Archive for December, 2008

Get Physical in Trutnov, Czech Republic

A vacation rental in the mountains is the best bet no matter the season.

A vacation rental in the mountains is the best bet no matter the season.

Situated on surrounding hillsides, Trutnov, Czech Republic,  is a must for lovers of outdoor sports during the winter months as well as the summer ones. The area is prominent for plenty of outdoor activities and much history added in besides.

Many consider only Switzerland, Italy and France for skiing and snowboarding opportunities in Europe,  but switch your thoughts and try the Trutnov region instead. Ski enthusiasts seeking more affordability will instantly find Trutnov proves not to cost a kings ransom. 
Nothing could be better that having a vacation rental home in close proximity from the town of Trutnov and the nearby Giant Mountains (Krkonose Mountains); the highest mountains in all of the Czech Republic. Highly proficient skiers will relish the challenges but novices can do well as it is filled with many ski schools. Leave you skis at home because rental equipment is available.

Make it a whole family affair in a 3 bedroom vacation rental chalet sleeping seven. This one includes even a sauna to unwind in after a day on the slopes. The winter visitor will certainly value the cross-country skiing opportunities right near your own backyard.

Skiing in the Giant Mountains is nothing but excellent; having ski conditions available from December until April and downhill skiing with an altitude 700-1300 meters above sea level.

The Skipark Mlade Buky, located along the eastern portion of the Giant Mountains, has most of their ski slopes covered artificially with complete daily maintenance to make sure it stays in pristine condition. With so many areas for you to sweep down the wide runs in the Giant Mountains, this may be the only place to ski for you.

If skiing or winter does not appeal to you for a visit; you will find a treasure trove of cultural riches and other options throughout the Trutnov region. Take advantage of the idyllic conditions offered for walking, mountain bike rentals, horseback riding, water rafting or swimming in a modern water park.

As one can determine, the area affords more physical activities than imaginable. So much so, that it may be a good idea to visit a thermal spring spa in the small mountain town of Janske Lazne to ease those muscles.

Imagine a private sauna everyday with a vacation rental.

Imagine a private sauna everyday with a vacation rental.

In many of the villages in the Trutnov region, there are  art galleries and museum expositions, such as at the Museum of Podkrkonos. Since 1987, the Trutnov Open Air Music Festival is a summer highlight with international artists partaking. The festival can be compared to a mini Woodstock type of venue promoting tolerance. Other villages hold their own cultural festivals allowing a glimpse to the traditions of its people.

Inquisitive families can challenge themselves on summer hikes and throw in a portion of historical sightseeing in. There is a Franciscan monastery, dating from 1678, displaying a unique collection of antique statues within the Giant Mountains.

The Giant Mountains have 200 miles of foot trails for mountain hiking within it. This makes it suitable with ease for trekking in the gorgeous countryside. A trekking journey may not be like scaling the Himalayas but the sensation is no less. After all a healthy body equals a healthy mind and you will thank Trutnov, Czech Republic and the opportunity it offers.

Périgueux for Foodies and Friends in France

Périgueux isn’t exactly a household word, I know. It’s a town in the Dordogne region of France that gives its name to Périgueux sauce, a heady sauce of truffles and Madiera wine. You have to love a region famous for truffles.

I had another of the region’s special foods for Christmas. Goose. You can go broke buying a goose for Christmas, so I let some friends do it. I just carved.

Goose fat is good for you, some have ventured. At least heart health is quite good in the region. There’s even a Goose Fat Information Service to let  you in on some of the health benefits of goose fat.

Périgueux holiday get away

Périgueux holiday get away

The trouble is, goose fat tends to get all over your oven walls when you cook a naked goose. So here’s what I’d do. I’d rent a place out in the country where geese are plentiful and relatively cheap, then cook it in a rental property, preferably one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The Périgueux holiday get away shown on the left would do nicely. It’s got an oven and double glazing over the windows so the odors of cooked goose won’t get out and offend anyone.

