Holiday & Travel Guide For the Costa Brava, Spain

Beaches

Being the coastal area of Catalonia in Northern Spain, the Costa Brava is not short on beaches that you can take advantage of. Saying that you will be spoilt for choice is not an understatement when you are looking at beaches in this area, but many are teeming with tourists and built up. This is not a bad thing as there are many bars and eateries, as well as watersports and other daytime activities to indulge in, but this does mean that it does not make for a quiet beach holiday, so be prepared for the crowds if you want to come to the Costa Brava. What you can do though is explore the coastline of the region and find some little beaches which are mainly used by the locals or those smart enough to seek them out. 3 particularly good beaches in the area have Blue Flag status: the Aigua Blava, Tamariu and Llanfranc, which means they are as beautiful naturally as they are warm and enjoyable to be on. Also seek out the Plajata de Castell, which is near Palamos, and is not overrun by typical touristy buildings, because of local demand to keep it theirs, helping to retain its beauty. There is plenty to do on the seafront up and down the Costa Brava, so take a walk between all of the beaches and indulge in some fun activities as you go along.

Sightseeing

Consider a trip to the Dali Museum with sculptures and art that will please everyone with their unique style, located in a lovely town called Figueres which is where Dali comes from. While you are there, wander down to the Toy Museum to see over 4000 toys from through the ages, including more from Dali (quite a local celebrity as you can see) and takes you through the development of toys to how they are now in the modern day. If you are not so much a cultural wanderer though, you may want something a bit more thrill seeking than museum visits when you are in the Costa Brava. If you are a fan of water then get yourself to Platja D’Aro and Aqua Diver. The park has bars and restaurants as well as a host of water themed attractions, such as River Rapids and Splash Mountain, which will occupy you for the whole day. If you prefera dry land, the Port Aventura park in Salou is an amazing theme park with attractions for the whole family. Many famous characters, as well as live performers, wander around the park to entertain when you are not busy on the famous rides too, so keep an eye out!

Shopping

Barcelona is not too far from the Costa Brava, so if you want a real shopping experience with shopping centres and a full range of items, then take a trip there. There are lots of local markets and fairs in the Costa Brava though, for local goods and souvenirs, which will be enough to cater for most and allow you to purchase a few souvenirs.

Eating

Typical Spanish seafood dishes will be found on traditional restaurant menus, such as Suquet, a stewed dish. Food from around the world graces the restaurants here, some of which serve Nouvelle Cuisine, Michelin Star style. Ask locals for recommendations, but you are sure to find Spanish dishes everywhere, as well as some typical English fare for those who are less adventurous (or have fussy children!).

Nightlife

Lloret is the main partying town on the Costa Brava, with 25 clubs. But there are many nightclubs, pubs and bars up and down the length of the region. Blanes is a good area for nightlife for those with families, with Spanish music playing and a relaxed atmosphere. There is also a fair here at the end of July, which brings people to the streets. There are many forms of evening entertainment in the region, from jazz bars to traditional Spanish music, to clubbing, so make sure you get around and try and take as much in as you can.

Happy Holidays

Your Holiday Wellness Guide – The Top 7

It’s that time of the year again – holiday season! Next week, many of us will begin a dizzying six weeks of traveling, eating, partying, spending, and being with family. It can be a lot to handle, even for the most balanced and prepared individuals.

Often, by the time the New Year emerges, you can feel drained, exhausted, bloated, and ready to hide out from your friends and family for a while. That’s not the best way to start the new year!

I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to you this holiday season, and you start 2010 with clarity, vitality, and balance. Here are my top seven tips for thriving and enjoying yourself between now and the end of the year (and beyond!):

1. Make time for yourself. It’s so easy to get lost in the sea of activity of family, traveling, cooking, etc.. If you have the tendency to forget about making time for yourself, now is a great time to start. Even just by giving yourself 15-30 minutes a day (of course, even longer is better), you’ll find you feel more calm, centered, nourished and able to face the day, or those pesky relatives that are coming over for a holiday dinner.

Some of my favorite ways to make time for myself are to: journal, sit down with nothing to do but drink a warm cup of tea, take a walk, take a catnap, call a friend who will make me laugh, stretch, and get a manicure.

2. Remember to breathe. When we are rushing around with lots to do, it’s very easy to simply forget about our breath. Using your breath consciously is a wonderful way to bring you back to center, to ground yourself, to calm yourself, and to slow down your speedy rhythm.

You can remember your breath at any time: in the middle of holiday shopping, while having a conversation with a family member, at a party. Simply take five seconds to consciously bring the oxygen into your body and consciously cleanse through the exhale. Those five seconds can make a big difference in your afternoon.

3. Set realistic boundaries around eating that don’t feel restrictive. Let’s just be upfront and honest – you will most likely eat some things over the holidays you don’t normally eat, or that don’t fit into your ideal eating habits. Instead of fighting against this fact, my suggestion is you cut yourself some slack and be realistic with yourself. Perhaps it’s okay to allow yourself dessert, but your boundary is you know there is no way you’ll go back for a second helping. Or, perhaps, you allow yourself to eat whatever you want on a holiday dinner, but plan beforehand a cleansing diet for the following day.

