#TravelTuesday – Morocco

Categories: News

July28Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Morocco, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Essaouira: The walled port of Essaouira is perched above some of Morocco’s finest beaches, with dunes that unfurl for miles to the south. The city’s relaxed atmosphere—along with its exotic medina and stalwart stone ramparts—first attached backpackers and hippies here in the 1960s (Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens each came to drop out). Today’s young visitors come for some of Africa’s best wind and kite surfing.

  • Where: 100 miles/161 km west of Marrakech.
  • Best Times: March-May and September-December for nicest weather; late June for Gnaoua and World Music Festival.

2. Fès el Bali: The intellectual, cultural, and religious center of Morocco for 1,200 years, Fès (or Fez) is Morocco’s oldest imperial capital and is known for the Fès el Bali, its large, sprawling, walled medina. With 9,500 streets and by some accounts over 180 miles of alleys, it is crammed with every conceivable sort of workshop, market, and restaurant.

  • Where: 155 miles/249 km east of Casablanca.
  • Best Times: September-November and April-June for pleasant weather; early June for Sacred Music Festival; late October for Fès Culinary Festival.

3. The Great Sahara: The Sahara Desert is easy to reach in Morocco, and once you’re there, you’ll find mountains of sand, vibrant green oases, miles of barren scrub and stone that the Berbers call hammada, turbaned nomads astride camels, ancient mud-walled casbahs, and, at night, an ocean of stars, uncannily clear and bright. The road trip from Marrakech into the Sahara brings you across the Atlas Mountains (see below) and into barren desert basins where underground rivers sustain oases of date palms and almond, citrus, and olive trees.

  • Where: Ouarzazate is 125 miles/200 km southeast of Marrakech.
  • How: U.S.-based Overseas Adventure Travel offers a 16-day Morocco Sahara Odyssey that includes 2 nights camping in the Sahara. Tel: 800-221-0814 or 617-350-7500; www.oattravel.com

4. Trekking and Romance in the Atlas Mountains: The Moroccans believe that the High Atlas Mountains are as close as you can get to heaven without leaving earth. You can glimpse these majestic snow-capped mountains from as far away as Marrakech, and they lure an increasing number of hikers who wish to experience the fascination culture and friendly hospitality of Berber villagers while staying in restored casbahs, or walled fortresses.

  • Where: The Imlil Valley is 40 miles/65 km south of Marrakech.
  • Best Times: April-May for warm spring weather and snow on the peaks; June and September-October for ideal trekking.

5. Place Djemaa el-Fna and the Medina: This is where it all happens, an impromptu medieval circus enacted around the clock. During the day, snack charmers, performing monkeys, and souvenir sellers lure the tourists, while dentists, barbers, and scribes serve the locals. Later, the square fills with food vendors selling everything from lamb couscous to orange juice, and the air is filled with the smoke and sizzle of grilled kebabs. When Djemaa el-Fna echoes with the muezzin call to evening prayer and lights flood the towering minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, the impact is magical.

  • Where: 149 miles/240 km south of Casablanca.
  • Best Times: March-May and September-November for most clement weather; mid-July for the Popular Arts Festival.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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Stuff On Hot Dogs

Categories: News

Although you might eat hot dogs with great delight on a sunny day, they don’t feel so exciting when they’re all you have in the fridge, or all a picky child will eat. But don’t get stuck thinking hot dogs are boring. Whether pork, beef, kosher, or veggie, hot dogs are livelier with a generous vegetable topping. Here are some ideas to get you going.

Stuff On Hot Dog_Teriyaki

Quick Teriyaki Carrots
$0.75 TOTAL

This quick teriyaki sauce is great on all kinds of vegetables. Try it with carrots and then experiment from there.

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, grated
2 to 3 carrots, grated

1. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic to a hot pan over medium heat. Let it sizzle.

