Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

The Joy of Traveling as a Couple

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 03:58 AM PDT

Editor’s Note: This is the start of a series of posts by Ant and Elise, a couple that has been traveling together for over a year, on the ups and downs of traveling as a couple. They will be writing a monthly column on traveling as two since I want to be able to provide some advice for couples traveling and I tend to travel mostly alone.

Traveling as a couple is unlike anything else. You’re not alone nor are you just traveling with some friends. It is more than that. You are traveling together as a unit, and as such you get to share all your experiences (the ups and the downs) with someone else. It's about seeing places and sights for the first time and knowing you have done it together. It's about creating memories that you can look back on for years to come knowing you shared them with each other.

Elise and I have been together for five years, engaged for one year and we have been traveling as a couple since the beginning of 2010. We decided to travel long term because we wanted to explore the world, rather than working our fingers to the bone. We saved hard for three years, quit our jobs, sold our things, and never looked back.

Was it the right decision? We think so. Deciding to travel together was one of the easiest choices we ever made. People told us that traveling as a couple will either 'make or break' our relationship and, in all honesty, I can see how that may be the case. You are with the other person 24/7 and you really do get to know them on a deeper level. There is no hiding who you really are. It can be tough for some people, but, while there have been trying times, it has only made us stronger.

The biggest thing that makes couples travel work is compromise. Although Elise and I have similar interests, there are still many times we give and take with one another. Not only does compromising allow your partner to experience something that they really want to do, it also opens your own eyes to another side of travel that you might not have experienced on your own. That is what couples travel is all about. It's about doing things with and for your partner.

It is inevitable, however, that you are bound to fight at one stage or another. The times that Elise and I have had disagreements are usually over matters that don't need addressing. We've discovered that the underlying factor to most of our arguments is that one of us just needs some 'me' time. There's nothing wrong with wanting to have some time on your own. Doing your own thing for a while really helps you  appreciate the other person and it also helps you to see things from their perspective. Just spending a few hours on your own sometimes can make all the difference even if you haven't been fighting with your partner. The best solution to an argument is to talk with each other truthfully and listen to what your partner has to say. You have time to come to a resolution and there is no need to blow anything out of proportion. Nipping the issue in the bud, before things get out of hand is always the best way to try and solve problems. Communication is the key to any successful relationship.

On the other hand, the support that comes from couples travel is greatly rewarding. When you are sick or tired, your partner is there to pull you out of the rut, cheer you up and get you back on your feet. Your partner will be there when you need someone to talk to and when you want to share your deepest fears and sorrows. You get to see each other in a new light and learn more about each other than you ever would when you are back at home. You are that little piece of home to each other that is so good to have around.

Traveling together enhances the quality of time you get to spend with your loved one. Because you are with someone 24/7 there is always the opportunity to be able to have a laugh, have a chat and play together. You are really able to appreciate the small moments together. Waiting for a bus for 12 hours can end up feeling like 5 minutes.

Whatever way you look at it, traveling as a couple is a unique experience. It bonds you and brings you together; it is something special that you both share that will truly last a lifetime.

Anthony is one half of the dynamic duo at Positive World Travel. Both he and Elise will be writing about their experiences and thoughts on what long-term travel is like as a couple. You can also follow them on Facebook for more of their travel updates.

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Hen Dos and Don’ts

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 02:45 PM PDT

All eyes are on Kate Middleton this spring. And the focus is not only on the wedding day, but also on her hen night. She will, no doubt, be getting plenty of advice on what to do—and more importantly, what not to do—on the eve of her nuptials.

However, the princess-to-be will have less to worry about than most women. She won't have to organise a venue or think about the intricate planning details like seating arrangements at the reception. That will all be done for her. If you're getting married soon, here's a short guide on to how to make your hen night a memorable success, and how to stop it being a miserable failure.

Nothing fails like excess
Don't fall into the trap of thinking your hen night is the archetypal "last night of freedom". If your big night becomes a female version of the infamous stag do, complete with pub crawl and at least one humiliated casualty, you're not going to look back on it with any sense of pride or affection. The last thing you need come your wedding day is a long hangover and a bridesmaid who's nursing a black eye from the drunken tumble she took at the end of a boozy evening!

Quality not quantity
Your hen night shouldn't be about the quantity of booze consumed, or even the amount of money spent, but the quality of an important night spent with friends. This is true whether you're staying in your hometown, heading to another British city or, like many hen dos these days, flying off for a weekend break on the continent or further afield.

Instead of crawling from pub to pub, why not book a stylish place? Tell the management that it's a hen do, but reassure them that it's going to be an understated affair that won't disturb their other customers.

When it comes to popular destinations, research from foreign currency provider Travelex found that 70% of stag and hen do's choose to travel to Eurozone destinations, with Ireland, Spain and Holland making up the most popular countries.

