When you think of Tanzania, two things come to mind: Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. While these both reflect the natural beauty of the land and its wild inhabitants, this East African country has so much more to offer. From pristine beaches to wildlife reserves and everything in between, it’s time to explore this unique destination.
Mount Kilimanjaro. Located in the northern part of Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in all of Africa. As you climb, you’ll experience diverse climates – from rainforest and fresh meadows to desert and finally snow at the top. And, of course, you’ll most likely spot wild elephants, blue monkeys a tree hyrax, and more exotic animals. The climb is not for the faint of heart, and requires an experienced guide. There are 6 different routes you can take up Kilimanjaro, each with its own level of difficulty.
Serengeti National Park. No trip to Tanzania would be complete without visiting the Serengeti. It’s the oldest national park in the country and most famous for the annual migration of wildebeest and zebras across the Mara River into Kenya. Go on a game drive to see the Big Five and other animals and explore the majestic plains. You can even stay overnight in a safari tent to experience the “night life” in the wild! And if you are in to hippos, don’t miss an opportunity to visit the Serengeti Hippo Pool.
Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous archipelago located off the shores of Tanzania. Known for its pristine beaches, this is a paradise for scuba divers and snorkelers. Make sure you visit Mafia Island, which is surrounded by a protected marine park and is best know for its clear waters, coral garden, tropical fish and being the breeding ground for the endangered green turtle. Or visit Pemba Island, where you can lose yourself in history by visiting main town of Chake-Chake and it’s 18th century fort and museum.
Stone Town. On Unguja, the main Zanzibar island, lies Stone Town, the oldest part of Zanzibar City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stone Town is rich in its heritage that is a mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European cultures. Some of the highlights as you visit this area include the Arab Fort which was built in the 17th century atop an older Portuguese church (which you can still see remnants of in the walls of the fort), the Hamamni Persian Baths which were the first public baths in Zanzibar from 1870 to about 1920, the Malindi Mosque – one of the oldest mosques in Stone Town – and more. Don’t miss the House of Wonders overlooking the waters in Stone Town to get a glimpse of Swahili history and culture.
Prison Island. Once the home to prisoners, Prison Island, also known as Changuu Island, is home to a colony of endangered Giant Aldabra tortoise – some of which are over 200 years old. The beautify beaches and clear waters of the island make for a great day of swimming and snorkeling. If you’re interested, you can visit some of the cells that housed prisoners in the 19th century.
Selous Game Reserve. Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa, and is one of the best places to experience the beauty of the country and its wildlife. Here, you can enjoy a walking safari that will bring you up close and personal with elephants and lions. Or take a boat safari cruise on the Rufiji River to spot the many animals drawn to the water. Of course, you can always take a game drive to spot the wild dogs, hippos, Cape buffalos, an endangered black rhino and more. If you’re really adventurous, try an overnight fly-camp to experience an evening under the stars – complete with your own chef.
As you can see, there is much to explore in Tanzania. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this beautiful African destination. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
When you think of a vacation in Africa, one of the first things that comes to mind is a safari adventure – and the best country to do that in is Kenya. There are so many ways to see the beauty and majesty of this country that you’ll want to return to this country over and over again. Here are just a few places that should be at the top of your list when you visit:
Masai Mara National Reserve. Masai Mara is probably the most popular safari destinations in the world. Here, you can see the “Big Five” animals that Africa is known for - the African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo, and rhinoceros – as well as wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, ostriches and many more. One of the most spectacular things to see at Masai Mara is the Great Migration, as thousands upon thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle make their trek from the Serengeti in neighboring Tanzania across the Mara River into Kenya in July/August and return to their home in October.
Amboseli National Park. With a backdrop of Africa’s most iconic mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, Amboseli National Park is one of Kenya’s best safari parks. Home to over 1000 elephants, it’s the best-known free-ranging elephant population in the world. A UNESCO biosphere reserve, you’ll find over 400 bird species, lions, zebras, crocodiles, mongoose and more. Enjoy the spectacular views along the savannahs and up Kilimanjaro.
