What to Do in Anaheim, California

Although most people may head to Anaheim just to visit Disneyland park, the area has so much more to offer!  This sunny Southern California town, with its dry, mild climate, is home to family-friendly restaurants, affordable chain hotels and sprawling strip malls. The area is very diverse, hosting rich immigrant communities that add a complex layer of food, culture and fun.  The locals are typically very active and enjoy sporting events and outdoor venues. Here are some of the best things to do if heading toward Orange County based off the New York Times list recently published.

1.    Catch a Sporting Event

The Angel Stadium of Anaheim is home to the Los Angeles Angels. The stadium is the fourth oldest in Major League Baseball and boasts a 230 foot sign that has a halo on top that lights up in honor of every victory.  A home game can attract up to 45,000 screaming fans so if you are looking for an active atmosphere then this is as good a place as any.

If ice hockey is more your taste then just opposite the Angel Stadium is the Honda Center, home to the Anaheim Ducks.  The center hosts a variety of events like football and live concerts.  In fact, when it first opened in June 1993, the first performance ever was a concert by Barry Manilow.  Once there, it may look eerily familiar.  It was also the location that the animated TV series Mighty Ducks.

2.    See Live Music

A lot of things in Anaheim are on a large scale and sometimes it is nice to enjoy some entertainment with a lot less people and a lot more intimacy.  City National Grove of Anaheim is a versatile 1,700-seat facility, located adjacent to Angel Stadium. It is consistently ranked as a “Top 10 Stop” in North America and is known for legendary performances by Prince, Merle Haggard, Lewis Black, Ray Charles and Stevie Nicks, among many others. It boasts state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and an experienced staff that is ready to create a one-of-a-kind event of any size.  Any day of the week the multipurpose, indoor venue hosts a variety of live concerts, family shows, comedy, community and private events.

3.    Visit a Park

Sitting just outside Anaheim is Ralph B. Clark Regional Park. A great location for those who like the fresh air and outdoors life.  The park has many activities to enjoy with your family and friends such as cycling, fishing, hiking, boating, or even stop for a picnic or barbeque.   Birders love to sit at one of the many picnic tables or under a shade tree with their binoculars and some snacks, as they can enjoy more than 130 varieties of species.  The hiking trails are a magnet for visitors because they are shaded by trees and run along the outer perimeter of the park.

If biking is more your preferred activity, try Canyon Rim Park.  This 6.5-acre park has 56 regular parking spots, as well as 2 spots that accommodate for people with disabilities, restrooms, drinking fountains and trash receptacles. There are a multitude of trail varieties and difficulties so no matter your age or physical restriction, there will be a trail for you. The park is located near the southerly entrance to the Deer Canyon Park Preserve and the trails leading to Oak Canyon Nature Center as well as the Walnut Canyon Reservoir Trail.

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Italian Villas Now Selling for $1

News sites all over the world published articles about Italian villas with panoramic views of the Mediterranean on a fertile patch of land dubbed the “Earthly Paradise” for One. American. Dollar. Is this the international real estate deal of 2019? Upon closer look, you see that, yes, there is a catch.

Due to depopulation as people pick up their things and opt for more metropolitan areas, realtors are floundering and left to figure out creative ways to draw potential buyers back to the area for a major revitalization.  The homes are dilapidated and the catch is that buyers must invest $17,000 towards reconstruction efforts within the first 3 years of purchase.

“As opposed to other towns that have merely done this for propaganda, this city hall owns all €1 houses on sale,” says Giuseppe Cacioppo, Sambuca’s deputy mayor and tourist councilor. “We’re not intermediaries who liaise between old and new owners. You want that house, you’ll get it no time.”

