Blowes Travel & Cruise Centres Inc.'s Blog

Santa Clarita, California, the home of family fun adventures

An ideal vacation spot for the entire family, Santa Clarita is a wonderland of fun activities which will delight kids of all ages.

Located in Los Angeles County, California, Santa Clarita was incorporated in 1987.  Although located outside the city limits, Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park is often associated to the city. Blessed with a Mediterranean climate, the city enjoys an abundant of sunshine most of the time. It covers a total area of 62.16 square miles, and has more than 200,000 inhabitants. The city is 29 miles from Los Angeles, 53 miles to Anaheim, and 48 miles to Long Beach. The nearest major international airport is the Los Angeles International Airport, located 28 miles from the city.

The entire family is guaranteed to have lots of fun in Santa Clarita. You can spend days enjoying the thrilling rides of Six Flags Magic Mountain and the water activities in Six Flags Hurricane Harbor. Aside from these amusement parks, the city’s top attractions include the Sky City Bounce House where you can bounce away, the Gentle Barn where you can get up close and personal with rescued animal, Top Out Climbing Gym where you can try out climbing walls,  and enjoy a go cart ride and arcade games with the kids at the Mountasia Family Fun Center. While the kids are taking a nap or are tired from all the activities, you can visit the Pulchella Winery and savor fantastic wines, after which, you can have a relaxing massage at the Ivy Day Spa or at the Massage Envy Spa.

Spend a few days in Santa Clarita before heading to the other cities in California. It is so worth the trip! Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Escape the city life and be spoiled at the Tanjong Jara Resort, Malaysia

Luxury need not be expensive, and Tanjong Jara Resort is where you will be spoiled rotten without burning a hole in your pocket.

One of the most beautiful resorts in Malaysia, Tanjong Jara Resort is a 5-star beach resort which has reaped a number of awards because of it luxurious accommodations, amenities, and excellent staff. It has been voted as one of the “Top 25 Hotels in Malaysia” by TripAdvisor 2014 Travellers' Choice, “Best Beach Resort” by Expatriate Lifestyle Best of Malaysia Awards in 2013, and Best Beach Hotel” by Hotel Awards in 2013, just to name a few. Although it has been awarded a number of times, it has remained secluded and peaceful, making it ideal for those who want to get away from it all yet still enjoy a luxurious stay. The nearest airport to the resort is the Sultan Mahmud Airport located in Kuala Terengganu, about an hour and fifteen minutes away. It is served by Air Asia, Malaysian Airlines, Malindo Air, and Firelfly, which links the resort to Kuala Lumpur.

A luxurious beach hotel, Tanjong Jara Resort is nestled on a 17-hectare property, making it ideal for those who relish the feel of seclusion and exclusiveness.  It has 99 rooms ranging from Anjung Suite, Anjung Room, Serambi Sea View Room, Serambi Room, Bumbung Sea View Room, and Bumbung Room, all of which are equipped with world-class amenities. Its facilities and services include two swimming pools, two tennis courts, library, and three restaurants. It features a Spa Village which houses a therapy center featuring Malay traditional healing methods. The resort also offers a number of activities to experience such as Chemerung Waterfall Excursion, Eco-adventure Marang River Cruise, Snorkelling or Diving in Tenggol Island, Batik Painting, Traditional Handicraft Tour, Cooking Class with Chef Ann, and a Jara Walk with the Resort Naturalist.

Spending a few days at the Tanjong Jara Resort is a must especially if you want to enjoy a peaceful and tranquil vacation. Consult your travel agent for more details.  

Dijon, France, a city that blends food and history perfectly

Brimming with historic buildings and landmarks, Dijon is also the city where the Dijon Mustard originated. It is one city you must visit if you are a history buff and a foodie as well!

Located in the Burgundy region of eastern France, Dijon is one of the most attractive cities of the country. The city was the home to the Dukes of Burgundy for centuries and was once a formidable city of immense wealth and power. The historical center of the city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015. The city is also famous for its wine and food, and one of its food products is very popular around the world, the Dijon Mustard. The city has more than 150,000 inhabitants and covers a total area of 40.41 square kilometers. The city is 266 kilometers from Paris, 175 kilometers from Lyon, and 250 kilometers from Strasbourg, making it accessible by bus, car or train from these cities.

Dijon is a city with so many historic buildings, museums and landmarks to visit, and in between visiting its attractions, you must visit its famous restaurants so you will understand why it is also a foodie’s paradise. Its top attractions include Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, Owl’s Trail, Rue Des Forges, Musee de la Vie Bourguignonne, Cathedrale Saint-Benigne, Musee Magnin, Ducal Palace, and Mulot Et Petitjean where you can buy handmade Dijon Mustard. To satisfy your food cravings, you must dine at Le Piano Qui Fume, Chez Léon, Le Pré aux Clercs, Le Bistrot des Halles or La Maison des Cariatides. If you are a wine lover, take a Max's Burgundy Wine Tour, Alter and Go Tour, or a Wine and Voyages Tour.

