How to Travel With Your Bike On An Adventure

You must be quite an adventure enthusiast if you are contemplating to take it on with your bike. It is a big step particularly if you are not the type to be caged in what seems normal by taking a car. Even if you are an expert cyclist, deciding to travel by your bike on an adventure will demand thorough preparation and research compared to readying a car or just taking a flight. This article is aimed at giving you a guideline of the things to factor in as you prep to embark to enjoy the scenery at your own pace.

Inspect your bike first or have a professional do it for you. Whether you have the best mountain bike under 300 or the best mountain bike under 200, safety is paramount. You need to feel as safe as possible with your bike. Confirm your helmet is all set and it's the right so as not to block your view. If planning to ride in the night, have a light mounted on your helmet and on your bike. Ensure its' sharp enough for the other cyclists and drivers to clearly see you. Take your bike for a long-distance test-ride. This will help you rule out some of the doubts you could be having on safety.

Go over your map keenly, this will help you to familiarize with the surrounding, the terrain to expect and traffic. Research on weather conditions to expect and note down the spots you can take shelter at in case of an emergency. Most importantly, ensure to research and feel settled when it comes to the security of that place.

If seriously planning to travel with your bike, at the bare minimum, be sure you know how to adjust the saddle and change the tire in case of a flat. Even if you've already marked bike shops on your map, these basics will save lots of time not forgetting money. You can imagine if your tire bursts in the middle of nowhere and you'll have to transport it to a technician. Not an exciting detour you'd hoped for, right?

Also, know how to adjust the saddle to the right height; you sure have to be comfortable riding and adjust your brakes accordingly as well. Knowing how to tighten bolts or replace a slipped chain is just as important.

Remember to bring with you appropriate tools for such issues. Examples of such tools are pedal spanners, pump, tire levers.

If you plan to travel by your bike, you require a helmet, a spanner and a map to confirm where the trail leads you. You can also pack backup tire and a bike pump.

Most importantly, bring your phone with you, a backup phone battery or portable charger and an ID. Unfortunately, accidents happen and you might need to contact a friend or family for help. And an identification card will help to identify you just in case. Equally important set aside money for an emergency that you can easily access.

At some point, you might be forced to pack your bike for a flight or via other means of transport, so ensure you've a bike bag. Below is a guideline on how to pack a bike:

• Deflate the tires but not completely

• Remove the handlebars and attach them to frame else turn them to one side

• Remove or lower the saddle

• You can remove the wheels well.

• Ensure everything is fitted well, most bags with different fitments suited for their bike parts. Fit them and fasten with straps.

Cycling demands lots of energy especially for a long-distance and burns a huge amount of calories. You surely don't wish to get worn-out with fatigue, so pack healthy snacks to keep you energetic all through. Don't forget you need to stay hydrated. Dehydration just smells doom for your adventure with a headache that comes with it, so carry enough water and take it as often as you need to.

Finally, pack appropriate clothing. It helps to check the weather forecast first to know the kind of dress code you will need. But, try to ensure you pack lightweight clothing; even if you will be riding late in the night, get a lightweight jacket.

You cannot afford to allow physical discomfort to overcome you. Push yourself a bit further if you regularly exercise. If exercising isn't the norm for you, hit the gym or still set aside enough hours cycling around. Take on similar terrain if possible, this will help you get a feel of what the bike tour will entail as well as build your confidence.

Finally, have a blast on your adventure! Don't shy away, go on and travel by your bike on your deserved adventure.

Things To Do In El Chalten

Situated in the Patagonian region of southern Argentina, El Chalten is a small town, best known as the gateway to Cerro Torres and Mt. Fitz Roy, two rugged and impressive peaks in the Patagonian Andes. The town is visited by a large number of hiking tourists that peaks during the summer season.

A large number of itineraries start off from El Chalten that runs through well-tried trails inside the National Park and private areas. Tourists can embark on expeditions or short hikes up to ascents for several days and depend on your physical condition and your available time, and the unpredictable weather of Patagonia.

There are regular excursions and activities available here including navigation to Viedma Glacier, which is the largest in Los Glaciares, and has the option of climbing or trekking on it. Another route for navigation is the Lago Del Desierto from the South Tip to the North Tip. It is from here that one can take different treks. Yet another popular tour is a visit to La Leona Petrified Forest.