Despite the $17k catch, within 48 hours of the story going live, the town has been inundated with tens of thousands of inquiries from people hoping to grab their piece of the rural Italian dream.  “The whole world has got in touch,” Cacioppo adds. “Callers are from Europe, mainly Spain, Russia, and as far as South Africa, Australia, USA, the Arab Emirates.” And it’s not just individuals and tourists lured by a dream house in sunny Sicily.  “A team of US lawyers, working for an American company interested in doing real estate business in Sambuca, wants to meet up with us,” says Cacioppo. “A businessman from New York just called me, saying he’s flying to Sicily tonight.

The city has a total area of 37 square miles in the South-West of Sicily, 42.25 miles far from Palermo, about 21 miles far from the archaeological park of Selinunte, and about 13 miles far from Menfi, that has beaches still pristine and the Blue Flag beach for its sea. Perched on a hill, the town of Sambuca di Sicilia is surrounded in the North-East from hills and woods, including the towering peak of Mount Genuardo in the South-West by the valleys of the river Carboj that form the reservoir of Lake Arancio. The beautiful woods surrounding the town are full of local legends and myths.  The architecture is something right out of an Italian romance novel. Originally, Sambuca was coined “Zabut,” thought to be from the Arabic term meaning “the beautiful.” Other hypotheses about the origin of the name go back to the Greek instrument, the Sambuca, similar to a small harp, that reminds of the urban map of the old town, or to the sambuco plants, spread around downstream. Sambuca is a timeless environment untouched by the modernization of more metropolitan areas and inhabited by only a few thousand people. It would be ideal for an international getaway and/or real estate investment.  

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The Grand Canyon of the South

Thesouthernweekend.com recently published an article about “The Grand Canyon of the South” which, before that, we had never heard about.  Upon further research, we realized that the word needs to get out about this breathtaking beauty of a US attraction!    The Palo Duro Canyon (“palo duro” is spanish for “hard wood”) is one of America’s most beautiful natural attractions out there, though it is little known.  This may because it’s older, bigger brother The Grand Canyon gets all the attention.  The Palo Duro Canyon should not be overlooked.  It’s the 2nd largest canyon in the US, about 120 miles long, up to 20 miles wide in areas, and boasts over 40 miles of scenic views and hikes.  Its elevation at the rim is 3500 feet above sea level and it’s only about a 30 minute drive from Amarillo, nestled in the heart of the Texas panhandle. In comparison, The Grand Canyon, is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and 6,000 ft. deep.

Palo Duro Canyon was formed by water erosion from the Red River. The water deepens the canyon by moving sediment downstream and wind and water erosion gradually widen the canyon. Humans have resided in the canyon for approximately 12,000 years. Early settlers were nomadic tribes that hunted mammoth and other large game animals. Later, various Indian tribes lived in the canyon until 1874. The State Park surrounding the canyon opened on in 1934 and contains over 29k acres of gorgeous scenery. Palo Duro Canyon State park is an excellent outdoor classroom. School groups from across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico visit the park each year. Park staff offers guided educational programs (by reservation only) for school and special interest groups. There is also a Junior Ranger program available for children ages 4-12. There are activities they must complete and have signed by a ranger before they can receive a sleeve patch at the Visitor Center or Park Headquarters. The activity brochure can be requested at the Visitor Center or Park Headquarters.

The park offers a variety of activities such as hiking, road biking, mountain biking, a scenic drive, camping, picnicking, wildlife and wildflower viewing, backpacking, and horseback riding.  Many flock to the area for unique bird watching experiences. There is a Wildlife Viewing Blind located behind the Palo Duro Trading Post that provides a quiet place to watch birds. A water feature is in place along with feeders. Photos are posted on the walls for those who need help with identification though, any of the trails throughout the park have the potential to be excellent bird watching spots.

Summertime temperatures can be brutal in the canyon. Temperatures often range from the 90s to 115 degrees. It is always advisable to engage in activities in the morning or late evening due to the high heat. Make sure you and everyone in your party stays hydrated and does not overextend themselves physically. Do not attempt the very long trails in the high heat of the day.  For those unable or unwilling to view the canyon by foot or horseback, there is a scenic drive of about 16 miles that takes you to the floor of the canyon and that features beautiful views of the scenery.