Dijon is best visited in autumn when the annual International and Gastronomic Fair is held. It is one of the most important fairs in the country. Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Fun Things to Do Bajan-Style

By Anita Draycott

Tiami Catamaran Cruises

operate five catamaran party boats for luncheon cruises to a secluded bay for swimming with turtles or for romantic sunset and moonlight cruises with live music.

The 48-passenger Atlantis Submarine turns the Caribbean into a giant aquarium. The 45-minute underwater voyage aboard the 50-foot submarine takes you to wrecks and reefs as deep as 150 feet.

The island's oldest great house, St. Nicholas Abbey, (circa 1650) with its unique stone-and-wood architecture makes it one of only three original Jacobean-style houses still standing in the Western Hemisphere. On the grounds you’ll find mahogany trees, formal gardens, and an old sugar mill. A fascinating home movie, shot by a previous owner's father, records Bajan life in the 1930s. Behind the great house is a working rum distillery with a 19th-century steam press. Visitors can purchase artisanal plantation rum and enjoy light refreshments at the Terrace Café.

Popular for fashion and travel-industry photo shoots, Bottom Bay is the quintessential Caribbean beach. Secluded, surrounded by a coral cliff and studded with a stand of palms, this dreamy enclave is near the southeastern most point of the island. The Atlantic Ocean waves may be too strong for swimming, but it's postcard-perfect place for a day at the beach and a picnic lunch.

Harbour Lights, an open-air, beachfront club claims to be the "home of the party animal" and offers dancing under the stars most nights to live reggae and soca music.

On the popular Mount Gay Rum Tour, you learn the colorful story behind the world's oldest rum—made in Barbados since 1703. The tour runs hourly and concludes with a tasting and an opportunity to buy bottles of rum and gift items—and even have lunch or cocktails, depending on the time of day.



Spend a Night in a Yurt at the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Have you ever wondered how it is to live a nomadic life?  The Gorkhi-Terelj National Park in Mongolia is where you can spend a night on a Yurt and enjoy a bird’s eye view of how it is to live a nomadic way of life.

Gorkhi-Terelj is one of the national parks in Mongolia. Situated 1600 meters above sea level, the park is one of the favorite destinations in Mongolia because of the numerous activities you can experience. Many westerners became interested to visit the park when it was shown on the television program “The Amazing Race” during its tenth season. The park is just 80 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, where the Chinggis Khaan Interntational Airport is located.  It is served by a few carriers including Air China, A-Jet, Hunnu Air, Turkish Airlines, Korean Airlines, MIAT, Aeroflot, and Aero Mongolia. From Ulaanbaatar, you can take a bus or car.

There is so much to see and do at Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. You can enjoy breathing in its beautiful scenery, take photos, go hiking and rock climbing, be up close and personal with some is its wildlife, view its  fantastic rock formations, go swimming in a glacial lake or in one of its  natural hot springs, bird watching, and enjoy a horseback or camel ride. Although there are some tourist camps in the park, you must experience spending a night or two in a Yurt, a portable round tent with a detachable hood,  a traditional dwelling place of the nomads.  The Yurt camp is where you can interact with the locals, savor traditional Mongolian dishes, and have some Arkhi or milk vodka.

Spending a few days Gorkhi-Terelj National Park is the best way to learn about the culture and way of life of the Mongolians. It is one of the places you must not miss if you take a trip to Mongolia.


Why you Should not Throw out Your Boarding Pass

The next time you’re thinking of throwing away a used boarding pass with a barcode on it, consider tossing the boarding pass into a document shredder instead. Two-dimensional barcodes and QR codes can hold a great deal of information, and the codes printed on airline boarding passes may allow someone to discover more about you, your future travel plans, and your frequent flyer account.

Earlier this year, I heard from a longtime KrebsOnSecurity reader named Cory who said he began to get curious about the data stored inside a boarding pass barcode after a friend put a picture of his boarding pass up on Facebook. Cory took a screen shot of the boarding pass, enlarged it, and quickly found a site online that could read the data.

“I found a website that could decode the data and instantly had lots of info about his trip,” Cory said, showing this author step-by-step exactly how he was able to find this information. ‘

“Besides his name, frequent flyer number and other [personally identifiable information], I was able to get his record locator (a.k.a. “record key” for the Lufthansa flight he was taking that day,” Cory said. “I then proceeded to Lufthansa’s website and using his last name (which was encoded in the barcode) and the record locator was able to get access to his entire account. Not only could I see this one flight, but I could see ANY future flights that were booked to his frequent flyer number from the Star Alliance.”

The access granted by Lufthansa’s site also included his friend’s phone number, and the name of the person who booked the flight. More worrisome, Cory now had the ability to view all future flights tied to that frequent flyer account, change seats for the ticketed passengers, and even cancel any future flights.

The information contained in the boarding pass could make it easier for an attacker to reset the PIN number used to secure his friend’s Star Alliance frequent flyer account. For example, that information gets you past the early process of resetting a Star Alliance account PIN at United Airline’s “forgot PIN” Web site.

