and international artists.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 10-6:30pm, Sat – 10:30-2pm, Closed Sun. Free admission.

High on a hill above the city is the majestic Sa Seu cathedral, which was originally built as a mosque in the 13th and 14th centuries by Jaume I. Officially completed and consecrated in 1601, the cathedral is a national historical monument. Rebuilt after the 1851 earthquake, it features 4 towers, lots of stained glass, sculptures and paintings of the saints, and symbols of the Marian Litany. Sa Seu has the largest Gothic rose window in the world, over 100 meters square divided into 24 triangles representing the Star of David. This impressive structure includes 16 interior chapels, an Alms House, tombs of Mallorcan kings, a 9-bell tower, and a ceramic mural by famed Miquel Barceló. Gift shop of religious art, souvenirs, and other memorabilia.

Hours: Apr-May & Oct, Mon-Fri, 10-5:15pm. Jun-Sep, 10-6:15pm. Sat,10-2:15pm.

For something different, take the wooden train built in 1912 from the Plaza d’Espanya in Palma to Sóller. Travel through tunnels and citrus groves; stop at any one of 10 villages along the way. Runs 5 times a day every 2 hours, 1-hour rd trip about $22. The tram runs every 30 minutes from Sóller to the seaside port on the Bay. Cost: $11 rd trip.

Travelers will find numerous beaches along the Palma coastline–at popular tourist resorts including the Playa de Palma, Peguera, and Camp de Mar, as well as more secluded beaches at Illetes, Andratx, and Cala Mayor. Majorca is more than beaches, however, as there are numerous caves in the mountains to explore. Visitors to the Caves of Drach at the village of Portocristo enjoy a gondola ride beneath multi-color lights in the huge chambers while listening to a classical concert on the Martel, Europe’s largest underground lake.

Hours: Daily. 10-5pm, Apr thru Oct. 10:45-12, 2-3:30pm, Nov thru Mar. Admission: Adults, $15, Under 7 Free.

Accommodations:

Castillo Hotel Son Vida ranks among the best in luxury class for its location, service, and numerous amenities. Guests have a choice of elegant guestrooms or suites, even an option for a personal butler at an extra charge of $150 a day. There are 4 outdoor pools and one indoor at the Arabella Spa onsite, 4 tennis courts, and golf courses nearby. Interchangeable dining arrangements at 3 different luxury hotels. Rates: From $250 (incl breakfast).

Hotel Gran Melia Victoria on the waterfront has an excellent location near main attractions and town center. There are 3 restaurants, outdoor pool and fitness center, indoor pool, and a casino in the lobby. Rates: Std room – From $140, Seaside room – From $178. Buffet brkfst, $26; Half board, $73.

The Puro is a reasonably priced hotel with guestrooms and suites, a spa, sushi nights on the rooftop terrace, and good food in a somewhat Bohemian atmosphere. Probably fun for young couples; the bar/lounge and DJ music next door is a popular nightspot. Rates: Avg $200/night

If you prefer getting out of the city, there’s a beautiful hotel about 40 miles away at the Cap de Formentor where some of the cast of Cloud Atlas stayed. The Barceló Formentor offers guests numerous amenities including 6 restaurants, piano bar in the gardens, horse and bicycle trails, mini-golf, tennis, and sailing. Rooms and suites have satellite TV, wi-fi, and iPod connections, as well as splendid views of the mountains or the sea. The hotel is closed from November to 21 April, but reservations can be booked for 2012. (Small pets accepted.)

Rates: Sea view – $314, Mountain view – $222

Dining: A variety of food and tapas (popular for lunch and late afternoon snacks) can be found at La Boveda, Cellar Pages, and seafood at La Lubina near the harbor. Most cafes are open for lunch, closed for siesta. Among the recommended restaurants in Palma are Caballito de Mar near the town center, and the very elegant, expensive Chopin for French and international gourmet cuisine located near the cathedral square. The Aramis for Italian/Mediterranean and Opio in the Puro Hotel for Asian atmosphere and food receive good reviews.

Nightclubs: Pacha’s overlooking the yacht harbor is probably the best-known club. Open 10pm-6am, summer admission about $27. Tito’s is open daily from 10pm, and the Garito Club opens at 7pm, with DJ and live music, admission is free.