The park also allows special events though they must be reserved, scheduled, and approved by the park ranger.  The park has been a breathtaking venue for many “I Dos” as it offers awe-inspiring views and scenic spots to exchange vows.


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Top January Travel Destinations

Post-New Year’s Day January travel plans are ALWAYS a good idea.  Prices have dropped, lines are shorter, and deals are abundant. Not to mention, more travel is a pretty standard resolution for many people, so why not get started ASAP?  Depending on where you live, you are probably looking for a change in climate. In other words, if you live in Denver, you most likely aren’t looking to go somewhere snowy.  Wendyperrin.com compiled the following list and we couldn’t agree more- these are some of the very best destinations for the month of January no matter what you have in mind for a vacay.  Click here for the full list.

1.    Rocky Mountains

Yes, you can plan a casual expedition over organic burgers but these lands are far from tamed. Vast mountain ranges remain unscarred by roads or summer homes, largely thanks to the USA’s brilliant public lands system.  This is America’s playground, where there’s still plenty of wild places to be wild in. Walk in solitude amongst aspens and pines. Open yourself to the serenity of a clear mountain lake. Push past boundaries as you summit a mountain. Take in breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. Watch spectacular sunrises over rocky mountain peaks.  Connect with nature doing a variety of activities: mountain climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, and hiking to breathtaking views of jagged peaks, glaciers, and high-mountain lakes. A visit to the Rockies is sure to reset you for a wonderful 2019. Try the conveniently located Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort.  The property also includes several restaurants, a hair salon, spa, indoor swimming pool and athletic center. Guests are also encouraged to borrow their complimentary bikes, sporting equipment, board games and beach toys for added enjoyment.

2.    Costa Rica

The perfect place to enjoy lovely tropical beaches, grand adventures, the wonders of nature, and unique culture; all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. No wonder thousands have made Costa Rica their top travel choice!  Costa Rica extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and its distance is just at 200 miles. La Amistad International Park (PILA) is not only the largest natural park in Costa Rica but also the only bi-national park, created by the governments of Costa Rica and Panama in 1982. It could explain the name La Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish. The total portion of protected land in both countries covers a great variety of humid, rain and cloud forests in the Pacific and Atlantic sides, as well as indigenous towns. The isolation of the region, thanks to the difficult geographical conditions, has allowed  enormous cultural richness and extraordinary natural habitats. Species in great danger of extinction such as the jaguar live in the park as well as a great variety of wildlife including 400 species of birds, 263 species of amphibians and reptiles and 213 of mammals. Many other species are found only in this giant rainforest. Experience the Four Seasons Costa Rica as your launching pad into boundless adventures. After a day of zip lining, surfing or hiking a volcano, return to our tropical retreat for farm- and -sea-to-table dining, refreshing swims or relaxing spa treatments. With customized itineraries for families and couples alike, experience “pura vida” at Peninsula Papagayo.

3.    Florence, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany and considered the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called “the Athens of the Middle Ages.”  The city attracts millions of tourists each year and is popular for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments. The city also contains numerous museums and art galleries, such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Palazzo Pitti.  If your jam is art and architecture, this is the place for you-  it has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Fashion your passion? Florence is the leader in Italian fashion and is ranked in the top 15 fashion capitals of the world.  Right in the middle of a park is the wonderful Hotel Villa Betania.  It is well quiet and private and an ideal site for those who prefer to relax in an elegant, calm atmosphere, yet it is walking distance to many of the top attractions  It has only 20 rooms and is family managed.