2. Once the sugar is dissolved, toss the carrots in and cook until they absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Stuff On Hot Dog_CucumberDill

Salt and Vinegar Cucumbers with Dill
$1.20 TOTAL

These tangy cucumbers are like a quick form of pickles. Add a tablespoon of dill or mustard seeds for a more pickley flavor. Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge and they’ll keep about a week.

1 field cucumber
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

1. Thinly slice the cucumber.
2. Scoop the cucumber into a bowl with the vinegar and salt and toss. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Stuff On Hot Dog_Mexican

Mexican Street Corn

 

4 ears corn
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
½ cup grated cotija, queso blanco, feta, Romano, or Parmesan cheese
dusting of chile powder
1 lime, sliced into wedges

1. Turn your oven’s broiler to high.
2. Peel off the corn husks and clean off all the silk. Leave the green ends attached for a convenient handhold.
3. Place the corn on a baking sheet and stick them under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes. Rotate and repeat until they’re brown and toasty all the way around—no more than 10 minutes total.
4. Simply cut the corn off the cob and mix the mayo, chili powder, cheese, and lime into the kernels.

 

Stuff On Hot Dog_Cabbage

Wilted Cabbage Salad

1 medium-size cabbage,
finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup raw peanuts
½ bunch scallions, finely chopped

Dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
or lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste
additions
grated carrot
finely chopped apple
sesame seeds
a few drops of sesame oil

1. Toss the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Place something heavy, like a pot (any size that fits in the bowl), on top of the cabbage. The weight, along with the salt, will encourage the cabbage to expel its moisture. Leave it for 2 hours. This method will take away some bitterness, leaving the crunchy texture of raw cabbage.
2. Roast the peanuts in a single layer in a skillet over medium heat, occasionally tossing them and moving them, until they are lightly brown all over, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, spread the peanuts on a baking sheet and broil them about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. You want them nice and golden. Sprinkle a bit of salt on the roasted peanuts and set them aside.
3. Combine the olive oil, rice vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix it up and taste. Adjust the salt and pepper as you like. Remember that the cabbage is already salted, so you won’t need too much salt in the dressing.
4. Once the 2 hours have passed, toss the cabbage again with your hands. Cabbage treated in this way will last for several days. Before serving, add the scallions, peanuts, and dressing. Toss, taste, and adjust the seasoning as you see fit.
5. Chop the cabbage finely so that it can be distributed evenly over your hot dog.

 

Stuff On Hot Dog_Salsa

Salsa

½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
(remove seeds for less heat)
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Additions
chopped mango, peach, plum,
or pineapple
beans
corn
finely chopped garlic
chipotle chiles in adobo instead of the jalapeño

1. If you like raw onion, skip ahead to Step 2. Otherwise, take the edge off by sautéing the onion with a bit of water in a pan over medium heat. The onion is ready once the water has boiled off.
2. Mix the onion, tomato, pepper, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Be sure to add enough salt and pepper!
3. Taste the salsa. You’re looking for a balance of spicy from the jalapeño pepper, sweet from the tomatoes, and bright and fresh from the herbs and lime juice. If something’s out of balance, add more of the appropriate ingredient to bring it back into balance.
4. Try to drain a little bit of the juice so it doesn’t make your bun too soggy. Crumble tortilla chips on top for some crunch.

 

Sweet or Savory Pineapple Salad

This is a classic combo, especially with pork! Chop the pineapple finely so it won’t fall off.

Sweet
1 can pineapple, in juice
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of ½ lime
salt, a wee pinch

Savory
1 can pineapple, in juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped
red chile
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
cilantro
salt, to taste

1. Open the can of pineapple. Drain the juice into a glass and drink it!
2. If the pineapple is cut into chunks, simply scoop them into a bowl. If you have rings, chop them into bite-size pieces first.
3. Add the remaining ingredients for the sweet or savory salad. Stir and taste. For the sweet, don’t forget the salt—it brings out the sweetness in the acidic pineapple. Adjust to taste, and serve.