Mombasa. After spending time on safari, take in some Kenyan culture in Mombasa. Spend time exploring the history of the city, with visits to the 16th century Fort Jesus or explore Old Town where you will get a taste of the melting pot of Arab, Asian and European cultures in this coastal city. Relax on one of its beautiful beaches. Go scuba diving or snorkeling at Mombasa Marine National Park. Or take a trip to Wasini Island for a look at the ancient Swahili villages and explore the Shimoni Caves.
Nairobi. Of course any trip to Kenya should include a stop in its capital, Nairobi. While there, visit the Bomas of Kenya where you can see replicas of traditional homesteads, or bomas, from 23 of Kenya’s ethnic groups and learn more about the culture of Kenya. If you want to see giraffes up close and personal, make sure you visit Giraffe Manor and the Giraffe Center, a nature sanctuary for giraffes. Don’t miss the Kazuri Bead Factory on the Karen Blixen Estate (of “Out of Africa”) where beads and pottery are made by over 300 mostly single women as a way to help them be self-sufficient.
Lamu Island. If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, spend some time on Lamu Island. Explore Old Town Lamu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can see the influences of Arabic and European cultures. Discover the beautiful marketplace in Shela Village. Check out the coral-stone ruins of the 17th century City of Takwa. Or just walk the idyllic sandy beaches and take in the spectacular view.
There are so many more national parks and historic and cultural things to see and do in Kenya. Why not start planning your trip now? Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
A Quick Tour of the Caribbean
The Caribbean promises warm waters, sunny days and sandy beaches for all vacationers. There is just so much to see and do in the Caribbean that it can be difficult to decide where to start. We thought we’d give you a quick overview of some of the major islands so that you can home in on where you want to spend your Caribbean vacation:
St. Lucia. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort vacation or an opportunity to hike the rainforest or explore the beautiful coral reefs, St. Lucia has something for everyone. Take time to climb to the volcanic summit of Gros Piton or get up close and personal with the volcano at the Sulphur Springs where you can experience its heat and see the boiling magma. If you want to see a little history of the island, visit Pigeon Island or Morne Fortune where you will get a taste of colonial times on the island. Don’t miss the Botanical Gardens of the Soufriere Estate for the beautiful plants and flowers of the rainforest with the roaring Diamond Falls near its center.
Antigua and Barbuda. The country of Antigua and Barbuda is certainly known for its beaches. In fact, it has 365 of them! While it is a huge draw for vacationing here, there is certainly much more to do than lounging in the surf and sand. Spend some time exploring history at Nelson’s Dockyard where ships have been docking for over 250 years and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or explore the sugarcane plantation known as Betty’s Hope, where you will see the remains of windmills that were used to process the sugarcane and extract the juices to make rum, the slave quarters and more. You can also swim with the stingrays or hike along 17-mile Beach for its spectacular views.
Aruba. Aruba really does have something for everyone: you can hit the casinos and nightlife, relax on the beaches, hike the rock formations, dive to explore shipwrecks and coral reefs, or discover the history of this Dutch island. One of the prettiest beaches to relax on is Palm Beach, with its 2-miles of white sand and blue waters – everything you would expect of a tropical beach getaway. The ruins of Bushiribana and Balashi will give you a glimpse into the Aruban gold boom of the late 19th century, with remains of the smelting works – and the fortifications to keep the pirates out! Take a hike through the Arikok National Park, visit the Butterfly Farm, or snorkel off of Boca Catalina.
Curaçao. If you are looking for something a little different, then Curaçao may be the place for you. Its Dutch heritage is apparent throughout the island – and there is no shortage of things to do. Explore the capital city of Willemstad and you will think that you are in the middle of a Flemish village in the Netherlands. On the other end of the spectrum, you get a true glimpse of the Caribbean life through color and creativity at the Curaçao Carnival in the spring. Don’t miss the stalactites and stalagmites of Hato Caves, where you can explore what was once home to the native Indian tribespeople and a refuge for slaves that escaped the plantations. Take a safari through Christoffel National Park to see native flora and fauna. And if you want to relax on the beach, visit Blauwbaai, where you’ll enjoy the best snorkeling and swimming on the island.
