Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island (III)

Author: George Augustine

Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island (III)

Easily accessible by air and sea, Vancouver Island is serviced by the Victoria International Airport as well as several smaller airports throughout. There is extensive ferry service to many coastal communities and the Gulf Islands from mainland Canada and United States through BC Ferries and the Washington state ferry system. At Victoria's downtown harbor you'll see floatplanes all year round.


11. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Parksville / Qualicum Beach

Here in "Canada's Riviera," as named by The Globe & Mail, you'll find an Oceanside getaway, including fabulous resorts, golf courses, spas and fine dining. What an ideal place to unwind and find 'island time.'


12. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Fairwinds Golf & Country Club — Designed by renowned course architect Les Furber, it is crafted for all levels, with lush manicured fairways lined by towering fir and arbutus trees, and referred to as a "thinking golfer's course." Immaculate greens are guarded by more than 70 bunkers. After golf, relax in Ben's Lounge and ponder joining the premier oceanfront community with its Fairwinds Fitness Centre. For guests who boat in and moor at its 360-berth Schooner Cove Marina, free golf club rental, and shuffle service to the come is offered.


13. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Morningstar Golf Course — Close to picturesque Parksville, is another Island jewel by Les Farber, with a unique configuration of six link-style holes, integrated with others carved through the trees— preserving much of the natural surroundings. Called the "Golfers' Choice," it is host of the Canadian Tour Qualifying School.


14. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Pheasant Glen Golf Resort — At the base of Mount Arrowsmith, this recently renovated course displays spectacular mountain views from almost every hole, and is the most walk-able 18-hole course in Oceanside. The Pheasants Nest restaurant is open March to the end of October. Golfers can tune up their game at the Brent Morrison Golf Academy and a 20-acre double-ended practice facility.


15. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Eaglecrest Golf Club — Located at Qualicum Beach, this course was designed by Warren Radomske, who learned golf course design by the great architect Les Furber. Meticulously maintained and highly affordable, it's a great semi-private club.


Book your next island golf getaway to Vancouver Island where you don't have to imagine where to place the clubhouse; it’s already there!


Best Cities to Visit in China (V): Hangzhou

Best Cities to Visit in China: Hangzhou


"Green mountains surround on all sides the still waters of the lake. Pavilions and towers in hues of gold and azure rise here and there. One would say a landscape composed by a painter. Only towards the east, where there are no hills, does the land open out, and there sparkle, like fishes' scales, the bright coloured tiles of a thousand roofs." – From Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276


Hangzhou tends to elicit hyperbole. Chinese writers on up to the Qianlong emperor have been praising the city's scenic spots for centuries now and as a result Hangzhou is one of the most popular attractions in the country. That said, the star attraction here, West Lake, really is lovely; if you have a taste for classical Chinese landscapes, you'll almost certainly want to spend a day or two here. 


Best Cities to Visit in China: Hangzhou


Like nearby Suzhou, Hangzhou began to prosper enormously after it was linked to northern China via the Grand Canal in 609. In the Song dynasty, the Jurchen of Manchuria pushed the Chinese so far south that Hangzhou wound up as the country's capital in 1127 (at which point it was renamed Lin'an). 


Although China's military reach was at a low point, commerce, technology, and culture were thriving as never before and it's estimated that after Hangzhou became the capital it grew to become the world's largest city. This was a title it held for the next two centuries – even after Kublai Khan captured it in 1276.


Best Cities to Visit in China: Hangzhou


What's here? West Lake, for starters. It's perfect for strolling, biking, and even boating – none of its sights are absolute must-sees, but exploring the surroundings makes for a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, or even an entire day. There's a fantastic performance here in the evening.


A little over a mile west of the lake is the Zen Lingyin Temple, which was originally founded in the 4th century CE by the Indian monk Hui Li. It's most famous for the Buddhist carvings in the surrounding cliff sides, some of which are over 1000 years old. 


The rolling hills south of the lake (a great place to go for a bike ride) are carpeted with fields of tea. The China Tea Museum here is a must for tea aficionados – exhibits range from tea cultivation to tea ware, and you might get to observe a tea ceremony. The nearby Longjing village is the origin of China's famous Dragon Well (Longjing) green tea.