This recipe is from Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown

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#TravelTuesday – Kenya, Africa

Categories: News

July21

 

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Kenya, Africa, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Private Wildlife Reserves: In the foothills of Mount Kenya, on the edge of the Laikipia Plateau, a few fortunate guests can revel in spellbinding views of ridge after mountain ridge and enjoy the freedom to see wild game—great herds of everything from elephants and giraffes the zebras and antelopes—on vast private properties. Borana Lodge and Lewa Wilderness, neighboring cattle ranches compromising more than 100,000 acres in northern Kenya, offer game drives led by top-notch trackers and guides.

  • Where: 150 miles/241 km north of Nairobi.
  • Best Times: mid-July-October and mid December-March to avoid the rainy season.

2. Ol Donyo Wuas: Ol Donyo Wuas sits at the foot of the dramatic Chyulu Hills amid a quarter of a million acres on the open plains of Masai land. One of East Africa’s most beloved bush lodges, it is a partnership between local tribes and an old safari hand named Richard Bonham, who first touched down here in a Cessna in the 1980s. When he saw the rolling, wooded grassland and the snow-capped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro looming across the Tanzanian border, he knew he needed to stay awhile and built Ol Donyo Wuas, whose name names “Spotted Hills” in the local Masai language.

  • Where: 135 miles/218 km southeast of Nairobi
  • Best Times: July-September and December-January to avoid the rainy seasons.

3. Climbing Mount Kenya: Africa’s second highest peak rises 17,058 feet above the equator, its ragged, snow-dusted summits looking down on glacier-sculpted valleys and alpine moorland. Mount Kenya, a former volcano, is graced with more than 20 clear mountain lakes and trout-filled streams. Elephants, buffaloes, and the rare striped antelopes known as mountain bongos roam its lower slopes, where moss-covered cedars and giant lobelias vie for space amid the ferns, wildflowers, and orchids.

  • Where: Mount Kenya is 100 miles/161 km north of Nairobi.
  • How: Nairobi-based Insiders Africa offers guided climbs and accommodations at Ol Pejeta. Tel: 254/734-445-283; www.insidersafrica.com 
  • Best Times: January-mid March and August-mid-October for pleasant weather.

4. Island of Lamu: Not quite undiscovered, but still relatively unspoiled, the tiny island of Lamu is where you’ll find Kenya’s oldest living city and a fascinating glimpse of the country’s ancient Swahili and Islamic cultures. There are just a handful of cars on Lamu—its streets are generally too narrow to accommodate any conveyances bigger than a donkey. And though it lies just one mile off the mainland, in the Indian Ocean, it is more reminiscent of the Middle East than it is of Africa.

  • Where: 255 miles/410 km east of Nairobi.
  • How: Nairobi-based Safari Company creates custom itineraries featuring Lami. Tel: 254/723-914094; www.thesafaricoltd.com
  • Best Times: December-March for hot and dry weather, good sport fishing, and snorkeling; in Lamu Town, May-June for Maulidi Festival celebrating the birth of Mohammed.

5. The Masi Mara (pictured above): The Masi Mara is nature’s stage for the most spectacular wildlife pageant on earth. Every May, hundreds of thousands of wildebeests mass in Tanzania’s Serengeti, moving north in search of sustenance to the wide-open grasslands of Kenya’s Masai Mara, where they arrive in July and August. The wildebeests, as well as migrating herds of zebras, antelopes, and gazelles, make u more than one million animals on the move in the 583-square-mile game reserve. The Mara is also one of the places for seeing all the big cats.

  • Where: About 150 miles/241 km southwest of Nairobi.
  • How: U.S.-based Micato Safaris offers customized safaris that can incorporate a variety of luxury camps in the Mara. Tel: 800-642-2861 or 212-545-7111; www.micato.com 
  • Best Times: May-October for cooler weather; July-September for best chance at seeing the migration.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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Ben’s Chocolate Ice Cream

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Ben’s Chocolate Ice Cream is about as rich as they come. The pinch of salt helps to bring out the chocolate flavor.