One good thing about these treks is that there is no need for any previous experience to undertake these mountaineering activities. One can also visit the many lookout points that provide a panoramic view sparing little time and effort. Following are some popular treks you can undertake in El Chalten. There is no need to get the service of a guide to begin the trails but if you wish, you can get their services and put your mind at ease as you discover the best known secrets of the place.

Some popular treks:

Los Cóndores and Las Águilas viewpoints.

Piedra del Fraile.

Laguna Capri.

Laguna Torre.

Laguna De los Tres.

A good number of land and lake tours are available to discover the natural beauties and historic places.

Some popular tours include:

Lago and Glaciar Viedma (boat tour + optional ice trek on glacier).

Bosque Petrificado La Leona (land tour returning to El Calafate).

Lago Del Desierto (car or minibus tour from El Chaltén + optional boat tour).

One can hire the service of a guide who can provide you with information about the means, safety and experience necessary while visiting the places. Of course, many trails are also available that do not require a high level of technical difficulty, and if you are in a good physical condition and stamina, you can go for the many programs that are offered by the travel agencies or tourism services providers.

Some guided activities:

El Chaltén – Laguna Toro – Paso Del Viento.

Travesía en el Hielo Patagónico Sur.

Humeul Circuit: Paso Del Viento – Paso Huemul – El Chaltén.

El Chalten also many sport or favourite activity that offer new kind of experience with some unique sceneries.

Popular activities:

Bouldering.

Fishing.

Mountain Bike.

Horse rides.

Surfing in Lanzarote, Canary Islands

Lanzarote is a volcanic island in the Canary Islands located fifty miles off the coast to the west of the Sahara desert. It is known to many surfer as the Hawaii of Europe. The Canary Islands mark the southern tip of Europe and enjoy a very good climate.

Like Hawaii, Lanzarote was formed by volcanic activity along a fault line in the ocean floor. Along the fault line the Canary Islands were formed. Lanzarote is the furthest North East of all the Canary Islands and gets the best surf.

The ocean floor drops off very quickly from the shores of Lanzarote thus allowing the full force of any waves to unload directly on its coast. Storms that follow the Gulf Stream North East across the Atlantic ocean create powerful swells. These swells travel hundreds of miles across the deep ocean losing very little energy. When they arrive at the beaches and reefs of Lanzarote high quality surf is created.

Winter is the time of year when Lanzarote gets its best waves. The trade winds that blow for most of summer die down and the Winter swells roll in. The surf in Lanzarote is suitable for all levels of surfer. For beginners there is Famara beach and for advanced surfers there are a number of great reef breaks. On occasion the waves can get very big and several people are now even doing tow in surf. This is when a wave is too big to paddle into so the surfer is pulled behind a jet ski and onto the wave.

Different surf spots in Lanzarote:

Famara Beach – If you want to learn to surf this is the place to come. The bottom is sand and the waves are not too powerful. The beach can be surfed on all tides. When the swell is big the waves tend to break all at once or close out and surfing is not advisable.

Orzola beach – The is another beach break which can get some nice waves. Take a left turn before you get to the town of Orzola and follow the track to the beach. Works best around high tide.

La Santa Right – This is the most popular surf spot for experienced surfers. This wave is very consistent and is also sheltered from the prevailing winds. The wave is a hollow right hander with different sections. On a good day with the right swell direction it will break evenly all the way through. The wave breaks from as small as about head high to ten times over head. Depending on swell direction changes the tide level it breaks best at. Getting in and out the sea here is tricky as you have to get yourself over some very slippery and urchin filled rocks.

San Juan – The left and short right reef break is located along the headland to the west of Famara. At low tide it gets too hollow and dangerous. On its day it is a real classic wave with a steep take off. Half way along the wave there is another section that is perfect for getting barreled. Easy dry hair paddle out.

El Quemao – This is the pipeline of Lanzarote. It is a very powerful left and right hand reef break. Paddle out of the harbor. Best at around mid tide. Is normally bigger than it looks. When conditions are right you get a barrel almost every wave.

The Lanzarote North East Coast – Up past Arrieta on the east coast of Lanzarote there are a number of amazing surf spots. These normally break when it is either very big on the west coast or when the swell direction is from the North. Spots like Spiders, Jameos del Agua, Cartel and many more are to be found with a keen eye and a little exploration.