Best Cities to Visit in China: Hangzhou


If you're feeling more urban, head to Qinghefang Old Street, a good place to browse for souvenirs and snacks or visit a traditional medicine shop. 


Foodies will also want to spend some extra time in Hangzhou, as it has a distinctive regional cuisine: look for dishes such as Dongpo pork, Longjing shrimp, and beggar's chicken.


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary (V)

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – In hot water in City Park


The Széchenyi, located in City Park, is Budapest’s most popular bath house, and rightly so. Completed in 1878, it was the first bath house to be built in Pest, and the Neo-Baroque building is one of Europe’s largest spa complexes. The outdoor half-moon-shaped pool is the iconic image of Budapest, which has graced the cover of many a guidebook. With the old men playing chess on boards propped up in the water, the heavy steam rising from the green-tinted water (which is especially lovely when snow is falling and wind is blowing), and the kissing couples scattered throughout the pool, this is the bath house to visit if you only have time to do one. 


In addition to the thermal outdoor pool, there’s also an outdoor lap pool and an “adventure pool” (which has currents pushing swimmers around in a circle). No matter how hard it is drag yourself away, head inside for seven more pools of varying sizes and temperatures, and six steam baths and saunas, some of which are scented and some which also combine light therapy. The atmosphere is grand, the rooms are cavernous, and the water is calming. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – In hot water in City Park


The thermal water that fills the Széchenyi’s pools (which is high in calcium, magnesium, and hydro-carbonate) comes from a depth of more than one kilometer below the ground, and it is an astounding 170°F/77°C before it reaches the surface. Adjacent to the bath house is the drinking hall which serves mugs of the warm medicinal water for drinking. 


Navigation: Buy your tickets either inside of the main entrance (which is across from the Circus) or the side entrance. You’ll get a plastic watch, which you swipe on the turnstiles to enter. There are changing rooms for women and men, which have lockers to store your belongings. Alternatively, there are private cabins. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Szechenyi Bath House – How to get there


Metro: M1 (to Széchenyi fürdő)


Best Museums in San Diego, California (V)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Marston House Museum – Arts and Crafts treasure


This 16-room Arts and Crafts showplace on the edge of Balboa Park was once the home of George and Anna Marston and their five children. 


George W. Marston was a tireless civic leader and founder of The Marston Company, once this city’s premier department store. He commissioned renowned local architects Irving John Gill and William Sterling Hebbard to design and build the home in 1905. 


The home’s exterior exemplifies the English Tudor intent of its original design and the “form follows function” philosophy of the Craftsman period. The interior features spacious hallways juxtaposed with close, intimate living areas that evoke the “hearth and home” aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Rooms are furnished with Mission-style pieces, including some designed by Gustav, Leopold and John George Stickley, plus decorative pottery, paintings, and textiles created by top Craftsman-era artisans.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 8,500-square-foot home sits on five acres of rolling lawn and manicured formal gardens. 

The Save Our Heritage Organisation, which operates the museum, offers tours every half hour; they run about 45 minutes.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Mingei International Museum – Folk art, crafts & design


To create the word mingei, Japanese scholar Dr. Sōetsu Yanagi combined the words for all people (min) and art (gei). That’s exactly what visitors find at the Mingei – contemporary and historic folk art from cultures all over the world. 


Opened in 1978, the museum’s collection and changing exhibitions showcase creative expression from renowned designers as well as from unknown crafters. More than 140 countries are represented. Works range from ancient clay vessels to 21st century couture. Visitors will find textiles, utensils, jewelry, ceremonial objects, musical instruments, containers, tools, housewares, dolls and toys.


Exhibitions are often accompanied by related lectures, films, demonstrations, music, theater and/or dance. Free docent-led tours begin at 2 PM daily.


Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy

1. Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy: B&B Althea – All in the family

Althea is a family run bed & breakfast on the third floor of an early 1900's building in a quiet residential street east of city center (10 min by tram or bus). Althea offers you a comfortable, light and air-conditioned room with a double bed (or two single beds) and a private bathroom with shower.

