Category Archive: The Americas

Should You Travel to Mexico?

Current events can lead us into thinking that the world is not a safe place to travel, and whenever that happens, it makes me very sad.  For some time now, travel to Mexico has been on the wane.  For awhile it was fear of the swine flu, then fear of rampant drug activity, and now fear of the potential for violence.  If you think about all of that superficially, instead of burrowing a little deeper into the information, you may be tempted to stay home.  And that would be a big mistake. Let’s look a little deeper into the issue of visiting Mexico: There are problems EVERYWHERE in the world.  Of course you’re going to hear about crime in Mexico.  You’re also going to hear about it in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Washington DC – some of the most frequently visited cities in the […]

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Family Fun at the Royal Ontario Museum

  Museum lovers who visit Toronto will want to get their history and culture fix at the Royal Ontario Museum with its engaging galleries of art, archaeology, and natural science from around the world.  With over 40 galleries spread out over four floors, the museums is just one more reasons that a visit to Ontario will be both educational, culturally enriching, and fun. The Royal Ontario Museum is a great destination for families, with lots of kid friendly exhibits.  Some exhibits that kids might enjoy include: The current exhibit, Water! The Exhibition, has been a big hit with 17 interactive hands-on activities.  Where there’s water there’s usually fun, and this exhibit uses real water along with immersive displays, natural artifacts, videos and animals to explain why water is important to Canada and the world. ROM Live! has been a big […]

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Celebrate Crop Over on Barbados

It might seem like just a summer long party, but the Barbados Crop Over summer festival has serious roots dating back to the 1700’s.  The festival was originally a celebration of the end of the sugar cane harvest — at a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar.  Gradually, as the sugar production declined on the island so, too, did the Crop Over festival, but was then revived in the 1970’s as a summer long festival.  Visitors from around the world head off to Bridgeport for a Barbados holiday to celebrate and enjoy the second largest party in the Caribbean.  The main festivities occur in July, but are bookended by other activities, making it a festive island to be on all summer long. Here are a few activities that may tempt you: Ceremonial Delivery of the Last […]

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Flavors of Peru

Food, glorious food — It’s one of the many things that I enjoy about traveling!  Visiting a new country or region often means discovering a new food, spice, or other dishes.  Sometimes those discoveries are not something I’d want to try again, but fortunately, more often it’s a tasty delight that I long for once I’ve returned home. If you’ve discovered food that you love while on your Peru holidays, take some time to look around your neighborhood – you may be surprised to find a Peruvian restaurant or store located nearby.  While you may not be able to re-create the experience at home, you can rekindle your love affair with the cuisine of this South American country.  Fair warning – If you fell in love with the food while visiting Peru, this post may have you drooling to go […]

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Shopping in Tonalá, Mexico

Tonalá is a city of around 350,000 located near Guadalajara, in central Mexico.  The city is well known for its ceramics, glass, and other native arts and crafts, and you can see them all and the city’s open air markets held on Thursday and Sunday. Market days will find the neighborhoods full of goods displayed on the sidewalks, and often spilling out into the streets.  Ceramics, pottery, glassware, and papier mâché items are all good buys.  Bring cash for your shopping in the market.  Bring pesos, as most stalls will not take US currency. If you know a little Spanish it will come in handy.  Although many locals do speak a little English, there is some bargaining involved at the market, and it may very well take a combination of  Spanish, English, and some gestures, to make yourself understood.  If […]

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Adventure & Luxury in the Galapagos

Adventure travel doesn’t have to mean roughing it, and there’s probably no better example than  Galapagos cruises, which mash up education, adventure, and luxury into vacations of a lifetime. The Galapagos Islands are located about 525 miles west of and are a volcanic archipelago hovering around the equator.  The islands are home to a national park, a whale sanctuary, and biological marine reserve, and are a part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The Galapagos are home to about 23,000 people and far more wildlife species. There are 18 main islands offering a variety of experiences and leisure activity:  swimming, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and explore.  This is also an amazing spot for photographers with postcard-perfect island scenes as well as unique native life.  But a visit to the islands also offers far greater opportunities for viewing wildlife, flora and fauna, […]

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10 Things to Do in the Dominican Republic

As much as I might try to ignore it, here in Seattle the weather is starting to feel more like fall than summer.  Seattle usually has great Indian summer weather, but once we hit winter it’s definitely the time to start thinking about getting out of town.  If your get-out-of-town preference leans toward the island sun and sand, give a thought to heading east (instead of west) and visit the islands in the Caribbean. While much of the news of the recent past has surrounded the post-hurricane plight of Haiti, the other side of that same island (Hispaniola) remains a beautiful, unspoiled tropical paradise and is home to the Dominican Republic.  That’s right, Hispaniola is two countries on one island, and while travelers may not be as familiar with the Dominican Republic as they are with Haiti, it is the […]

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Karne Garibaldi: Good Food Fast in Guadalajara, Mexico

Fast food can be good food, and Karne Garibaldi (website is in Spanish) in Guadalajara, Mexico proves the point over and over again.  Whenever I’m in Guadalajara, you can bank on my having at least one meal at this casual restaurant whose claim to fame is the Guinness Book of Records (1996) entry for the fastest service.  They set the record at 13 1/2 seconds for a table of six. The service is so fast that before you’re even seated a group of waiters will arrive at your table bringing you appetizers to get started.  It’s a plate for of fresh, warm tortillas, served along with delicious grilled onions, refried beans with bits of corn in it (this Karne Garibaldi specialty is available for purchase by the can), and other condiments (chopped green onions, radishes) and salsa.  This is what […]

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Travel to Argentina to Visit your Wine

If travel, just for the sake of travel, seems too decadent for you, how about this excuse:  I have to pop down to Argentina to visit my vineyard and check on my wine. OK, I might be overstating things just a bit, but with the Algodon Wine Estates Barrel Ownership program you can combine your love of travel with your love of wine. Algodon Wine Estates is located in Mendoza, Argentina, an area known as the Napa Valley of South America, and home for production of some top wines.  Now, you can get a barrel of your own.  Purchase it solo, or get together a group of friends, then choose your grape or varietal preference:  malbec, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, bonarda, or chardonnay. Here’s how it works — You choose your grape or varietal, and then choose a  French or […]

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Mexico’s Alternative to Halloween – Dia de Muertos

I’m not a big fan of Halloween.  It’s not for any particular religious or cultural reason, I just don’t like dressing up in costumes and begging for candy.  OK, as adults that’s not exactly how we celebrate Halloween, but I don’t particularly care for the adult version of the holiday either. But, this is a great time to be in Mexico, as they prepare for the Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead celebration, an extended holiday time that covers Young Souls Day (October 31st), All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd). The celebration of the holiday varies within the country, but the observation of the Day of the Dead goes back to pre-Hispanic Mexico – back to the time of the Aztecs, Mayans, and other indigenous peoples of Mexico. The belief behind the celebration […]

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