Author Archive | A Week at the Beach

a Greek town on the Mediterranean

3 Mediterranean Summer Islands You Won’t Want to Miss

Dreaming of Mediterranean summer islands? So are we. And as we quickly approach summer again, it’s time for you to start planning your vacations. Some of you may have been lucky enough to take a winter break, but for many it’s the summer we look forward to most. It’s the time we can enjoy the best of the warm weather, explore the outdoors or simply lounge by the pool or beach with a drink in your hand.

Choosing the right place for you can take a little time and we thought it might be helpful for us to narrow down your search a bit. This time, we’ve decided to focus on the young-at-heart among you who also like to lounge by the beach and pool. Each of these Mediterranean summer islands will give you good weather and good summer vibes. We’ll focus on two Spanish islands and a Greek island to discuss—all of which you’ve most definitely heard of before. It goes without saying that these popular destinations as the ideal location for many travelers.

Here are our favorite Mediterranean summer islands:

Pool at a resort on the Mediterranean Island of Ibiza

Ibiza:
We understand that many people associate this island with super clubs, big crowds and an energetic night life. If this is what you are going for then you already know what to expect. This infamous party island hosts some of the world’s biggest superstar DJs every night during the summer months. But what many fail to see is that the other side of the island offers white sandy beaches, water sport activities and a whole host of nooks and crannies that you can explore when you’re not partying. This island is a perfect mix for both the young and the young at heart, although it is obviously catered for the more energetic crowd.

Woman on the beach in Cap de Ses Salines, Mallorca

Mallorca:
Sometimes seen as the cheaper twin to Ibiza, there is no shortage of things to do in Mallorca. With some companies offering up to 70% off on some of there travel deals, Mallorca is a good choice for those on a tighter budget. Magaluf is the most popular destination on the island because it has countless hotels, villas and apartments for every budget. The nightlife is slightly more subdued, but you can easily find a party or nice sports bar any night of the week. And although the island is rarely explored outside of its major destination hubs, there is plenty to see inland. You can even discover some of the nice trails worth exploring if you’ve had enough of the beach.

Crystal Clear water at Balos Beach in Crete, Greece

Crete:
The last of our Mediterranean summer islands moves from Spain to Greece. Crete is the largest of the Greeks islands and the most popular with visitors. Probably because it offers a huge amount of tourism catering for every taste. Crete has practically everything to offer travelers: beautiful beaches, water sports, and eclectic nightlife and a very well-structured transport network. It’s easy to see why Crete is a perfect summer destination for everybody and every budget! A few weeks here will provide the perfect mix of what a summer holiday is supposed to offer.

 

Whichever island you choose, you can always take time to explore outside of the pool or beach. It’s an added bonus to discover the culture outside of the resort area!

What other destinations are on your summer travel list?

Continue Reading 0
Grapes on the vine in Georgia

Wine not? Take a Wine Tour in Armenia and Georgia

Why take a wine tour in Armenia and Georgia? For starters, the two hospitable countries of the South Caucasus are often called “the cradle of wine-making.”

Archaeological excavations have shown that ancient civilizations started producing wine in these territories all the way back in prehistoric times. So, for Armenians and Georgians, wine is more than just an alcoholic beverage. It’s an important part of the history and culture. And taking a wine tour through a local tour operator can provide a unique look at the life in the South Caucasus.

Not convinced? We’ve put together interesting facts about wine-making in the region.

Here’s why you should take an unforgettable wine tour in Armenia and Georgia:

Why Take a Wine Tour in Armenia

According to the scientists, the wine-making in Armenia has a history of over 6000 years. In ancient times, the grapevine that often adorned the temples of pagan Armenia was seen as a symbol of fertility. After the adoption of Christianity, people began to view the vines as a symbol of a new faith.

Ancient wine-making tools found in the Arenia caves of Armenia

In more recent history, archaeologists have found many unique artifacts in the caves of the Areni village. One of these finds is the winepress for grapes and jars where the wine was stored. Dating back to around 6000 B.C., this discovery proves that this winery was the first in the world. And because of the cave’s microclimate, scientists have also found several grape seeds that were preserved in perfect condition!