Let yourself enjoy the holiday and all the scrumptious food it can bring…just make sure you set limits and boundaries for yourself that will allow you to feel good while enjoying it all.

4. Give thanks. After all, it IS that time of year, right? It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the holiday details you actually forget about acknowledging all of the wonderful things in your life for which you are grateful. My suggestion is you take 20-30 minutes over Thanksgiving weekend and make a list of all the things in your life and this past year you appreciate and are truly grateful for. Keep that list nearby throughout the holiday season, and refer to it when things start to feel overwhelming.

5. Get your sleep. Studies show when you are missing out on sleep, you begin to operate out of reserve energy and wear down your adrenals. As a busy woman, you’ve got lots to do – so make sure you rest in order to be able to move through the important stuff with calmness and ease. In the wintertime, when the night hours are actually longer than the day hours, it’s the perfect invitation from Mother Earth to spend a little more time in bed…and a little less time rushing around!

6. Create time for authentic connection. So many people to see, so many things to do! That seems like a mantra for so many of us during the holidays. Yet, how often do you make time among all of the socializing to truly connect with your loved ones? To have a heart-to-heart conversation instead of a quick and surface level exchange? The more authentically connected you are to others, the more love and support you will feel in your life.

7. Travel Smart. If you are traveling this holiday season, take precautions to stay as healthy as possible: drink lots of water before, during and after your flight; get a good night’s sleep before you fly; make sure you wash your hands to fight off any bugs trapped in the plane; and take supplements appropriate for you – some of my personal favorites are a good multi-vitamin and plenty of extra Vitamin C.

Overall, what’s most important this holiday season is that you be gentle with yourself and those around you. Remember, it is a wonderful yet stressful time of year, and the more you can prepare yourself – both inside and out – the more successfully you’ll move through all of it. Enjoy!

Holiday & Travel Guide For Auckland, New Zealand

Sightseeing

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and very popular with tourists, it truly is amazing and there are plenty of things to do in and around this city, so there is something to suit every traveller. If you want to get your adrenalin pumping then there are quite a few activities to do this; how about sky jumping for example? Get strapped up and free jump from one of the largest buildings, the Sky Tower. If this is a little too daring then there are plenty of bungy jumping experiences to wean you into the sky jumping. For those of you who enjoy activities a little less thrilling, then you have more than enough excursions to fill your criteria, from beautiful botanical gardens to fascinating aquariums, along with whale and dolphin safaris.

If history is more your thing then you will not be short of sights to see; the city has an excellent museum. You could then visit Howick Historical Village with the wonderful Maori buildings housing many historical artefacts from the area. There is also a Maori guided tour, with the guides telling you all the ancient stories about these historical tribes. There is so much to do that you will need more than a month there to see it all. If you are a nature lover and don’t mind a 90km cruise or a flight out to Great Barrier Island to explore this untouched paradise, then you will be truly amazed with the marine and bird life and the native forests. There are endless places for you to explore in New Zealand and there is a wealth of water sport readily available too.

Beaches

The closest beaches to Auckland are the east coast beaches, with beautiful clean sand beaches and perfect waters for water sports and swimming. If you want a more rugged ocean for surfing, then the west coast beaches are for you. All of Auckland’s beaches are within an hour or so from the city, and with around a 100 of them you’re sure to find one you like.

Shopping

You won’t leave Auckland without purchasing something, whether it is for you or as a gift for someone else. There are many department stores and up market classy designer shops, selling fashion clothing, home wares, jewellery and much more. There are open markets selling tourist souvenirs like arts and crafts and traditionally handmade carvings, whatever your budget there is something for you. In the down town areas of the city, you will find plenty of duty free shopping too.

Eating

Auckland has a variety of cafes and restaurants, selling international cuisines to suit your taste, with sea food being a popular variety of dish. You will find most of the restaurants have a menu to suit your needs.

Nightlife

There is plenty of nightlife in and around the city, but the waterfront is where you will find the more classy venues and bars. You won’t be short of evening entertainment in this cosmopolitan city with a choice of theatre performances and comedy shows, to flashy casinos and trendy bars.

Happy Holidays

Holiday & Travel Guide For Mexico City

Mexico City is a fabulous city to visit and one of the largest in the world, full of wonderful sights and sounds. In this bustling city you will not be short of places to explore, with the amazing historical sites and famous landmarks. Visit the city’s public square that is the second largest in the world next to Moscow Red Square, where many festivals are held throughout the year. The magnificent National Cathedral stands just outside the city, but like many of the historical sites in Mexico it is sinking into the ground. The National Anthropology Museum is a great day out for the family, there is so much to see, from Aztec relics to Mesoamerican artefacts, you will need a full day to see everything. Climb over the Pyramids of The City Of God, then after an exhausting few days exploring the magnificent sites take a relaxing but colourful boat ride down the canals amongst the Hanging Gardens. With their vibrant colours and exotic flowers they are a must see for flower lovers, who can also purchase some along the way.

