Posts Tagged With: vacations

GLAMPING: Is that a word? Or just a REAL HOUSEWIFE word?

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I grew up CAMPING. I mean canvas tents, Coleman stoves and lanterns. Spending the evening around a camp fire that we actually built from sticks and limbs and logs we found that was started with a piece of rich pine (Ask me what that is)…. joyously listening to the crickets, frogs, and other wildlife while enjoying a gooey S’more (you better know what that is). This was REAL camping. It was even sort of real when we added a Keg (yes-that’s beer) to our list of supplies. COLLEGE days did sneak in there, so it seemed appropriate.

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Now enter the world of GLAMPING. Pardon me city slickers, but what the hell is that? Now understand, I live in the city now, with fresh cut grass, a nice wine cellar and a real pool in the backyard but GLAMPING. Give me a break!  Just a question girls….  did this term come from THE REAL HOUSEWIVES?  (in some parts REAL housewives can clean the fish and mow the yard – a topic for another blog!)   I am not sure where GLAMPING came from but WORLD TRAVELING JOE WANTS TO EXPLORE IT!

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If you are in need of an ENTIRELY different vacation experience or just a budget holiday you might try it, or if you want to slightly brush the outdoors then, maybe it’s time you booked yourself a few nights in one of the many luxury camping tents and cabins that qualify you as a GLAMPER.  Now… don’t try this if your natural manly instincts to brave the great outdoors, make your own fire and cook foil wrapped potatoes is what you really want to do but this could be a good transition if you are a beginner camper or even just want to try it once.

So what is glamping and what are the advantages?

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The home comforts

I do love the experience of traditional camping but I have to admit it is a nice change to be able to enjoy a few of the comforts of home too. Cold beer and wine in the fridge, a sink to wash up and a gas stove make things easy. The showers and toilets are much cleaner than generally available in campsites, although there is just no experience like bathing is a crisp and clear mountain stream. Also having tables indoors to play cards and board as well as somewhere to plug in the lap top  is another nice luxury – not like using an old fashioned picnic table but a nice luxury.

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The Kids

Kids LOVE camping and GLAMPING gives them the opportunity to experience the great outdoors without losing all of the amenities of a hotel. Typical GLAMPSITES (sorry – but I hate that word) have between 12 and 24 tents or cabins surrounding common areas. Most are situated near natural landmarks such as lakes, rivers, mountains and many offer lots of things to do like hiking, boating, kayaking and many other things. Some offer organized outdoors tours and natural education. All good for children and keeping yourself busy. The area is usually totally secure so you will feel really comfortable sitting outside your cabin sipping a nice cocktail or glass of wine watching the kids play, or if you’re anything like me then you can feel free to jump in and have a bit of fun too.

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The cost 

A great thing about glamping is the cost. You can expect to pay somewhere between $15 and $50 per night depending on the level of amenities that you desire. Of course if you go REAL HOUSEWIFE STYLE then that might be as expensive as the Ritz Carlton…. but of course you would get an Italian cabin Boy named Eduardo and an unending supply of wine!  I suggest going lower end with just the amenities you think you MUST have so that you can indeed experience the great outdoors. Comparatively you will pay half or less of the cost of a usual hotel room.

GLAMPING:  It’s not camping in the true sense of the word but guess what… I LIKE IT! Maybe I am tired of being Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett (OK – dated myself a little then!) and am ready for a little work to be done for me. AND if you are not a regular camper with all the gear clean and ready to go, it can be a painful experience to get ready. Think… more time getting ready than actually camping = NO FUN.  GLAMPING is great middle ground.

With any vacation travel it is all about the people you are with and the experiences you have.

LET’S GO GLAMPING!