Of course, if it’s a real celebration you’ll want to go whole hog, so to speak, and get your hands on a big ol’ truffle to use in the Périgueux sauce or just to shave over anything warm and aromatic.

Southern France. It’s a wonderland. You get yourselves on a plane, preferably in late fall when the truffle season gets going, and you’ll land in a paradise for foodies and archaeologists. You’ve got all those prehistoric painted caves, geese, their livers, and truffles. What more can you want?

Romans, Pirates and a Lady – Kalkan, Turkey

A vacation rental with views of where pirates and Romans fought.

A vacation rental with views of where pirates and Romans fought.

It is only speculative as to when Kalkan was founded and even the locals dispute the time frame and who arrived first. Many will point out that their version is correct but one thing is certain; it is apparent that “Old Town” of Kalkan exudes with both Greek and Turkish heritage. History states that the town was previously known as “Phoenicus.”  It is a labyrinth of small cobblestone streets winding down to a picturesque harbor. Today the former ambiance exists but is now lined with roof terrace restaurants, offering spectacular sunset views on the waterfront and trendy harbor side cafes with friendly locals.

The harbor is revered from its past as being the only safe haven for ships during rough weather along the entire coast and beyond. In fact, Kalkan is a Turkish word meaning ‘shield’. It is this cove that housed and hid pirates from the Romans, whom they fought up and down the coast and the nearby Island of Rhodes. The entire region obtains the reputation as belonging to the pirates and the harbor’s strategic location helped pirates seize merchant ships and the goods they contained while sailing through these waters.

The Ogan 3 is a wonderful option as a vacation rental which can accommodate the whole family or a group traveling together, affordable in price with the unobstructed views of the harbor and the Mediterranean Sea. Escape the urban or fast-paced environment of daily life and instead crossover for a total tranquil diversion. An added bonus is obtained of sharing quality time with those who surround you. With averaging 300 days of sunshine a year,  relax by your pool and let your imagination take off releasing thoughts of pirates of the past and their battles.

With its clear, clean aqua color water and beach facilities, Kalkan has been awarded the highly desired European “Blue Flag” year after year. With an honor like that, you can be assured that the beaches are ideal for all types of water sports, diving and swimming.

Take a side trip to visit the nearby villages offering ancient ruins, plenty of documented history and other points of interest. Becoming a popular beach holiday destination for travelers who seek privacy as well as exploration; Kalkan has the charm of a tranquil fishing village. 

Sunny days and delightful beaches await you.

Sunny days and delightful beaches await you.

And who is this unnamed lady the locals speak of? They claim she was instrumental in placing Kalkan on the map 150 to 200 years ago. As the legend begins, the unnamed lady from the Isle of Meis, the sponge capital of the world, took the initiative and arrive in Kalkan with goods from her hometown to sell. She became so successful with her venture, that other entrepreneurs from Meis heard the news of her new found fortune, immediately moved to Kalkan and set up their businesses. The town soon became a small flourishing port filled with a growing population.

Whether this story is fact or not is irrelevant. Today Kalkan is a delight that presents itself with beauty, sunny days and tradition. It is interesting to note though that Kalian’s architectural style closely resembles that of the houses in Meis. You decide when you visit this gem of the Mediterranean.

Makov, Slovakia Gears up for the Winter Season

 It’s beginning to feel a lot like winter every where;  especially in Makov, Slovakia; and that means winter sports time! As the season progresses the winter peaks become tipped with snow early on. You will appreciate Makov, Slovakia. As a small village it is situated 1900 feet above sea level.

A vacation cottage is the perfect solution to enjoy the countryside.

A vacation cottage is the perfect solution to enjoy the countryside.

One of the best hidden secrets is that Makov, Slovakia, located just south of Poland,  is on its way to become a top notched ski designation. For those who wish to ski but may be intimidated by larger mountain regions, this is a perfect place to begin. Makov’s skiing aspirations as a world class winter wonderland makes perfect sense. Here you will find snow-white blankets gradually rolling down mountainous swells creating a playground for winter sports for the novice and more experienced skier alike.

