Best Places to Stay in California (III)

Author: George Augustine

Best Places to Stay in California (III)

Best Places to Stay in California: American River Inn – Historic B&B in Gold Country

 

For a fun overnight in Gold Country's Georgetown, check out this historic miner's boarding house turned B&B.

 

Though the original building dates back to 1853, it burned in 1897 and was quickly reconstructed — later becoming a sanitarium, brothel and grand hotel.

 

Today, this bed-and-breakfast is a popular spot for touring Gold Country, hosting stars including David Hasselhoff and Carol Channing. Choose from 13 guest rooms and suites, decorated with old antiques, dolls and Victorian furnishings. Your stay includes afternoon hors d'oeuvres and wine, along with a delicious full breakfast of quiche, ham, muffins, bagels, coffee and fruit salad in the morning.

 

Oscar (described as a romantic and friendly spirit) is known to hang out at the top of the stairs. He is said to be fond of honeymooners in Room 5 — shaking the bed, switching on the lights or tearing off the sheets.

 

 

Best Places to Stay in California: Carter House Inn – Luxury lodging in Eureka

 

Tucked along Eureka's historic Victorian Row, this luxury B&B — a replica of Newsom & Newsom's 1884 Murphy House — is one of the nicest places to stay on the Northern coast.

 

Boasting eight rooms and three separate floors, the B&B was rebuilt in 1982 after Mark Carter found the historic plans of Murphy House (which was destroyed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake) inside a Eureka antique store. Today, the Eureka hotel is best known for its award-winning Restaurant 301, which has received countless awards for its 3,800-bottle wine list (including a Wine Spectator Grand Award) and gourmet farm-to-table dining. View menu.

 

In addition to the Carter House building, the B&B also operates Annie's House (417 M. Street), Carter Cottage, Bell Cottage and Hotel Carter. Each suite is decorated with classic yet modern touches — from the all-white bedspreads to in-room whirlpool tubs, flat screen TVs, MP3 docking stations and fireplaces. Wine, hors d'oeuvres and bedtime cookies and tea are included with your stay.

 

Best Places to Stay in California: Carter House Inn – Looking for something to do while you're here?

 

The B&B can set up dozens of activities, ranging from Redwood canopy tours, to fishing trips, rock climbing tours and Humboldt Bay harbor cruises on the 1910 ferry Madaket. A romantic choice is the Old Town carriage ride, which includes a horse-drawn narrated tour of the city followed by wine and appetizers, dinner for two in Restaurant 301, and a two-course breakfast the next day.

 

Where to Stay on the Mayan Riviera (VI)

With the hundreds of destinations that line the 80-mile stretch of this white-powder Caribbean sand, how do you decide where to stay on the Mayan Riviera? Whether your goal is to party all night long with friends, learn how to scuba dive and swim in the cenotes, discover the fascinating world of the Maya or simply relax and become one with the sun and the sand, we've picked a few of our favorite places…knowing that more will be added to the list with each visit…

 

Where to Stay on the Mayan Riviera:

Eco-friendly / Secluded

Casa de las Olas

 

A little oasis of alternate-energy luxury on the south end of Tulum beach, Casa de las Olas is tranquil and serene, yet close to all the bistros and beach restaurants in Tulum. Whether your sensibilities lean toward massage and meditation, or tours and adventure, ifs all here. The suites feature private ocean view balconies, four post beds, crisp linens, native hand-painted tile, tropical hardwoods and a mix of Mexican and Indonesian furnishings. Four of the five oceanfront suites have either a kitchen or kitchenette giving you the flexibility to venture out or stay in. Guests can take satisfaction in knowing that the shampoo, conditioners and soaps provided by the facility are all biodegradable. The water filtration systems reuse the water in the gardens. Biodegradable wet garbage is composted. All power for Casa de las Olas is generated by solar panels.

