Tag Archives: restaurants

Experiencing the Galapagos in style

Standard

2yaap_weifrebirgalecu

Out of all the natural environments on Earth, none quite has the fame that the Galapagos Islands possesses. Back in the 19th century, a naturalist by the name of Charles Darwin visited these isles as part of a global journey aboard the HMS Beagle, and it was here he witnessed the vastly different creatures which led to him positing his now famous theories of natural selection and evolution.

Regardless of your opinion of Mr. Darwin, nobody can deny the beauty of its geography and its flora and fauna, and it is this fact that brings countless travelers to the shores of the Galapagos every year. Located more than 1,000 kilometres from the South American mainland, the shocking differences in animal and plant life here will fascinate you at every turn, making your decision to come here well worth the money you will spend on a trip here.

Here’s how you can experience the Galapagos in style…

A room with a grand view

While many visitors here are content to slum it in budget hotels and hostels, you have no desire to rough it on a tropical island without glorious A/C, a plush mattress that feels like a cloud, and a property that feels like an immaculately kept castle.

The Royal Palm Hotel definitely satisfies all of the following criteria, as well as many others. Your home away from home for your week in the Galapagos is located up in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, and with a fine dining restaurant, a refined bar, and a relaxing pool/jacuzzi on site, you won’t ever want to leave.

Observe one of the world’s most fascinating habitats

One of the absolute must-do activities that one should undertake while on holidays in the Galapagos is a tour through some of the most unique natural habitats found in this island chain. It is recommended that you should take a tour on a smaller yacht than on the bigger ships, as not only is the experience far more intimate, they are much more environmentally friendly and are easier to dock at some of the tighter coves in the national park (whereas the big boats cannot).

On these tours, you will see rare birds, lizards and tortoises enjoying life in their unique habitat, one that cannot be found elsewhere on Earth.

Savour the island’s best cuisine

While you could have dinner at your resort every night, on some nights you will want to have a night out on the town instead. On Santa Cruz, that town is Puerto Ayora, and it is here you can find places like Angermeyer Point Restaurant if you wish to sample the bounty of the sea, La Garrapata if you wish to sample a taste of Ecuadorian cuisine, and if you wish to choose from the cuisine of the world, Il Giardino is highly regarded by both tourists and locals alike!

Living Like A Local In Barcelona

Standard

 

2yaap_grainbarspa

Barcelona is an amazing city to see as a tourist, but there is much more appeal if you dig in and commit to living in this place like a local. The standard sights can be exhausted in a matter of days, but the hidden gems found within Barcelona’s numerous barrios will keep you walking, eating, and discovering for weeks on end.

In order to take advantage of this, it is vital that you spend time living like a local in Barcelona. The following guide will help you uncover the hidden spots that would otherwise not be found by those in town for a fleeting visit, so if you want to pack your bags and head to one of the most stylish cities in Spain afterward … good! You’ll be much better off for it.

Let’s get started!

Find an awesome neighborhood

There are many uber cool places where one can base themselves during their extended stay in Barcelona, of which the most desired is Gracia. The feel of this portion of these seething metropolis is more like a town than a city, which isn’t hard to understand once you realize that it was a town when it was swallowed by the rapidly expanding city on its doorstep.

Trendy youth love the style of this area, as well as El Born, which boasts no shortage of stylish boutiques, restaurants and high fashion shops. The beach is within walking distance from this well-located sector of the city, making it all the more desirable.

Dine where Barcelonans dine

Don’t light your money on fire at the overpriced restos in the tourist districts, as there are plenty of amazing dining options in other portions of Barcelona where value for money is much better. Can Eusebio is an excellent place on Vila i Vila where the tapas are much more generous and delicious than in the tourism areas, as the crowds on Fridays attest.

Don’t want to venture far from the beach, but still want to nosh like a local? Just five minutes away on Carrer Doctor Trueta is Savigovi, a canteen-style eatery that serves amazing lunch meals for under ten Euros!

Do what the locals do

As mentioned earlier, the main sights in Barcelona will last you for maybe a week at the most. After that, the local wonders of this eclectic city are yours to discover. Start by having a picnic in Parc de la Ciutadella, with your lunch items being procured from an earlier visit to Mercat de la Barceloneta, where an abundance can be found.

After a slow and satisfying meal, take cover from the intense afternoon sun to see the Museo del Modernismo Catalan, a new museum dedicated to the bleeding edge of the visual arts in Catalonia.

Living The Good Life In The Okanagan Valley: A Guide

Standard

2yaap_vinintheokanagval

As the summer season north of the border moves towards its climax, the sense of urgency to enjoy its finest summer getaways while the weather is favourable is rising. One of these choice destinations is British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a semi-arid valley where a series of lakes left over from the last Ice Age are the centrepiece.