Eating

Eating is quite an experience in Mexico, the most popular foods being Tacos or Tortillas that are filled with spicy fish, meat or vegetables. The most tasty food is found on the street vendors carts; if you would like something a bit more international though, you will find a variety of dishes being served in larger restaurants. Not forgetting those on a family budget, there are a few places where fast food can be purchased, but do as the locals do and have a Tortilla: experience the taste of Mexico.

Beaches

Mexico City doesn’t have any beaches, but you can travel to Acapulco with its wonderful beaches like Condesa beach, set in a bay with white sands and clear water. There are many water sports available, from Deep Sea Diving to Jet Skiing, or you could horse ride along the beach and then relax in the baking sun along a stretch of beach that is close to all amenities and entertainment. Bear in mind that there are no life guards along the beach though and the current can be quite strong, so you need to keep a good eye on your children. You will also find a lot of vendors frequently harassing you, so if you want somewhere quieter try Icacos beach, you can also do some Para-gliding along this stretch of sand. There are loads of activities, like the family fun at the Water Park or swimming with Dolphins, that you can enjoy in the region. If you have the budget, why not fly over the city and beaches in a Hot Air Balloon? If you fancy something more daring they have Bungee Jumping, but it can be quite expensive, for a cheaper thrill you could instead watch the cliff divers. There is plenty do on the sun soaked beaches of Mexico.

Nightlife

You may be too exhausted from the day time activities to experience the vibrant nightlife of Mexico City, but you could relax with a fantastic night of entertainment ranging from the opera to the thrills of the circus. Once you’re in relaxing Acapulco though you can hit the amazing nightlife; from all night loud and crazy nightclubs to open air bars and the glitzy Casino that also houses a restaurant and a cinema for you to settle down and watch a movie with the family.

Happy Holidays

Holiday & Travel Guide For the Costa Del Sol, Spain

Beaches

The Costa del Sol or the “Coast of the Sun” is located in the southern region of Spain, running along the coast of the province of Malaga. The Costa del Sol stretches for a few hundred kilometres bordering the Mediterranean Sea, being situated opposite the most northern coast of Africa. The Costa del Sol includes many of Spain’s top beach resorts including Torremolinos, Marbella, Gibraltar and of course one of Spain’s most prolific cities, Malaga. As the Costa del Sol borders on the Mediterranean Sea, this means that the waters are a clear azure blue and the sands consist of a fine white texture, making these some of the world’s finest, and host to activities such as glass bottom boats, fishing, diving and swimming. If you are more of a relaxing holiday maker then there is always the option to take it easy and lay back on the clear white sand and just watch the world go by, whilst the children entertain themselves. All of the beaches found on the Costa del Sol are guaranteed to be child friendly and all of the resorts which are based on the coast have brilliant facilities in order to cater for even the most active of children.

Sightseeing

The Costa del Sol is comprised of some of the most popular destinations for British holiday makers, meaning that there is no shortage of things for people to do and include in their holiday snaps. One of the main attractions about the Costa del Sol is simply the climate, with temperatures which barely reach lower than 20?C, this is one of those destinations perfect for getting or topping up your summer tan. The Costa del Sol overall is a beautiful place, with the rocky mountains of the Spanish hills slowly melting down into towns and cities based all along the coast, with clean beaches and the breath taking blue of the sea. It is an amazing place to just go and get lost in the beautiful architecture surrounding all of the small markets and small harbours. Unique attractions in the area include the “Rock of Gibraltar”, which has breath taking views and which is also home to the mischievous monkeys. This is a tourist attraction which is definitely family friendly, as children always love seeing the antics which the monkeys get up to. Seeing them walk beside you really is an experience which should not be missed out on. In contrast to the Rock of Gibraltar, there is the Alhambra Palace found in Granada, a place mainly for an adult audience as it is a city with a lot of history. Surrounded by the Nevada mountain range, the Palace is an amazing show of architecture and simply a beautiful place, it is one of those places which just cannot be visited only once. There are also safari parks, sea life centres and water parks up and down the resort, ready for families to go and have fun at.

Shopping

The main place to shop in the Costa del Sol would be Malaga, with not only conventional shops but also tourist attractions too, with loads of fabulous architecture dotted around everywhere while you shop. Marbella’s Golden Mile is perfect for boutique shopping, or you can even take a ride over to Morocco for the famous markets if you wish if you do not find enough at the local markets packed with handmade goods.

Eating

Being based in Spain the Costa del Sol boasts good places to eat literally everywhere, from tapas and traditional Spanish fare, to international dishes for those who are a little less daring.

Nightlife

Again being Spain, the night-life is everywhere, with lots of bars open into the early morning guaranteed to satisfy even the biggest ravers. Check out Malaga for partying and look around for casinos, bars and pubs everywhere else, to make sure you are occupied every evening.

Happy Holidays