 

Where to Stay on the Mayan Riviera:

Cultural Immersion / Eco-friendly

Maroma Resort and Spa by Orient Express

 

Located on the Riviera Maya, Maroma Resort and Spain bringing a touch of authentic Mayan culture to guests by recreating an Aldea Maya (Mayan Village) on its grounds. The Aldea Maya will offer toadies a truly cultural experience by giving them a chance to sample genuine Mayan cuisine which will be produced both traditionally and sustainably. Mayan dinner menus are based entirely on regional specialties such as black bean stew with sour cactus fruit salsa, and banana leaf cooked lionfish with mint and tomatillo. Traditional Mayan methods of cooking over an open fire in clay pans will create the exotic Mayan flavorings and 100% of the ingredients will be sourced locally from organic farmers and from the hotel’s own milpa-style farm. A portion of the Aldea Maya proceeds will benefit the local Mayan communities.

Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia (II)

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Adelaide Zoo

 Get up close and personal with the only giant pandas in the southern hemisphere, Wang Wang and Funi, at the Adelaide Zoo. 

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Botanic Gardens of Adelaide

Explore the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide with stunning gardens, three architecturally significant glass houses (the Palm House, the Bicentennial Conservatory and the Amazon Waterlily Pavilion), the oldest avenue of Moreton Bay fig trees in Australia, a new kitchen garden, the Mediterranean Garden, the International Rose Garden, the Australian Native Garden, and the Garden of Health. Be sure and visit beautifully restored Museum of Economic Botany to see its stunning collection of 'useful' plants. Bookabee Tours runs a terrific walk that highlights how indigenous Australians used plants as a larder, medicine chest and tool kit.

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: The Jam Factory

Check out the studios, galleries and shops of The Jam Factory where the work of many of South Australia's creative artists can be found.

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Haigh’s Chocolate Factory

Visit the Haigh’s chocolate factory for free 20-minute tours plus a complimentary chocolate, tea and coffee at South Australia's iconic chocolate maker. 

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: South Australian Coopers Brewery

Take a tour of independently owned South Australian Coopers Brewery, which covers every step of the production process for both beer and homebrew. In the museum, aside from gaining an insight into the history of Coopers, enjoy tastings of Coopers ales, stouts and lagers.

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Bay Beaches

Spend the day at one of Adelaide’s relaxed bay beaches such as Glenelg, Henley Beach and West Beach. Temptation Sailing offers dolphin swimming and watching in Glenelg.

Most Important Historic Sights in China (II)

Most Important Historic Sights in China: Dunhuang

 

The ancient oasis town of Dunhuang lies near the spot where the Silk Road once frayed apart into a handful of different routes that skirted the foreboding Taklamakan Desert to the west. The remains of two Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) watchtowers – Jade Pass and South Pass – lie to the west, but it's the nearby megadunes and Mogao Caves that have made Dunhuang particularly famous. 

 

Dunhuang (Blazing Beacon) was originally founded in 117 BCE as a garrison town and a crucial node in a series of beacon towers that stretched along the Hexi Corridor and out into the desert. As the last major caravan stop before the massive Taklamakan, Dunhuang quickly became an important center of not only trade, but also the new Buddhist religion.

 

What's here? The sights are all out of town, but Dunhuang itself is a pleasant enough place to relax during the hottest moments of the day. After the Mogao Caves, the main sight is the sand dunes at Singing Sands Mountain and Crescent Moon Lake. Whether you want to arrange overnight camel rides out here (check with the cafés in town) or simply climb up along the continually shifting ridges and listen to the desert's silence, you won't be disappointed.

 

Most Important Historic Sights in China: Dunhuang – How do I get here?

 

A handful of trains are supposed to serve Dunhuang directly, but it's just as likely that you'll need to go through the main train station at Liuyuan, which is a good two hours away by bus. 

 

Dunhuang is connected to some other Silk Road towns by bus, but it can be a long haul.

 

 

Most Important Historic Sights in China: Xi'an City Walls

 

The largest surviving city walls in China, Xi’an’s fortifications date from the Ming dynasty and have a circumference of 8.5 miles (13.7km). They’re actually built atop the former Inner City Walls of Chang’an (the original capital of China), which should give you some idea as to the city’s massive expanse during its heyday in the Tang dynasty (618–907). The Outer City Walls enclosed an area seven times the size of the Inner City.