4.    Nicaragua

The country has three regions which vary greatly in weather, geography, and population. These three areas are the Pacific Region, Central Region, and the Caribbean Region.  Visitors to Nicaragua are able to enjoy the natural beauty of dozens of volcanoes, rivers, and lakes, as well as two oceans. Nicaragua is an ideal place to visit for anyone looking for something uniquely different and adventurous.  Nicaragua’s nickname is “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” and it’s easy to see why: it’s dotted with bodies of water and volcanoes that you are able to experience in a variety of different ways: by foot, boat, air, even riding animals like donkeys and horses.  The options are as endless as Nicaragua is beautiful. Retreat to nature, the jungle, and the beach at Costa Dulce Eco-Resort and Retreat Center. Costa Dulce has become one of the premier wellness centers in Central America.  It consists of eleven individual Bungalows, two yoga shalas, sea turtle hatchery, spa, surf school, food garden, and a restaurant.

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The Ultimate Travel Bucket List for 2019

Life is short: eat the cake, wear the swimsuit, buy the shoes, travel as much as you can, TAKE THE TRIP!  2019 could be your year; one full of new experiences and adventures that keep being put off in the name of work, kids, responsibilities.  Lucky for you, Forbes has compiled the ultimate 2019 travel bucket list and we condensed it to our top faves.  If you take any trips on this list it is sure to change you internally and bring you on the wildest ride of your life.  Keep reading!

1.    African Safari:    East Africa’s Mara, Crater & Serengeti Migration

The definitive East Africa adventure, this superb 8-night luxury fly-in safari combines the four most celebrated game reserves in Kenya and Tanzania.  The tour encompasses the vast open plains of Kenya’s Masai Mara, the delightful diversity of Tanzania’s Lake Manyara, the extraordinary Ngorongoro Crater, and the rolling grasslands of the Serengeti. Arguably the most spectacular game viewing itinerary in Africa, this is the journey of a lifetime.  Ideal for seasoned travellers and first timers alike, this wildlife and gourmet adventure combines easily with a romantic Indian Ocean island getaway to make a perfect honeymoon itinerary.

2.    The Northern Lights

The most reliable chances to see Alaska’s northern lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) are in Fairbanks, and above the Arctic Circle. The aurora belt in Alaska’s great Interior and Arctic regions is among the most active in the world, and there are few other places on earth so suited for an Aurora Borealis vacation.

While there are no guarantees that the northern lights show will happen on any particular night, Northern Lights trips are typically best made in late fall and winter/early spring, though they can be seen throughout the winter months on nights with clear skies. If you visit Alaska in November, December or January, you will experience a very short period of daylight providing a unique experience in the high northern hemisphere.  In February and March, there are longer daylight hours for you to enjoy with evenings that still offer maximum viewing chances. No bucket list is complete without experiencing Alaska’s Northern Lights!

3.    Maldives

A 45 minute seaplane ride away from Male International Airport is Adaaran Prestige Water Villas located on the exclusive Meedhupparu Island in Maldive’s Raa Atoll Area. This is frequently the site of filming when the movie calls for a tropical oasis.  And tropical oasis it is! Despite its remote location, this resort features an outdoor pool, private spa baths, personal butler and chef service, not to mention the air-conditioned over-water villas are built over the Indian Ocean with glass panel floors. Each room boasts all the technology that one would need such as flat-screen TVs, DVD players and high-speed internet access.  Make sure to take advantage of an in-room massage and fitness center. Bathrooms come with a hot tub. Water sports activities and diving are offered. International fine dining is available on the 5 restaurants on the island. Guests repeatedly rate this resort higher than it’s competitors.

4.    The Grand Canyon

Vast and stunningly beautiful, the Grand Canyon is easily one of the world’s most famous landmarks and a natural wonder you have to see to believe. 277 miles from end to end with mile high rocky crag walls stretching from the top of the craters to the canyon’s floor, it is truly a sight to behold.  The gargantuan Colorado River follows a swift course southwest. There are tons of ways to see the canyon and a variety of places to stay such as Historic lodges, hotels and even rugged campgrounds, but be sure to book early as internationally, it is one of the top visited places.  You can even choose to see the canyon from the air by booking a helicopter tour!