After that, the site asks for the answer to a pre-selected secret question. The question in the case of Corey’s friend was “What is your Mother’s maiden name?” That information can often be gleaned by merely perusing someone’s social networking pages (e.g., does your aunt or uncle on your mom’s side have your mother’s maiden name as their last name? If so, are they friends with you on Facebook?)

Finally, the standards for the boarding pass barcodes are widely available and have been for years. Check out this document (PDF) from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for more on how the barcode standards work and have been implemented in various forms.




Grape Expectations Toasting the French Paradox with Wine Immersion in Bordeaux

By Anita Draycott

I’d like to believe that there’s some truth to the “French paradox” theory. That’s why I’m soaking in a barrel bath of mineral water and red wine extracts at the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa on the Château Smith-Haut Lafitte wine estate in Bordeaux, France.

The term French Paradox was coined in 1992 by

Dr. Serge Renaud, a scientist from Bordeaux University after years of research. The paradox? The French consume one of the world’s richest diets, including gobs of butter and cream, unpasteurized cheeses and let’s not forget French pastries, yet they tend to be less obese, live longer and have lower rates of coronary heart disease than folks in other industrialized countries. 

The key to this phenomenon, postulated by Dr. Renaud, is their daily consumption of a glass or two of wine, preferably red, which contains powerful antioxidants that control blood pressure and reduce clots.

So, if those grapes work their magic internally, what about externally?  Coincidentally, in 1993 at the Château Smith Haut-Lafitte vineyards where Mathilde Cathiard-Thomas and her husband were taking part in the family grape harvest, they met Professor Vercauteren, the visiting head of the Bordeaux Pharmaceutical Laboratory. Seeing the heap of grape skins and seeds about to be discarded, Vercauteren remarked that they were wasting “a veritable treasure.”  Grape skins and pips are rich in polyphenols that fight free radicals that are responsible for wear and tear on the body and aging skin. Mathilde was intrigued. When she discovered a natural mineral spring under some of the vines, she decided to mix the therapeutic water with the grape extracts. Et voilà, the world’s first Vinothérapie Spa and a line of Caudalie skin care products was born. (Caudalie is a term that describes the length of a wine’s aftertaste on the palette. The more Caudalies the better.) Here at Les Source des Caudalie visitors can enjoy total wine immersion: spa treatments that include a Crushed Cabernet Scrub and Pulp Friction Sculpting Massage, award-winning wines from the estate and hospitality at one of France’s most charming country establishments.

It’s an “all in the family” collaboration between Mathilde who oversees the spa and product line, her sister Alice who designed and runs the hotel and parents Florence and Daniel Cathiard, ex members of the French National Ski team, who operate the organic winery.

Naturally there’s fine dining and a 15,000-bottle wine cellar. There’s even a bar called French Paradox in honour of the benefits of the grape.

What to Expect on a Norwegian Jewel Family Cruise

Norwegian loves families! Classified as part of Norwegian's "Jewel Class," the Norwegian Jewel offers some of the largest suites at sea as well as staterooms that can accommodate families, large or small.

Aside from its top class accommodation, a cruise at Norwegian Jewel promises no dull moment while on board. The highlights of this cruise ship include Sapphire Kid’s Pool and a Sports Complex. Families can also enjoy a spectacular acrobatic show at the Le Cirque Bijou or join activities at the Splash Academy and Entourage. Of course, the adults can also have loads of fun on this cruise with 16 dining options and 13 bars and night clubs on board. It definitely is a cruise for the family!

The Norwegian Jewel has four cruises that families can choose from: Alaska Cruises for an adventure-packed vacation, Pacific Coastal Cruises for forest excursions, lush gardens, and rugged coastlines, Mexican Riviera Cruises for those who want some beach time, and Weekend Cruises for those who want to slip away even for just a while.

Take some time off with the family! Book a vacation on one of the Norwegian Jewel cruises with a travel agent.

Why Should You See the Historical Ornate Temples?

From simple cave shrines, Hindu architecture has evolved into ornate temples across the Indian sub-continent; all have seen the history of the places on which they stand. If you have a liking towards history and majestic architecture from years ago, then your eyes will surely feast on the sight of historical ornate temples.

The history of these temples date back to the 1st century CE wherein Bhakti spread across the Indian sub-continent. The old Vedic gods were later on replaced by deities like Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Brahma, and Devi, the worship of whom required temples for offerings. Buildings were constructed to house the sacred symbol of each god and decorated with sculptures of their mythological adventures. Here are some must-see Hindu temples:

  • Tanah Lot (Bali, Indonesia)
  • Kanchipuram Temples (Kanchipuram, India)
  • Brihadeeswarar Temple (Thanjavur, India)
  • Khajuraho (Khajuraho, India)
  • Banteay Srei (Angkor Wat, Cambodia)
  • Prambanan (Indonesia)
  • Meenakshi Amman Temple (India)

Feast on the stunning Hindu temples in the Indian sub-continent. Learn about the Hindu traditions, beliefs, and history, and bring home interesting stories to tell. Book a holiday near some of these amazing temples today!

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