 

Enormously thick at the top (up to 45 feet or 14m across), not only can you stroll along the wall for a bird’s-eye view of the city, but you can even rent a bike and cycle the entire length.

 

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain (I)

Around the Cathedral – Roman ruins, a Picasson, and a shoe museum

 

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Casa de l’Ardiaca

 

Just to the side of the Cathedral facade in C/Santa Lucia, the 12th- to 14th-century Casa de l’Ardiaca (of the Archdeacon) is home to a municipal archive. In 1902, when the palace was owned by the lawyers’ college, Domènech i Montaner was called upon to create the charming tiled courtyard draped in wisteria, with its lofty palm and pretty Gothic fountain. 

 

Domènech also gave the building Barcelona's most famous and beautiful mail slot. The architect refused to damage the ancient door, but built a Modernista slot on the side with swallows and a tortoise that expressed his opinion of lawyers – swallows, he explained, with wings to soar into the realms of truth, the tortoise plodding along at the pace of court procedures.

 

Opposite is the Romanesque Capella de Santa Llúcia (1268), founded by Bishop Arnau de Gurb, whose tomb is within. Long, straight C/ del Bisbe Irurita separates the Casa de l’Ardiaca from the medieval Palau Episcopal, the bishops’ palace, built on the Roman wall. It’s off limits, but you can look into the elegant Romanesque courtyard with its pretty arcade, another work of Bishop Gurb.

 

 

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Sant Sever and the Shoe Museum

 

Just across from this palace is the Baroque church of Sant Sever. Like the cathedral, this church was protected from Anarchists by armed guards during the Civil War, and it is one of the few to preserve its frothy Baroque interior, with an altar in a trompe l’œil setting by Jeroni Escarabatxeres. Just behind it, in the charming Plaça Sant Felip Neri is Barcelona's shoe museum, the Museu de Calçat.

 

 

Museums and Galleries in Barcelona, Spain: Plaça Nova

 

Just to the north of the Cathedral, a Thursday flea market takes place in this little square, which also hosts the Christmas market, where discriminating shoppers can find the finest array of caganers. Plaça Nova’s Collegi d’Arquitectes (1962) is a poor ad for the architectural trade, but its otherwise dreary façade is decorated by a sketchy frieze of popular celebrations (including the giants who feature in so many local festivals) by Picasso – his only piece of public art in Barcelona. Inside, there’s a bookshop, a good restaurant and temporary exhibition galleries. 

 

Opposite are two Roman towers, renovated in the 12th century, that guarded Barcelona’s northeastern gate. In front of this, an arch of the Roman aqueduct was reconstructed in 1958. 

 

Don't miss the other Roman treasure hidden away on the other side of the Cathedral: the Temple of Augustus.

 

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (IV)

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Emirates Golf Club – Dubai’s most prestigious club

 

The oldest all-grass championship course in the Gulf, yet still the most prestigious, serves as the current home of the Dubai Desert Classic, one of the region’s major golfing events, as well as the Dubai Ladies Masters.

 

There are actually two courses here: The Majlis course (which is where the Dubai Desert Classic is held) and The Faldo course, both offering challenging, championship-standard golfing amidst beautifully landscapes, featuring plenty of indigenous flora and a string of fresh- and saltwater lakes. The Faldo course is floodlit throughout, making it the UAE’s only 18-hole championship-standard course which is playable after dark. 

 

Excellent leisure amenities are provided in the striking clubhouse, designed to resemble a postmodern cluster of Bedouin tents.

 

 

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Ferrari World

 

Looking like an enormous bright red spaceship unexpectedly crash-landed on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi (just over an hour's drive down the coast from Dubai), Ferrari World is the blockbuster attraction at the shiny new Yas Island, sitting right next to Abu Dhabi's Formula 1 race track.

 

Billed as the “world’s biggest indoor theme park”, Ferrari World is heaven for petrol heads of all ages, with load of Ferrari-themed rides and displays likely to appeal both to kids and grown-ups.

