Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Niagara Falls – A Natural Wonder and Beauty

Rainbow Bridge
The Niagara Falls lies between Canadian province of Ontario and State of New York in United States of America. This popular fall is made up of 3 waterfalls namely Horseshoe Falls, which is majorly on the Canadian side, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls are on the American side. You can visit the fall by either flying into Toronto in Canada or Buffalo, New York

There are plenty of things to do and numerous hotels to stay at, but if you are looking for a wow factor from your room, then you should surely stay at the Embassy Suites Fallsview.You will get a wonderful view of the fall from your room as long as you are in the right room. If you are however not willing to spend that much on your hotel room just to see the view, there are still plenty ways to enjoy the magnificent falls.

Though I visited the Niagara Falls in 2005 and took lots of pictures, I could not figure out where I put the pictures, so the pictures I used for this particular post are not mine. However, they still tell the story.

You may cross the border from Buffalo to the Canadian side to get an up-close experience of the rushing sound of the water falls at Horseshoe Falls. The Horseshoe Falls is the biggest of the falls and two-thirds of it is located on the Canadian side and the other one-third on the American side. About 90% of the Niagara River flows over the Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls

Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls are located on the American side and they are two of the three falls that make up the Niagara Falls. The remaining 10% of the Niagara River flows over the American Falls.
American Falls

Bridal Veil

A great experience of the fall can be witnessed by taking the maid of the mist boat ride. This boat ride starts from the calmer part of the River from either the U.S. side or the Canadian side and sail gradually to almost the base of the Horseshoe Falls. Be prepared to get wet from the might mist that comes from the falls even though you get raincoats.

Maid of the Mist

You can also view the backside of the Falls by walking down 125feet and through a tunnel to a landing where you can watch the water fall right in front of you.

If you see the falls in the day time, you want to come again at night for an entirely different effect as the water falls get lit up with lights and the lights change frequently. The very best place to get a good view of this fall especially at dinner time is from the Skylon Tower’s revolving dining room. This restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, so be sure to check it out and enjoy your meal while viewing the Niagara Falls from a different angle.

Skylor Tower  Revolving Restaurant

Niagara Falls

Autum in Niagara

Should you want to do more stuff while on the Canadian side, you can take an hour drive into the city of Toronto and sightsee. You can go to their shopping district for some shopping. Lots of shops to pick from.

This is a wonderful weekend trip that is suitable for a romantic getaway and a family trip.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Colorado - The Gateway to Spectacular Vacation

Colorado is well endowed with natural beauty and one of my favorite places in the United States of America. This place is high on my list of favorite spots because it is just packed with a lot of Adventurous activities. If you are looking for a fun packed adrenaline pumping vacation, then you must visit the beautiful state of Colorado. It really does not matter what region of Colorado you decide to go, be sure you will be met with fun vacation time. I visited the Western  and Southwestern part of Colorado and that region is what i will be reviewing in this post.

Our journey started from Denver, the capital of Colorado, and we headed west on I-70 to Glenwood Springs. It was memorial day weekend of 2009. Though it was sunny and warm in Denver, by the time we got to Veil area, it was snowing, sleeting, raining, you name it, it was happening. It was actually very intriguing that you could be in the same state and have winter and summer all mixed together! I-70 is a scenic byway with the westbound lanes suspended on a viaduct that elevates it above the Eastbound lanes. It runs through the Glenwood Canyon paralleling the Colorado river. You have to see it to appreciate the beauty of the Canyon.

Finally made it to Glenwood Springs and we headed to the beautiful Yampah Hot Springs vapor cave. It is the only known natural vapor cave in North America. The Spa offers a great array of services and the vapor cave is a must do. Make sure you drink lots of water.
Yampah Vapor Caves

Glenwood Cavern is an adventure park and worth seeing. Especially great for families with kids.