The site of these marvels, in Areni village, is usually where the wine tour in Armenia kicks off. During the Fall harvest season, the village comes to life through an annual wine festival. The festival begins in the morning and lasts until late at night. Giving you plenty of time to taste young, homemade wines as well as famous varieties from local producers! And you won’t want to miss the official grape-crushing ceremony. The display of huge barrels opens the festival, where guests can enjoy traditional Armenian music and dances.

Traditional grape-crushing at the opening of the annual wine festival in Areni, Armenia

Another center of wine-making, and an interesting destination for a wine tour in Armenia, is Ijevan. This region is special because it can grow rare grape varieties for local wines like Pinot Noir, Aligoté, Rkatsiteli and Cabernet. And on a wine tour around Ijevan, you can taste some of the best wines in the cellars of the factory.

Perhaps the best way to end the wine tour in Armenia is with an excursion to Noy, the Yerevan Wine Factory. Located in a 17th-century fortress, there are long underground tunnels and cellars with oak barrels of cognac and wine. Plus a tasting room where you can try the best Noy wine and cognac. But don’t leave without walking along Saryan St., Yerevan, where you’ll find the best wine bars the city has to offer.

Next up: Why Take  a Wine Tour in Georgia

Like in Armenia, wine-making began in Georgia more than 8,000 years ago.

And archaeologists in this region have also found evidence of ancient wine-making, particularly qvevri jugs. These vessels preserved the remains of grapes and seeds. Lucky for us, the ancient tradition of wine-making in qvevri jugs has survived to this day. During the process, the jugs are buried underground and stored at a stable temperature of 12-15 degrees. This unique way of storing and aging the wine helps to retain the entire bouquet of aroma.

Ancient qvevri jugs used to make wine in Georgia

The best way to start a wine tour in Georgia is at the capital of Tbilisi. At almost every step, you’ll see shops with Georgian wines, wine bars and homemade wine sold on the streets. If you ask us, a couple worth visiting include the Mukuzani shop and winery (Cote Abkhazi Str. 27/15), Wine Gallery (Vinamdzgrishvili Avenue 39), and Tbilvino winery (Sarajishvili Avenue 2).

Wine-making is everywhere in the Kakheti province. This amazing region is known for the picturesque Alazani Valley, ancient wine cellars, and the best Saperavi wine. Saperavi is considered one of the best local wines thanks to the fertile soil in the valley, the perfect climate, and unique growing technology. Needless to say, the Kakheti region should be on the must-visit list for your wine tour.

A wine-maker collecting grapes in the Kakheti province of Georgia

Another must-see is the Khareba wine factory. It’s the most popular factory in Kakheti and throughout Georgia. Located the town of Kvareli, the factory still uses ancient traditions of wine-making alongside new equipment and technology. The oak jars with wine are kept in deep tunnels of the factory, making the Khareba’s cellars and tunnels a popular attraction for tourists.

And if you’re looking to stay on a vineyard property, look no further than the Chateau Mere in Telavi. The Chateau is a small, cozy hotel built in an old castle, where they produce their own wine. Here, you can combine a pleasant holiday with a unique wine-making experience and a lovely view of the Alazani valley.

As if you need another reason to take a wine tour in Armenia or Georgia.

Continue Reading 0
Yoga on the beach

The Best Yoga Accessories for a Better Practice

Leggings and a yoga mat: That’s all you need to do yoga, right? While that technically isn’t wrong, it’s not totally right either. You can definitely get your yoga on with some stretchy/comfy pants and a mat, but if you really want to commit to and grow your practice, there are a few additional yoga accessories you should consider adding to your toolkit.

The 4 Best Yoga Accessories for Improving Your Practice:

Yoga Mat

1. Find the best yoga mat for you
Let’s start with the obvious: your yoga mat. You can find a mat for all types of practices on any budget. There are mats specifically for hot yoga, mats for taller people, and mats with a little or a lot of cushion.

I have personally tried several different brands and the best yoga mat I have found is my Yoga Design Lab yoga mat! It’s beautiful, vibrant, and makes me happy when I roll it out. It’s also great for hot classes and preventing slipping in general. (Side note: if you like hot classes, you may want to consider getting a towel to spare your mat some sweat!) But for me this one has great grip and just the right amount of cushion.

I have the studio version and I find it to be a great weight to throw over my shoulder (it helps if you have a strap for this) when I head out to class while still being supportive and soft under my body. If you want a smaller, even lighter option, you could try the commuter version! This is easily one of the best yoga accessories to invest in!

