Blowes Travel & Cruise Centres Inc.'s Blog

A 'Treasure' of Authentic, Sustainable Jamaica at Treasure Beach

Many visitors traveling to Jamaica never see the island outside their all-inclusive resorts.  But if you're an adventurous traveler who's willing to brave a few potholes driving on winding country roads, you'll find a 'treasure' of old Jamaica in the South West part of the Caribbean island.

Treasure Beach is a village on the coast in the agricultural heartland of Jamaica where farmers and fishermen are said to outnumber tourists 50-1.  The region supplies the country with more produce than any other parish.  Are you an early riser? The rhythm of daily life in Treasure Beach starts with the first catch coming in with the dawn, and sunset sees fishing rods on the beach.

Farming and fishing are the cornerstones of the Treasure Beach community.  The local 'scene' that puts Treasure Beach on the map revolves around Jake's. The resort founders call their travel experience 'community tourism': where visitors and locals come together for arts, culture, outdoor and sporting activities that include weekly outdoor movies, cricket matches, live music and DJ's, monthly full-moon, farm- to-table-dinners in the fields, a yoga deck over the sea, and activities that focus on sustainability and world class festivals

Don't Miss These Events in Treasure Beach, Jamaica:

Fitness: Jake's Off Road Triathlon has been rated one of the top 5 international triathlons, and raises funds for the community.  It welcomes both elite and amateur competitors who love to travel and maintain a healthy, athletic lifestyle.  The annual spring event brings competitors and Treasure Beach's landscape together during a 300M coastal swim, a 25K off-road hill cycle, and a 7K run along country trails.

Outdoors: Hook 'n' Line Fishing Tournament isn't your standard fishing competition. In a sporting version of local concierge programs, this three-day tournament pairs local fishermen with visitors - very helpful for non-local participants, since teams compete using traditional fishing techniques!

Culture: The Calabash International Literary Festival is a free, three-day, biennial (in even years) event that taps into a global 'book tourism' trend. A crowd, that ranges from backpackers, hipsters, Rastafarians, international intellectuals and government ministers, celebrates the tropical destination as much as the global and Jamaican literary stars it features. Readings under breezy awnings, the festival's signature 'open mic' audience participation, and daily concerts round out the literary travel experience.

Want to discover the treasures of Treasure Beach, Jamaica?  Contact us to start your trip!

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Go ahead stay in a castle on your next travel adventure

​Have you ever thought about living in a castle while on vacation? 

In countries such as Germany, Ireland, France, Italy and Scotland, you can often stay in a castle for far less than a hotel.  

•    Castle Hotel Auf Schönberg  This castle is surrounded by a beautiful view of the Rhine River along with vineyards and trails for hiking and is perfect for touring the wine country. The castle was inherited by all the sons in the family instead of just the eldest; it accommodated up to 250 people from 24 families during the 14th century.  

•    Castle Hotel Liebenstein This castle is the highest castle in the Rhine River Valley. Is is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Rhine Valley. Liebenstein is furnished in medieval style with decorations that rival those of the luxury Hotel Wernberg. Rumor has it that the castle hotel was built for the younger of the two brothers whose feud over a woman split the family line forever. From the hotel, it is only a short walk down to the river pier where Rhine cruises depart daily. 

•    Castle Sababurg This castle is surrounded by the oldest zoological garden in Europe (Tierpark Sababurg) and an ancient forest with oak trees that are over 650 years old (Urwald Sababurg). It is also the setting for the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. Each of the hotel’s rooms is named after an animal, a nod to the castle’s history.  Performances and parties are held both in the castle’s vaulted cellar and in the castle ruins. 

•    Burghotel Schloss Staufenberg This castle is located near Giessen, Marburg, and Wetzlar. It has replaced room numbers with the names of important historical persons.  You can stay in Count Gazmar’s Suite or Countess Sophie’s Apartments.  During World War II Staufenberg was occupied by Allied troops and used as a refugee camp.   

•    Castle Hotel Colmberg Set in Bavaria, the thousand-year-old Castle Colmberg is a destination on both the Romantic Road and the Castle Road. This hotel has it all: ancient stone towers, fortified walls, overgrown royal stables, and a deer reserve. Ask for one of the historic rooms that have four-poster beds, centuries-old paintings, antique furniture, and wooden ceilings.

Ready set jet!!! Contact us today for more information.