The next day we headed up to the most spectacular and serene place in Glenwood Springs, Hanging Lake/Spouting Rock - spectacular! This is a 2.4miles hike up to the beautiful turquoise lake and waterfall. Behind this waterfall is the main channel through which the lake gets all the water from.  The water gushes out from holes in a cliff, hence the name Spouting Rock. There are lots of resting spots on the trail, stop to catch your breath and keep going because the sight is worth the hike.
Hanging Lake
Spouting Rock

Done with Glenwood Springs, we decided to take an exciting route to Colorado Springs for the rest of our stay in Colorado. Highway 82 aka Independence pass is the highest paved mountain road in Colorado. It is a winding road that elevates as it wraps around the mountain. It might as well be called gateway to heaven because you feel like you are at Jesus's feet by the time you reach the peak, which is over 12,000ft above sea level and it's a continental divide (some of it's water run into the atlantic ocean and rest into the Pacific ocean). Great exciting drive only for the brave!
The Summit of Independence Pass

Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado and boasts of great natural attractions such as the Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Cave of the winds, and the beautiful United States Airforce Chapel.

We stayed in Manitou springs and if you decide to go see these places aforementioned while in Colorado, you must stay at Avenue Hotel. Very beautiful historic building now turned into a bed and breakfast. The inn keepers are such pleasant and wonderful people. The daily breakfast is second to none, full of varieties, and served with love.

Below are some pictures of different activities you can engage in while in Colorado Springs area.

Pikes Peak

Airforce Academy Chapel

Canon City is where you can whitewater raft and also enjoy the Royal Gorge. Treat yourself to the train dinner while you ride through the Royal Gorge.

Royal Gorge Dinner Train ride

There you have it! Get on the plane or in your car and journey to Colorado for a wonderful vacation. Great for families as well. I intend on going back to a different region of Colorado for another explosive swell time!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things Learned While Traveling: One Man's Trash is another Man's Treasure

Coffee is not my thing, but it was really fascinating to discover that the excreted waste of a particular animal is the best thing that ever happened to Coffee for some coffee drinkers. The particular coffee in question is called Kopi Luwak Coffee aka Pea-Berry Coffee. This coffee comes from Indonesia, a country well known for it's excellent coffees. The great manufacturer of this Coffee is called  Paradoxurus, a small civit like animal, and widely known as Luwaks by the locals in Indonesia.

These little animals reside in the trees and they love to treat themselves to red ripe coffee cherry. Somewhere down there in their digestive system, a checmical reaction and farmentation take place, the digestion is completed and out goes the rest. The still intact beans that come out are collected, cleaned, roasted, and ground just like other coffees. The end result of this coffee is said to be unmatched. Rich with heavy flavor of a hint of chocolate or caramel, hmm hmm good! I can attest to the smoothness and heavy aroma of the coffee because i tasted it!

Who ever thought that a small not so appealing creature like this could produce the best tasting Coffee in the world. These are some of the things that make you go hmmm, God is great!

Great Coffee for Coffee drinkers! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Things I have Learned While Traveling: Bruised to Beauty

I am amazed at the number of things i have learned just because i left my city to visit some place else. It is not that i could not have learned about these things in my city of residence, but i just either never knew such existed or was not curious enough to find out about them. However, something happened when i stepped foot on the shores of Bali, Indonesia. I discovered the preciousness and worth of Pearls. I knew they were beautiful, but i just did not understand why they needed to be that expensive, so i found out why.

We were out and about window shopping on the streets of Seminyak and a pearl store caught my eyes and so we skipped over there to see their collections. The first pearl necklace i picked up was so beautiful and elegant, but when i saw the price tag of $10,000, i muttered it ain't that beautiful to my self lol. I could not afford that! so we left to another store next door called Atlas South Sea Pearl and that was where i learned all about these romantic gems called Pearls.

Most people at least know Pearls come from Pearl Oysters, but they come from all shellfish such as Rock Oysters, Mussels, clams, and abalone etc. Pearls are formed when an Oyster is injured and part of the healing process is for the mantle to produce a cyst, which fills with mother of pearl to form a pearl. Pearls are very unique because they are the only gems created withing living animals and that's why they are called "Nature's most precious gift."

