Archive for the ‘Destinations’ Category

Netanya, Israel–Mediterranean Seaside town

June 8, 2017

This is a great town from which to visit the nearby sights of Jaffa, Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, and Megiddo. One of the advantages of staying here is that the Mediterranean Sea is just out your door! After a day of touring, a meandering walk along the seashore is great way to unwind or just cool your feet in the Sea. It’s a good starting point for a tour of Israel. Get acclimated to the time change, change money for the upcoming trip or just enjoy being by the sea.

Club Med Sandpiper Bay, Florida

March 28, 2017

This all inclusive resort located about 2 hours south of Orlando and about the same distance north of Fort Lauderdale, sits on the St. Lucie River with a large bay in front of the resort. The sandy beach facing the river is a great place to relax with a cold drink or take a class in the skill of kayaking, paddle boarding, or sailing. There are a variety of included educational programs offered that Club Med calls the Club Med Academies. They include sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, golf, tennis, fitness, beach volley ball, and even trapeze!

Daily programs for children aged 4-10 years—Mini Club Med, as well as a separate program for those who are 11 – 17 years—Latitude 27 Club are offered. Both are open seven days a week.
At this time, this is the only true all-inclusive in the United States. Food, drinks, and evening entertainment are included with the price of the room. There are programs for younger children as well at an additional cost.

There are three swimming pools (one of which is for adults 18+ years old) and 22 tennis courts (They are serious about this sport here!). The included group golf classes focus on a different aspect of golf each day (putting, pitching, chipping, etc.) and are taught by golf pros Mike Berger and Marie-Clare de Bortoli, LPGA.

This is a very nice 3+ star resort. They are in the process of upgrading the facilities. Our room was spacious, new bathroom fixtures, a comfortable bed, and most important it was clean. It may not have new buildings, and be a 5 star resort, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t just right for many people. It’s a great place for families! The food is served buffet style, with even a station with fresh food to be pureed for babies. There is a “specialty” restaurant (The Riverside) that is by reservation only. Again, it is not a 5 star restaurant, but we have eaten there twice on the deck overlooking the bay. The service was attentive and the view lovely.

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

October 17, 2016

These natural wonders are just my cup of tea, or hexagon of stone. Once you are in the parking lot at the Visitor Centre, you can either walk or take the bus down to the water’s edge. As you can see from the pictures, these aren’t just stepping stones but huge pillars of basalt! There are folks in red jackets to help should you need information or just a suggestion of the best way to get down once you climb up a ways further than you intended! If you are ever in this area, it is a sight not to be missed! As is the way, there are legends about these seemingly mystical stones. That’s part of the fun, hearing about two giants giving each other a hard time. We enjoyed the day, the wonders of God and fun stories told by the guides! You can even buy cute earrings in the gift shop! Not that I would do that of course!

Alnwick Castle, County of Northumberland, England

September 14, 2016

Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and seat of the Duke of Northumberland. It was also used in the first two Harry Potter movies for Hogwarts Castle. The powers that be make use of that notoriety, and you can’t blame them. It looks mystical from a distance, but it is huge and the upkeep expense must be immense. The day we were there, it appeared that there was an event that included learning to the proper way to ride a broom! The State Rooms are amazing but, of course, photos were not allowed. I just had to take a photo of a child on one of the toy tractors provided for visiting children! It would be a great place to spend an afternoon with your family, even if the young ones probably wouldn’t be interested in a lavish ballroom or where the Duke ate his dinner.

The water cascade leading up to the gardens was impressive and the gardens beautifully kept. I highly recommend it if you are in the area!

York, England–Beautiful and Historically Significant!

September 14, 2016

Our time in the city of York was short, but it did whet my appetite to return. I love old cities that work to retain their history and heritage while still moving into the future with energy! Obviously from the photos, you can see that the Cathedral in York, known as York Minster, was a focus for us. It opened in 637 AD. That just boggles my mind! Put simply, the building is beautiful Gothic architecture. It is massive. My church would fit into one small corner. Yet when you see the hymnal open to music you recognize, there is a connection that is undeniable.

We walked the narrow cobblestone streets that were built for wooden wheeled vehicles. The Shambles Market street, though changed from times past, is still a market. Roman ruins are in evidence. I had to include the picture of a window with the picture of the Queen waving. It shows someone’s sense of humor and understanding that this will bring a smile to the tourists at least, if not most people!

