Getting Around in Ecuador (II)

Tag: Leisure Activities

Getting Around in Ecuador (II)

3. Getting Around in Ecuador – By Boat

Where bus routes end, you have probably come to a waterway. At this point, boat transportation begins. This is particularly true around the northern coastal tropical forest region and throughout the entire Oriente. Waterway transportation is usually in the form of motorized dugout canoes. Although more expensive than buses, boats are also fast and efficient.


4. Getting Around in Ecuador – Hitching a Ride

In the more remote areas of the highlands, you can often hop in the back of a pickup truck and ride with the locals. This is a great way to travel and enjoy the spectacular scenery, as long as you don’t mind the minor discomfort of a hard wooden seat. On the coast, trucks and open-sided bus-truck hybrids, called rancheras, sometimes substitute for a bus. Pay the driver whatever he asks, which should be only small change, usually similar to the bus fare.


5. Getting Around in Ecuador – By Rail

Once connecting the coast with the Andes, Ecuador’s rail system was largely damaged by the 1997 El Nino and is often in disrepair, as the more efficient roadways have largely replaced its value. Now, it is more suitable for sightseeing than transportation. The Riobamba / Alausi line through the Devil’s

Nose runs several times per week and is a spectacular journey.


6. Getting Around in Ecuador – Rending a Car

Renting an automobile is an option that offers the flexibility of seeing the country at your own pace. Prices are the same as in the US or Canada. Be sure to check the condition of the car and insurance terms thoroughly. Keep in mind that driving in Ecuador can be crazy. And road conditions, especially in more remote areas, but also on the major thoroughfares, are poor and flat tires are a dime a dozen. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended for many areas.

Many roadways in Ecuador are not only unmarked, but they may have no names other than “via a…,” meaning “the way to….” Road conditions can be hazardous. Be cautious of other drivers, especially bus and truck drivers, and always expect that they will try to pass, even on blind turns. Still, driving in the Andean countryside is easy compared to the major cities.


Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (II)

Rio is a modern and well-serviced city divided into four main zones (the Northern Zone, Downtown, the Southern Zone, and the Western Zone). Public transport requires patience. Most of the better restaurants and virtually all hotels take credit cards. Locals may not speak English, though in general they are helpful.


3. Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro – Buses

Common buses are not recommended to foreigners. Though cheap, they are uncomfortable, hard to figure out, and are not safe. If you decide to take your chances anyway, the city bus lines all follow the same numbered routes with great frequency. No one is likely to speak English but the conductor is supposed to indicate your stop if you ask. Buses move through stops at a dangerous speed, and pickpockets are common.

Larger executive buses (called frescão), with air-conditioning, are a different story. These are recommended if you know your surroundings and can speak a little Portuguese. They cost only a few dollars. When you board, tell the driver your stop. These buses run from the Centro (at Avenida Rio Branco) to the Southern Zone (Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon) and back.


4. Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro – Vans

Privately owned vans follow the bus routes and are not recommended unless you speak a little Portuguese. They move fast and you need to know where you are going, plus there is little room for luggage. The vans marked “Castello” and “Assembleia” follow the beach through Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana, stopping in the Centro downtown (and vice versa). They cost about a dollar; pay when you get out. To hail the driver pinch your fingers together rapidly when he approaches – if he sees you he will flash his headlights.

Note: though very rare, there have been incidents in the past of “fake” vans kidnapping and robbing tourists. Verify that there is a clearly printed card in the front windshield. These criminals are typically young men. Legitimate vans should have both women and executive passengers and, while far from a foolproof sign, 90% of the drivers ride with their girlfriend or a kid beside them to open the door and handle the money. If in doubt, just wag your finger side to side and don’t board.


5. Getting Around in Rio de Janeiro – Driving

Driving in town is not advised. Rio’s drivers are insane, the routes are confusing, and parking is hectic. Worse, flanelinhas, or roadside extortionists, appear when you park and demand cash to “protect” it. Look for the municipal parking attendants in green and white vests, which will give you a slip of paper to display on your dashboard. A car can be useful for travel outside the city. At Tom Jobim International Airport, try Avis, Hertz, Localiza, or Unidas. At Santos Dumont Airport, try Avis, or Localiza.


Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol (Part 2)

Costa del Sol, also known as "The Sunny Coast" or "Coast of the Sun" is a region in Southern Spain in the densely dwelt coast of Andalucía. Spreading over 150 kilometers across the Malaga Province, Costa del Sol is the most popular choice of holiday seekers for a fun filled vacation. There are a large number of tourist attractions and leisure activities in Costa del Sol, and because this place has such a wonderful sunny coastal climate, you can schedule your visit any time throughout the year.


6. Sea Life Center (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Other – Benalmadena / Malaga)

At the Sea Life Center in Benalmadena you have the one-off opportunity to marvel at more than 5,000 different sea creatures from the Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian Ocean. You can even find species from the Red Sea or the Amazon in the reproduced eco-systems at Sea Life Center.


7. El Torcal (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Park – Antequera)

The bizarre rock garden of El Torcal has been a National Park since 1978 and displays some truly stunning karst formations. The wafer-life structure of the hills came about due to centuries of sedimentation. The varying height of the stone columns means they look almost artificially designed.


8. Dolphin Safari (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Other – Gibraltar)

Who hasn’t dreamt of coming face to face with dolphins and whales in their natural environment? The Dolphin Safari can make your wish come true. A 30-minute tour offers the perfect opportunity to film and photograph these aquatic creatures.


9. Costa Tropical (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Beach – Almunecar)

The Spanish coastal region of Costa Tropical in the province of Granada was so named as the counterpart to the Costa del Sol. Because of the Sierra Nevada from the hinterland, climate here is mild and tropical. Those in the region on holiday should definitely take a trip to the tropical coast.


10. Tour of Malaga (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Other – Malaga)

A double-decker bus tour of Malaga takes visitors across the city to see the most important tourist attractions. Whether it is for the Pablo Picasso Museum, the impressive monuments like the Alcazaba or the tourist attractions such as the bull-fighting arena – the tour guarantees spectacular sights and a multi-lingual guide.

Glamping and more in Lebanon, Kentucky (II)

Glamping and more in Lebanon, Kentucky


Lebanon offers many unique and attractive venues for the couple searching for a unique wedding experience.


One of the newest venues, Limestone Branch Distillery is located right in crossroads between the Kentucky Bourbon Trail® and the Bourbon Craft Tour® routes. Limestone is a small family-owned and operated distillery. This hidden gem sells something a little different than Bourbon. Limestone offers Moon*Shine and Sugar*Shine. You can get your "Revenge", at Limestone, which is their closest bourbon product. The distillery also makes Climax Moonshine for Discovery Channel; "Moonshiners" star Mm Smith and a delicious new product "MoonPie Moonshine" in vanilla, chocolate or banana, made in cooperation with Chattanooga Bakery, the original MoonPie makers.


Glamping and more in Lebanon, Kentucky


Lebanon is in the heart of Bourbon Country. One of the world's most famous distilleries is only a short ten-minute drive from downtown Lebanon. Maker's Mark Distillery, located in Loretto, offers visitors tours of the bourbon making process and a chance to see how they dip the bottles in that famous red wax. You can even dip your own bottle in the gift shop.


Bourbon is only as good as the barrel it's aged in Independent Stave Company in Lebanon has been making bourbon barrels for a century. The Factory Tour gives visitors the chance to see how bourbon barrels are made, from shaping the staves, charring the inside, placing final hoops, and ensuring the barrel is liquid-tight without handmade sealers.


Glamping and more in Lebanon, Kentucky


One of the county's most famous residents, Ernie Brown, Jr., a.k.a. Turtleman, has his own exhibit at the Marion County Heritage Center. Brown was made famous by his role on Animal Planet's Call of the Wildman. The exhibit features items from Brown's childhood, his first turtle shows, a mock-up of the TV set, and a life-size stand-up perfect for a photo op. The Heritage Center is also home to memorabilia, artifacts, books and manuscripts depicting Marion County history and a genealogy room. The Center houses the collection of Don Johnson, one of the world's top trumpet players and a collection of memorabilia from another Marion County native, Eddie Miles, one of the country's most famous Elvis impersonators.



Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose (III)

"Yes!" It's such a powerful word that it can bring men to their knees. A word that they hope to hear when that big moment arrives. To set the stage to pop the "M" question, here are some of the most romantic places in the world to propose, which help you both relax. These destinations will get her in the mood for romance and create memories that will last forever—till death do you part…


5. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: Ka'ana Luxury Boutique Hotel—San Ignacio, Belize

When Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss proposed to his partner, Shannon Tweed on television in Belize, it became the "it" spot for romance. Your getaway can include reserving your own waterfall and natural pool. At the edge of the pool, a jungle platform sits, with a slate floor, thatched roof and chairs and tables for dining. Another option: Hike to a luxury safari camp set at the base of a Maya Temple and dine under the stars, surrounded by majestic temples. Then join your personal guide for the ascent to the highest temple where you will enjoy 360-degree views. The Blue Hole is one of the most famous sites located along the second largest barrier reef in the world. Arrange a private charter flight to view the natural wonder from above. The circular ring shape is a perfect opportunity to pull out the REAL ring to place on her finger. (It's also the famous site filmed on ABC's The Bachelor.)


6. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: Inverlochy Castle Hotel —Torlundy, Fort William, Scotland

Scotland's Inverlochy Castle Hotel is known for its fantastic food and wine as well as for its luxury accommodations. It's in the Scottish Highlands perfectly situated amongst mountains and glens. Through the years, the hotel has attracted such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery, Elton John and Anthony Hopkins, plus an array of politicians and royals from around the world. "I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot", wrote Queen Victoria in her diary, while visiting for a week's holiday. This occurred in September 1873, one hundred years before Inverlochy was transformed from a private country house estate into a luxury 5 star hotel. The bedroom in which she stayed is now the Honeymoon Suite, with four poster bed, draped in shades of soft pink and peach, offering the most perfect and peaceful setting. It is not surprising to learn that Inverlochy was voted Romantic Hotel of 1997, and continues to be a "romantic spot", year after year.


Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose (II)

"Yes!" It's such a powerful word that it can bring men to their knees. A word that they hope to hear when that big moment arrives. To set the stage to pop the "M" question, here are some of the most romantic places in the world to propose, which help you both relax. These destinations will get her in the mood for romance and create memories that will last forever—till death do you part…


3. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: Bartolome Island — Ecuador

Bartolome Island in the Galapagos archipelago is a young formation — the top of a collapsed volcano rising from the sea. The beautiful golden beach is bordered with thorn shrub and saltbush, while the hills are red and barren, with gray mat plant and a few lava cacti growing from the rock. Towering above the golden beach is Pinnacle Rock. Surrounded by the cold, aqua sea, this "rock" has become an icon of the Galapagos. Blue-footed Boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds and elegant Brown Noddies encircle the island as they fish. Galapagos Penguins, the northernmost of their family, preen on the rocks along the water's edge. The romance begins upon landing and traversing the boardwalk trail, which leads to a climb of over 350 steps. The climb takes you to the highest point on the island, the overlook to view Pinnacle Rock. This vantage point is where the rush of being in the Galapagos surfaces for many. (In fact, the tour owner proposed here — and she said YES!)


4. Most Romantic Places in the World to Propose: Hacienda San Angel — Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Combine a romantic destination, a luxurious suite, sultry topical nights and the object of one's delight. Hacienda San Angel, one of Puerto Vallarta's most intimate and luxurious boutique hotels, nestled high above cobblestone streets and blessed with majestic views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and azure Banderas Bay, offers a divine setting for sweethearts in search of romance, luxury, pampering and the picture-perfect proposal. Proposal arrangements can be made ahead time—from securing the suite of choice to a private balcony dinner with a Mariachi serenade to an artesian tequila tasting. There are plenty of options for wooing one's true love. Romantic doesn't begin to portray the ambiance of tenderness and exclusiveness that fills the courtyards and areas of this amazing boutique resort. Sparkling cascades, perfumed frangipani, fine linens and vintage fixtures are barely a few of the stylish touches that help blend peaceful sophistication with rustic simplicity. Three ponds, a fine dining roof top restaurant, an open-air wedding chapel and in-room spa services are all part of the attraction.