Though the above is the natural way for pearls to form. Almost all the pearls on the market now are cultured, meaning they have undergone some surgical procedures through human intervention. It takes about four years to harvest a pearl , hence the high price of good pearls.

Freshwater pearls are cheaper pearls compared to South sea Pearls because a single freshwater mussel can produce multiple pearls at once. Their shapes are often irregular and can come in many colors because they can be dyed. Due to the large production of freshwater pearls, they are much cheaper than the South Sea Pearls.

South Sea Pearls are the largest and best quality of all pearls because of the nacre coating. An Oyster can only produce one pearl per four years. Only 3% of the world pearl is attributed to South Sea Pearls but these gems represent over 33% of total pearl value.

Pearls are going to come in different shapes and sizes depending on what type of pearl you get, but all pearls have an individual beauty!

Narrated to you as educated by the shop attendant at Atlas South Sea Pearl, Seminyak and their brochure.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bali Ayu (Beautiful Bali)

The Island of Bali is located in central Indonesia with many natural attractions and temples throughout the island. Its capital is Denpasar and the official language is Bahasa, but English is spoken through out the Island by many of the locals.

I got a great opportunity to visit Bali and it's surrounding areas in June for a friend's wedding and it was a wonderful experience. The people are very friendly and hard working and the Island has a number of beautiful beaches and breath taking places.

There are a number of places you can stay in Bali, but we chose to stay in Seminyak at the beautiful Villa Sekar Taman I. Seminyak is filled with great restaurants and boutiques.

Villa Sekar Taman I

The streets are lined with money changers as well, so you always have a place to change money, but beware of those little money changers with extremely high exchange rates. They are high for a reason and that's not because they are that generous, it is because they attract you there with their high rates and try to swindle you. Always use official money changers!

Spas! What woman does not love being pampered? Bali is highly infested with Spas at very cheap rate compared to a lot of developed countries. You can have a good 1hr massage for as low as $8. Your options are unlimited and there are spas everywhere. You can go to them or they can come to you for in-villa Spa service.

Ku De Ta is a paradise by the ocean. It's a restaurant/lounge by the ocean. Great food, drinks, and great music for dancing. Quite romantic setting. A little on the pricey side when compared to other places in Bali, but the ambiance is well worth the visit.

Ku de Ta

If you however want the same atmosphere as Ku de ta, but want to go easy on the wallet, you may check out The Breeze at the Samaya. This is luxury on a dime compared to Ku de ta and you get basically the same effect and relaxation. However, it does not hurt to check both places out.

The Breeze

Located in Kintamani is Mount Batur, the second most active volcano in Bali. Trekking up this mountain with flash lights for the sunrise is worth the sight and it's magical.

Mount Batur

After your hike up and down Mount Batur, you can journey to Ubud area to view the spectacular Tegalalang Rice Terrace and do some shopping for crafts. The town of Ubud is known for its crafts and there is plenty of them at very good prices.

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

As earlier mentioned, Bali is loaded with Temples and most of their temples are set in some interesting places. Tanah Lot and Uluwatu temples are 2 of the ones we visited. Both unique in their structure and location and very interesting places to visit.

Tanah Lot is a temple on a rock. It is a Hindu temple on a big rock surrounded by water and it almost seems like an island floating on the sea. The view is dazzling!

Tanah Lot

Uluwatu Temple is a cliff hanging temple that has some interesting settlers, Monkeys! Whatever you do, make sure you do not lose sight of your belongings and don't make a mistake of having too many bells and whistles on you, because you will be targeted and stripped of your blinging stuff. You will have to pay a stiff penalty in order words bribe the monkey through a local to get your stuff back. The monkeys are very smart negotiators perhaps they should try out for The Apprentice. Don't shy away from visiting Uluwatu because of the monkeys, just accessorize modestly. Tuck away the sunglasses.

Uluwatu Temple

Dreamland beach sure lives up to its name for avid surfers. Riding high on the waves is a surfers dream and that my friend is what you will get at this beach.

