Many people go to Greece to visit ancient temples and look at historic landmarks. Some people, however, go to Greece to enjoy the sand and surf.
If you are a beach lover and are planning to visit Greece with a partner or with family, you might be looking for hotels close enough to the beach so you can maximize your time by the water.
Want to stay by the beach in Greece and spend more time near the water? Here are 4 beautiful beach hotels in Greece you might be interested in.
Delfinia Hotel, Corfu
Delfinia Hotel is a hotel on Corfu Island that rests amidst the lush wonders of nature just north of the Moraïtika resort’s commercial end.
Its style is an elegant rendition of Meditteranean architecture, with three wings surrounded by an assortment of trees that frame the way down towards the hotel’s private and well-catered end of the beach.
The hotel has 185 rooms including many family-oriented suites. Further encouraging families to come over, the hotel provides a fully dedicated children’s play area, along with fitness facilities, a restaurant and a bar for adults only.
Lindos Blu Hotel, Rhodes
Lindos Blu has an “adults only” policy, making it a great vacation spot for couples who can manage to get away from their children for a little while.
Situated 30 miles from Rhodes Town, this picturesque resort sits on the hills overlooking Vlýha Bay. Its interior is minimally designed, with a monochromatic blue outlay that is calming to the eyes.
All of its 74 rooms and suites come with balcony views of the bay that go as far as Haráki. The hotel has a fully equipped spa and fitness centre and offers regular free yoga classes for its guests.
Adorno Beach Hotel & Suites, Mykonos
Adorno beach is only 1.5 miles from the Old Town of Mykonos, making its namesake hotel an excellent choice of residence for those who want to get as much beach action as possible while in Mykonos and still be close to the many awesome sights and activities in town.
The hotel keeps things traditional, from its architecture to its breakfasts, and each every room is gorgeous, they either have a view of the private pool or one of the sea.
Adorno is welcoming to single guest as well as couples and families, and they encourage intending visitors to make reservations at adornosuites.com.
Skiathos Princess, Skiathos
The Skiathos Princess is among the most impressive beach hotels on the island and is located 5 miles from the Old Town of Skiathos, nestled by the beach of Agia Paraskevi Bay.
Beyond the grand marble lobby, the rest of the hotel gives off a relaxed vibe that gives its guest permission to get comfortable. The hotel has two swimming pools, which are framed by an expansive lawn which in turn leads down to the beach.
Also, a great hotel to take children, there is a kid’s club and play area. Adults are not left out as there is a small gym, and there are two yogalates classes offered daily.
These are only four of the hundreds of beach hotels that beautiful Greece has to offer. If you are planning a trip to Skiathos, Mykonos, Corfu or Rhodes, consider visiting one of the hotels on this list.
Planning a weekend getaway from Mumbai or Pune? Have you considered visiting Mahabaleshwar?
A small, peaceful hill station, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, Mahabaleshwar has long been considered a summer getaway destination by vacationers since British colonial rule.
It was, in fact, regarded as the summer capital for the Bombay (now Mumbai) province during those times.
Mahabaleshwar offers a soothing climate to travellers all year round. However, in the monsoon, it does experience quite heavy rainfall.
In summers, you can easily spend a weekend chilling out in some of the most beautiful resorts and hotels located in Mahabaleshwar, far away from the hectic city life of Mumbai and Pune.
In this article, we list some of the best places to visit in Mahabaleshwar for a family vacation. These Mahabaleshwar points of interest are characterised by picturesque views, lush green vegetations, historic sites, and an overall sense of rejuvenation.
Even if you are planning for a 5 to 7-day vacation, you will not fall short of places to see and things to do.
Before we get into the details of Mahabaleshwar tourist spots, let us give you an idea about recent developments in Mahabaleshwar tourism.
Eco-Tourism in Mahabaleshwar
Recently, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has taken the initiative to develop eco-tourism by providing bicycles for tourists in Ganpatipule and Mahabaleshwar.
Cycling posts have been created with the help of local tour operators, where the tourists can hire bicycles to move around at the rate of INR 20 for an hour, and INR 100 for 24 hours.
Gear bicycles are also available for tourists at the rate of INR 100 for 1 hour, keeping in mind the hilly terrain of Mahabaleshwar.
This step towards preserving sustainability has been lauded by all, as it is believed to have an impact in reducing pollution in the region. So, if you’re planning a Mahabaleshwar trip, don’t forget to include cycling gear in your luggage.
Top 10 Can’t-Miss Mahabaleshwar Attractions
Here’s a list of 10 of the best places to see in Mahabaleshwar.