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

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Rudas Bath House – Turkish-style thermal bathing


Of Budapest’s Turkish baths, the 16th century Rudas is arguably the most beautiful. Its ten-meter-high domed ceiling has small pieces of colored glass allowing sharp rays of light to pierce the slightly radioactive water. The centerpiece is the large octagon-shaped pool, which is surrounded by stonewalls which give off a slight echo. Four small corner pools (with various temperatures) and an even smaller cold plunge pool were added during the late 19th-century. There are three saunas; a chamomile-scented two-chamber steam room, a drinking water fountain (warning: the water is hot), and wet massage rooms. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Rudas Bath House – Turkish-style thermal bathing


Located on the Danube bank in Buda, near the Erzsébet Bridge, there is also a fantastic coed rooftop sunbathing area with some of the best views in town: rocky Gellért hill, the St. Gellért statue, the Castle, the Danube, and the bridges. Built when the Ottomans occupied the country, Rudás also has a newer wing, which holds an indoor swimming pool (which is always coed). Prior to the extensive — and much-needed — 2005 renovation, women were not allowed to bathe here (like in Turkish times). 


Now women have their own day to bathe (Tuesdays), while all other weekdays are reserved for men (and swim suits are optional). The clientele during the week is significantly composed of a group of elderly regulars. But weekends are now coed, and the late-night hours (10pm-4am) draw a younger crowd. 


The swimming pool keeps shorter hours from Monday to Wednesday; separate (cheaper) tickets are required.


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


Bus: 5, 86, 178, 7 (to Rudas or Döbrentei tér)

Tram: 18, 19, 41 (to Döbrentei tér)


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary


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Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island (IV)

To explore golf on Vancouver Island, there's a number of ways you might want to approach it. The main golfing areas to consider: Victoria; Cowichan Valley; Parksville / Qualicum Beach; and Courtenay / Campbell River. If your time is condensed, you might want to focus on one region. If you plan a longer stay, consider the Vancouver Island Golf Trail, which stretches about 155 miles (250 km) from Victoria to Campbell River.


16. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Courtenay / Campbell River

Now, as the golf trail has led you roughly halfway up Vancouver Island, you've arrived where you can really weigh in on bragging rights at the salmon fishing capital of the world. Golf Vancouver Island invites you to Tins and Skins" where you can tally up your best score on the golf course, and then capture the big fish, (salmon and halibut) and see who really gets the best numbers. Incidentally, rental cars are offered from Victoria to Comox with no drop off fees, so you can end your island adventure by flying out of the Comox Airport.


17. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Crown Isle Golf & Country Club — This platinum-ranked Graham Cooke designed championship course, within a master-planned resort, is tucked under the shadows of the massive Comox Glacier and the beautiful Beaufort Mountains — just five minutes from an international airport. Its also just 40 minutes from the Island's top skiing. Luxurious accommodations are available in the Villas at Crown Isle or in the spectacular West Coast architecture resort centre complete with waterfall and stunning Mahogany carved staircase. Amenities include a Golf Academy— with superb driving range — practice bunkers, chipping and putting greens, as well as a Golf Shop, Fitness Centre, convention facilities and classic car museum. Select from family-friendly to elegant fine dining options, and a cigar and cognac room.


18. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Storey Creek Golf Club — The Les Furber designed hidden gem has been awarded a prestigious four-and-a-half star ranking by Goff Digest, and voted the third Best Public Course in BC by Vancouver Sun newspaper Sequoia Springs "The Garden Course" — as you might guess from the name 'Sequoia' from the California Redwood tree — you'll find a well-sculpted course lined with hundreds of the majestic trees. On the 12th hole, shoot to an island green back dropped by flowers, and surrounded by a water garden with Koi fish.


19. Best Golf Clubs on Vancouver Island: Glacier Greens Golf Course — If you're flying out of Comox, right by the airport, this championship facility is open year-round with full amenities, great golf and fabulous food.