The ski slopes adheres to easy and medium difficulty and there are several lifts available.  The overall length of the longest run is approximately one mile and is regularly treated.  Most of the slopes are located in the 2000 to 3000 feet range above sea level. The average ski season lasts for 90 days from December thru March, but with the completion of building artificial snow guns, the season may last longer; well into April.

Cross-country skiing paths follow the ridge of the surrounding hills in the heart of the Kysuce Nature Reserve. What better way to be introduced to the most popular winter sport than in the country side of Makov, Slovakia?

Makov and the entire Zilina region are destined to become the most important centers of winter and summer tourism in Slovakia. Located in a pleasant and quiet environment by residing in a modern vacation rental sleeping eight, everyone in your group can have the opportunity learn to ski. Or if you are planning  to visit during the summer, take a dip in your private swimming pool or nature walks through the great raw beauty right outside your cottage. With a vacation rental you will experience first hand the potential Makov offers along with  its wonderful people.

There are several restaurants and shops available in the small village of Makov. If you are seeking  for some historical and cultural quality time away from the slopes and countryside, you will not be disappointed.

The nearby city of Bytca is only just 15 miles away and will appease your wanderlust. Its abundant historic and cultural monuments make for a very attractive day trip. The town features a manor house from the 13th century. It was rebuilt as a Renaissance castle in the 16th century featuring four buildings.  It is one of the few Renaissance manor houses in Slovakia, free from any alterations and has kept its original appearance.

Countryside, skiing, a vacation rental are yours in Makov, Slovakia

Countryside, skiing, a vacation rental are yours in Makov, Slovakia

Another village, Cadca, offers a festival in the summer of spiritual songs. Known as Magnificat, you can find the festivities outside the 18th century Baroque St. Bartholomew church.

The surroundings of Makov appear as though they were made for Renaissance dreams, country living and fairy tales. Groups of young adults, singles, couples and families with children, who desire to experience the atmosphere of outdoor life, are discovering that Makov adds up to the beauty and tranquil surroundings. It is possible for hiking trips in the mountain ranges during most seasons. But do not write off winter, as you take advantage of the snow and learn to ski.

Take a Bath in Virgin Gorda!

Along the south coast of the enchanting Caribbean Island of Virgin Gorda, a unique personality is in full view to visitors, known as the Baths. It is now a part of the designated National Park, which contains an awesome natural phenomenon and introduces the Caribbean perfection at its best.

The Baths are actually named for huge black granite boulders that tumbled down from the hillside onto the shore and into the sea. Originally they are the remnants of volcanic activity; whereas, successive volcanic eruptions caused the boulders to break up into smaller pieces.  In time, erosion from the sea, wind and occasional storms carved them into the fanciful forms that will stimulate the imagination. Some of the boulders are as wide and tall as 40 feet.

A little slice of paradise is waiting for you in Virgin Gorda.

A vacation villa affords you independence.

A vacation villa affords you independence.

Although Virgin Gorda is an easy day trip by ferry from neighboring islands, you deserve a more intimate and leisurely visit in a fabulous vacation rental retreat. Spend at least a few days here and enjoy the Baths and beaches without the crowds when the day-trippers sail away.

And after your departure from the Baths National Park, relax in the Sugar Mill Villa; a wonderful and fully equiped two bedroom with vistas of tropical gardens set among the natural terrain and and added bonus of panoramic water views of Virgin Gorda and neighboring islands. You have all the amenities of a luxurious home and more; the views worth a million.

It’s so fantastic to climb around in the maze formed by these bizarre boulders; you won’t want to hurry along. The boulders have formed scenic grottos, tunnels and mysterious warm pools formulated an opening to the sea. A cave with a sand bottom pool is in one area and is probably the most photographed cave in the world!

With such imperial presence, take note not to leave that disposable underwater camera and snorkeling gear behind.

You may never wish to leave Virgin Gorda

You may never wish to leave Virgin Gorda

The Baths National Park has a sister park on the east end of Virgin Gorda.  Spring Bay National Park also has granite boulders jutting out of the sea. The difference between Spring Bay and The Baths is that there are more fine sand beaches and areas to lounge on and soak up the rays here.