Other waves – There are many other classic surf spots to be found on Lanzarote and its unless island island of La Graciosa. Studying the conditions, swell direction and a map can give great rewards.

Learning to surf – If you are new to the sport the best way to get involved is to start with some surf lessons. The town of Famara has several surf shops that offer lessons. They will hire you all the equipment you need, transfer you to the beach and give you instruction on this exhilarating sport.

Holiday accommodation – Probably the best place to stay for both the surf and social life in a holiday apartment in Famara. You can either stay in the town or best of all get a Famara bungalow to rent

10 Great Fall Destinations

The Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains of Colorado and North Carolina come into their own during the fall months. You just need to check out a few photos to witness the gorgeous scenery on offer. Rustic red leaves and beautiful orange skies make this wild haven the perfect place to spend a couple of weeks. The Smoky Mountains are one of the most popular places to visit in the USA. But don't let that deter you because crowds have started to wind down now. You'll be able to enjoy backpacking in isolation, exploring the surroundings for yourself. There's plenty of places to stay too with great little hostels and welcoming hotels for any traveler.

Glacier National Park
If you want to spend the fall roughing it, we suggest you head across to Glacier National Park. This destination is perfect if you're looking for adventure. You won't find much regarding accommodation but you will find the perfect spot for a camping trip. Bathe in the crystal clear streams and explore this rugged terrain on foot for yourself. The lucky ones will find an abundance of wildlife if they venture far enough into the forests. You might even spot a bear or two! This destination is nothing short of a backpackers dream if you're brave enough.

Columbia River
Or, how about taking a trip to Columbia River. The beautiful location boasts a scene like nothing you've seen before. Cross a rickety bridge and gaze down at a waterfall, plummeting over the edge of a towering cliff into the gorge below. Of course, you don't just have to walk across it. Daredevils can try their luck at white water rafting. The river is unforgiving and you won't be able to tame it, but you can certainly have fun trying to stay afloat. Don't worry, there are plenty of guides to make sure you don't get in too much trouble. If you just fancy gazing at the scenery, there are plenty of mountain roads. You can drive all across the landscape as the leaves start to blush, leaves falling on the paths ahead. It's quite a dazzling scenic route, particularly as you climb ever higher.

The Berkshires
Would you like to enjoy this fall in class? The Berkshires are the place to be with stunning accommodation and world class dining. Celebrate the fall in luxury, lavishing in the wonders of beautiful rustic cabins. Pick the right place to stay and you'll have a gorgeous view of the world below. There's stunning woodland to wander through the day and in the evening, have a lovely glass of wine on the porch. Watch the sunset over a breathtaking landscape with New Yorkers who always fit this destination into their year.

New York City
Or, how about heading to where they are escaping from. You can take a trip to NYC this summer. Central Park is in full bloom, and it's the perfect time to visit the city. It's a quiet time of year in Manhattan, and you'll find plenty of the tourist attractions far less crowded. The weather's often perfect too. You've dodged the heat waves are summer, and you're getting in before the winter winds of December. There's also the fall sales that are not to be missed for keen shoppers.

San Francisco
Tourists have left San Francisco by fall leaving you to the reign of this magnificent city. Walk or drive across the famous golden gate bridge and enjoy the pleasant breeze from both sides. You can still appreciate incredibly scenery in San Francisco. Take a cable car up to the surrounding mountains and gaze down in wonder at the city below. Worried about the cost of such a popular destination? You can cut costs by staying in a hostel outside the city, away from the hustle and bustle.

Yellowstone
We're back in the wild world now with Yellowstone National Park. This massive stretch of land is filled with tourists, backpackers and families in the summer. You'll be lucky if you find a single space to park your camper van. In the fall, the park is just as beautiful and vacationers have headed home. A quiet, peaceful area to spend the fall will make you forget the park homes one of the biggest dormant volcanoes in the world.

The Golden Coast
It's not too late to get that beach holiday. You can explore the golden coast this fall and walk across stunning sands. It's still warm enough to take a dip and plenty of watersports activities are available. If you want to try waterskiing for the first time, this is the perfect place.

Wine Country
Or, how about a relaxing autumn season in wine country, California. Drive through a gorgeous, lush landscape, filled with countless vineyards. Learn how to taste wine and pick up a bottle or two of the most delicious beverages you've ever tried. Forget France; this is the best location for indulging your appetite for something sweet.