St. Martin – St. Maarten. The island of St. Martin-St. Maarten is one of dueling cultures – French and Dutch. One of the top attractions on the island is Loterie Farm, where you can spend time hiking or ziplining through the lush forest, lounge at the cabanas or enjoy the obstacle course. If you’re ambitious, you can hike up to Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island that offers incredible views of the shoreline and surrounding jungle. For those looking to sample the local twist on the Caribbean’s favorite liquor, head over to the Sint Maarten Guavaberry Company where you can taste various concoctions that include the island’s guavaberry and rum. Head over to Fort Amsterdam or Fort Louis for a little history from the Dutch and French perspective, and then spend time relaxing on the picture-perfect beaches of Mullet Bay.
The Caribbean is full of possibilities for your next vacation. Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you decide what’s best for you. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning!
Relaxing in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Are you ready to take a break on the white, sandy beaches and in the turquoise waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands? This year-round destination is the vacation spot whether you are looking to just relax on the beach, enjoy the water, or explore the islands of St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas. Here are some ideas to get your imagination flowing as you plan your next vacation:
Blackbeard’s Castle. Legend has it that the great pirate Blackbeard used this Danish military watchtower as a lookout to spot potential ships to pillage. While the validity of the story is questionable, Blackbeard’s Castle in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas is a National Historic Landmark that offers tours of the surrounding Skytsborg Historic Park as well as exhibits telling the story of pirating in the Caribbean.
Buck Island. Just off of St. Croix on Buck Island sits the only marine national park in the United States. This is one of the better places to snorkel and scuba dive to see tropical fish and elkhorn coral off the barrier reef. After spending time in the water, take a stroll through the subtropical dry forest, or bask in the sun on its beautiful beach. Pack a picnic for lunch and make a day of it!
Coral World Ocean Park. If you really want to experience the marine life of the Virgin Islands, plan a trip to Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas. Get up close and personal with rare sea turtles and sea lions, stingrays and sharks. Swim with the dolphins or just admire the rainbow colors of the live coral plants.
Estate Whim Plantation Museum. The Estate Whim Plantation Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the inner workings of an 18th century sugarcane plantation – an industry that once dominated the entire Caribbean region. Through its exhibits, you’ll see the inner workings of how sugar cane was cultivated and processed, understand the lives of the enslaved workers, and even get a tour of the factory complexes.
Cruzan Rum Distillery. It should come as no surprise that the biggest export of the region is rum, and the best place to learn the history and sample some rum would be the Cruzan Rum Distillery. Tours of the facility teach not only the history but also the distilling and bottling processes, ending with a tasting session of the various varieties of Cruzan Rum.
Fort Frederik. Originally built to protect the Virgin Islands from piracy, Fort Frederik has historical significance: in 1848, over 8,000 enslaved people marched to the fort to demand their freedom. Tours of the site will shed light on the history surrounding the slave trade, the emancipation march and more.
Trunk Bay. For a relaxing day on the beach, nothing can beat Trunk Bay – rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and part of the Virgin Islands National Park. Bask in the sun, snorkel the 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of reefs, or explore the park’s hiking trails and tour the Annaberg Sugar Plantation.
Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. Another beautiful beach in the US Virgin Islands is Sandy Point, where you can relax on the pristine beach and swim in its shallow waters. At night, though, make sure you visit the 400-acre natural habitat for leatherback sea turtles.
There is much more to see and do in the US Virgin Islands! Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437, and we’ll help you plan your dream vacation!