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What to do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

Thanksgiving Leftover Macaroni & Cheese

Prep Time: 20min

Cooking Time: 40min

Total Time: 1hr 10min

Servings: 8

This is definitely the cheesiest way to enjoy all of your Thanksgiving holiday leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Cooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound Shredded turkey meat
  • 1 cup Leftover stuffing (optional)
  • 3 Medium size sweet potatoes, cut into small dices, cooked in salted water till tender
  • 1 cup Cooked peas
  • ½ Onion, chopped
  • 5 Sage leafs, minced
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup Leftover cranberry relish (optional)
  • 1½ quarts Milk
  • ¼ cup Butter
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 4 cups Grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup Grated Fontina cheese

Preparation

Step 1

In a large pot add butter, onion, sage and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Step 2

Add flour, whisk and cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 3

Add milk and continue to whisk till mixture comes to a boil and thickens.

Step 4

After milk has thickened, whisk in the mascarpone, fontina and one cup of the cheddar cheese.

Step 5

Once cheese melts and sauce becomes smooth, fold in the turkey meat, sweet potatoes, peas and pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6

Place pasta mixture in a 3-inch baking dish, cover with remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes till golden brown.

Step 7

Serve with a tablespoon of cranberry relish.

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Walk Butt Naked on the Beach! And no one notice!

3 Seriously Sexy Travel Spots
What is a sexy destination? In my book, these are qualities that always rock my travel libido:
 Undiscovered: There ain’t nothing sexier than being able to walk down the beach butt naked without having a million pairs of eyes checking out what mother nature gave ya. Or, to saunter through a town square without having to fight your way through a throng of postcard shops and tourists.
Sensual cuisine: Think juicy fruit, young coconuts and fresh caught fish. I love being able to walk out my door and pick a succulent papaya, drink down some delicious thai coconut water or watch the sunset with some fresh grilled fish.
Steeped in Tradition: There is something incredibly sexy about cultures that are focused on preserving the “old ways.” Making things by hand, using all their senses, weaving offerings out of flowers, making feta by hand, picking your own herbs for brewing, bakeries that actually bake their own bread… sexy, sexy, sexy.
Topography: Undulating hills, blazing hot sun over a vista of sand and stone, dense jungles teeming with exotic flora and fauna, breathtaking deserted beaches, fields of fragrant herbs and wildflowers.
Well, now that I’ve laid out my criteria for a sexy destination, I’d like to share with you a few of my absolute faves that really get me going:
1. Ko Lanta, Thailand: A big part of what keeps this destination so damn sexy is that it is a bitch to get to. Ko Lanta is an island, so no matter how you slice it, you have to take a combination of planes, trains, buses and ferries to get there. But, what’s a little effort when heaven on earth awaits on the other side?
Chinese pole houses dot the breathtaking shoreline, and you can easily hire a boat for day excursions to remote islands and hidden caves. Ko Lanta is a stone’s throw by boat from the luxe tourist haven of Phi Phi… so it’s really the best of both worlds. Mango House has awesome traditional pole houses on the water, and Sun Island Tours has the best boat tours around. The village itself is traditional with some of the hottest – literally – food around. Lemongrass, basil, cilantro and chilies abound. Also, seriously, this place has the sexiest coconuts on earth.
2. San Salvador, Costa Rica: Costa Rica is synonymous with sexy: beaches for days, jungles with monkeys, sloths and exotic birds and fresh, delicious food at every turn. Costa Rica’s natural sensuality has been both a blessing and a curse. Now, people are catching on, and many areas of Costa Rica run the danger of becoming extremely unsexy.
But, there are still a few hidden, tucked-away gems that really get my mojo going. There are a few awesome well known retreat centers in Dominical on the coast. But, when I’m in Costa Rica I like to go a little further. I land in San Jose and head for the hills. About one hour north of Dominical is a little mountain village called San Salvador. In an open forest clearing is Finka De Vida. This place is beyond sexy. Just about everything you eat is grown on their local farm. You have the choice of picking and preparing your own meals, juices and smoothies or having there chef do it for you. The menu is as raw as you want, or fully cooked. It’s up to you. Activities include yoga overlooking the jungle, bathing in the local waterfall and beach excursions. I promise you will feel so sexy you’ll never want to leave.
3. Lesvos, Greece: Lesvos is not called the island of women for nothing. If Santorini, with its active volcano and harsh landscape, is the masculine side of the Greek isles, then Lesvos is definitely one foxy lady.
Lesvos is where a lot of Greece’s olive oil comes from, so it is covered in olive groves as well as an abundance of cherry, apple, pistachio and pine trees. Because it is so far north, most people don’t know about Lesvos. In fact, it’s so far north you can take a ferry to Turkey in 30 minutes.
The island is filled with cobblestone mountain villages, forts, castles, Turkish hammams and nary a white and turquoise domed structure in site. The houses are built of wood and stone and have more of an Ottoman feel. Expect quiet beaches that you can explore “in the all together,” sleepy villages where homemade feta and bread are served, freshly grilled octopus for supper by the sea and horses and donkeys that you can ride through the mountain groves and pick your own herbs for supper or tea. I lived on Lesvos for four years, and I swear by its undeniable sexiness. There are many many wonderful places to stay on Lesvos. My absolute fave for authenticity and sexiness is Elainonas Nikou on the Gulf of Gera. Rojo Caliente!
Travel is a sexy sport. Don’t be a wall flower. Vow to never hit a homely destination again… between you and me, they don’t call it wanderlust for nothin’.