The Crawl is the highlight in the bright Spring Bay.  It has its own reef and tropical fish in its pool making it perfect for the wee ones to participate in discovering the underwater environment with safe snorkeling.

Allow the beauty of Virgin Gorda and its charm seduces you. Your villa by way of a vacation rental alone will do that.

Sestriere: Ski Italy, Watch the Giro d’Italia

Sestriere is legendary for skiing, especially if there’s lots of snow like this year. The Winter Olympics in Torino featured Sestriere prominently.

Sestriere Vacation Rental - Olimpic Village

Sestriere Vacation Rental - Olympic Village

This year there’s yet another reason to rent a place in Sestiere. The 100th running of the Giro d’Italian bicycle race will pass by here on May 19th. The stage is a doozy, and is expected to feature Lance Armstrong trying to come back after a three year absence from the sport of cycling.

Why would you stay in Sestriere instead of anywhere else along the route? Well, Sestriere is on the stage that goes from Cuneo up through five mountain passes in the French Alps, then comes down to Pinerolo via Sestriere. Its a rerunning of the famous 250km stage of the 1949 Giro d’Italia in which Fausto Coppi beat Gino Bartali, a stage so legendary that there’s a book written about it.

Shoot, you could stay in the Olympic Village, you know. That’s it on the left. How many folks can say they’ve stayed in the Olympic Village and watched the Centenary Giro d’Italia?

St. Thomas, U.S.Virgin Island is Calling You!

With only 33 square miles in size, enjoy the fantasy of island life in St. Thomas, whether under water, in the air or on land. The style set on this island has no limits and is calling you to partake. Transport yourself where time slows down to match to the beat of the soothing rhythm of swaying palms and picturesque turquoise waters caressing pastel sand.

A Vacation Rental Overlooking Magens Bay

A Vacation Rental Overlooking Magens Bay

Open your eyes and feast upon Magens Bay in St. Thomas. National Geographic and many major travel authorities have listed Magens Bay as one of the top ten beaches in the world.  It has been imaged as one of the most beautiful sites in the world and should not be missed. 

Better yet, a villa vacation rental will assure you that view everyday during your stay. No need leave anyone behind as this luxurious three bedroom Villa Gardenia sleeps six comfortably. With such soothing surroundings, reassure yourself to leave the premises and enjoy what St. Thomas can offer. ´

Beyond Magens Bay, The Nature Conservancy oversees a 300 acre preserve. Put on your walking shoes and follow the trail that takes you through the tropical forest and mangroves in the preserve. The scenic botanical gardens are perched 1,000 feet above sea level and with another trail heads down towards the beach.

Spend a day in the signature Caribbean waters both above and below at Coral World Ocean Park. This is not the run of mill aquarium. You have a choice of staying dry while viewing marine life in their Undersea Observatory 15 feet below the water’s surface. Your other option is Coral World’s “moon walking,” in which you wear an underwater helmet reminisce of “Flash Gordon” for a actual visit in the reef with a guide.

Board the high-tech Atlantis Submarine and be a passenger exploring the depths of the Caribbean’s fauna and inhabitants. If a sub is too confining for you, this world renowned corporation also offers catamaran snorkel sailings, so you won´t miss a thing under the sea.

Live the life of luxury in St. Thomas

Live the life of luxury in St. Thomas

Aerial cable cars are not just in ski resorts. St. Thomas provides one carrying twenty four passengers and is known as the Skyride. Whisking you 700 feet above the town of Charlotte Amalie to Paradise Point is just that; paradise. The harbor view will be embedded in your mind for life for its majestic beauty. Taking a few photos from the observation deck will help, in case you do forget. At the top, stay a while, enjoy a drink and admire the charms of nature.

Hunt for St. Thomas’s Caribbean treasures. There are many more ranging from eco-tours of the mangroves to Bluebeard’s Castle. Plan out which you desire for the next day, while settling back in your vacation rental. Have you answered your call from St. Thomas yet?


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