2. Get good yoga blocks for support
After you lock down a mat you love, you can move onto (in my opinion) the next most important yoga accessories to support your physical practice: yoga blocks and a strap. These props are key to a solid, aligned, and safe yoga practice. In my classes I notice a lot of people resist using props because they think it makes them look like a beginner.

I promise, it doesn’t. I have been practicing yoga for more than 10 years and I still use blocks and a strap every time I step on my mat. Rounding your back because the ground is too far away, or straining your shoulders because you cannot properly bind your hands behind your back isn’t only not cool, it’s not good for your alignment. Think of these props as your friends and know that by using them you’re doing your body and your practice a favor.

No need to go crazy and spend tons of money on these puppies, though. This combo package from Gaiam has both yoga blocks and a strap at a reasonable price. Or, if you’re looking for something a little more advanced, consider getting a yoga wheel.

books on yoga

3. Deepen your practice with books on yoga
Remember that yoga isn’t just a physical practice! If you’re interested in yoga beyond asana (postures) and want to explore the philosophy behind it, I encourage you to read. Read lots of books about yoga asana, meditation, spirituality, and anything else that interests you about the world of yoga.

One of the first books I read about yoga and the yoga lifestyle was “Happy Yoga” by Steve Ross. I love this book because it breaks things down in a simple way. It taught me how to take my practice off my mat and into my life. Ross makes it entertaining and fun by keeping things pretty light and sometimes silly, but also weaving in yogic stories and philosophies. There are also postures at the end of each chapter to help incorporate what you have read into your physical practice. This book also helped me make the decision to become a vegetarian, so be warned and encouraged!

Another great yoga book is B. K. S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga”. This one is a little heavier and has more in-depth explanations on yoga philosophy. It’s a great resource if you’re ready to deepen your understanding of yoga, yoga asana, and pranayama (breath). Fair warning with this book: Iyengar can do insane things with his body. It’s important to remember that he practiced his whole life and can only achieve these expressions of the postures because of time and practice.

For more personal, spiritual aspirations, I’d also recommend “Adventures for Your Soul” by Shannon Kaiser. This book helped me through a time of transition and connected me more deeply to my soul and my purpose in life. You can easily pick it up, read a chapter, do the work associated with that chapter, and then set it down for another time. Get yourself a journal dedicated to this book as you will need to do some writing and brainstorming throughout. Kaiser’s writing is entertaining and her story is easy to connect with. There are so many awesome self-help style books out there, and this one is definitely worth adding to your collection.

Yoga Meditation

4. Raise your vibration with a meditation cushion
Lastly, if you are looking to venture into the land of meditation, a good meditation cushion is a great thing to add to your arsenal of yoga accessories. One option is to get a bolster, which you can use for your physical practice, too. But I find that having a dedicated prop used only for meditation helps me actually meditate because it feels special and sacred.

My personal favorite is this meditation cushion by Peace Yoga. You can adjust the cushioning by changing up the amount of buckwheat inside. It also helps to make yourself a little space, even a corner of your bedroom or living room, where your meditation cushion lives. Let that be the space you can come back to each day, to be quiet and still, and tune into yourself.

Wherever you are in your practice, these are all great yoga accessories to develop a solid, educated, aligned, and connected practice. Call it the basic starter kit, if you will, but it’s great for advanced yogis too! Enjoy your new props, books, and anything else you decide to add– and congrats on starting or deepening your practice!

 


 

About the Author: Tacy Nielson is a Yoga Instructor and Reiki healer who is passionate about holistic healing, traveling and living life to the fullest. She was born and raised in Minnesota and is now enjoying life in Minneapolis after studying massage therapy in San Diego. Read more from Tacy here.

Continue Reading 0
Tampa Bay beaches

Tampa Bay’s Best Beaches

Florida is known as the Sunshine State, and for good reason. But the best way to soak in those rays is on one of the world-class beaches that line the shore along the Gulf Coast. Millions visit Florida annually, the majority of them looking for vacation property to rent, to buy or even deciding to sell timeshare property so they can stay as close to the beach as possible.

For those sun worshipers, there is really only one region in Florida to consider- the beaches of the Tampa Bay area.

Award-Winning Tampa Bay Beaches

Home to spectacular beach destinations such as Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach and Treasure Island, this 35 mile stretch of sand is continually highlighted by such leading outlets as TripAdvisor and USA Today. In fact, TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards named St. Pete Beach number 3 and Clearwater Beach number 4 as the best beaches in the entire United States.