Jackson Hole
Or, finally, how about heading to one of the best ski resorts in America. There won't be snow at Jackson Hole Wyoming just yet, but the mountain resort is still a beautiful fall destination. Take the Aerial Tram up to the highest mountains and stay at an all American lodge. Complete with good food, great company and fantastic service for your end of year vacation.

What Does Your Airline Do to Recover Your Lost Luggage?

The last time I saw the white corrugated cardboard box with the fragile stickers pasted on it, was at the US Airways check-in counter in Mexico City. My wife and I had just arrived from Acapulco with Mexicana Airways and had changed our carrier to US Airways to complete our journey to Seattle via Phoenix. Once we landed in Phoenix, we were once again directed to pickp our checked-in luggage from the carousel. However, to our dismay, there was no sign of the duty-free white box. The friendly woman from airport security mentioned that there is an occasional delay as luggage is checked before it is allowed to get loaded on the next flight. She assured us that our box should be on our plane to Seattle.

Once our flight arrived in Seattle we waited as the last piece of luggage looped around the carousel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official informed us that that was the last piece of luggage from our flight. Alas, our white cardboard box had not arrived. The gentleman directed us to the US Airways Baggage Claims office that was surprisingly and conveniently right there next to the carousel. My wife and I informed the representative about our lost box and we filled out a claim form.

After arriving home we received a phone call every day for the first week from the Central Baggage Office in Phoenix, Arizona, keeping us apprised as to the progress on their tracing efforts to find our lost box. We were advised to fill out the damaged or lost property form that we had received in Seattle, and mail it in to them.

Ten days after the form was mailed I phoned the Phoenix Central Baggage Office and spoke with a baggage specialist there. They still had not received the form, but called the next day to confirm that they had received it. There was still no news about our lost box, however the trace for it was still active.

Mike Adams, the Baggage Specialist, at the time, had been working for US Airways for over a year and his job entailed calling customers about their lost or damaged baggage claims, coding and determining miscoding of claims. He had recently completed training for a secondary tracing program. I wanted to get some answers about the steps they take to track down a lost piece of luggage.

“After the claim is filed,” Adams said, “we use the World Tracer System (used by over 300 member airlines) to look for the bag by name, address, the type of bag and contents to see if there are any matches on hand.If there is a match and the bag is sitting at the terminal, two people open the bag and input the contents of the bag into the system. All unclaimed luggage is held for five days and then sent to Charlotte, North Carolina. tags are checked at the warehouse and the property claims form is updated if there is a match.If the piece of luggage is not there then a secondary trace is done that checks with other airlines and connections to see if the lost piece was sent elsewhere.

How long will they continue to look for a lost piece of luggage? Mike says a minimum of four weeks, unless they are playing catch up because of storms, and then it takes longer.

Do baggage handlers or other employees steal baggage or boxes? “Yes,” Adams admits. “There is some theft in the industry. The theft is usually by members of the Transportation Security Administration.” Consequently, the airlines will set up sting operations to find the culprit or culprits and solve the problem. Adams revealed that in our case, the white cardboard shipping box was a red flag. Thieves particularly target those items. “To solve that problem in the future,” advised Mike, “and take the temptation away, just buy a cheap suitcase and put the alcohol in that.” That was simple and sound advice that would have saved us a lot of headache.

If the box isn't found, how will the claim be settled? Mike said that a letter with a check in the amount for our lost alcohol would probably be sent to us. He was half right. We got the letter from US Airways, but instead of a check, we got two $ 50.00 travel vouchers that were valid for one year from the date of issue.

From every experience, whether good or bad, there is something to be learned. Firstly, my wife and I have decided that we will only buy items that we can safely pack into our suitcases. Secondly, we will mark our bags with unique identification, such as colored stripes, tape or labels that stand out from the myriad of look alike suitcases. Thirdly, we will put our names and address somewhere on the inside of the suitcase or bag to make baggage specialists like Mike Adams' job much easier in reuniting lost luggage with their owners.

Following these three steps may not guarantee that you will be reunited with your bags at the carousel, but they will certainly improve the odds. Happy Traveling!

While Planning A Greece Trip, Following These Steps Is A Must

Do you always want a good place to hang out and enjoy a vacation? Do you wish to get relaxation, rejuvenation, and adventure? If yes, then you must go to picturesque and romantic Greece. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, this place offers raw European countryside, the opportunity for surfing beaches and wonderful sunsets. Get ready to soak yourselves in the mesmerizing architecture and historical art. Apart from this, the nightlife and food are very popular; tourists simply love it.