The cities, towns and rural regions between are home to a variety of top-shelf experiences, from some of the best wineries in Canada to houseboating expeditions that will allow you enjoy some of the best swimming in Western Canada in a very lively manner.

So that you might plan a journey that doesn’t cause you to accidentally miss out on something that you are passionate about, we will cover the primary centres of this region from north to south, listing the highlights that can only elevate your trip from great to extraordinary by doing them.

Vernon

If you are an avid golfer, then you will be pleased to know that the vaunted Predator Ridge Golf Course can be found here. Ranked as the #1 course in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun, it boasts killer views of the valley and lakes below, as it is situated high in the benchlands above. If you’d rather play on the water, Kalamalka Lake is an ideal place to do so, as water skiing is a popular activity of this luminous glacial body of water.

Kelowna

The biggest centre of the Valley by far, Kelowna offers the best urban attractions of any city in the Okanagan Valley. A large selection of fine restaurants await, both in the downtown core, and in the many wineries found just outside city limits. Tasting tours can be done to these vineyards, found to the north and the south, an activity that will leave you positively tipsy at its conclusion.

Those looking for a wildly fun multi-day trip can rent a houseboat in town, taking to the waters with several days worth of booze and food with your friends. The real value of this experience is hooking up with fellow houseboaters to have epic parties out in the middle of one of Canada’s most spectacular lakes – whether it is 3 pm in the afternoon, or 2 am at night.

Osoyoos

If merely visiting a winery isn’t enough for you, why not stay at one? This can be done at the Burrowing Owl Estate near the desert town of Osoyoos, where 140 acres of wine grapes ensures that the good stuff just keeps on flowing. Orchards that produce fruit other than grapes sell their produce and baked goods by the roadside here as well, and if you always wanted to try your hand at sailing, lessons can be taken in town on Osoyoos Lake.

Experiencing San Diego In Style

Standard

2yaap_balparsandiecal

California has long been a favored destination by many travelers craving the abundant Californian sun, its ever-present surf creating a pleasant din in the background, and its many soul rejuvenating vistas. Of all the cities in the state, San Diego best exemplifies all three of these qualities, and as a result of this, its stock has been rising among travelers.

The time for you to experience this stylish city has arrived, as it offers a wide variety of inspired activities for the culturally attuned. In the following article, we have picked out what we feel are the best aspects of San Diego that you should experience if it is a peak experience that you seek.

It may be not a be all, end all list of things to do here, but it will ensure that your time here will be filled with highlights.

DO: Balboa Park

If your time here is restricted to a quick weekend or business trip, do take the time to experience Balboa Park, if only for a few hours. It is San Diego’s most celebrated greenspace, as it is beset with many well-tended gardens and shady palms, but there is so much more to this place than that. It is also home to art galleries, the San Diego Zoo, and structures like Casa de Balboa that date back to the founding of this relatively young city.

EAT: Addison

Critically acclaimed as one of the best restaurants in San Diego, this fine dining establishment elevates French cuisine to a place where you be begging for extra courses, despite their six to eight plate offerings. Traditional continental offerings such as Risotto Balls meet fusion dishes like Kobe Beef Short Ribs to create an evening that your tastebuds won’t soon forget!

STAY: Hotel del Coronado

Your stay in San Diego won’t be complete unless you at least visit the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian style beach resort that has been welcoming guests for well over one hundred years. Its massive wooden frame has harbored presidents, royalty and the top flight ranks of the wealthy over the years, and continues to do so to this day.

Even if you aren’t willing to shell out the $611 it takes to stay in its most basic rooms, a stroll through its gorgeous lobby with its massive chandelier and a long walk along its inspired waterfront will make you feel like you’ve been magically transported back to the gilded ages when this hotel was in its prime.

Infamous Red Penguins @ 21c Museum Hotel

Standard

Located in Louisville, Kentucky, 21c Museum Hotel is a 90-room property that has an industrial-style feel with exposed brick and contains a $10 million collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and video installations all by living artists. Sounded like a perfect place for us to stay, so Marc booked the hotel.

Upon our late arrival, we were greeted by a four-foot tall red penguin. This was only one of many in the fleet of red penguins at the hotel. Some could be seen outside hanging on the ledges of the hotel, while others surprised us in the hallways.


Behind the check-in desk, there were sculptures of nude children. This had high shock value. At first glance, I felt so uncomfortable that I had to look away. Once I got over the initial shock, I decided to take in all the hotel had to offer even if it meant looking at the sculptures of the young nude children.