Transportation: International flights, train and bus service between villages. No bridges from the mainland, but ferries operate daily from Barcelona and Valencia. 8-hour trip, rd trip $90 and up. Cruise ships dock at Palma regularly.

Sharon L Slayton

Travel plan for Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and San Francisco

I start school in September. As a poor student, I’ll have less money for traveling but I don’t want that to stop me entirely. I’ll be based in Tallahassee, Florida, and I’ll try to get to a few places in America and maybe South America or Central America. So time to start dreaming up American holidays and – as many of you know – I like to check out different tours to get some well-planned itineraries to start from. For a British perspective, I found a site promising luxury holidays in America and started to search for their itineraries.

So if you were to check out this page for USA tours, you would find the following itinerary: New York -> Washington DC -> Chicago -> Scottsdale -> Grand Canyon -> Las Vegas -> Los Angeles -> San Diego -> San Francisco. That’s a beautiful itinerary for someone with 22 days to spare. I’m thinking I can just take a part of that travel plan. For example three places I’ve never been: Las Vegas -> Grand Canyon -> San Francisco.

My travel plan:

Day 1: Las Vegas

I start here first because it should be a very easy airport to fly into. For lunch, try Mon Ami Gabi in front of Paris – Get a table on the patio. Excellent food and great place to people watch. If you time it right you’ll see the fountains at Bellagio during your meal.

After that, how about a Vegas-style nature walk? The MGM Grand’s lion habitat is open from 11am to 10pm. The Mirage has its white tiger habitat (by the Las Vegas Boulevard entrance). The volcano erupts at the top of each hour from 6pm to midnight so you may want to come back later in the evening.

What you have to do at some point before leaving Vegas is see an Elvis show. I’m told that there’s a good free one in the Riviera Hotel but I can’t find confirmation on their website. This part of the travel plan could use some more research.

Day 2: Las Vegas

For brunch, try Bouchon in the Venetian hotel. It’s a Thomas Keller restaurant and it’s excellent. While there at the Venetian, you could do a gondola ride, but I’d feel weird doing it in Vegas when I skipped it in Venice (a regret I must admit, but it was pretty pricey as I recall – Vegas is probably less expensive).

After you’ve eaten, walk off those calories at the Fremont Street Expereince. Fremont street has stuffy casinos and vendors if you’re a shopper. The huge LED canopy covering 5 blocks of Fremont Street does something special every hour on the hour.

Back to the strip to check out Circus Circus. Different acts perform each half hour from 11 a.m. to midnight. They only have about 60 seats and you can’t reserve one. But the news isn’t all bad – it’s free and 15 minutes before a show starts usually gets you a seat.

Days 3 and 4: Grand Canyon

I really want to raft the Colorado River here and camp overnight. My wife isn’t so sure but I have some time to talk her into it. It’s hard to really itemize this part of the itinerary, but the tour I linked to above has some good ideas like a sunset tour of the South Rim for some stunning views.

Day 5: San Francisco

Head down to the Fisherman’s Wharf where there’s sure to be something for everyone. Pier 39 is a festive marketplace with more than 110 stores, 12 Bay view restaurants and loads of outdoor stuff like the Aquarium of the Bay, bike rentals, street performers and a Carousel with famous miniature San Fran landmarks. If fun and laughter don’t suite your fancy you can always hop on an Alcatraz Cruise from Pier 33 that will take you to Alcatraz Island. In case you don’t already know, Alcatraz used to be the home of some of America’s most notorious criminals like Al “Scarface” Capone and the “Birdman” Robert Stroud.

San Francisco has a great Asian influence and being right on the water, sushi in this city is to die for. Take yourself out for dinner in Japantown or J-Town as the locals like to call it, to Kiss Sea Food Japanese Restaurant (1700 Laguna St.) The restaurant is a little small so be prepared to wait in line or make sure to head there early.

Day 6: San Francisco

The site I linked to above has some more cool ideas. One is a guided bicycle tour of the Waterfront, Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito, including a ferry trip to return to the city. This sounds like a lot of fun. They also have a scenic seaplane flight (weather dependent) over the beautiful San Francisco bay for views of the cityscape, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate Bridge. It also occurs to me I don’t have a single museum in my itinerary. The Walt Disney Family Museum is one option, but I think I would prefer the Asian Art Museum.