York Marriott Hotel, York, England

September 13, 2016

Maybe only a fantasy in my own mind, but I felt like I might be living in a Dick Francis Book when we walked around the grounds of our hotel in York. Pleasant room. Good breakfast. It’s a very nice place to stay. Having said that, I LOVE the grounds around this hotel! The views of the York Racecourse, the patio and views of the countryside are relaxing and probably exciting on race meeting days! I’m sorry we were there only one night. The proximity to the beautiful city of York and that area of England just make it all the more enticing!

Buckingham Palace, London, England

September 6, 2016

As part of our tour with CIE Tours, we were given a Hop On Hop Off ticket to London for the day. We wanted to see Buckingham Palace but knew that we could not go inside when the Queen was in residence. If we had done the research, we would have realized that the Queen is often not in residence in August. However, we were walking down the street toward the Palace, hoping to just see the grounds when we stopped to visit through the wrought iron fence with Andy, one of the staff of the Palace. He told us that we should go just down the block and get tickets for the Palace since we could go visit that day! So we did! The ticket place opened at 9 am and we got in the 9:15 am tour time! The cost was about 20 pounds each for the tour which included audio sets so we could go at our own pace. Of course we could not take photos inside the Palace, but we could photo the grounds outside. What a treat to have that experience!

Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, Arizona

May 17, 2016

This past weekend I attended a travel consortium conference at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch.  This property is well located in Scottsdale, Arizona with easy access to the loop 202.  We were given room 32 in the Stillman Cassitas.  This part of the property is a bit separate from the main hotel building with it’s own small pool.  It would be a very nice location if you had several rooms reserved for a group.  It’s only a minute or two to walk to the main building and the larger pool area.  The main building has elevators, but our buildings did not. There is easy access to the golf course.  We were also able to park right in front of our building so that was a plus for unloading luggage if you want to do it yourself. The room had a very small balcony, a nice place to sit in an evening or early morning with a cup of coffee in hand.

The property is about 40 years old, but is in the process of being refurbished.  The food served during the conference was excellent and the waitstaff friendly and efficient.

Visiting the Redwoods in California

April 4, 2014

Have you ever stood at the base of a 600 year old redwood tree and just looked up and up and up?  It is overwhelming!  It has been decades since I have spent time in the California redwoods, and probably never as much time as I did last week at the Redwoods National Park and Avenue of the Giants (2 miles south of Weott, California).

I loved the tree that had been laid on its side so you could clearly see the rings showing its age!  It is just difficult to actually get your mind around that number a years as the lifetime of a living thing.  It’s no wonder so many of the trees have partially burned out trunks.  Fires must have swept through the forest more than once during their long lifetime, but were not able to kill these giant trees.

Normally people are not allowed to touch things that old, but do you know the bark isn’t all hard, but in places soft and spongy?  When I think back on it, I can still feel the “fur” of those great trees under my fingers.  Lots of trails are just off the road and are easily walked by nearly everyone. There was even one (the Revelation Trail) specifically created for ADA access with a ramp and decking around a redwood so someone in a wheelchair could touch the tree and feel what I felt that day.

I have a tendency to take pictures of wild flowers (I love that there are flowers that did not require a human to plant or tend!) so you will see a few of those as well among my pictures.

Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa

September 30, 2013

This past weekend I attended a travel consortia event at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa located at 41000 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, California.  We flew into Ontario Airport and drove the hour north to the Palm Springs area to stay at this lovely location.
The property was taken over by Omni in July so there is still somewhat of a transition going on with things like a hotel informational booklet not yet in the room.  However,
the staff at Reception was more than happy to assist with any information requested.  We were upgraded to a “Lakeside” room making for an incredible view from the patio with a view of
the palms on the golf course across the small man-made lake and the mountains in the background.
There are options for casual dining, a coffee shop that
serves Starbucks coffee open at 6 am, large fitness center, a “quiet” pool for those not wanting the noise of lots of children playing, and lovely comfortable seating outside on a patio
with gas fire places for visiting in the evenings.
The atmosphere is very relaxed until you go into
“Splashtopia” their mini waterpark.  This area requires a wrist band and includes a lazy river, water slides, and even a small sandy beach which would be great for a family with toddlers.
There are multiple lifeguards to keep an eye on kids for safety while they play.  I did go down the water side and float around the lazy river–twice.  Very nice!
Our group made good use of a part of the large conference facilities with multiple rooms.  The conference rooms vary in size to accommodate small to large groups.

We had two dinners at this property, both with excellent food and attentive service.  The first was served in the conference center and the second was served on the Starlight Terrace which is located on the rooftop of the conference area.  Incredible views at sunset and great food and drinks served by friendly staff.