The sugary white sand and warm Gulf waters combine for a wonderful beach experience. Accommodations range from holiday home rentals to 4-star resorts from major brands such as Hilton and Wyndham. There is just about every type of hotel and motel in-between, certainly enough options to fit anyone’s budget.

While these are the primary attractions, there are some beach spots in the area that are not as well known, but just as impressive.

Pass-A-Grille Beach

With history going back to the beginning of the 1900s, this charming locale is a taste of old Florida in the shadows of the legendary Don Cesar Hotel. Located at the southern tip of the St. Pete Beach coastline, you won’t find any high-rise hotels but plenty of hospitality, restaurants, shops and traditional holiday units that harken back to a more laid-back time.

Pass a Grille Beach Tampa Bay Beach

The sunsets are breathtaking and can be seen from anywhere along this strip. Some prefer to watch from the beach, others from the comfort of their holiday unit, and still others from the bars and restaurants that line the location.

Fort De Soto Park

Honored as Parents Magazine’s top beach in the U.S., the North Beach at this historic site is perfect for families with children. Protected by a sandbar which creates a lagoon-like swimming option, this spot can combine a terrific beach experience with a history lesson as this fort was originally built for the Spanish-American war.

Tampa Bay Beaches

Fort De Soto Park

Campsites provide options for tents and RVs, and there are food and beverage concessions plus canoe and kayak rentals.

For those traveling with their favorite four-legged family members, Fort De Soto Park offers a dog beach on the southern side of the park which looks out onto the entrance to Tampa Bay. While the park provides a great natural beach location, there is not much shade so you will want to bring your own umbrella, tent or beach canopy. Dogs must be on a leash but there is a separate fenced dog park area where they can run free.

Continue Reading 0
Timeshare in Cancun

A Guide to Timeshares in Cancun

If you want to go all out on your next trip to Cancun, but want to avoid going into serious debt, timeshares in Cancun make for a fantastic, high-end vacation experience. With a Cancun timeshare, you’ll discover luxurious amenities and accommodations that can’t be beat. Rather than paying to stay in a cramped hotel room, timeshare suites will give you all of the comforts of home like multiple bedrooms, full kitchens, living rooms, dining tables, and spacious bathrooms. You’ll also find many units offer additional luxury features such as whirlpool tubs and private balconies with ocean views.

Timeshare in Cancun-Aqua

Not only do timeshare resorts provide top-notch accommodations, but you also get to indulge in all the resort amenities offered right on-site. Palace Resorts at Moon Palace, for instance, offers an impressive lineup of activities and services for all ages and interests. This includes nine outdoor pools, a full-service spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and nightly entertainment. All-inclusive packages make it easy to enjoy the wealth of restaurants and bars without stressing over the tab. Nearby, you’ll find an array of exciting attractions from Xoxomilco the unique floating fiesta to the Croco Cun Zoo, there’s sure to be something for everyone in your party to enjoy just a hop, skip, and a jump away.

Another top Cancun timeshare resort is Sunset Royal, offering its own slew of great features. The property has a packed activity schedule with things like beach volleyball, dance, cooking, scuba diving lessons, and happy hours. You can also indulge in high-end spa treatments, dine on the beach, work out in the fitness center, or relax by the pools. If you decide to venture off resort grounds, you’ll find that the Sunset Royal is situated in a prime location. Enjoy dancing the night away at the world-famous Coco Bongo located only a few steps down the road. If culinary adventures are more your style, the delectable seafood restaurant Lorenzillo’s is also located nearby, and offers some of the freshest seafood in Mexico.

Timeshares in Cancun room with view

For years the only way to stay in a timeshare was to either buy one, or be forced to sit through a 2- 3 hour timeshare presentation. Nowadays there are online timeshare marketplaces which offer timeshares for sale and rent by private owners. This gives you the chance to get a Cancun timeshare at a fraction of the retail cost. If you’ve never stayed in a timeshare, we recommend you book a Cancun timeshare rental so you’re able to try it out and save hundreds off resort pricing.

Cancun offers miles of beautiful, white sand beaches and warm ocean water. Families can plan a perfect beach getaway that meets their unique needs while staying on budget by booking timeshares in Cancun.

Continue Reading 0