 

Try your hand at driving an F1 simulator, take a ride aboard the Formula Rosso rollercoaster (the fastest in the world) or find out what F1 race-day acceleration really feels like in the G Force “tower of speed”.

 

There are plenty of gentler family-oriented rides as well, while motorsports enthusiasts will enjoy the various exhibitions, including a virtual tour of the firm’s famous Maranello factory and displays of vintage and contemporary Ferraris.

 

Best Places to Stay in California (II)

Best Places to Stay in California: Amargosa Opera House – Historic Old Hotel in Death Valley

 

Dancer Marta Becket, a former Broadway showgirl, purchased the crumbling Amargosa Opera House in 1967, opening a live theater, hotel and diner in the heart of Death Valley Junction. Although Marta no longer performs (her final performance was on Feb. 12, 2012), the hotel itself is a huge draw — especially for German and Japanese tourists.

 

Much of the hotel and opera house is decorated with Marta's murals of ballerinas, clowns and circus performers — an effort that took almost four years to complete. Rooms are bare bones basic, with dated furniture and decor. In fact, many travelers have complained about the "sagging beds" and "derelict rooms." It's definitely in need of an update. 

 

A documentary about Marta, titled Amargosa, was a finalist for best documentary feature at the 72nd annual Academy Awards. It was also featured as the Lost Highway Hotel in David Lynch's 1997 thriller, Lost Highway.

 

The Amargosa Cafe — which has spotty hours — serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 

 

Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Yosemite’s grand dame

 

Named for the Ahwahneechee Indians who once inhabited Yosemite, this historic hotel combines Native American, Art Deco, and Arts & Crafts styles. Opened on July 14, 1927, the Ahwahnee is certainly the most luxurious Yosemite lodging. Its grand public rooms have hosted presidents and royalty, and today it remains one of the valley's top attractions. 

 

Most of the Ahwahnee's hotel rooms, suites and cottages have stunning views of the valley — and WiFi is free for hotel guests. For a true splurge, book one of their private cabins along the Merced River, or a luxurious suite — just like Queen Elizabeth II did during her visit in 1983. Also, be sure to dine at least once in the grand Ahwahnee Dining Room. The Ahwahnee Bar is the perfect place to relax with a martini and cheese plate while admiring the sunset over Half Dome.

 

Best Places to Stay in California: Ahwahnee Hotel – Tips

 

The hotel is located just one mile from Yosemite Village. A free shuttle departs from the hotel parking lot every 10-20 minutes, stopping at the Visitor Center, historic Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge and Yosemite Falls. Reservations should be made at least 5 months, and up to one year in advance. Historic walking tours are offered daily through the concierge.

 

Best Places to Eat in Thailand (II)

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Bang Po Thakho Seafood – The best Samui-style seafood

 

On the north side of the island, Bang Po Thakho does excellent Samui-style seafood, which means a few things. First, it's southern-Thai food style, which means you'll get a lot of sour notes. Second, it uses a lot of Samui's main ingredient: coconuts. Third, it has some dishes that are good for experimental eaters, such as sea urchin and baby octopus. 

 

Tables are set up on the beach, and diners are automatically given shells filled with a spicy shrimp paste with fresh veggies on the side. Have fun and order a lot of dishes!

 

Bang Po Thakho is located on the northwest side of the island in Bang Po village. It's next door to the 4 Monkeys bar.

 

 

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: Beetroot Stories – Vegetarian food in Chiang Mai’s Old City

 

A little vegetarian restaurant with delightfully colorful food (maybe because of all those beets?), Beetroot Stories has a small but delicious menu that takes Thai specialties and makes them just a little bit more special. For example, the Massaman curry is made a bit sweeter with pineapple and cinnamon sticks, and a little bit more healthy by being served with brown rice. The French toast is not only sweet and banana-y, but nutty as well – and totally delicious. Cappuccinos are made yummy with coconut milk and cinnamon. Also on the menu are salads, smoothies, lassies, and all-day breakfast. 

 

 

In the courtyard behind Wawee Coffee on Rachadamnoen Rd, Beetroot Stories shares outside tables with some of the other small restaurants in the area. 