ASK JOE about an AWESOME travel deal to Lesvos, Greece. Think 7days 6 nights all inclusive for $599!

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The Backpack Life: How to Pack for 6 months abroad.

Think back to your last vacation. I bet your suitcases were so stuffed you had to sit on them just to get the zipper closed, and that was just for one week! Now imagine if you had to pack absolutely everything you needed for six months on the road, or even a year, and it all had to fit into one big backpack! That’s the challenge I face every time I head overseas for a live-in excursion to places like Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or even on a walkabout around the world for a year. Hell no, I’m not complaining — I get to live in the tropics like a beach bum and write my heart out, but packing every single possession I’ll need in a bag no bigger than a laundry sack becomes a Divinci-esque feat of science.

2013-08-01-images.jpgThe North Face Base Camp duffel bag/backpack.
It’s hard to find a backpack big enough to accommodate everything you need for a prolonged stay. Most mountaineering and hiking bags are only in the 3,500-4,500 cubic inch range, but the North Face makes an oversized duffel bag/backpack that holds about 8,000 cubic inches. It’s super durable and very roomy, with padded shoulder straps so I can throw it on like a backpack when needed. I haul it around bus stations and airports a lot more than actual wilderness excursions, so that works great.

Day pack.
I bring a regular-sized backpack to carry my laptop around, head to the beach, or take plenty of day trips. I use this smaller pack all day, every day so for this trip I chose a O’Neill Suburbia backpack because it has a laptop compartment, water bottle holder, and comfortable shoulder straps.

Clothing:

1 Pair lightweight jeans.

Flip flops.
I bring one good pair and one pair that can get wet for the beach. Reef makes some cool new flip flops that have a compartment in the sole so you can hide money or your room key. Genius!

1 Pair slip-on shoes:
Something light, breathable, and easy to slip on is fantastic in hot, beachy climates. I like my classic Vans, and Crocs makes some cool new waterproof shoes in funky designs that are much cleaner and safer because of their plastic soles.

Running sneakers.
A pair of running sneaks for working out, hiking, or if I have a big day sight seeing.

7 Tank tops.
When I first started traveling I brought too many t-shirts, but soon realized I wanted something as light and airy as possible in tropical climates, so now I load up on tank tops.

7 T-shirts.
I try to find the ones that aren’t pure cotton, which is heavier and doesn’t breathe when you sweat. One by one I cut the sleeves off my t-shirts, anyway!

3 Collared shirts.
I fit in a few short sleeve button-up shirt for those nights on the town or nicer dinners.

2013-08-01-935333100.jpg3 O’Neill Hybrid shorts/swim suits.
I used to pack several swim shorts and also bring a few pairs of normal cotton shorts, but Hybrid shorts changed that. They’re made of comfortable, breathable quick-drying material that can get wet, but look like nice dress shorts. They’re the best invention for travelers because you only have to pack half as much but can throw them on no matter if you’re going to work out, sweat, jump in the ocean, or just walk around town. I love the ones by O’Neill, which fit great and come in plenty of cool patterns.

