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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Family Holiday to Cala Galdana

If you are planning on visiting Menorca for a family holiday, Cala Galdana is likely to be your destination of choice. The resort is stunningly beautiful, with a picture postcard horseshoe bay, golden sand, dramatic cliffs and lush, verdant greenery inland. Small but with plenty to do, the more relaxed nightlife makes it a much more peaceful place to be than some of the more active resorts such as Son Bou and Cala en Porter.

It’s a near perfect destination for a family holiday, and Cala Galdana is an even more enjoyable place to stay when you have the knowledge to make the most of it. Here are a few useful hints and tips for your holiday in Cala Galdana…

Be Careful of the Cliffs!

The natural scenery is a large part of the appeal of a holiday in Cala Galdana, with villas delicately balanced on steep stone cliffs overlooking the bay. But this can mean negotiating a large number of steps to get down to the beach – If you have very small children, or any family members with mobility problems, those steps can be problematic. So when you are booking your hotel or villa in Cala Galdana, make sure you ask about how easy it is to access the beach from your accommodation of choice.

Don’t Miss the Horse Show

The beach is always going to be the central attraction of a holiday in Cala Galdana but it isn’t the only place to spend your time. One essential trip to take is to the horse club at Club Escola Menorquina, located a short distance from the resort itself. The horses of Menorca are renowned for the quality of their breeding and training and the horse shows (held every Wednesday and Sunday in the summer) are jaw dropping spectacles. Entry is �14, and under 12s go in for free, making it a perfect attraction for a family holiday in Cala Galdana.

Bring Your Own Supplies for the Beach

Parasols, sun loungers, and pretty much every other piece of beach equipment you can think of are available for hire at Cala Galdana, but the costs can add up, especially for larger families. Naturally, packing enormous sun loungers is likely to be beyond your capabilities, but take as much as you can – you’ll make considerable savings simply by bringing along some large beach towels and parasols of your own.

Take a Day Out of the Resort

The resort may be one of the finest beach destinations in the Mediterranean, but break up your visit with a day trip or two on your holiday to Cala Galdana. Menorca is a fascinating and diverse island, and it would be a shame to miss out on some of the local highlights. Experience the cities of Ciutadella and Mahon, go horse riding along the Menorcan coast, hike through the lush forest landscapes, or even take a boat trip around the island – there’s plenty to do away from the beach and your villa in Cala Galdana.

Holiday to Valencia

There’s plenty to experience on a holiday to Valencia, but there are few highlights that are simply unmissable – here are some of my personal recommendations…

Stroll Through the Old Town

The architectural mix in the Old Town is quite astonishing, ranging from Baroque cathedrals to the Gothic grandeur of the Silk Exchange, the breathtaking building where the silk merchants of old used to ply their trade. The Old Town reflects the many cultural influences that have made Valencia what it is today – Roman, Muslim and Chrisitans have all ruled the city at one time or another.

I always say to my Valencia shuttle passengers, you can spend days wandering through the streets of the Old Town and still not see everything, but don’t miss out on the Santa Catalina Bell Tower, the Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, and the Plaza de Reina. The Plaza is also the best place to pick up a horse drawn carriage to take you around the Old Town, which is certainly an experience you wouldn’t want to miss.

Marvel at the City of Arts and Sciences

When they drained the Turia river after a severe flood, they had two choices; turn it into a park or a highway. The highway would have made driving from Valencia airport to the city easier for me, but I can’t fault their choice, especially since the recent addition of The City of Arts and Sciences. This jaw dropping modern science park truly has something for everyone – an outstanding science museum, IMAX cinema, aquarium, dolphinarium, and underwater restaurant are amongst the many facilities on offer.

Shop at the Central Market

With over a thousand bustling food stalls to explore, the Central Market is the best place to sample local delicacies. Housed in a handsome modern building and decorated with colourful ceramic tiles, the stalls have plenty to offer to foodies on a holiday in Valencia, including fresh fruit, regional cheeses and wines, and the local speciality – paella.

See the Holy Grail at Valencia Cathedral

OK, no one can say for sure whether Valencia’s claim to be the resting place of the mythical Holy Grail is based on sound historical research, optimistic wishing, or a canny marketing play by the city’s tourist board. But in any case, the Valencia Cathedral is an unmissable highlight of the city. The mix of Roman, Gothic and Baroque architecture is fascinating, and (however authentic it may be) the golden chalice that hangs above the altar certainly looks the part – my Valencia shuttle passengers invariably rave about how exciting it was to see!

 

Victoria Falls

Today a world heritage site, The Falls were first ‘discovered’ by explorer David Livingstone, who promptly named them after Queen Victoria, following the colonial trend of naming anything and everything after the reigning British Monarch of the day.