Travel To Dubai – An Experience In Extravagance

I’ve briefly mentioned Dubai a couple of times. Their marketing strategy is pretty brilliant (doing a bunch of crazy stuff that gets people talking about them). And commenters on this blog seem to say it’s worth visiting. Anyway, here is a longer look at Dubai (not written by me):

If you’re looking for the ultimate destination and perhaps an experience of a lifetime, Dubai holidays are worth considering. Situated on the Persian Gulf coast, the once obscure little village of fishermen and pearl divers has come to life in a big way. The thatched huts of 20 years ago have been replaced with amazing architecture you have to see to believe. Covering an area of over 4,000 square kilometers, the second largest of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is expanding into the sea with a series of man-made islands in The Palm and The World.

Although the desert climate can be hot and humid, the pleasant, balmy winter months attract swimmers and surfers to the warm waters of the sea. Families gather beneath the palm trees near the coast for picnics and barbeques beside the popular Jumeira beach. In direct contrast to the tropical atmosphere and scenery are the modern marvels that continue to bring the most seasoned travelers to Dubai. Here you’ll discover the underwater Hydropolis hotel, the manufactured islands of The World resembling the seven continents, the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building at three times the height of the Empire State, and One Central Park, a residential high rise of apartments for the elite.

If money is no object, you can really splurge on accommodations such as the luxurious 7-star Emirates Palace, known as the “Taj Majal of the Middle East,” or the Burj Al Arab, built on its own man-made island and accessible across a bridge for a mere $55. These hotels are obviously the latest in style and elegance, with rates far above the average traveler’s budget. Fortunately, you don’t have to be among the rich and famous, however, to enjoy the obvious appeal of Dubai. For the more budget conscious traveler, there are a number of modestly priced hotels, some for under $200 a night, such as the Sheraton at Jumeira beach, or the Shangri-La and the Dusit near the Dubai World Trade Center. Some visitors will prefer hotels in the heart of the city for the convenience of downtown shopping or the leisure in watching the abras, or water taxis, and dhows that travel on the Dubai Creek. From beach, spa, golf, and city resorts to villas and hotels, there is no lack of places to stay.

Of course, you could always rent a villa by the sea; buying these million dollar properties is in high demand, especially on the Palm Islands. The engineering of these three islands is a marvel in itself. Each is constructed in the shape of a palm tree, with 17 branches, surrounded by a reef, 7.5 miles long x 3 miles wide. There are over 900 foot bridges connecting the branches to the mainland, as well as two harbors to accommodate those traveling by water. Actually buying an island of your own may be well out of reach, but in Dubai it seems that anything is possible. Investing in real estate here has some advantages with financing available, no capital gains tax, low registry fee, and good quality in an area of relatively low crime and an up-and-coming tourist destination.

For those travelers who aren’t fond of sun, sand, and sea, Dubai offers its own ski vacation. The huge indoor Ski Dubai resort has the largest snow park in the world with five ski runs, and plenty of entertainment for the entire family with skiing, tobogganing, and snowboarding.

The wide variety of restaurants caters to the international tourist trade by featuring an excellent selection of Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and American cuisine. The Arabian nights come alive with pubs, bars, discos, and upscale clubs and cocktail lounges for the casual and the more sophisticated crowd.

Shopping in Dubai is another experience to enjoy, where the scent of perfumes, spices, and incense fills the air at the Wafi, Bur Juman, and Emirates malls. These exotic smells mingle with the familiar ones of a city, the local grocery stores, and the enticing flavor of cardamom coffee. When evening comes to Dubai, you’ll experience the tradition and distinctive fruity aroma of hubbly bubbly, or shisha, as men gather in cafes to smoke a pipe of these unique types of Arabian tobacco. Other activities include the Art Dubai fair, an international film festival, golf classics, football, cricket, and thoroughbred horse racing.

Transportation in and around the city is plentiful with reasonable taxis, buses, and cars for hire. A metro system with above ground and underground stations is currently under construction, as well. Traveling to Dubai by air is facilitated by a number of airlines including the national Emirates airline, and other international flights. Future plans in tourism entertainment include Dubailand, Eco-Tourism World, Leisure and Vacation World, and numerous other shopping and retail establishments.

Many travelers will add Dubai to their list of must see places, as it continues to build the largest, the tallest, and perhaps the best, if not the first, wonders of the world.

Guest entry by Sharon Slayton