4 Athletic shorts.

1 Baseball hat.
1 Fisherman hat.
I look goofy as Gilligan in it, but a big hat is your best friend on the beach at midday or in direct sun, where it’s easy to get heat stroke.

Socks and underwear.

Sunglasses.
I wear sunglasses most of the day when I’m outdoors, but I always seem to break or lose them, so I get a decent pair only in the $25 range. The good news is you can buy cheap sunglasses anywhere you go on the beach. I also bring a little cord to keep them on my head in case I’m kayaking or zip lining or doing something where they might fly off.

1 Comfy hooded sweatshirt.
A warm hoodie is essential for cold airplane rides, early morning trips on the water, or some nights as your only pillow and blanket!

Lycra long sleeve shirt.

Technology:

2013-08-01-photo.JPG laptop computer.

Travel adapter.
I bought one for $20 that lets me plug in my electronics in almost any country, and also acts as a surge protector for those frequent power outages.

2013-08-01-ScreenShot20130731at7.14.21PM.pngGoPro Hero 3 Black camera.
I recently converted from my jenky digital camera to a super fun Go Pro. It’s smaller than a deck of cards, has huge storage capacity and battery life, and fits into a shockproof case so I can take it over rough terrain or underwater. I can strap it to a surfboard, bicycle handlebars, or on a headgear clip while I’m getting my ass kicked in the boxing gym. I have a wifi remote so I can document the wonderment of traveling abroad in movie quality without holding a camera up to my eyes all the time, and I plan to expand my travel blog to a more-entertaining video blog.

iPhone.
Whenever I hit the road I suspend my US cell service for $10 a month, forwarding my number to Skype or GoogleVoice, but I still use my iPhone as a mini computer via local wifi, accessing apps that allow me to make calls, use GPS, a compass, translate languages on the fly, and serve as a killer flashlight.

Flash drives.
I’m paranoid about getting my laptop ruined or stolen and losing all of my data, so I back up daily on high-memory flash drives and hide them someplace safe.

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GoalZero portable solar charger.
GoalZero, one of my new favorite companies, makes the Nomad 7, a portable solar charger that’s no bigger than a notebook. It unfolds into two panels that catch the sun and recharge my phone, GPS, camera, or MP3 player with a simple USB hookup. A separate recharger battery the size of a tube of toothpaste, the Switch 8, can be thrown into my backpack and gives my devices plenty of juice in case of an emergency or if I’m stuck out in the jungle. When that happens, and it will happen, a quick solar charge can literally be a life saver.

GoalZero portable speaker.
I listen to music 24/7 and the speakers on my laptop don’t cut it. But most mini speakers sounded like trash until I finally found a good one that is affordable and durable, with 20 hours of battery life, the RockOut 2 speaker by GoalZero. They come with a built in durable case and you can power them via your laptop, charge their internal battery, or even go solar.

2 Headphones.
One pair of earbuds and one over-the-head pair for jogging.

I bring a Tupperwear container to store my electronic accessories and twist ties to organize their cords and cables.

Work out:
I get back to basics on the road: pushups, burpees, etc., but I do bring a jump rope and a stretchy fitness band, which take up almost no room but are versatile for any-time workouts. Gymnastic rings also are easy to hook up anywhere for strength and balance conditioning.

I have an incredible trainer, Trevor Gibbs at Health Behaviors, who sets my workout plan virtually based on my natural elements, no matter where I am in the world!

Swim goggles.

Small gym towels.
I carry a little towel around with me everywhere I go to wipe the sweat away, dash through a rain storm, or even dry off after a dip in the ocean. These are great because it’s always super hot in the tropics and I sweat like… well, like a gringo in the tropics. I used to “borrow them permanently” from hotels, but I’ve since reformed and now I buy a pack.