You can choose your friends…
What is it they say? "You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family." That goes for hen nights, too. Do you really want to be trailing through the town centre with twenty "friends", some of whom are really only friends of friends or people you kind of know from work? Wouldn't it be better to be part of the modern trend for a smaller, more carefully selected party?

Sure, rattling a saucepan and offering kisses to complete strangers is "traditional". But, perhaps, some traditions should be left to die out.

Los Gigantes and other Canary Islands excursions

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 05:24 AM PDT

When holidaying in Tenerife, one of the most popular excursions is a visit to Los Gigantes. Here you will witness the giant rock formations Acantilados de Los Gigantes which rise from the sea at a height of 500-800m.

Los Gigantes and Tenerife
Los Gigantes literally means "the giants" and you can certainly see why when you approach these imposing natural structures. Holidaymakers are able to venture to the top of the cliffs and those who decide to will be provided with a sumptuous view of the town and the ocean. With a black sand beach in between the rocks and the marina, Los Gigantes is a fantastic spot to spend a day, or alternatively with the great options for accommodation and numerous restaurants in the town you can use this as the base for your holiday.

If you want to really appreciate the cliffs of Los Gigantes in all their splendour, the best view is obtained from the water on one of the many boat trips available. For those with a little more time, this can be combined with a trip out to sea to search for one of the many schools of dolphins inhabiting the warm coastal areas. Other worthwhile excursions while staying in Tenerife include a visit to the highest peak in Spain, Mount Teide, or a day trip to discover the neighbouring island of La Gomera.

Gran Canaria excursions
Excursions while on Canary Islands holidays aren't just limited to Tenerife. If you decide to stay in Gran Canaria you will be treated to an island known as the "mini continent" due to the contrasting nature of its natural environment. Consequently some of the most eye opening and enjoyable day trips involve different modes of transport to get around certain areas of the island.

You can go on a camel safari across the vast dunes of Maspalomas, take a jeep safari to access difficult areas of the island, indulge yourself in a buggy or quad bike safari, push yourself to the limit on a mountain bike or simply while away the sunshine hours exploring the coast on a boat trip. Gran Canaria holidays are full of excitement!

Trips in Lanzarote and Fuerteventura
For holidaymakers in Lanzarote, a visit to the volcanic landscape of the Timanfaya National Park is an absolute must; whereas if you decide to spend your time exploring Fuerteventura there are numerous options for that perfect excursion. One of the most unique day trips while staying on the "island of eternal spring" is to take a 4×4 trip to view the sunken American Star. Once a luxury liner, the vessel which many believe will soon be totally consumed by the sea is certainly a site worth seeing. Other great excursions while staying in Fuerteventura include a Catamaran sailing trip along the Jandia Peninsula and a trip on board the Submarine-Subcat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011



Prehistoric Inspiration: California Desert Sculpture Safari

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Delana in Animals & Habitats & Art & Design & History & Trivia. ]

In a stretch of inhospitable desert 90 miles east of San Diego, a dry wind caresses the dramatic curves of a mammoth, whispers through the bared teeth of a sabertooth tiger, whips at the terrifying claws of a raptor. These imposing figures are both the history and the future of this plot of land: a history buried deep beneath the sands and a future imbued in the scrap metal structures that stoically greet visitors to this unassuming parcel of land called Galleta Meadows Estate.

The story of Galleta Meadows Estate – the modern story, anyway – began in the 1990s when multimillionaire Dennis Avery purchased a fabulously-priced huge parcel of land near Borrego Springs but had no concrete plans for it. The new landowner decided to listen to the land itself to figure out what belonged there.

The answer came to him after he learned that the area was known for the great archaeological secrets buried in the sands. Fossils from the Pliocene, Pleistocene and Miocene eras could be found in large numbers nearby, so Avery realized that he needed to use the land to recall its own history. He enlisted the help of Mexican artist Ricardo Arroyo Breceda to create a scrap metal zoo of pre-historic creatures right there in the middle of the desert.

Breceda’s creations are up to 4 meters tall and made of wire and hammer-pounded scrap metal. They are wild broncos, tortoises, camels, dinosaurs, sloths and tapirs among other wild creatures of long, long ago – all part of a strange safari frozen in time. A few humans even make appearances: gold miners and farmers who pay homage to the more recent history of the region.

(all images via: Galleta Meadows)

Galleta Meadows Estate is now a tourist attraction that accompanies Avery’s golf course, tourist resort and country club which share that parcel of land. The sculptures are scattered through Galleta Meadows, inviting tourists to explore the area and discover every one of them.

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[ By Delana in Animals & Habitats & Art & Design & History & Trivia. ]

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