Step 1

Firstly, shortlist a good Greece travel package, which is not only in your budget but also ensures comfortable spending. When you zero down on this, book flights. Ensure that the visa and passport formalities are done well in advance.

Step 2

The tour and travel package should be scheduled as per the season; popular seasons include mid-June to late August. If less crowded time is preferred, then don't hesitate in booking the Greece package somewhere around autumn or spring; this will surely help in escaping commercialization.

Step 3

Always be proactive and book a car so that even friends and family can also travel along. Standard shift is the common kinds of vehicles that you will find in Greece. Moreover, if you wish to go to far off places, you will have to stick to public transport like buses and taxis.

Step 4

When we talk about Holiday packages to Greece, you get a good opportunity of visiting all tourist attractions. Sometimes people don't wish to visit the same old places; but with these packages, you will get some new and interesting destinations on your list. Greece will be all set to surprise you with its beauty. Don't miss the Hydra islands, the Archaeological Museum, the Acropolis, Athens open-air theaters or Crete.

Step 5

Given below are some unconventional dos and donuts while vacationing in Greece. The rustic side must be awakened and embraced; spare some time and visit those Greece's chiseled parts ie the smaller villages and towns. Explore some crude and raw places and have a wonderful experience of life. The authenticity of the place can be enjoyed with a lot of relaxation and joy. The commercial side can be cut down and instead of an international hotel or a big restaurant, try opting for an inn and a small eatery.

Once you follow these steps, no one can stop you from having a blast of a time there. Always keep in mind that you need to select a good tour package. Usually, affordable tour packages contain everything right from destinations to meals to airport transfers. Choose a package wisely as no one likes compromising on the vacation. Don't settle for someone who is offering cheap packages; instead, go for someone who is offering a well-planned tour. Once all things fall in place, you will surely have a vacation which will be a memorable one.

Visiting Knotts Island

If you have visited Currituck County in North Carolina, you may have noticed the diversity of the area. You have Corolla on the shore of the Northern Outer Banks, parts of which literally exist off-road, and you have smaller towns on the mainland side of Currituck on the other side of the Sound. Along this road, you’ll see an exit for the ferry that takes people from the mainland to Knotts Island, and you might wonder what exactly there is to see there.

Don’t let the name fool you. It isn’t really an island in the respect that Hawaii and Kaui are. Knotts Island is not surrounded entirely by water, but the town does take up a fair amount of shoreline near the Virginia border. In fact, you can drive to Knotts Island from Virginia Beach without having to take the ferry, and once you’re there you’ll find there are ways to pass the time in the peaceful surroundings. This town is a popular destination for outdoors enthusiasts and people looking for a complete Currituck vacation.

What is there to do on Knotts Island? Here are a few suggestions to add to your vacation plans.

Knotts Island Market

Locals on the island know there’s only one place to shop, literally! Knotts Island Market is your one stop shop for meals, camping gear, and gas on Knotts Island. Stop by for a slice of pizza or fixings for a picnic lunch to take out to this next place on the list.

Martin Vineyards

This vineyard/orchard offers a nice selection of wines for sale, and during various seasons you can pick apples and peaches. Every summer, too, they hold a popular peach festival that draws people from all over the region.

Sandy Point Campground

If you prefer to camp on vacation, this camping area is clean and well managed. You can bring a tent or RV, and there is a place to put in your boat so you can go fishing.

Barnes Hunting Lodge

For almost a century, Barnes Hunting Lodge has hosted waterfowl hunters during the fall and winter seasons. There are limited rooms, but when you book your hunting party here you’ll have a comfortable stay and a guide to help you through the marshy areas.

Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge

Currituck is known for its wild horses, but at the refuge you’ll find all sorts of wild creatures in their natural habitat. If you hunt, this is a popular spot to find geese and ducks.

Knotts Island is a great travel destination for the outdoor sportsman. You’ll find everything you need and want within reach.

Top Five Bizarre Things That You Must Do In Goa

You might have visited Goa a number of times, but this is definitely not a place that you would cross off from your list. If you think that Goa is just about beaches, late night parties, booze, para sailing, churches and old forts, then you must try out these five bizarre things.