Security:

Combo lock.
Once I settle down and get an apartment overseas I bolt a solid combo lock onto a railing or post near my front door and put my house key in it. That way I never have to carry around my key (a pain if you’re living near the beach) but I can get in any time.

I should use a laptop cable lock, but I prefer just to hide it in a ceiling panel or the bottom of the garbage can when I leave my hotel or apartment.

Likewise, instead of fancy false-bottom containers and security devices, I just hide my important stuff — passport, credit cards, flash drive, etc. in the bottom of a cereal box or hollowed-out can of peanuts.

Instead of wearing those dorky tourist money belts I just put money in the sole of my shoe.

Copies of travel papers.
I make copies of my passport, drivers license, and medical immunization card and keep them in a safe place. I also email photos of those to myself, along with credit card and bank information.

Toiletries and Medical:

Sanitizing toothbrush case.
Sanitation is always a question mark in third-world hotel bathrooms and hot, humid climates, a breeding ground for bacteria, so I bring the million germ eliminating travel toothbrush sanitizer by Violight. The case sanitizes 99 percent of germs and the battery lasts 2,000 hours! I found it in Hammacher & Schlemmer’s catalog on the airplane.

I carry around a Z Pack of antibiotics in case of severe stomach sickness, and a course of anti-malarial meds if I’m going deep into the jungle.

A few packs of Emergen-C’s come with me to so I don’t get sick with all that nasty fake air on the plane or when I’m fighting off exotic germs in my new locale.

I bring travel size toiletries on the plane to last a few days, but deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. I buy when I get there.

Other:

Compression bags.
I found a cheap set that I stuffed my clothes into then rolled the air out of vents on the other side and sealed shut. These bags reduce the volume of my clothes by 30 percent and keep everything dry.

Dryer sheets.
Stuffed into my bag keep everything smelling fresh.

Twine.
It’s easy to set up a drying line anywhere I go.

Deck of cards.

Small notebook.
That I can fit in my back pocket and write whenever inspiration hits. Some times you have to go old school!

Hair clippers:
A haircut might only cost $2, but finding a barber shop in every little beach town and rural hamlet is problematic. I keep my hair shaved short so I just bring my own cheap clippers.

Believe it or not, that all fits into my North Face duffel bag/backpack with plenty of room to spare! I can always pick up bug spray, sunscreen, batteries, beach towels, etc. when I touch down. It may seem like a scarce amount of possessions for 6 months or more, but the funny thing is no matter what I pack, I never even use all of it! And by the time I’m ready to head back home my bag is always packed with different things – plenty of souvenirs, works of art, and gifts from the beautiful countries I’d visited. And those, along with the memories of the wonderful people I met and the experiences we shared, are what’s truly priceless to me!

THANKS TO: Norm Schriever!  EXCELLENT Article!

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Skiing Santas? YES! Skiing Santas!

Skiing Santas?  YES!  Skiing Santas!

This MUST be the North Pole!

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Stay in a Castle…. TONIGHT!

Balfour Castle sits majestically on one of the Orkney Islands of Scotland


1. The Most Luxurious Castle- Amberley Castle

The privileged guests of Amberley Castle can arrive by helicopter if they so please. Standing at over 900 years old the Castle is a historic treasure, and a luxurious destination. Four poster beds, whirlpool bathrooms, decadent furnishings, two fine dining restaurants and a spot of croquet on one of the many lawns means guests are treated like royalty. 01798 831992

Amberley Castle- Images taken from Vonessen Media

2. The Most Extravagant Castle- Stobo Castle

A suite entirely decked out in the finest cashmere? Including the walls? Nothing is too indulgent at Stobo Castle Spa Hotel, where you can even bathe in a limestone tub. Don’t expect Travelodge prices, expect to be completely gob smacked. Claiming to fuse 19th century architecture with 21st century comfort, the appearance of a modern spa lumped onto the side of a classic Scottish castle is a particularly bizarre sight. 01721 725 300