Services and facilities at B&B Althea include: TV and wireless Internet access, full continental breakfast, elevator, private entrance and air conditioning.

The owners speak English, French and Swedish.


2. Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy: B&B Milan – Right in city center

This is a small and friendly B&B right in the middle of the city, only a few steps away the Duomo and the animated area of Colonne di San Lorenzo

All no-smoking rooms have fridge and facilities for preparing tea or coffee. Upon arrival, the host offers you a bowl of fruits and other extras.


3. Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy: B&B Monteverdi – At the violin maker

Named after the famous son of Cremona and situated in the violin maker's neighborhood, this is a musical place. There is even a violin maker downstairs.

This B&B offers a flat / apartment with independent entrance.

Services and facilities at B&B Monteverdi include: air conditioning, satellite television, wireless Internet, refrigerator, microwave oven and bicycles.


4. Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy: B&B Navigli – Close to city center and nightlife

A straightforward B&B hotel with 25 colorful, modern rooms with air conditioning, mini bar, LCD TV, Wi-Fi Internet, safety deposit box. The B&B is located close to the lively Navigli district with a lot of café's, bars and restaurants.

Transport: Tram 9, 29/30


5. Bed & Breakfast in Milan, Italy: B&B Porta Garibaldi – A one-apartment facility

This B&B offers a small private apartment, with two single beds and one double. It is located close to the lively Brera district, a few steps away from Brera's famous art galleries and museums and 20 min walking from city center.

Services and facilities at B&B Porta Garibaldi include: free Wi-Fi Internet, satellite television with Sky, a sumptuous fresh breakfast, books and dvd movies, guide books and tourist info, private entrance, fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, PC-TV connection, hairdryer, sound proof windows, free bicycle, free extra bed for children up to 3 years.

Transport: Metro 2 – Moscova stop or Tram 2 – Piazzale Baiamonti stop

Best Places to Stay in California (V)

Best Places to Stay in California: Beach Village at the Del – Luxury villas by the sea


This premier San Diego resort — a recent add-on to the historic Hotel Del Coronado —caters to the discriminating traveler, with private oceanfront cottages and villas offering up to three bedrooms apiece. Luxe amenities include terraces with private day tubs and fire pits, to interior luxuries like flat-screen TVs, Bose surround systems and top-of-the-line gourmet kitchens. 


A beautiful walking path connects Beach Village with the Coronado hotel, where you can dine at 1500 Ocean, enjoy a wine tasting at Eno, or unwind at Spa at the Del. Coronado Beach, located right at your doorstep, has been rated one of the top beaches in the world.



Best Places to Stay in California: Berkeley City Club – Julia Morgan’s Little Gem


Designed by Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, this 6-story gem once hosted socials and overnights for the East Bay's most prominent women. Today, Morgan's "Little Castle" is an exquisite getaway, complete with an indoor pool, delightful dining room and impressive art collection.


Each of the hotel's beautifully appointed rooms include Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and fine linens. There is no TV, but then again you'll be too busy exploring Berkeley to need it!



Best Places to Stay in California: Cavallo Point Lodge – Luxury resort on historic Fort Baker


Sweeping views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge are yours when you book a room in this historic luxury resort, which dates back to 1901. LEED-certified for its environmental-friendly design, the lodge at Cavallo Point sits on the grounds of Fort Baker, an Army outpost used through World War II.


Today, the grounds have been immaculately transformed, with practically every amenity under the sun, from Wi-Fi and morning yoga classes to a meditation pool and award-winning restaurant, Murray Circle. 


While you're here, check out the gallery inside the Mercantile, learn the latest culinary techniques inside Cavallo Point Cooking School, or indulge in a massage or pedicure at the Healing Arts Center & Spa. The Golden Gate National Park is right outside, offering 75,000 acres of activities and attractions.


Even your pooch will be pampered at Cavallo Point, especially when you book the lodge's Eco Luxe Pups package. The price includes such posh products as Blueblood Living bedding, Sausalito Pottery food and water bowls, Brittane Doggie Dryers and Saute 2000 organic cookies and treats.