Go Paragliding

If you think that this is just another option for para sailing that you might come across Baga and other beaches, then you are absolutely wrong. Here I'm talking about some cool stuff like paragliding that is available on some couple of beaches like Anjuna beach. A glider chair is fixed to a parachute like mechanism and then you will have to stand at a cliff's edge and start sailing in the sky. If you know how to do it, you can do it all alone; otherwise you can always opt for a ride with a professional.

Floating Tent

You might have tried houseboats, but have you ever tried a floating tent. Yes. One bedroom floating tents available in Mayem Lake near Bicholim at Champions Yacht club are just amazing. Once you check into one of these tents, you can go for a bumper boat ride and you can also step into their floating restaurants. So, with these remarkable accommodation options, you don't even have to step on the shore for even a second.

Dolphin Drive

You might have spotted dolphins a number of times on Animal Planet, but have you ever sighted real dolphins in Goa. Well, if you do not wish to miss on this prospect, then opt for a dolphin cruise. Nothing can be much better than capturing a pod of dolphins pepping out of the water around the boat in a camera.

Crocodile Watching

One of the most exciting things to do in Goa is crocodile watching and there are plenty of tour operators in the coastal areas that can plan a trip starting at Cortalim Jetty. Cumbharjua canals is one of the best places to spot crocodiles and unlike zoo, here you can spot them in their natural habitat. This area is believed to be one of the most amazing wetlands in Goa and here people can also spot a number of birds. So, just keep your cameras ready.

Explore Nature

Last, but not the least is to follow the nature trail and discover the amazing wildlife. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary near Molem, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary and Dudhsagar waterfalls are some of the best places on the list that you can visit. You can also plan a visit to a spice plantation farm, where you can come across some fresh spices and herbs like pepper, cinnamon, areca nut, peri peri; bathe through an elephant shower and feast on scrumptious Goan food prepared in fresh spices.

Two things that you should never miss when you visit Goa is good food and awesome shopping spots. Restaurants like Mum's kitchen, Martin's corner and St. Clair Anthony's Beach Shack are some of the good options where you must try rawa mussel fry, king crabs, prawn vindaloo, garlic chicken and St. Anthony's flavored hookah.

For shopping freaks like me, Ingo's night market is a nice place to spend some time shopping on a Saturday night. This market is on for almost six months and potpourri of junk jewelry, hippie merchandise and global cuisine here is quite famous. If you are tired of shopping, you can always drop in at Daniel's bar and enjoy the music played by the DJ.

Orlando – Off the Beaten Path: Discovering Central Florida Without Visiting Any Theme Parks

One of my husband’s favourite places is Florida, since he is an avid golfer and likes to get away from the cold Canadian winter for his birthday in early December.

For a while now we had planned to visit Orlando, but neither one of us are into theme parks. So there was the challenge for me: would we be able to visit Orlando without setting foot into Disney or Universal Studios? For someone as curious as me this was a suitable challenge and I had been doing weeks of searches on the Internet and communicating with the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau to find out about interesting destinations off the beaten path.

Well, I am happy to say, we arrived back safely yesterday from our trip, and the trip itself was quite an adventure since we decided to drive from Toronto to Orlando, about 2100 km each way! Actually, the drive was not as painful as I expected. The drive through Pennsylvania and West Virginia was nice and hilly, and I particularly enjoyed coming over the ridge of the Appalachians, right where Virginia and North Carolina meet, where you get a beautiful view of the piedmont area around Winston-Salem that spreads out towards the Atlantic in front of the mountain chain.

And I am even happier to say that in the 14 or so days that we spent in Orlando, not only did we get to play a lot of golf (to make my husband really happy…;) – including Mystic Dunes, Champions Gate, Royal St. Cloud Links, Hawk’s Landing and Timacuan Golf and Country Club, not to mention the Walking Hall of Fame experience of the PGA Father Son Challenge at Champions Gate, but I also got to explore some really interesting places, destinations I would not have expected in Orlando and its surrounding region. I also had a chance to do an interview with GolfOrlando to get a much better idea of why Orlando is called “The Ultimate Golf Theme Park”.

We started off our first week with a visit to the Orange Country Regional History Center, which gave us a suitable historic background of Orlando and Central Florida. Then, for some sociological and cultural insights, we visited the Well’s Built Museum for African American History and Culture in Orlando. To top off our first day of exploration we enjoyed a walk around picturesque Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.