 

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup heavy or whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

 

1. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling, water. Gradually whisk in the milk and heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool.

2. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt and whisk to blend.

3. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cream mixture and blend. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 to 3 hours, depending on your refrigerator.

4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Make 1 quart

 

This recipe is from Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

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#TravelTuesday – Rome

Categories: News

July14Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Rome, Italy, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. The Coliseum (pictured above): Once able to seat 50,000, the Coliseum was begun in A.D. 72 by Vespasian at a site just east if the Roman Forum. Neglected over the centuries, its stones quarried for other monuments and churches, the largest Roman amphitheater in the world is the enduring symbol of the Eternal City and the grandeur that was Rome. The mightly shell is forever associated with gory combat—between men, between animals, between men and animals, and even between ships, as the whole thing could once be flooded for mock sea battles.

2. Vatican City: The world’s smallest independent state is the epicenter of Roman Catholicism as well as the home of one of the world’s greatest assemblages of art and architecture. La Basilica di San Pietro, begun in 324 on the site were St. Peter, rises above an elliptical colonnade by Bernini, and was lavishly rebuilt and embellished by the greatest talents of the 16th and 17th centuries. Michelangelo designed the dome of the basilica, and his Pietà is the finest of the hundreds of statues found in the chapels surrounding the 700-foot-long nave.

3. The Pantheon: Built in 27 B.C. by Marcus Agrippa and reconstructed by Hadrian in the early 2nd century, the most complete building to come down to us from ancient Rome—a temple for pagan gods until it was consecrated as a Catholic church in the 7th century—is a remarkable architectural wonder that is exactly as wide as it is high. The world’s largest reinforced concrete dome is supported by pillars hidden in the walls, providing a lesson in engineering to Michelangelo and others throughout the ages. One of them, Raphael, is entombed in a side chapel, as are Italian royalty and other luminaries.

4. Spanish Steps: This sweeping staircase, built in 1725, ascends in three majestic tires from the busy Piazza di Spagna to the French Trinità dei Monti church. The boat-shaped fountain at the food of the steps was designed in the late 16th century by Bernini or his father (the jury is still out); the poet John Keats died in a house overlooking the steps that is now a small museum; and the top is the place to be at sunset, for a view of Rome’s seven hills. The steps take their name from the Spanish Embassy, which occupied a nearby palazzo in the 19th century.

5. Piazza del Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museums: Designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century, the Piazza del Campidoglio is one of Rome’s most elegant spaces, with views over the Roman Forum. Three palazzos framing the piazza house the Capitoline Museums, home to a treasure trove of ancient Roman sculpture that includes bronzes of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus and Marcus Aurelius astride a horse. Among the Renaissance paintings are numerous works by Tintoretto and Guido Reni.

6. The Roman and Imperial Forums: The busy and crowded center of Roman political, judicial, and commercial life in the days of the Republic, the Roman Forum is an evocative jumble of ruins. You’ll need a map and guide to pick out the numerous temples; the Umbilicus Urbus, the designated center of Rome and ground zero from which all distances in the Empire were measured; the Curia, the main seat of the Roman Senate and the House of the Vestal Virgins, home of the young women who minded the Temple of Vesta’s sacred fire. The Imperial Forums were begun by Julius Caesar and the include the Forums of Caesar, Augustus, and Trajan.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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#TravelTuesday – Campania, Italy

Categories: News

July7Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Campania, Italy, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. The Amalfi Coast: The vertiginous Amalfi Drive is a 30-mile stretch of hairpin curves that unfurls between Amalfi and Sorrento. Cliffs plunge into an impossibly blue Mediterranean, as a coastline of seaside towns and some of Italy’s most precipitously-sited and glamorous retreats unfold among terraced olive and lemon groves and umbrella pines. Tiny, picturesque Amalfi was the heart of a powerful maritime republic as early as the 9th century. A hint of the east shows up in its Duomo di Sant’Andrea: Mosaics adorn the cathedral’s facade and the Moorish cloister suggests an Arabian courtyard.