The Mapro Garden
If you’re visiting Mahabaleshwar with your children, the Mapro Garden should be the first place you see.
Established in 1959, this scenic garden park has its own chocolate factory, a separate children’s play area and a restaurant serving delicious cuisine. It is best to visit the Mapro Garden in Easter, because of the Annual Strawberry Festival held during this time.
The strawberry pizzas, bhel, and sandwiches available here will leave you yearning for more. Besides, hundreds of farmers bring their fresh produce and offer them to tourists for free.
The Venna Lake
Built by Shri Appasaheb Maharaj, a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, in the year 1942, this serene lake, surrounded by lush greenery on all sides, covers an area of 28 acres.
One of the most popular places on the Mahabaleshwar points list for tourists, it offers exciting activities, ranging from boating to horse rides.
Although it was primarily built by the ruler to cater to the water needs of the area, it has become a tourist hot spot since independence.
One of the best Mahabaleshwar picnic spots, the Connaught Peak (1,400 metres) was renamed after the Duke Connaught, as it was initially called Mount Olympia.
With no entry fee, you can enjoy panoramic views of Krishna Valley, Venna Lake, Panchgani, Pratapgarh, and Pasarani, not to forget the amazing sunrise and sunset views that can leave you spellbound.
The Mahabaleshwar Temple
Lord Mahabaleshwar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has been a holy shrine for the Maratha warriors.
Its 6-foot long ‘Shiva Lingam’, and the belongings of Lord Shiva like his ‘damru’, his bed, his ‘trishula’, carvings of the sacred bull and ‘Kalbhairava’, are the main attractions for Hindu pilgrims from all over the country.
However, the temple’s serene and spiritual environs, which depicts the calmness of the Great Lord is also a remarkable experience for general tourists.
Your trip to Mahabaleshwar will be incomplete without visiting his fascinating point, the Chinaman’s Fall, named after the Chinese prison located nearby.
In the monsoon season, the breathtaking view of the descent can leave you awestruck. It is also a favourable picnic spot for families with children. However, do not forget to carry extra clothes for your toddlers, in case they get wet.
Elephant’s Head Point
Sightseeing in Mahabaleshwar is incomplete without visiting the Elephant’s Head Point (also called Needle Hole Point), especially because of its green surroundings and the ecstatic views of the Sahyadri range.
The rocks on this site take the shape of an elephant’s head and its trunk, giving the tourist hot spot its unique name. Founded in 1930 by Dr Murray, the site is considered to be one of the best picnic spots in the region.
The temple is known to be the origin of the Krishna River, whose significance in the Hindu culture is overlooked by many.
This serene and beautiful temple in the woods looks best in the monsoon when it is covered in moss with lush green vegetation all around. You have to take a walk through the woods, following the trail from the Panchaganga temple to reach here.
Mostly preferred by filmmakers for its marvellous views and soothing weather conditions, the Tableland plateau is considered the second longest one in Asia.
It is covered by evergreen vegetation, a treat to the eyes of the nature lovers, and it is also regarded as a ‘trekker’s paradise, because of its pleasant climate.
One of the most popular places to visit near Mahabaleshwar, the Pratapgad Fort is located at a distance of 20 kilometres from the Mahabaleshwar hill station.
The ruins of the fort, which was built by the fierce Maratha rulers in 1665, lures tourists because of its exotic location on the top of a hill, its historic value and the breathtaking views it offers.
Also known as Mini Kashmir, Tapola is located at a distance of 25 kilometres from Mahabaleshwar and boasts of rich scenic beauty.
It is picturesque, serene and well-maintained throughout with a lake called the Shivsagar Lake, which is the main attraction of the place.
You can enjoy some water scooters, boating, kayaking and even swimming in the lake. Tapola also offers an exotic jungle trek to Vasota Fort, if you wish to opt for some adventure along the way.
There are plenty of good hotels and resorts in and around the Mahabaleshwar hill station to stay with your family. Many of the resorts in Mahabaleshwar offer exquisite natural views from most of the rooms.
Some of the best hotels in Mahabaleshwar are located on the Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani road and the Satara road. However, if you’re an explorer by heart, you can always go camping and live in tents to satisfy your adventurous spirit.
If you come here at the beginning of August, you can enjoy the festival and car show dedicated to the most famous highway on the planet.
Come to visit the ‘heart’ of the Ozarks Mountains and feel the unique mix of amenities typical for a big city and warm hospitality of charming, small town.
If you’re trying to figure out what to see in Springfield Mo, here’s what you should visit first in this Springfield Mo visitors guide.