Best Places to Eat in Thailand (VI)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Sabieng Lae – Seaside seafood


A mid-range seafood restaurant popular with both Thais and tourists, Sabieng Lae has a large menu filled with all kinds of once-swimming food. 


I tried and enjoyed fried soft shell crab, a raw shrimp salad (tossed with garlic, onions, mind and basil) as well as a sour coconut soup with chicken (and turmeric and lime). 


It's just south of Lamai Beach. 



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Sweet Sisters – Organic and fresh on Koh Samui


A newer cafe serving up delicious, creative and healthy Thai food, Sweet Sisters focuses on southern specialties (think fish laap made with a thick mackerel steak) and regional favorites. There's a large board of changing specials (I had the banana blossom flower salad with prawn that day) and a range of desserts. You'll find the food tangy and light. 


A couple of Western favorites take a Thai twist, such as a Thai basil chili pasta with ground cashews and prawn. 


It's some of the best places to eat on the island. 


Corner of routes 4173 and 4170 on the south side of the island.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Boomelicious – Delicious food in Pai


This excellent little cafe is a good value: burgers, which come on pillow-like homemade buns and house made sweet potato chips, are only 96 baht. Large breakfasts are served all day, and there's a big menu of healthy juices and smoothies. They also serve smooth coffee. 


It's right on the corner of the two main backpacker streets in Pai, near soi 1.



Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Cafe d'tist – Coffee, smoothies and breakfast in Pai


Try the eggs benedict! Just do it. Though the menu says they use Hollandaise sauce, it's actually a mild yellow curry and so delicious. 


The setting is very pleasant, even though it's on the street. A small, treed patio, a few earthen walls, a pavilion and decent people-watching opportunities make it a nice place sit for a while. 


Hotel des Artists has some equally lovely rooms and a riverside area.



Sports and Activities in Dubai (VII)

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai Rugby Sevens – The magnificent sevens


Part of the IRB Sevens World Series tournament, this is one of the highlights of the international rugby sevens calendar, featuring top international teams, with recent winners including England, South Africa and New Zealand. Also provides an excuse for some of the city’s most raucous expat partying. 


Matches are played at the purpose-built The Sevens stadium, one the edge of the city next to the road to Al Ain. Tickets go for around 200dh.



Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Diving – Take the plunge in the Gulf

Dubai itself has only limited diving opportunities: the offshore marine environment has been significantly damaged by development and there are no natural reefs, although a number of wrecks can be dived reasonably close to the shore. The city does, however, lie within easy striking distance of numerous outstanding dive sites off the UAE’s east coast in Fujairah, and off the Musandam Peninsula in Oman, both of which are only a couple of hours’ drive away. 

There are a couple of good diving operators in Dubai. The Pavilion Dive Centre at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel offers a range of on-site PADI courses and introductory dives, plus dives to nearby wrecks and one- to three-day excursions to Musandam. Al Boom Diving operates dive centres at the Jebel Ali Golf Resort and Spa in the far south of the city, and at the Al Aqah Méridien hotel in Fujairah, offering a range of PADI courses and dives, plus Musandam excursions.



Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Wild Wadi – Wild and watery thrills and spills


One of the city's most enduringly popular attractions, Wild Wadi waterpark boasts a wide range of attractions to suit all ages. Younger kids can inner-tube around Lazy River or splash about in Juha's Dhow and Lagoon play area, while older children and grown-ups can try the various master-blaster tube rides or have a crack at surfing the Wipe-Out and Rip Tide Flowriders. Confirmed adrenalin-junkies should head up to the Jumeirah Sceirah speed slide, during which you'll hit around 80kph and experience temporary weightlessness.


Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California (III)

Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Bistro Liaison Restaurant – Classic French Cooking


Bistro Liaison offers traditional French cuisine from its well-positioned location on Shattuck Avenue, close to the Gourmet Ghetto, the university, and the Downtown / Arts District.


The guiding forces behind Bistro Liaison are chef proprietor Kenneth "Todd" Kniess and wife Natalie Kniess. The style at the restaurant is described as "French food for the soul." Another chef, chef Walter, prepares a salmon scallop souffle in the photos.