3. The Oldest Castle (in Scotland)- Culcreuch Castle

Prices come slightly back down to earth at Culcreuch Castle, where a more traditional stay is the order of the day. Built between 1296 and 1320, the castle was the ancestral seat of the Scottish clan Galbraith for over 700 years. There are ten elegant rooms to stay in the castle itself, some with four-poster beds. The décor is a vintage delight, and fresh Scottish produce is served in the castle’s two restaurants. 01360 860555

4. The Haunted Castle- Craig–y–Nos Castle

This Welsh castle holds a stunning location in the Brecon Beacons, and was home to world-renowned Opera singer Adelina Patti for some time. Now a popular wedding venue and hotel, It is perfectly positioned to explore the Welsh mountains. The castle also has a reputation for being one of the most notorious haunted buildings in the country. It acted once as a TB sanitorium and a geriatric hospital, the derelict hospital halls still remain and attract many paranormal enthusiasts. It is said the ‘aura’ of the Castle can be felt throughout the building. 01422 323200

5. The Best Shooting Castle- Balfour Castle

The setting of Balfour Castle, is quite simply stunning. Sitting on Spaninsay, one of the Orkney Islands, surrounded by it’s own woodland and coast it is a magical location. If you are keen on a spot of shooting, Balfour is one of the most elite shooting clubs in the world. Primarily seeking wildfowl, but also open for pheasant shoots in the winter months- the weather, wild birds and location make it an extreme shooting experience. 01856 711282

One of the rooms at Thornbury Castle

6. The ‘may lose your head’ Castle- Thornbury Castle

Built in 1508, Anne Bolyen and King Henry VIII stayed here in the Dukes bedchamber, you can sleep there too- unless you fear a beheading! Thornbury is the only tudor castle in the country that you can stay in. Roaring fires, sumptuous meals, and royal bedchambers allow the visitor to step back in time. The hotel even has its own vineyard which produces Thornbury wine- to be enjoyed with one of their exceptional Sunday roasts. 01454 281182

7. The Royal Castle steeped in drama- Ruthin Castle

This historic Welsh castle has had many a grand visitor, from Queen Elizabeth I to legend has it- King Arthur. The suites are suitably royal, one takes the name of the Prince of Wales, commemorating HRH Prince Charles’ visit to the castle. The history of the castle is intriguing and dramatic; King Arthur is said to have disguised himself for a romantic liaison with a mistress in Ruthin. The man who recognized him was executed on a stone block displayed in the town square. There has apparently been many a liaison here, when the wife of army commander Edward I discovered her husbands mistress at the castle- she took her fury out on the women with an axe. She was executed for her crimes and buried outside of the castle walls. Visit Ruthin for your own romantic adventure (minus the bloody end!). 01824 702664

8. The Television Castle- Hazlewood Castle

Hazlewood is better know as the set of the Sky Living’s show Four Weddings where four couples have their dream wedding created for them in the stunning location near Leeds. The castle itself was mentioned in the dooms day book of 1086, its age is reflected in the many ghost stories that accompany Hazlewood- such as a habited monk which is said to stroll around the courtyard. 01937 535353

9. The Recently Flourishing Castle- Peckforton Castle

Peckforton Castle in the heart of Cheshire has had many various purposes over the years. Work on the building of the castle was started by the Tollemach family in 1842 but was not completed until 1851. Ownership was passed down through the family, and during the war the castle was even used as a hostel for 200 physically handicapped children. It was then unused until 1969. Interest from films such as Robin Hood in the eighties, and the castles stunning impression as a location made it the popular castle hotel it is today. 01829 260 930

Dalhousie Castle

10. The Fortress Castle- Dalhousie Castle

One of the most hospitable hotels in Scotland, priding itself on a luxurious stay and a truly Scottish welcome, was not always so. Dalhousie was once a fortress standing over some hotly contested Scottish land, and has bourn witness to many historic disputes. The 13th century fortress is surrounded by wooded parkland and is magnificent in stature. 01875 820 153

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