 

There is no website, but they do have a Facebook page.

 

 

Best Places to Eat in Thailand: KaTi – Restaurant and cooking school on Ko Chang

 

In an easy-to-miss building along the road at Khlong Phrao, Ko Chang, KaTi is worth looking out for. Both a restaurant and a cooking school, it does beautiful curries and unique smoothies.

 

It's opposite the side of the road that the beach is on, at Khlong Prao.

 

Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia (I)

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: National Wine Centre of Australia

 

Visit the impressive National Wine Centre of Australia, which offers a terrific interactive wine discovery journey and exhibition as well as insights into the Australian wine industry. Taste an extensive selection of Australian wines in the Concourse Café, open daily for tastings, wine sales and lunches.

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Tour of the Adelaide Oval

 

Take a tour of the Adelaide Oval, widely regarded as the most picturesque test cricket ground in the world, with St Peter's Cathedral rising behind an elegant Edwardian scoreboard. (10am Mon to Fri, non-match days, starting from inside the Phil Ridings Gates at the southern end). Also check out the free Bradman Collection Museum that brings together the personal cricket memorabilia of the greatest batsman in the history of cricket, Sir Donald Bradman.

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: South Australian Museum

 

Explore the South Australian Museum, home to the world's largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material, with over 3,000 artefacts on display, and the culturally significant Yuendumu Doors. The South Australian Biodiversity Gallery features the land and marine wildlife of South Australia while other galleries include Pacific Cultures, Megafauna, Opalised Fossils, and Mawson memorabilia. 

 

 

• Things to Do in Adelaide, Australia: Adelaide Central Market

 

Eat your way around the Adelaide Central Market (Tuesday to Saturday) with its 100 plus stalls offering fruit and veg, meat and poultry, seafood, bakery goods, cheeses, nuts, health foods. Some great places to check out include: T-Bar for fine teas, The Grind for great coffee, Say Cheese, Samtass Seafood, the Mushroom Man, Dough (for breads and pastries) Feast for Coorong Angus Beef, and lamb, pork and poultry from specialist breeders, the House of Organics, Jagger Fine Foods (for South Australian olives, dips and antipasti), and Wild Oz (for game and bush tucker condiments).

 

Surrounding the markets are Chinatown, the Market Plaza and the Market Arcade which offer a terrific range of dining options as does Gouger Street.

 

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (III)

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Al Badia Golf Club – Breezy Creekside course at Festival City

 

Just south of the new Festival City development, this striking modern course, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, makes the most of its natural location close to the Creek, with lots of water features (including 11 lakes) and an environmentally sensitive use of modern shrubs and plants. 

 

The course itself incorporates a variety of teeing angles and hole lengths to suit both serious and recreational players (offering an overall course length of between 5398 and 7303 yards), while the various water features and sometimes windy conditions offer a further challenge. 

 

The eye-catching modern clubhouse is also home to various state-of-the-art practice facilities and specialized golfing clinics including the TaylorMade Performance Lab and SAM PuttLab.

 

 

Sports and Activities in Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Aquaventure – Watery thrills and spills at this state-of-the-art waterpark

 

Located at the vast Atlantis resort on Palm Jumeirah, the spectacular Aquaventure waterpark is the newest and most state-of-the-art in the city, featuring all sorts of unusual and exciting ways of getting wet. 

 

Centrepiece of the park is the dramatic “Ziggurat”, featuring the stomach-churning “Leap of Faith” waterslide, 27.5m tall and 61m long, at the bottom of which you're deposited into a transparent underwater tunnel surrounded by a lagoon full of sharks. Other attractions include assorted master-blasters, water-coasters, speed slides, inner-tube rides and power-jets, all guaranteed to get the heart pounding. 

 

Less adrenaline-hungry visitors will enjoy the park's assortment of gentler rivers and rapids, and there's also a well-equipped children’s play area. Entrance prices also include use of the impressive stretch of adjacent private beach. 

 

Admission costs 200dh (165dh for children under 1.2m; or 250/200dh adults / children including The Lost Chambers; free to in-house guests; plus exorbitant locker rental at 40dh).