Probably one of the most overlooked countries in Central America for vacations is Panama. Everyone knows about the Panama Canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but there is so much more to this beautiful country that needs to be explored:
Portobelo. On the Caribbean Coast lies the quaint town of Portobelo. A strategic port for the Spanish in the 17th century, there is plenty to see and do. For the history buffs, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fort San Jerónimo – one of the largest forts built along the Caribbean Bay. Or visit San Felipe Church, built in 1814 in honor of Portobelo’s patron saint, Black Christ. If you want to spend time in nature, take a hike in Portobelo National Park to enjoy the rainforests, some unusual birds and animals and the gigantic Los Monos Waterfall. You can also relax on one of three tranquil beaches near Portobelo: Playa Blanca, Playa Frances, & Playa Huerta.
Boquete. Located in the highlands of Chiriquí, Boquete is an adventurer’s dream. Highlights here include a trip to the Finca Dos Jefes coffee plantation, where you can take a personal tour and learn about traditional organic coffee farming. For the more experienced hiker, take the trails up to Volcan Baru – at 3, 475 meters it’s the highest point in Panama. If you decide to trek to the top, plan an overnight trip and get a guide to accompany you. There are many other trails that aren’t quite so strenuous. For a little fun, take advantage of the Boquete Tree Trek which will take you ziplining through the extraordinary cloud forest that will take your breath away.
Bocas del Toro. Bocas del Toro is the beach destination in Panama. Whether you just want to relax on the sand or are ready for some exciting water and land activities, you’ll find it all at Bocas del Toro. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archipelago of Bocas del Toro consists of 6 small islands is fast becoming a hot beach destination in Central America. Go snorkeling in the clear waters, take a tour of the Bluff Beach Municipal Reserve to see leatherback, hawksbill and green turtle nests at Playa Bluff Beach, or just relax in the sun.
Soberania National Park. Soberania National Park is a protected tropical rain forest that is home to sloths, monkeys, hundreds of types of birds, and much more – most of which is accessible through its hiking trails. While there, visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center on Pipeline Road. From its observation tower you get a beautiful view of the forest canopy. As you hike further along Pipeline Road, you’ll get a close look at much of the country’s wildlife.
Panama City. Panama City is the main metropolis and capital of Panama and as you can imagine, there is plenty to see and do. Make sure that you spend some time in the historic Casco Viejo district, which was built in the 17th century after the pirate Henry Morgan looted and destroyed the original capital, Panama Viejo (which you should also see) and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the Biomuseo, which offers a look at the of the Panamanian isthmus and its impact on the planet’s biodiversity. Don’t miss the hikes through the Parque Nacional Metropolitano - the only natural tropical rainforest located within city limits in the world.
Panama Canal. Of course, no trip to Panama would be complete without seeing the Panama Canal. Initially started by the French in the late 19th century, the endeavor was abandoned in 1893 after thousands of workers died from malaria, yellow fever and other diseases. The United States took over shortly after the turn of the century and completed the canal in 1914 that allows quick passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The journey through the 3 locks takes ships about 10 hours to complete, and the best place to watch the mechanics of the locks in action at the Miraflores Visitor Center. Or take a boat tour for an up-close experience of this engineering marvel.
As you can see, there is more to Panama than meets the eye. Let Luxury Destinations Concierge plan your trip to this Central American treasure. Just give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
Tennessee is fast becoming a top destination spot in the United States. And Nashville is the place to visit on any trip to the state. Whether you’re a fan of country music or just want to soak in the natural surroundings, there’s plenty for everyone in Nashville. Here are our picks for some of the top things to do in Nashville:
Grand Ole Opry. The Grand Ole Opry has been a live radio staple since 1925, and has seen its share of country stars. This is one stop that you don’t want to miss. Take a tour to learn more about the history of the Grand Ole Opry and country music in general, and make sure that you get tickets for one of the daily live stage performances.
Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. If you are a nature or art lover, the Cheekwood Estate & Gardens will capture your heart. Meander through the 55-acre botanical gardens and its greenhouses, sculpture trail and chromatic flower displays. Then, visit the Cheek mansion for its impressive collection of 19th – and 20th-century American art and other artifacts from around the world.