Dreamland Beach

Jimbaran! You can't mention Jimbaran without talking about the great seafood restaurants aligned along the shores of Jimbaran beach. Nothing beats having a delicious sunset seafood dinner with live singing and dancing performances coupled with the therapeutic sound of the might waves of the ocean

Jimbaran Seafood Dinner

Kuta market, this happened to be my favorite market of all the markets we visited because that was where i got the best deals from. You have to hone your haggling skills in this part of the world to survive. Whenever you are told the price of an item, make sure you start haggling from a third of that price and even walk away to another store, be assured that if your price is good for them, they will call and chase after you to buy.

Kuta Market

Lembongan Island, though Lembongan Island is not in Bali, it can be reached with a 30 minute speed boat ride. You will not regret the 30 minute nauseating(for some) ride to this perfect holiday hideaway with pristine un-spoilt beaches. This island has lovely white sand beaches and loaded with all kinds of water sports. Great for snorkeling, Seawalking, kayaking, and jet skiing.

Lembongan Island

That's my review of Bali as i saw it. Add Bali to your lists of places to visit and you will not regret it. Terima Kasih(Thank You) for visiting my blog!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Can't and Couldn't Even if i Wanted to...

A wise man once told me that anyone that says he/she does not like money does not have any. In my opinion, the same goes for travelling. Anyone that says i don't like travelling or seeing other places has not been to a fun one just yet. What is there not to like about having fun and meeting people? I do know that there may be some limitations here and there that could prevent people from travelling even though they would like to and those are the limitations that i am going to address today and hopefully help you see how to work around it.

Bear in mind that these are not in any particular order of importance, but they are all relevant issues.

Cost: For some this is the biggest obstacle to getting around and seeing the world around them. Yes, we do need money for travelling, but that should not stop us from going. This is were careful planning and strategizing is needed to best make your money go a long way. You can start to explore within the country you live in. Go visit a different state or city within your state for a change. Take a weekend trip, drive there(which is cheaper than flying). Do a group trip! When you travel with multiple people, You can split cost for gas for car, car rental, hotel/villa reservation, even food(you may decide to get a condo/villa with a kitchen and cook). You make your own budget and work around the budget. Not only is travelling as a group(with the right people) cheaper on your wallet, it is fun!!!! What you learn while travelling is much more valuable than the money you think you have to spend. Exposure is very important and valuable in life.

Time: Another excuse that i have heard over the years is "oh i don't have time or can't take time off" Listen, if you drop dead today, that company you work for will replace you in a jiffy and life goes on. Take a break and enjoy yourself. You don't need an exceess amount of time to travel. A weekend trip is good, one here and one there adds up. Everyone needs a break from work and their environment every now and then. You need it, take it and go some where! Most people i know have vacation days. Those are given to you to use not to be wasted. You are getting paid for them anyway, so use them. Give your self a break from overtime. Don't overwork your body and brain, they need to rest and recuperate.

Comfort Zone: Some people live in places where they think the world revolves around them and they never have to go anywhere. Please! every city, state, or country is not the same. There is always something unique to a place to see and learn and that's what makes travelling fun. The fact that you get to see something new and learn about people and their culture is more than enough reasons to travel. Don't be afraid of leaving your comfort zone. You might find out when you venture out that what you thought was the best life ever isn't. Think about the new connections you will make and the great conversation piece you begin to have with people.

Lack of Information Information is power and this is true to anything you do. Have good information about things. Some don't travel because they just don't have the information on where to go and what to do while there. They don't want it to be boring and turn out to be a waste of time and money, but don't know how to spice it up. In this day and age, i think we have more than enough resources to research on things. If you don't know what to do, get someone that can help you do it. That may not be your forte, but it is for some of us, so ask for help! There are blogs like mine out there that have information on travels. Internet has made things easier so use it.

There are many more other reasons why people don't travel, but these are the ones that i can think of right now. You may comment and send me your questions on any of the above or others not listed. I am here to help.

... o no, yes you can!Please go on a small tiny winy trip and let me know your experience! I am so looking forward to hearing from you.

Bon Voyage!
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