The emphasis is on fresh ingredients and seasonal possibilities. The menu has variety, ranging from bouillabaisse to vegetarian specialties. The restaurant is good enough to be rated by Michelin.


Consider beginning with a traditional French onion soup and then indulging in a pan-roasted Alaska halibut fillet.



Best Places to Eat in Berkeley, California: Build Pizzeria Roma – The East Bay’s best build-your own gourmet pizza experience


Build Pizzeria Roma is an upscale “create your own” thin-crust pizza restaurant on 2286 Shattuck Avenue, corner of Bancroft. Think fine dining rather than pizza-by-the-slice. Build is located in a light and airy loft-like space, with the pizza assembly in the center and a casual dining area on one side. A more formal and elegant fine dining section is on the other side. You might begin with a glass of wine and the bar bites menu as an appetizer. Twelve wines are available by the glass. The Truffle Arancini is a tasty appetizer choice. Arancini means “little oranges” in Italian. This delicious hot appetizer consists of truffle risotto, smoked mozzarella, and house-made tomato sauce. This appetizer name suggests the “Roma” part of the restaurant’s name. The proprietors feel that there are some ingredients and vision that only Italy can provide well. Other than the ingredients from Italy, the goal is Northern California fresh everything.


After wine and an appetizer, it’s time to get in line and build your own pizza. It’s possible to go with several named pizzas on a menu card and let the experts create and cook for you. It’s also possible to go through the line and build-from-scratch or take one of the themed pizzas and make alterations. I started with a pesto base, though tomato base and a white base are also possible. Then I added some veggies, such as grilled garlic cloves and multicolored bell peppers. For a protein, I added cubes of pork. Once you return to your table, the pizza will arrive soon. The large wood-fired ovens can bake a thin-cruster in about 90 seconds.


Top Magical Places to Visit in New Zealand (I)

Nestled away in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, are the islands of New Zealand. Often overshadowed by its large neighbor, Australia, this is a country that should be singing its natural rugged beauty. Instead, it quietly carries on — knowing that every day, a few thousand new visitors fall in love with it.


There's a wealth of beauty to discover here — and these top magical places to visit in New Zealand are just a few of our favorite places.


The North Island, home to the capital Wellington and boasting great rolling hills, dense rainforests, fruitful wineries and steaming geothermal lakes, was the stunning setting for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. Volcano cones dot the countryside — some extinct, others still bubbling. The South Island is best known for its spectacular scenery — vast blue lakes, world-famous glaciers, rusty red mountain ranges and dramatic fjord land.


1. Top Magical Places to Visit in New Zealand: Auckland

In New Zealand's largest city, you'll find yourself at the heart of the country's shopping Mecca. Designer stores line the streets of Chancery and the Otara Saturday flea market overflows with Maori and Polynesian homemade cuisine.

At the Viaduct, hire a jet ski and take a tour of the harbor to learn about the city's surrounding suburbs — and there's no better view of the Harbor Bridge than from underneath it. Stop for dinner at the marina, with dozens of sailboats, in the bar and a ruby sunset backdrop, this is the perfect welcome scene.


2. Top Magical Places to Visit in New Zealand: Matamata

If the love for Tolkien's Hobbits has brought you to New Zealand, then you'll find the velvety green fields of Matamata completely magical. Located two hours south of Auckland, one of the prime film sets for The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings trilogy, is now open. A tour of 'Hobbiton' will take you to the homes of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, along with other familiar scenes. Finally, the Green Dragon pub is open to all.


3. Top Magical Places to Visit in New Zealand: Rotorua

Thanks to its spot on the Volcanic Plateau, Rotorua is home to the world's most lively geothermal activity. Watch the famous Pohutu Geyser erupt hot spring water up to 30 meters into the air and take in the spectacular rainforest vistas from the banks of beautiful Lake Tarawera and Lake Tikitapu.

To get a bird's eye view, book in for a 15,000ft skydive with NZone Rotorua. The one-minute free fall allows plenty of time to take in the swirling blues and greens of the hot lakes below.

A short helicopter ride from nearby Whakatane town is an active volcano called White Island. Explore this sulphur-spewing beauty with a guide and a hardhat.