The Hermitage. The home of President Andrew Jackson, the Hermitage is a National Historic Landmark that gives us a glimpse into this president’s home life. Built in the Greek Revival style, the mansion sits on a 1,000-acre estate. Guided tours will take you through various parts of the home, a log cabin on the grounds, Jackson’s tomb and the Old Hermitage Church. You’ll also learn the history of the 150 slaves that lived on the grounds from 1804 to 1865.
The Parthenon. Although we normally associate Nashville with country music, it also bears the nickname of the “Athens of the South”, due to the number of universities and places of higher education in the area. In fact, this was brought to life at the Centennial Exhibition of 1897 when a full-size replica of the Parthenon was built. Although it was meant to be temporary, the Parthenon in Nashville has endured – including down to replicas of the statues found in the original structure in Greece. Today, you can visit the Parthenon and Centennial Park for a walk along the trails, or indulge in an outdoor concert, movie or theater performance.
Nelson's Green Brier Distillery. Tennessee is known for its whiskey and bourbon, so take an opportunity to learn a bit of history from a distillery that has its roots in the 1800s. Charles Nelson began producing whiskey in the late 1800s in Greenbrier, Tennessee. In fact, his whiskey was so popular that he sold over 2 million bottles in 1885 alone! After he died, his wife carried on the tradition until Prohibition shut them down in 1909. In 2009, his great-great-great grandsons, Andy and Charlie Nelson, revived the business and brought it to Nashville. Today, you can take a tour of the distillery and tasting room and learn more about its history.
Historic RCA Studio B. Take a step back in time at the Historic RCA Studio B that launched the careers of many country music stars, including Elvis, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. This is the studio that put country music on the map, and you can relive some of that nostalgia through its tours and educational programs. It continues to pay it forward by teaching students the technology of music and the science of sound.
Arrington Vineyards. If whiskey isn’t your favorite drink, then head out to Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, Tennessee. Founded by country music star Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, this beautiful vineyard is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the wine tasting experience. This is a great afternoon jaunt for if you’re on a Nashville Bachelorette party trip!
Belle Meade Plantation. Known as the “Queen of the Tennessee Plantations”, the Belle Meade Plantation was built in 1853 in the Greek Revival style. Here, you’ll get a taste of its history as guides dress in period costume and take you through this antebellum mansion (complete with bullet holes in the columns from the Civil War). It’s home to the country’s first thoroughbred breeding farms, and the Iroquois Steeplechase – the oldest in the US. Take a tour of the mansion, learn the history of the plantation’s slaves, or even take a Segway ride through the arboretum and grounds.
Broadway. The best place to get a taste of live country music in Nashville is the nightlife on Broadway, Nashville’s main thoroughfare. Whether it’s the iconic Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, or Robert’s Western World, there’s a honky-tonk for everyone to chill out and enjoy the Nashville music scene.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. No trip to Nashville would be complete without a stop at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Relive some of the great moments of country music walking through the exhibits and seeing the artifacts of the most well-known celebrities in the business.
Nashville is a great choice for your next vacation, and Luxury Destinations Concierge is ready to help you plan your trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
A Closer Look at New Orleans
When you think of New Orleans, there are several things that come to mind: Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street, music and food, and, if you’re a football fan, the New Orleans Saints. But there is so much more to New Orleans that we thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look.
Jackson Square. At the very center of New Orleans sits Jackson Square. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, this public square is just bursting with live performers and artists, and is surrounded by restaurants, art galleries and shops that will give you a small sampling of New Orleans.
St. Louis Cathedral. Proudly on display in Jackson Square is St. Louis Cathedral, the longest continually active Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Dating back to at least 1789, the church is named after Louis IX of France. The current Spanish colonial building was constructed in 1850, and an inside tour will reveal the beautiful stained glass windows and Rococo-styled gilded altar. As you walk around, you may notice that the floor has a slight tilt – the building is actually sinking.