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Seasickness is caused by your body’s inner ear trying to keep up with the balancing act of unfamiliar motion.  Equilibrium is all controlled in the inner ear, and when you are seeing things moving that are “supposed” to be still, it can cause undue stress on your brain and cause nausea to set in.  Sometimes it takes people a few days to get their “sea legs” and nausea goes away completely.

Tips to avoid getting seasick on a  cruise ship

  • Get a cabin in the middle of the ship and as low as you can go.  The forward and aft of the ship will have the most movement as the ship barrels through the water, so the middle of the ship will feel less of these extremes.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep something in your stomach.  You might be afraid to eat anything, but just avoid spicy foods and make sure your tank is not on empty.
  • Get as much fresh air as possible on one of the top decks.
  • Look out over the forward part of the ship.  This helps many people get acclimated to the motion of the ship in the water and helps to train the brain to stop the nausea.
  • Keep an eye fixed on the horizon.  Remember, your brain can use the horizon as a point of reference so it is not so confused and triggers the motion sickness.
  • Try to get a room with at least a window as well, as not seeing the water is usually worse than seeing it.

Remedies for avoiding cruise motion sickness

You should always consult with your doctor before trying any medications or special homemade remedies just to make sure that you will not see any adverse reactions.

  • Dramamine.  This is probably the most popular over the counter drug for preventing sea sickness, but it can also make you drowsy.  There is a non-drowsy Dramamine but many people find that it still makes you feel weird.  Still, it’s better than being sea sick.  And after a few days you may find you no longer need it.
  • The Scopolamine Patch.  Some people rave about this patch and it’s supposed to work really well.  You need a prescription for it, and the only side effect most people see is a dry mouth.  But there is plenty to drink on the ship so no worries there.
  • Bonine.  This is another drug a little like Dramamine and should be taken 8 hours before you sail.  Some people recommend taking it the night before your cruise and then again that morning so you will not feel so drowsy.

Home remedies for avoiding cruise motion sickness

  • Ginger.  If you are drinking Ginger Ale, make sure there is actually ginger in it.  Some of the new soft drinks just use ginger flavors.  Some people take ginger pills and others eat ginger snaps.  Either way, it should help.
  • Peppermint candy or tea.  This helps to relieve the nausea so it’s really a remedy for the symptoms of seasickness and not really the cause.
  • Saltine crackers.  Some people swear by them, so hey, it’s worth a shot.
  • Wrist bands.  There are certain wristbands that are supposed to push down on your pressure points to stop you from getting motion sickness.  Some people can even read in a moving car with them on.
  • Eating green apples will also help keep seasickness at bay.

Remember that if you do get really sick on a cruise, there is always a nurse and medical staff on board to assist you. This is where having cruise or travel insurance can really pay off.

 

Certain cruise destinations are better for people who get motion sickenss

If you go on a cruise across the Atlantic, chances are you are going to experience a lot more movement in the water due to the cold fronts and weather changes in the ocean.  So for first time cruisers worries about getting seasick I recommend taking a cruise to the Caribbean where the waters are usually calm.

Newer cruise ships have built in stabilizers

Cruise ships are bigger than ever grossing well over 100,000 in tonnage in more new ships.  The Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas gross over 220,000 in tonnage and are over 1,100 feet long and 200 feet wide in some places.  These ships have special stabilizers that help keep the ship from rocking.

Most of the time you can’t even feel the ships moving, especially when the weather is nice.  On the rare occasion that you have some weather the wave might make the ship move a little, but captains usually try to avoid any kind of weather and find you a nice sunny part of the ocean to enjoy your getaway.

Think about it, these ships could not have ice skating rinks on them with live performances if the ships were rocking back and forth.  On my first cruise I was shocked at how still everything seemed.  Once in a while you might feel some movement, but the technology is getting better all the time, and the bigger the ship the more stable it will be.

 

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History of Reggae Music

I am going to share a secret with you about the history of Reggae Music. I think now is the opportune time as I think you are at a place that you can handle it. This genre did not originate with Bob Marley nor his world renown song One Love.

The term reggae was derived from rege-rege, a  Jamaican phrase meaning “rags or ragged clothing,” it is used to denote a raggedy style of music. The  reggae genre  came into to being in the 1960’s as an evolution of the Rocksteady and Ska musical styles.  Reggae music is a soulful entertainment in Jamaica. It expresses in words the pain, struggle, hope and emotion that is felt by the average person.