  • Where: Amalfi is 38 miles/61 km southeast of Naples.
  • Best Times: May and September for mild weather and fewer crowds; April-October for Wagner Festival in Ravello; June 27 and November 30 for celebrating Amalfi’s patron Sant’Andrea.

2. Capri and Ischia: Capri has been a favored summer playground since the Roman emperor Tiberius made the Villa Jovis—now an evocative cliff-top ruin with breathtaking views—his ruling seat in A.D. 26. Today, artists, designers, movie stars, divas, politicians, writers, royals, and financiers make regular appearances in the Piazzetta, described by Noël  Coward as “the most beautiful operetta stage in the world.” The hallmarks of this 5-square-mile getaway surrounded by emerald waters are the Faraglioni, three needle-like rocks towering  just off the rugged coast. A boat trip into the azure light of the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto) is justifiably one of the world’s most written-about tourist experiences, while up in the town of Anacapri, the lush Mediterranean garden of the Villa San Michele offers a chance to escape the day-tripping crowds.

  • Where: Capri is 22 miles/36 km south of Naples.
  • Best Times: May and September for mild weather and fewer crowds.

3. Naples: More than two millennia of history stokes the vitality and energy of this modern-day port city famous for its high-spirited, chaotic everyday life. Napes was the seat of a powerful, independent kingdom for more than 500 years, and drew Europe’s finest architects and artists. Explore its many historic overlays in the colorful Spaccanapoli, at the heart of the old city. Once an enclave of monumental palazzos and magnificent churches, Spaccanapoli now bustles against a backdrop of time-battered tenements and workshops; laundry hangs across narrow alleys; and Vespa-filled streets thrum with local vendors who hawk everything from contraband DVDs to gelato.

  • Where: 117 miles/189 km south of Rome.
  • Best Times: April-June and September-November for fairest weather; 1st Sunday in may and September 19 for celebrations of the city’s patron, San Gennaro.

4. Naples’s Antiquities: Looming over the storied Gulf of Naples is Mount Vesuvius, the still-active 4,193-foot volcano that on August 24, A.D. 79, erupted with incredible force, spewing volcanic ash and mud over nearby cities and preserving them almost intact. Pompeii was the largest of the buried cities: It slumbered under 20 feet of ask for more than 1,500 years before its discovery and excavation, which continues today. The Pompeiian homes, wine shops, public baths, and bordellos are windows on the life that flourished in this thriving port city during the days of the Caesars.

  • Where: Pompeii is 15 miles/24 km southeast of Naples.
  • Best Times: May-June and September-October for fine weather.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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#TravelTuesday – South Carolina, USA

Categories: News

june 30Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is South Carolina, USA courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Beaufort and the Lowcountry: The honeycombed coastline of south of Charleston stretches for 200 miles, dissolving into peninsulas, channels, and subtropical Sea Islands that make up the South Carolina lowcountry. Kiawah Island is a key player, enjoying proximity to Charleston and boasting of the most talked-about golf resorts in North American (tennis and beach sports are also stellar). Its Sanctuary Hotel is a sumptuous choice for those who want to linger. Neighboring Hunting Island State Park, a nature reserve, is rife with loggerhead turtles, alligators, and herons.

  • Best Times: April-June and mid-September-January for pleasant weather; May for Beaufort’s Gullah Fest; early October for Beaufort’s Shrimp Festival.

2. The Heart of Charleston: At the time of the American Revolution, Charleston stood as one of the young nation’s largest, wealthiest, and most dynamic communities. Today this sultry and gracious metropolis at the confluence of the Cooper and Ashley rivers remains unparalleled in charm. Its wonderfully walkable historic district contains one of the nation’s largest collections of Colonial architecture, and a fair share of distinctive Victorian buildings as well. Charleston also delights visitors with its antiques shops, amiable residents, and the city’s emerging arts and food scenes.