City Park. Take a stroll through City Park – the 6th largest urban park in the U.S. Built on swampland in the early 19th century, it was originally knows as the “Dueling Oaks”, where many city disputes were settled. The park is home to some of the world’s oldest oak trees – some dating back 600 years.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is New Orleans oldest cemetery and sits a block away from the French Quarter. Several famous historical figures are buried here, including the voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, and the aristocrat Bernard de Marigny. The cemetery is no longer open to the public, but you can take a guided tour of the cemetery, where you’ll learn more about those buried in the cemetery. You may even get a glimpse of the plot that Nicolas Cage has purchased.
French Quarter. You can’t visit New Orleans without at least walking through the French Quarter of the city. This is the heart and soul of New Orleans, and there is much that will attract your attention. To get the most out of your visit to the French Quarter, consider taking a walking tour.
Garden District. For a close look at how the upper class lived in New Orleans, visit the Garden District. Here, you’ll find Italianate and Greek Revival mansions such as the Goldsmith-Godchaux House, the Brevard-Rice House, The Manse and Colonel Short’s Villa. Take a guided tour of the district to hear more of the history and learn about some of the more famous residents.
Old New Orleans Rum Distillery. The plantations around New Orleans were known for their sugarcane, so it’s appropriate that the oldest premium rum distillery is located in New Orleans. Located in a 150-year old cotton warehouse, the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery produces rums and pre-mixed cocktails from Louisiana sugarcane molasses. There is a 45-minute tour of the facility, where you’ll learn how the molasses is fermented, distilled and aged to become rum, and, of course, taste some of the results.
Whitney Plantation. Founded in 1752, the current Spanish Creole house was built in 1803 as the plantation shifted from growing indigo to sugarcane. The plantation opened to the public in 2014, and is the only plantation in New Orleans that is dedicated to telling the story of the slaves living there. The 90-minute tour will take you through the slave cabins, the owner’s house and various outbuildings as well as a freedman’s church.
Oak Alley Plantation. On the west bank of the Mississippi lies this beautiful plantation, which is accessible down a 240-meter alley of live southern oaks. Take the tour of the grounds and learn more about the lives of the men, women and children who were kept at Oak Alley, including how one slave was the first person to figure out how to propagate individual pecan trees.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve protects six different locations around New Orleans and encompasses bayou, prairie, swamp and the site of the Battle of New Orleans (1815) at Chalmette Battlefield and National Cemetery. Each center allows you to experience New Orleans from a historical and geographical perspective.
New Orleans Jazz Museum. There is nothing more synonymous with New Orleans than jazz, so make sure that the New Orleans Jazz Museum is on your “must see” list. Here, you’ll see an amazing collection of notable jazz memorabilia including the first ever jazz recording from 1917, Louis Armstrong’s first coronet and other instruments played by jazz greats like Sidney Bechet, George Lewis and Dizzy Gillespie. Enjoy the thousands of jazz recordings and photos that document the earliest days of jazz. And, of course, if you’re lucky you’ll be treated to a live jazz concert or two.
Café du Monde. While there are many restaurants and eateries in New Orleans that will entice you with their unique regional dishes, the one place that makes any trip to New Orleans complete is Café du Monde. Originally opened in 1862, this coffee stand is famous the world over for its coffee blended with chicory, and its beignets. Once you try them, you’ll be hooked.
As you can see, there is a lot more to New Orleans than meets the eye. Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437, and we’ll help make your next trip to New Orleans memorable.
Fall is definitely in the air. The crisp breeze, the scent of fresh apple cider, and of course the brilliant reds, yellows golds and browns that remind us of days gone by. Normally we associate the changing colors of fall with New England, but there are many other places around the world where you can experience the colors of the season.