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!


Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol (Part 1)

The range of leisure activities in Costa Del Sol is large and varied. Whether you prefer to relax or would like to go on a little adventure – there is something for everyone here. Those seeking relaxation can best find it in one of the many spas, such as Spejo’s, or by going on a walk along the beautiful Costa Tropical, and marvel at the amazing landscape. The Torcal de Antequera cliff scenery, which looks as if it was artificially created, is also amazing. Fuengirol Zoo or the Sea Life Center in Benalmadena are the places to be for those who have an appreciation for flora and fauna close to their heart. The “dolphin safari” boat trips bring visitors closer to the animal life in the region and are also an impressive experience.


1. Simple Diving (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Diving spot – Torrenmolinos)

The dive school, Simply Diving, offers course for beginners and professionals, as well as special offers such as night and wreck dives. Any equipment required can be hired on site. There is also a complimentary shuttle service from the hotel to the dive course. Presentation of a medical certificate is mandatory.


2. Mijas Aquatic Park (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Waterpark – Mijas Costa)

At the Mijas Aquatic Park there are loads of spectacular slides and pools. There are wave pools, whirlpools and slides of every kind from steep to spiral in form. In addition to all this, there are also restaurants and bars, as well as sporting activities such as mini golf and a climbing wall.


3. Buddha Beach (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Other – Marbella)

The Buddha Beach ranks among the most exclusive beach clubs in Marbella. The bar with live DJs on the beach offers special drinks in a luxurious atmosphere. The restaurant serves various seafood and Thai dishes. Oriental spa treatments are also offered.


4. Spejo’s (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Thermal & spa – Puerto Banus / Malaga)

At Spejo’s you can indulge both your body and mind over an area of 2,500 square meters. The spa areas with various baths and saunas, therapy zones with face and body treatments made of everything from seaweed to oil, as well as work-outs for the entire body can be enjoyed here, not forgetting the restaurant too.


5. Fuengirola Zoo (Leisure Activities in Costa del Sol: Other – Fuengirola / Malaga)

At the Fuengirola Zoo there are birds, mammals, reptiles and fish. There’s even a breeding program for the preservation of endangered species. The most important tourist attraction is the “Moonlight Visit” during the summer, when Fuengirola Zoo stays open one hour after midnight. There are tours twice a day.


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

Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Király Bath House – Bathing Ottoman-style


The Király fürdő was built in 1565 by the Ottomans. One of the smaller bath houses, it is notable for its location inside the former city walls. Unlike most other bath houses, it isn’t close to a spring (water is transported from the Lukács), but its site was chosen so it could be remain in use during war times. 


Though the Király is long overdue for renovation and a bit of modernization, its regulars love its tranquility and old-fashioned atmosphere. Upon entering, the first pool is a cool one, next to a two-chamber sauna and a room full of wet massage tables. Beyond, the octagon-shaped main pool sits under a dome, with rays of light piercing the water, which laps over the edges and has a strong iron smell. There are two other small pools: a very hot one and an ice-cold plunge pool. Towards the rear, there’s a room full of showers and a steam room. 


Best Bath Houses & Pools in Budapest, Hungary: Király Bath House – Bathing Ottoman-style


If the hot water wears you out, there’s a relaxation room on the upper level with lounges covered with blankets. From the outside, you’ll see the building’s two distinct parts—the stone Turkish section covered with metal domes topped with a golden crescent, and the two-storey green classical section that was added when it was owned by an 18th century aristocratic family. Surrounding the shabby ground floor courtyard are private green-tiled rooms holding tubs, originally meant for those who didn’t have bathrooms in their apartments.


Navigation: Once you buy your ticket and enter, walk up the spiral stone staircase following the signs for the gőzfürdő. In the dressing room you can change into your bathing suit. There are individual cabins where you will change and store your things. Summon the attendant to lock the door. You’ll keep one key, and she she'll lock another lock. 


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


Bus: 60, 86

Metro: M2 or HÉV (to Batthyány tér)

Tram: 19, 41 (to Batthyány tér)