  • Best Times: March for blooms; March-May and September-December for pleasant weather.

3. Lowcountry Cuisine: The coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia are the home of lowcountry cuisine, a harmonious blending of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean influences, and Charleston is its culinary capital. Drawing upon traditional ingredients like shrimp, oysters, crab, rice, grits, okra, and fried greens, lowcountry food has enjoyed a creative spin in recent years. At the city’s most hallowed culinary institutions, such as the Peninsula Grill and Circa 1886, and the slightly more casual but still highly refined magnolias, you’ll find time-honored recipes alongside more innovation dishes. Similarly, at Fig and Husk, the farm-to-table menus pay homage to the bounty of the lowcountry with an updated twist.

  • Best Times: Late January-early February for Lowcountry Oyster Festival; early October for Taste of Charleston Festival.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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#TravelTuesday – Puerto Rico

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june 23

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is Puerto Rico, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Rincón and La Ruta Panoramic: Puerto Rico’s wild and wonderful west coast is one of the world’s top surfing destinations, and its town of Rincón was put on the map when the World Surfing Championships were held here on Domes Beach in 1968. Rincón means “corner”—this is where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet, giving rise to waves that can break at heights of up to 25 feet. The secret has long been out—this California-vibe town attracts a steady flow of transient surfers from around the globe—but it’s a revelation to most.

  • Where Rincón is 100 miles/161 km west of San Juan.
  • Best Times: November-April for surfing and good weather; February for whale-watching; mid-February for the Coffee Festival in Maricao; March for Whale Festival in Rincón.

2. Old San Juan (pictured above): El Viejo San Juan, the seven-square-block landmark zone of the island’s capital, is a perfectly preserved microcosm of Spanish Colonial architecture and a walk back through history. Its narrow streets are paved with adoquine (a blue stone used as ballast on Spanish galleons), and its 16th-century fortresses, particularly the impregnable six-level El Morro rising 150 feet above the sea, still strike one as engineering marvels.

  • Best Times: November-April for nice weather; January for Festival de la Calle San Sebastian; mid-February-mid-March for Festival Casals; late June for Fiesta de San Juan Bautista; July for Puerto Rico Salsa Congress.

3. Vieques and Culebra: Puerto Rico’s smaller sister island Vieques is distinctive both for what it lacks (souvenir shops, spas, stoplights, and most other signs of tourist development) and what is possesses (a bio-luminescent bay, dozens of nearly deserted beaches, and a thriving population of free-roaming horses). The 62-year presence of the U.S. Navy, which occupied more than half the 21-mile island, kept the island from being developed. When it departed in 2003, the base became a national wildlife refuge (much of it is still closed to the public because of the ongoing cleanup of exploded ammunition).

  • Best Time: November-April for pleasant weather.

4. El Yunque National Forest: A popular day trip from San Juan, El Yunque combines all the magic of a rain forest—majestic trees, giant ferns, and mysterious peeps and trills emanating from the dense foliage in the rugged Luquillo Mountains. As the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System, El Yunqe provides paved trails that are easy on children and inexperienced hikers. It even offers a drive-through option for windshield tourists who can enjoy the misty landscape and roadside waterfalls along Route 191, the only road through the 28,000-acre forest. But El Yunque, considered by the Taino Indians, is indubitably best experienced on foot. Home to thousands of plants, including 240 tree species (23 of which are found nowhere else) and 70 orchids, El Yunque has 13 hiking trails covering 23 miles of varied terrain.

  • Where: 22 miles/35 km southwest of San Juan. Tel: 787-888-1880; www.fs.usda.gov/elyunque 
  • Best Time: December-April for the least rain.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

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#TravelTuesday – Life Under the Waves

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june 16

 

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination Life Under the Waves, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day calendar.