5.    Great Barrier Reef

Encompassing around 3,000 individual reefs and almost 900 islands and cays, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most unforgettable natural treasures. With an unparalleled array of marine life such as thousands of different varieties of fish, birds, and clams, hundreds of types of birds, seaweed, and turtles, it’s understandable why snorkelers and certified divers often place the reef at the top of their bucket lists. Since experts expect that the reef will be hugely negatively impacted by external causes such as climate change in the next decade, there’s never been a better reason to plan a visit to this natural wonder.

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New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

Around the globe, different cultures celebrate New Year’s Eve in unique ways. This holiday is a great excuse to travel, both at home and abroad.   Some celebrations deliver strange twiststhat can leave other cultures scratching their heads. But regardless ofcultural differences, I believe we should all be happy and bring the noise inour own time and own way.  Nevertheless, it’s fun to celebrate all theinteresting ways people will be ringing in the New Year around the world. Setthe stage for a memorable New Year’s by partaking in traditional celebrationsaround the globe — in December and throughout the year.  And who knows? Maybe we can find something fun to adopt into our own personal traditions. Read this article for even more New Year’s traditions.

New York City   

One of the most classic New Year’s celebrations in the U.S. takes place in New York City. The Big Apple toasts the New Year in a variety of ways, from the ball drop in Times Square to special multi-course dinners from the city’s best celebrity chefs. Traditional celebrations include a big countdown at midnight. Add a special touch to your trip by browsing BedandBreakfast.com for a great local B&B with a hearty New Year’s Day brunch.

Chinese Lunar New Year
Many Chinese children dress in new clothes to celebrate the Lunar New Year. People carry lanterns and join in a huge parade led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength. According to legend, the dragon sleeps for most of the year, so people incorporate firecrackers in their celebrations to keep the dragon awake.  In the Chinese calendar, each of the 12 years is named after an animal. 2018 was the Year of the Dog and people born this year have the following character traits: Faithful, courageous and clever, dogs make great leaders and are good at keeping secrets. But they’re quick to find fault and can be distant. According to legend, Lord Buddha asked all the animals to come to him before he left the earth. Only 12 animals came to wish him farewell, and as a reward Buddha named a year after each one.

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur
In September/October, Jews believe thatGod opens the Book of Life for 10 days, starting with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Jews try to atone for any wrongdoing and to forgive others during these days, the holiest in the Jewish year. A “shofar” (a ram’s horn trumpet) is blown before and during RoshHashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur.

Songkran
In Thailand, on April 13–15, a funthree-day water festival marks Songkran, the Buddhists’ celebration of the newyear. Wet parades with huge statues of Buddha that spray water on passersby area part of this cleansing tradition.  In small villages, young people throwwater at each other for fun and attempt acts of kindness like releasing fishback into rivers. At Songkran, people tie strings around each other’s wrists toshow their respect to their fellow man and community. A person can have as manyas 25 or 30 strings on one wrist, each from a different person. The strings aresupposed to be left on until they fall off organically.


Scotland

Several fire festivals occur all over Scotland for their New Year’s celebration but the most famous of Scotland’s many New Year’s Hogmanay fire festivals is the one in Stonehaven, where right before midnight a parade of trained professionals swing balls of fire over their head and then toss them into the sea.  The tradition dates back over 100 years, and many believe it’s based on a pre-Christian ritual meant to purify and ward off evil spirits. Some believe that its timing with the winter solstice signifies that the fireball actually symbolizes the sun.

Burmese Water Festival

The Thingyan water festival takes place in mid-April and marks the arrival of Thagyamin, a celestial Buddhist figure, on Earth with the firing of many water cannons. The streets are usually flooded with sprinklers and people celebrating, and the soggy celebrations last until New Year’s Day.  The water is meant to “wash away” the bad luck and sins of the previous year, and to begin anew through this cleansing ritual.

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