Edinburgh, Scotland. If ever there’s a place that could give New England a run for it’s money for fall foliage, it’s Edinburgh, Scotland. Make sure that you get to Edinburgh Castle to survey the bright colors below. Or climb up the majestic Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill for a panoramic view of the city. If you don’t want to take the hike, the Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to see Scotland in all its fall glory.
Douro Valley, Portugal. Douro Valley in Portugal will give you a different perspective on the changing colors of fall. As one of Portugal’s main wine regions, instead of trees the hillsides are covered in terraced vineyards that are brilliantly colored. Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the world’s oldest wine region, so while you’re there, take a tour (or two) of some of the wineries and sample some of the delicious wines.
Bavarian Alps, Germany. Of course, fall in Germany is always associated with Oktoberfest, but don’t miss the spectacular autumn views of the surrounding countryside. In fact, the fall may be the best season to visit the Bavarian Alps. Take advantage of the cooler weather to hike Berchtesgaden and Lake Tegernsee to see the epic scenery. Or visit Neuschwanstein Castle in all its fall glory.
Kyoto, Japan. Even though Japan is known for its cherry blossoms in the spring, the fall foliage in Kyoto may be more spectacular. Visit one of the many temples or Kyoto Botanical Gardens and drink in the crimson colors of the season. One of the best views may even be from the Togetsukyo Bridge, where you’ll see the hillsides filled with fall foliage.
Nova Scotia, Canada. Drive down Highway 2 in Nova Scotia for the gorgeous fall scenery, including serene river views, quaint farmhouses and vivid red blueberry fields along with the usual colorful foliage. Spend some time in Kejimkujik National Park exploring the area on foot or by canoe. Enjoy the numerous fall festivals throughout the season, including pumpkin carving, harvest festivals and more.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Even in the United States, there are other places to see the beautiful colors of fall. Shenandoah National Park is one of them. Take a ride down the 105-mile long Skyline Drive to get your fill of bright orange, red and yellow leaves. Or head over to the eastern side of the park and drive along Blue Ridge Parkway which climbs several thousand feet up to Cherokee National Forest. Either way, you’ll be glad you did.
Upstate New York. Visit the Adirondacks not only to see the fall colors but also experience the bounty of fall festivals in the area. Or drive to the Catskills to the famous “Five State Lookout” in East Windham where you can see the fall leaves in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut simultaneously. If you’re up for a hike, trek to the summit of Mount Utsayantha in the Catskills for a 360-degree view.
Upper Peninsula Michigan. Known for its coastlines, the Upper Peninsula is just as beautiful in the fall. Drive cross the Mackinac Bridge and along the Keweenaw Peninsula towards Copper Harbor, where the views are spectacular.
These are just a few of the many place that you can go and see the vivid foliage we associate with autumn. Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437 to start planning your next vacation.
Exploring the Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii has always been one of the top vacation destinations, and the good news is that Hawaii will be lifting its quarantine restrictions soon. That means it’s time to think about your next vacation to the Hawaiian Islands.
There are 137 islands that make up the state of Hawaii, there are 4 that people remember the most: Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and the island of Hawaii. Here are the top things to do on each of these islands:
Kauai. Kauai is the fourth largest island, and truly earns it’s nickname of the “Garden Island”. Picturesque views, lush valleys, tropical rainforests and more form the backdrop for any trip to this island. There’s plenty to see here, including:
Oahu. Oahu, home of Hawaii’s capital Honolulu and most of its diverse population, is the third largest island. There is plenty to see and do on Oahu - here are just a few:
Maui. Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii and is nicknamed “The Valley Isle”. It has been voted the “Best Island in the US” by Conde Nast Traveler for readers for the last 20 years – and it’s no wonder. There is so much to do on Maui that it’s hard to narrow it down. Here’s what stands out:
The Island of Hawaii. Also known as the “Big Island”, the island of Hawaii is the largest island in Hawaii. In fact, it’s almost twice as big as all the other islands combined. Here are just a few things that you will want to see and do while on the Big Island:
Are you ready to start planning your trip to Hawaii? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’ll help you make the most of your island getaway.