The next item on my off-the-beaten path agenda was a discovery of the City of Winter Park, a beautiful suburb of Orlando, reminiscent of Old European towns. I also went on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, which was an entertaining, informative and visually appealing excursion.

The adrenaline revved up significantly on our next outing: a very high-speed airboat ride at Boggy Creek, that was followed up by a much lower speed swamp buggy ride in a custom-built monster truck that took us through authentic Florida landscape.

After our golf outing at the Royal St. Cloud Golf Links we enjoyed a wonderful picnic by the waterfront in sunny downtown Kissimmee. Then, on a beautiful Sunday morning we drove about an hour outside of Orlando to reach the quaint town of Mt. Dora, where I hopped on the “Herbie Express”, part of the Mt. Dora – Lake Eustis Scenic Railway.

From midweek in the second week onwards the weather took a turn for the worse. While planes were sliding off runways in Chicago and record temperatures were registered in the mid-western states, we were freezing in Florida where the mercury hovered around 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (around +20 degrees Celsius). So I bought a rain jacket, and determined not to let the freezing cold interfere with our plans, we headed out to continue our explorations.

On a day that was forecast to be rainy, but just ended up being a bit grey and clammy, we went out to discover Loch Haven Park, Orlando’s center of science, art and culture. We then continued our explorations further south to discover some of Orlando’s historic neighbourhoods and parks such as Lake Cherokee and Lake Lucerne.

As the drizzly weather continued, we went on to visit Florida’s Natural Visitor Center in Lake Wales, about an hours drive south of Orlando, where I got a really good understanding of Central Florida’s citrus industry. I spent the afternoon in another famous attraction in Lake Wales which holds two National Historic Landmarks: the Historic Bok Sanctuary, where I got to see the beauty of the Bok estate and its historic carillon tower, combined with a tour through the historic Pinewood Estate, which was decked out in full Christmas decorations.

During these 2 weeks in Florida, we got exposed to a lot of its plants, flowers and wildlife, much of which you run into casually even while playing golf or picknicking by the waterfront. Florida has a surprising amount of natural diversity and I enjoyed watching the various types of birds, lizards, and squirrels. The only thing we didn’t get to see was a live alligator (with the exception of the well-hidden rear end of a small alligator during our swamp buggy tour – unfortunately I couldn’t even get a good picture of that one..).

On our drive home, on a bright sunny day (of course…), we stopped off in St. Augustine, a historic town founded by the Spaniards in the 1500s, and the oldest continuously inhabited town in the United States – a mighty photogenic place, I should add.

So, you ask, is it possible to spend 2 weeks in Orlando without even setting foot inside a theme park and still have a good time? Well, based on the above itinerary I’d say that my plans to explore Orlando off the beaten path came to full fruition.

Mission accomplished.

Oriental, NC – What’s The Big Deal?

You may have heard of a little town on the North Carolina coast called Oriental. In fact, this little village calls themselves the sailing capital of North Carolina.

It would seem that that is not just idle talk either – Oriental boasts a boat to resident ratio of over 3 to 1. That’s 875 residents and over 2,700 boats.

But what draws people to Oriental? Here is an overview of why people, especially boaters and sailors, like Oriental so much.

1: Fine sailing. What may be rather obvious is that the number one attraction at Oriental is the fact that is offers such fine sailing. The Pamlico and Albemarle sounds and the Neuse river create a buffer that moderates the temperatures in Oriental – Winter is generally short and mild, and likewise summertime is not too harsh. Statistics in Sail Magazine indicate that Oriental has more sunny days, more water to sail in, and better winds than San Diego, California.

2: A Charming Town. Visitors to Oriental will find themselves in a cozy, friendly little seaside village. There are great places to walk, bike, or just sit and enjoy the scenery. In addition to all of the water surrounding this little town, you’ll find the scenery on land to be worthwhile, too. Many visitors especially enjoy the old homes on South Avenue.

3: Fishing. With a variety of salt, fresh and brackish water to try your luck in, Oriental is a great place to fish. You can fish from the bank, launch your boat, or hire a local guide to help you find the fish. No matter which way you choose to do it, there’s fishing enough for everyone in the little NC town!

As the Oriental NC website proudly advertises, you can visit their little town and sail, paddle, fish, eat…or just do nothin! It’s up to you!