1. Raja Ampat Archipelago, Papua, Indonesia: Raja Ampat is a long way from anywhere, and that is a significant part of the pristine archipelago’s appeal. So is the fact that it is one of the richest coral reef ecosystems on the planet. Located in the warm, shallow waters off the western Bird’s Head Peninsula of Indonesia’s Papua Province, Raja Ampat—or Four Kings—compromises more than 1,500 islands and islets clustered around the three main islands of Waigeo, Salawati, and Misool. The archipelago spans over 15,400 square miles of sea and it home to Cendarawasih Bay, the largest marine national park in the country.

  • Where: 995 miles/1,600 km northeast of Jakarta.
  • Best Times: Drift diving is possible year-round, although seas may be rougher from July-September; April-September is the wet season.

2. The Maldive Islands: Made up of 26 atolls scattered across the Indian Ocean from north to south in a shape that resembles an exclamation point, Maldives is a fragile wonderland of white sand, palms, lagoons, reefs, and Hockney-blue seas. Each resort—there are almost 100—occupies a private island and is dedicated to showing off its own jewel of the sea. Divers and snorkelers revel in the easy to access miles of coral gardens in shallow, crystal-clear waters. They come in search of small, colorful creatures like unicornfish, harlequin sweetlips, and glassfish, as well as hulking reef sharks and manta rays.

  • Where: 250 miles/400 km southwest of India, spreading more than 500 miles north to south.
  • Best Time: December-April for driest days and clearest waters.

3. Sipadan, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia: Part of the Semporna Archipelago, off the coast of Borneo, tiny mushroom-shaped Sipadan sits atop a submerged volcano in a protected conservation zone. With a cap of only 120 visitors a day and no overnight accommodations, this speck of an island in the Celebes Sea appears on every diver’s dream list. Walk 15 feet of from the soft white sandy beach, stick your head in the water, and be prepared for the treat of a lifetime. Incredibly clear and calm waters enable even novice snorkelers to enjoy the wonders of the underwater kingdom. Experienced scuba divers can choose from 12 dive locations with seawalls that plunge 2,000 feet into a deep blue abyss, all less than a few minutes from shore by boat.

  • Where: 22 miles/36 km off northeast coast of Borneo.
  • Best Time: May-October for nicest weather, but diving is good year-round.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

1000-Places-3D-Image 9780761178170_225_263_701 9780761179375_3d_235_240_701

 

 

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#TravelTuesday – South Island, New Zealand

Categories: News

june 9

Today’s Travel Tuesday destination is South Island, New Zealand, courtesy of the 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar.

Top Attractions:

1. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park (pictured above): While the South Island of New Zealand is known for its palm trees and hibiscus plants, one third of the dazzling national park found here is covered in permanent snow and ice. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park contains 72 named glaciers and 22 mountain peaks that top 9,840 feet, including the park’s namesake, which is New Zealand’s highest at 12,316 feet. This is the place to splurge on unforgettable flightseeing. Some flights include a snow landing on the 17-mile-long Tasman Glacier, the longest river of ice outside the Himalayas.

  • Where: 160 miles/257 km northeast of Queenstown.
  • How: Mount Cook Ski Planes offer plane and helicopter trips. Tel: 64/3-430-8034; www.skiplanes.co.nz; Glacier Explorer offers glacier lake boat trips. Tel: 64/3-435-1641; www.glacierexplorers.co.nz
  • Best Times:July-September for skiing; November-April for trekking and glacier tours.

2. Arthur’s Pass: Shortcuts are rare in New Zealand. Roads typically follow switchbacks over mountains, or avoid them completely, skirting their edges and piling on the miles needed to get from point A to point B. This had posed a distinct problem in the South Island, where the Southern Alps run the length of the land like a chain of vertebrae, dividing the east coast from the west. So the Kiwis created three grand coast-to-coast shortcuts: Lewis Pass in the north, Haast Pass in the south, and the crown jewel, Arthur’s Pass, in the center. The tiny Arthur’s Pass Village serves as a gateway to vast Arthur’s Pass National Park, which is marked by sprawling beech forests on its eastern side and deeply gorged rivers and thick rain forest to the west.