Reggae music is recognized by its lament-like chanting and emphasizes the syncopated beat. It is distinguishable from other genres in the heavy use of the Jamaican vernacular and the African nyah-bingi drumming style.

Reggae began to rise to international acclaim as the 1970s progressed. A seminal moment for the genre was the release of the 1973 movie The Harder They Come starring Jimmy Cliff. The movie soundtrack consisted of only reggae hits; this contributed in elevating the music to a internal platform.

Of course, Bob Marley is the world’s best known and loved international Reggae ambassador. Marley’s career spanned more than a decade, beginning in 1963 with Rocksteady band, the Wailers, and culminating in the release of his 1977 solo album, Exodus, which achieved international acclaim. Marley was not only a Reggae singer, but a committed Rastafarian and a political activist. Through his music, his words and his actions, he earned forever a place in Reggae fans hearts around the world. Marley’s music was first popularised in the Wes by Eric Clapton performing a cover of Who Shot the Sheriff.

Since the 60s and 70s, Reggae music has spread and developed in many different ways around the world. Reggae is still going strong in its pure form around the world too, with many modern Reggae bands achieving success in the mainstream.

For authentic reggae experience you can visit the following places for a reggae cultural experience.

  1. Visit  Nine Mile which is the birth place and final resting place of reggae legend Bob Marley. Listen to the knowledgeable guides tell stories of Bob’s childhood! Stand on Mount Zion Rock, where Bob used to meditate and rest your head on ‘the pillow’ that was made famous in the song ‘Talking Blues’.

    http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/12573841.jpg

  2. Take a family-friendly tour of Bob Marley museum. The Museum is the former home of the reggae legend. Bob’s home is filled with rich memories and treasured mementos, which seek to preserve the life and accomplishment of this great Jamaican and outstanding musician.

    http://www.caribvacationsguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/bob-marley-museum.jpg

  3. Participate in Sumfest Reggae Festival. This is Jamaica’s biggest reggae festival, It is a three-day festival in Montego Bay is a three-day extravaganza (from July 12 through the 18th. It features internationally known music acts and contemporary takes on reggae alongside more tried-and-true originals.

    http://img.bulawayo24.com/articles/Reggae-Sumfest.jpg

  4. For Beach Lovers – To experience reggae in its most relaxing setting, nothing beats the soft, welcoming vibes of a sea-lapped Caribbean Beach. In Ocho Rios, you’ll find the appropriately named Reggae Beach, with the notes of improm ptu jam sessions (and the scent of jerk chicken) emanating from small beach bars, and late-night bonfires with DJs supplying the sound track. This quarter-mile beach is small but secluded, and you won’t have to battle huge crowds for beach real estate.

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  5. Visit Horace Andy Record Studio – Horace Andy is best known for his 1973 cover of “Ain’t no sunshine,” Take the opportunity to explore this famous record studio, and access a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a studio session with Andy personally.

  6. Visit Randy’s Records – This record shop was opened in  1958 by Vincent”Randy” Chin; a legendary record producer. Although Mr. chin is deceased the shop is still heavily visit from persons from all across the world.

    Outpostings-RootsofRootsTour-11

  7. Visit Tuff Gong International Recording Studio – a visit to Jamaica would not be complete without stopping by this world renown studio that contains Bob Marley’s original recording equipment.

    Outpostings-RootsofRootsTour-10

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Chihuahua: Take a stroll down memory lane in Batopilas

By Anita Draycott

Batopilas, a small town nestled in the Western Sierra Madre at the bottom of a cliff has tales to share. It’s home to beautiful plazas and bridges built of rope and river rocks, but the main surprise is a beautiful aqueduct built in the 19th century.

Walk its streets and Batopilas will reveal stories about the discovery of silver deposits and its glory days during the Porfirio Diaz era when its most notable buildings were erected, such as the impressive City Hall, built around 1890 and the San Miguel and Shepherd Haciendas. Visit La Bufa mine, where the mining entrepreneur Alexander Robert amassed a fortune.

Saint Michael Archangel Temple is another emblematic building with a triple dome that dates back to the 17th century. To reach the temple, you need to travel 8 km on foot from the town to the Satevo Valley. It’s a bit of a hike but the views are worthwhile.