The images and objects at this hotel challenged me to see things differently and I now have a greater appreciation for art. This hotel has a cultural soul and provides downtown Louisville with an artsy vibe. Even if you don’t choose to stay at 21c, you should definitely visit so you can take a tour of the museum. The art will really challenge your mind.

Our first stop in Louisville was the Muhammad Ali Museum. We visited on a Saturday morning and shared the museum with only one other couple. I genuinely enjoyed visiting the museum, although I have never been a huge Muhammad Ali fan. It was flooded with historical facts and featured Muhammad Ali’s amazing, yet troublesome, journey to fame. The museum is rich with history and one every tourist should visit. I felt enlightened once I left the museum and admitted to Marc that I didn’t know how much Muhammad Ali struggled on his way to fame.

Our next stop was the Louisville Slugger Museum. This was more my knack. I played softball for a good 15 years and have been an avid San Francisco Giants fan since the day I was born. As we walked toward the museum, I was instantly amazed by the height of the giant baseball bat leaning against a tall brick wall on West Main Street. After I took a few pictures with the massive bat, we toured the facility and learned about the process of making bats. My favorite part was when I saw nine SF Giants baseball bats mounted to the wall beneath a sign “2010 World Series Champions- San Francisco Giants.” Yes, I’m proud of my Giants. I also thought about walking out with Buster Posey’s bat, but decided that wouldn’t be the most brilliant idea I’ve had in my lifetime. I snapped a picture, though!The tour was very informative and I recommend visiting the museum even if you’re not a baseball fan. I’d visit just to smell the saw-dust, but I’m probably alone on that one.

A trip to Louisville wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Churchill Downs. Upon arrival, I noticed it must have been race day and I looked at Marc and said, “Oh no, we’re leaving. There’s a race and I’m not in a dress and I don’t have a hat.” He laughed and assured me all was going to be okay. We decided to go to the Kentucky Derby Museum since I had a lot of learning to do. The tickets for the tour were inexpensive and our tour guide gave us a wonderful narrated tour. We got an up-close look at the horses and I absolutely admired their strength and beauty.

Marc and I were pleasantly surprised when our tour guide told us we were about to watch a live race. I’m sure this wasn’t a big deal to Marc since this was just a small claims race and he has actually been to the Kentucky Derby. It was a big deal for me, however, since it was my first horse race. Let’s just say I can’t wait to attend the Kentucky Derby in the coming years.

Once the race finished, I had to make a trip to the gift shop to get a Churchill Downs Christmas ornament. I love collecting little ornaments of special places Marc and I have visited. It doesn’t make for the most beautiful tree, but our ornaments give our tree character and meaning. I also bought my mom Kentucky Bourbon Balls and her only complaint was that I didn’t bring home enough!

Exhausted from all the museums, we were ready to head back to our hotel and get our two free shots of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Bourbon is a bit much for me, so I only took a few sips. Marc sipped on his like a true Kentuckian and polished it off before we headed to Proof for dinner. The atmosphere was very artsy with playful animal heads mounted to the walls. My pan-seared King Salmon was absolutely delicious, as was the Dark Chocolate Terrine I ordered for dessert.

The waiter didn’t disappoint and made wonderful suggestions. Proof’s finishing touch was a plate of hot pink cotton candy that was served to us with the check. Marc poked fun at it earlier in the evening, saying, “What is that lady eating? Cotton candy? Who orders cotton candy at a place like this?” Needless to say, we devoured the cotton candy when it landed on our table. Touche.

That evening, we ventured downtown Louisville to have a little out-of-town fun. Fourth Street Live is the main area downtown loaded with chain bars and restaurants. It instantly reminded us of the Epicentre in Charlotte, but really didn’t compare to it at all. We ventured into Angel’s Rock Bar and were welcomed by scantily-clad women. We entered and, to my surprise, the bar wasn’t even half full. My drink was absolutely awful and a complete waste of money. I tossed it in the trash after taking a few sips. The music was incredibly loud so we decided to leave within 15 minutes of entering the bar. So much for the $20 cover charge.


We ventured out to go to another bar, but after looking around, we decided this place wasn’t worth losing a few hours of sleep. I’ve never seen so many bachelorette parties taking place in one area. If I were a bachelorette from the greater Louisville area, Fourth Street Live is the last place I’d want to go. I will not return to Fourth Street Live unless they do something new with it. Next time we’ll hit up the Urban Bourbon Trail!

On the way back to Charlotte, we went out of our way so I could see the beautiful horse farms. The rolling bluegrass hills were absolutely breathe-taking and they were probably my favorite part of Kentucky. The farms were grand and the fields were vast. Marc also drove me by CastlePost, a fabulous hotel that was meant to be a man’s castle, but he ran out of money and couldn’t finish building it. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a perfect trip.

~ Lyndsi