The Smoke that Thunders

What is worth mentioning, is that Zimbabwe, a nation ruled by Robert Mugabe who has made his anti-western sentiment perfectly clear over the years, has continued to embrace this ultra-colonial title, whereas neighbouring Zambia that has a relatively good relationship with the former colonial power, has reverted back to its indigenous name – Mosi-oa-Tunya – which translated means ‘The Smoke that Thunders’.

Although The Falls are neither the highest nor the widest on earth, they are completely unique in that the river simply plummets in a single vertical drop into the chasm below. There is no plateau or escarpment, merely a deep chasm carved out by the powerful waters of the Zambezi along a fracture zone or a tear in the earth’s surface. The chasm is 1,708m wide and the depth ranges from 80 – 108m in the centre. When in full flood, the spray from The Falls can be seen from as far as 30km away!

Myths and Moonbows

During the day, The Falls are graced with a persistent and colourful rainbow and during the full moon, a ‘Moonbow’ appears in the spray, adding mystique to an already mystical and mythical place.

Two steadfast islands, the Boaruka and Livingstone Islands, stand guard at the crest of The Falls, effectively separating the enormous sheet of water that tumble down into the depths below. Each stream or cascade has been christened, the most famous being the Devil’s Cataract, also known as Leaping Waters by the locals. Others are the Main Falls, the Rainbow Falls and the Eastern Cataract.

Wildlife an added allure

Any Victoria Falls tour will include a visit to one of a handful of national parks where wildlife abounds – the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, the Victoria Falls National Park or the Zambezi National Park.

All reputable Southern Africa tour operators will have the Victoria Falls as one of the tour highlights and visitors can opt to overnight either in Zimbabwe, where rates are currently relatively cheap, or Livingstone in Zambia. Both have a range of accommodation to suit most budgets.

Dedicated coach tour vacations depart from neighbouring South Africa on a regular basis and the Victoria Falls is always high on the agenda.

 

Crested Butte

In one such instance, I remember reading about a place called Crested Butte. Located in Gunnison County, Colorado, this little known spot has been a outdoor adventure haven for those who knew about it…and that wasn’t too many people. The population of this place, according to the 2000 census, was only 1,529 people.

Chances are you may have never thought of this destination for winter/summer activities and vacations, that may have been because there was very little air service there. Now with its influx of air crafts flying into its local airport from such hubs as Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake, Chicago and others, it won’t be long before you appreciate this small piece of outdoor paradise.

You may think that skiing and snowboarding are the only things that go on here; after all, it is labeled ‘the last great Colorado ski town’, but with spring having sprung, they are rolling out the preverbal red carpet…and catering to you.

Some of the things you can do in Crested Butte Other then Skiing!

Ok, its true that the main draw here is the amazing skiing and snowboarding that goes on – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. This is a list, albeit a small one, but it gives you a general idea of what other wonderful things await you here:

1. Arts, Culture, Culinary and Well Being. A number of walking tours make a great day of exploring the arts within the city limits. Great for the whole family, some of the local facilities include Crested Butte Center for the Arts, Crested Butte Mountain Theatre and the Pioneer Museum and Train Museum where you can learn about how it all started back in 1880.

2. Horseback Riding: The expansive National Park in Gunnison makes this activity an authentic experience. From stables in Almont and Mt. Crested Butte, families and friends enjoy a variety of wilderness trail rides; and the feature ride is through Maroon Bells Wilderness from Crested Butte to Aspen.

3. Whitewater Rafting – whether you’re a first timer or a veteran pro, you will quickly understand why whitewater enthusiasts have been coming for years to Colorado. One of the largest tributaries to the Colorado River, the Gunnison River, has a network of steep creeks and Streams. The Gunnison River is characterized as a scenic stretch; and also a number of fun rapids to navigate in. Another winner for the whole family!

4. Boating -Blue Mesa, the state’s largest body of water makes its home here; and some of the states biggest fish might explain why boating is big out here. If your looking for another reason, then check out The Taylor Lake, Morrow Point and Crystal reservoirs which all offer boat tours.

5. Scenic Drives – The key word here is ‘scenic’; because that’s what you get with these small country roads. Like something out of a John Denver song, these roads lead deep into the Colorado wilderness and offer up some of the most remarkable views of nature that you will see anywhere. Described by one park ranger, The West Elk Loop is the “closest you can come to a wilderness experience in a passenger car”.

As stated above, these are just a short list of things to do here. And if you’re wondering where to stay while vacationing here…you don’t have to spend your next month’s paycheck as once was the deal here. Amazing lodges start at under $60! Vacationing like one of your favorite stars never was so relaxing and inexpensive!