  • Where: Arthur’s Pass is 80 miles/130 km west of Christchurch.
  • Best Times: December-early April for warm weather and wildflowers; July-September for skiing and winter activities.

3. Fiordland National Park: The Australian’s may claim the Great Barrier Reef as the Eighth Wonder of the World, but Rudyard Kipling gave the honor to New Zealand’s Milford Sound. Milford is the most famous and accessible of the 15 fjords that make up the majestic 3-million-acre Fiordland National Park (the country’s largest) on the South Island’s southwestern coast. The 9.3-mile-long inlet is hemmed in by sheer granite cliffs rising up to 4,000 feet, with waterfalls cascading from the high mountain ridges. Playful bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and gulls call its waters home, and crested penguins nest here in October and November before leaving for Antarctica.

  • Where: Most departures for Milford are from Te Anau, which is 107 miles/172 km southwest of Queenstown.
  • How: Ultimate Hikes leads guided treks. Tel: 64/3-450-1940; www.ultimatehikes.co.nz; Real Journeys offers Milford and Doubtful Sound cruises. Tel: 64/3-249-7416; www.realjourneys.co.nz
  • Best Time: October-April for spring and summer weather

4. The Grand Traverse:In a country where nature is king, it’s no surprise that “tramping” (aka hiking) is a national pastime—and what remarkable scenery there is to tramp through, particularly along the Grand Traverse, one of New Zealand’s premier trekking experiences. The 24-mile Routeburn Track is the first leg. It crosses the Southern Alps over the breathtaking 3,900-foot Harris Saddle and descends through a world of moss-clad trees, giant ferns, mountain streams, rich bird life, lakes, and waterfalls within Mount Aspiring National Park.

  • Where: Te Wahipounanu World Heritage Area, southwest corner of the South Island.
  • How: Ultimate Hike offers guided trek packages. Tel: 64/3-450-1940; www.ultimatehikes.co.nz
  • Best Time: January-February for most comfortable temperatures and least precipitation.

5. Marlborough Sounds: The Marlborough region of the South Island offers two irresistible reason to visit: in the north, the grandeur of the unspoiled Marlborough Sounds, with dozens of secluded bays and beaches, and in the south, the award-winning vineyards encircling the town of Blenheim. This area, formerly occupied by sheep farms, is the country’s largest and best-known center of viticulture, with more than 100 wineries producing internationally acclaimed chardonnay and sauvignon blanc and, more recently pinto gris, riesling, and gewurztraminer.

  • Where: Blenheim is 169 miles.272 km north of Christchurch.
  • How: Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company leads multi-day guided walks. Tel: 64/3-573-6078; www.marlboroughsounds.co.nz
  • Best Times: November-March for nice weather; February for Brews, Blues, and BBQs and the Marlborough Wine Festival.

6. The Home of Bungee Jumping and Jet Boating: If you want to learn something fundamental about the Kiwi character, you need only know that New Zealand is the recognized home of both bungee jumping and jet boating. The former act of madness originated as a coming-of-age ritual on the Pacific islands of Vanuatu. And while you may not have realized you had a burning desire to attach a thick rubber cord to your ankes before diving headfirst off a bridge, Queenstown’s high-energy brand of fun is infectious, and so far—with a 100 percent safety record—everyone has lived to brag about it.

  • How: For bungee jumping, A.J. Hackett Bungy, named for the man who made a historic leap from the Eiffel Tower in 1987; Tel: 64/3-442-4007;  For jet boats, Shotover Jet, Tel: 64/3-442-8570; www.shotoverjet.co.nz
  • Best Time: January-March for summer weather.

Read more on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and the calendar line here.

1000-Places-3D-Image 9780761178170_225_263_701 9780761179375_3d_235_240_701

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