Raising a glass in a toast is an ancient tradition for celebrations around the world. Those traditions vary from country to country. Here are some of the most common toasts and their traditions from around the world:
With Oktoberfest just around the corner, it seems appropriate to start in Germany. Obviously, Germans value a good drink, and it’s important to do it right. To properly toast in Germany, it’s crucial to make eye contact during the toast – otherwise you insult your fellow drinkers. It goes back to the middle ages when you never knew who your enemy was. If they poisoned your drink, they would keep an eye on the rim of the glass to make sure that none of your drink found its way into your glass. If, on the other hand, they met your gaze, that established camaraderie and trust between the parties. When drinking beer, the common toast is Prost, which simply means “cheers”. If you are drinking wine, Zum Wohl, which loosely translated means “to your health”. And don’t drink before everyone has a glass in hand.
Japan’s drinking and toasting traditions are very formal. The toast of Kampai, or “bottoms up” is always first given by the most senior member of the family or business. Other things to keep in mind when drinking in Japan: your glass should be lower than those senior to you in position; never pour your own drink – always let someone else pour for you (and then return the favor); and if you are drinking sake, sip, don’t gulp. Also, if you are finished drinking, don’t pour drinks for anyone else – they’ll feel obligated to fill your glass again, and it’s bad manners not to drink again.
Russia: Za Zdorovie
In Russia, the typical toast is za zdorovie, which wishes good health to your hosts. The response to this is usually nu, poneslis (Here we go again). The weird thing about drinking in Russia is that shot glasses (for Vodka) should never be placed on the table. Instead, when you have finished your drink and the bottle is empty, place them under the table. The reason: After the Battle of Paris in 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars, Russian Cossacks noticed that the number of drinks people were charged for was calculated by the number of bottles left on the table in local restaurants. Supposedly they cleverly placed the bottles under the table to avoid the charges.
Hungary’s toast of Egészségére simply means “to your health”. Just as in Germany and other European countries, make sure that you make eye contact with those around you. However, whatever you do, don’t clink glasses together when drinking beer. Apparently, back in 1849 at the end of the revolt against the Hapsburgs, 13 Hungarians were hanged by Austrian soldiers who drank beer and clinked glasses. From that time on, Hungarians swore not to clink glasses for 150 years – and even though we’re well past that, the tradition continues.
Serefinize! Is the toast of the day in Turkey. The usual drink is raki, also known as Lion’s Milk, and is a combination of grapes and aniseed. When toasting, make sure that you clink the bottom of your glass – clinking the top implies that you are better than the others. If there is someone you want to remember, lightly tap your glass on the table. And, if you don’t like raki, order some anyway and pretend. Some may be offended if you drink something else.
France: À Votre Santé
Even though we associate great wine with France, the fact is that the French are polite and very restrained when it comes to drinking. The usual toast is À Votre Santé or simply Santé, which means “to your health”. Don’t fill your glass more than halfway – it’s considered vulgar to do otherwise. Instead, pour a little at a time (and often). And don’t cross arms with anyone when clinking glasses.
Raise a glass of beer in Iceland and say Skál! This toast can have two meanings. The first, and a little less believable, is “skull” relates to Vikings who would use the skulls of people they killed to toast and drink mead. The more reasonable translation is “bowl”, from an ancient Nordic tradition where people would drink from an empty bowl as a way of honoring someone no longer with them. And, by the way, beer has only been legal since 1989. There was a 74-year prohibition of beer due to alcoholism. Other alcoholic drinks were initially banned in 1915 as well, but eventually lifted on everything but beer in 1935. Icelanders now celebrate Beer Day every March 1st.
One of the pleasures of traveling is being able to enjoy the tastes and traditions of different cultures. As you can see, toasting with the locals can be rewarding – as long as you follow the local traditions. Are you ready to experience the drinks and foods of the world? Let Luxury Destinations Concierge help plan your next trip. Give us a call at (805) 236-4437.
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