The warm climate of Batopilas is ideal for the tropical and semi-tropical vegetation. Expect to find orange, mango, avocado and papaya orchards. Likewise, it is not uncommon to find bougainvillea, tabachines and ceibas along the streets.

From La Bufa viewpoint, located in the surrounding area of a Tarahumara community called Quirare, you’ll get a fantastic view of the canyons, the Batopilas River and the minerals at La Bufa. Another viewpoint is Piedra Redonda, where you can admire the Banana Canyons.

Along the Batopilas River you can set up camp and take a refreshing dip. Close by, the La Bufa bridge, which crosses one of the canyon’s deepest sections. You will soon discover that Chihuahua, the largest Mexican state, has a multitude of charms, attractions and surprises.

People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Traveling alone gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.

Of course, single travel has its perils too -- such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.

 

Why Travel Alone?

Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you're feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There's no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner's day; it's your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience.

Also, you can do exactly what you want to do -- all the time. Always wanted to try surfing? Sign up for a class and go for it; there's no one sitting on the beach bored while you have the time of your life. Have no desire to see Niagara Falls? Just drive right by.

 

Safety First

Perhaps the foremost concern of the solo or single traveler is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, as well as simple health worries. But the saying "safety in numbers" isn't necessarily true -- a solo traveler can blend in more easily than a group, and not drawing attention to yourself as a tourist is one way to stay secure. Here are a few tips:

  • Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be "taken for a ride," so ask the taxi driver how much it will cost before you leave. If it's considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab.
  • Find out if hotels at your destination are open late, so you don't end up sleeping in your car or worse.
  • Be your own best counsel; if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
  • Carry good identification, in more than one place.
  • Keep to open and public places, especially at night.
  • Exude confidence and walk purposefully.
  • Avoid appearing like a tourist. Ditch the Disney T-shirt and don't walk around with your face in a guidebook. (See 10 Things You Should Never Wear Abroad for more thoughts on this one.)
  • Don't draw attention to yourself by wearing flashy clothes or jewelry.
  • Lie a little. Not only can you invent your own persona or history, but you can also make your life easier with little white lies. When asking directions, don't let on that you are alone: "Can you direct me to the museum? I have to meet a friend."
  • Check your maps and transportation schedules before leaving your hotel/train/rental car/tourist office. A solo traveler poring over maps can be a mark for unsavory types.
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member at home, and stay in touch regularly via phone or e-mail.
  • For U.S. citizens traveling internationally, consider signing up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which could help the State Department assist you in case of emergency. If you're from outside the States, see if your home country has a similar program.

 

Essential Hotel Safety Tips

One of the best reasons to travel alone is to meet new people, but this also makes you more vulnerable. It's okay to hang out, travel and share with new friends, but you might not want to ask them to hold your money. Scam artists can often be the most charming companions you'll find; you want to be open-minded, but keep your guard up enough to ensure your safety.

 

Avoiding the Single Supplement

Frequent solo travelers are all too familiar with the single supplement, which tour operators, cruise lines and hotels tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they're not making money off a second occupant. The supplement can range anywhere from 25 to 100 percent of the trip cost, meaning that you could end up paying twice as much as someone traveling with a partner.

There are several ways to get around the single supplement. You can avoid it altogether by booking with a tour operator that offers roommate matching, such as G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel) and Holland America Line. By finding you a roommate, they maximize their own profit off each room and save you the single supplement. The catch is, of course, that you'll have to share a room with a stranger. If you're concerned, contact the tour operator and see what kind of procedures they use to match roommates. Some pair people off at random, while others will make an effort to put complementary personalities together.

Several cruise lines offer single staterooms on select ships, including Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line and P&O Cruises.

 

15 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Solo

If you're flexible and ready to go at a moment's notice, you could save money by booking at the last minute. Tour operators who are eager to sell out their last few places may be willing to reduce their usual single supplement. Abercrombie & Kent and Road Scholar are two companies that regularly offer discounted or waived single supplements.

It's not for everyone, but you may also want to consider staying in a hostel, which charges per bed rather than per room. Hostelling International properties tend to be reliably clean and secure, and they're open to travelers of all ages.

To keep track of the latest single travel deals, sign up for solo travel newsletters and regularly visit sites that cater to singles

 - Reprinted from independenttrraveller.com
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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 AsiaRooms.com 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.  

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.