Things To Do In Springfield Mo
Want to know what to do in Springfield Mo and which places to see in Springfield Mo? Here’s a list of 6 fascinating Springfield Mo attractions that first-time visitors can’t miss.
The Fantastic Caverns, Springfield Missouri
Do you know that Fantastic Caverns, an otherworldly attraction located 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Springfield, are the only caves in the whole North America which you can entirely ride through?
The caves in Springfield Missouri were made in ancient times when a river carved a path you can travel down nowadays.
Since John Knox discovered this place in 1862, while was walking around with his hunting dog, it has become a favoured destination for numerous explorers and even the music venue in the 50s.
Just take a seat in one of the Jeep-drawn trams and enjoy a spectacular 55-minute tour of the caves.
Admire stalagmites rising from the floor and stalactites hanging from the ceiling at the constant temperature of 60 F (15.5 C). Keep in mind that the cave is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving Day.
The Pythian Castle
If you’re interested in Springfield Mo history, you must visit the Pythian Castle, a 0.9-acres (0.36 ha) large fortress that is considered the home of Missouri.
As the “Ghosts of the Pythian Castle” episode by the Paranormal Task Force in Springfield, Missouri, notes, this monstrous limestone castle has stood tall for the last 100 years.
Knights of Pythias (an international fraternal order) built this place in 1913, having a plan to make an orphanage and retirement home for the members of their families.
In 1942 it was commandeered by the US military and was a prison. Within these walls lie a theatre, a ballroom, a bowling alley, a dungeon and even an interrogation room used for Nazi prisoners and other enemy soldiers during WWII that many are probably unaware of.
It was renamed the “Enlisted Men’s Service Club” and later became a hospital for recovering injured war veterans. It served as a general hospital to help rehabilitate injured America troops during World War II.
This recognizable ominous building takes place on two lists, on the US National Register of Historic Places and an unofficial list of haunted castles.
Nowadays, it is a private property where you can come to catch a feel of ghost-tour, dungeon-tour, creepy murder-mystery-tour, and historical-tour as well.
They also organize private and holiday events, theatre performances, and weddings. Grab the opportunity and enjoy this unique venue no matter if you believe in ghosts or not.
The Springfield Art Museum
The Springfield Art Museum is the oldest cultural institution in this town.
It was founded in 1926 when a few women decided that their beloved town deserves such a place. They wanted to educate new generations and to teach and inspire citizens to appreciate art.
Some of my favourites are the Art of American water media, but you can also admire the Art of the Midwest and European pottery, for example. Moreover, this inspiring place often hosts travelling and rotating exhibitions.
When you visit this museum, you’ll even get a bonus in the form of the fascinating Outdoor Dr Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden that is definitely worth exploring.
Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield was the site of the famous battle fought on August 10, 1861. It was the first major American Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi River.
During that battle, the Union general Nathaniel Lyon was killed, as the first high officer who lost his life in the Civil War. The video below shows Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, which preserves the site of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.
Nowadays, we can visit this National Park and show respect for our ancestors who lost their lives on this particular battlefield. Don’t miss going to the Ray House, the only original house which remained after the battle.
Mother’s Brewing Company
If you want to taste probably the best craft beers in the US, come to the locally-owned brewery in Springfield. Mother’s Brewing Company has been brewing beer in the heart of the city since 2011.
Just go downtown to South Grant and try my favourite Three Blind Mice as well as some seasonal beers like Spring Batch or Oktoberfest.
If you like antiques, as I do, I highly recommend you to visit Relics Antique Mall which offers vintage collectables and antiques on impressive two acres (90 000 ft2 or 8360 m2).
When you get hungry, stop in the old tearoom and enjoy their made cuisine and an excellent cup of coffee or tea.
Where To Stay In Springfield Mo
If you’re looking for cheap Springfield Mo lodging, there’s no dearth of motels in Springfield Mo. And if you want luxury hotels in Springfield Mo, you’ll find plenty of options.
From a Motel 6, to a Holiday Inn, and 5-star hotels in Springfield Mo, like the DoubleTree by Hilton Springfield, you’ll find a number of motels and hotels in Springfield Mo for all budgets on Booking.com.
Useful Tips For International Travelers To Springfield, Mo
If you one of the international travellers from a country under the Visa Waiver Program who decided to visit the US for tourism in Springfield Mo, you don’t need a visa for visitors anymore.
Just fill the ESTA application established by the US government on January 12, 2009, and you will get a right to spend 90 days in this beautiful country no matter of the reason for visiting.
Check for the valid, digital chipped passport and credit card, add the correct contact information, and submit the ESTA form.
Keep in mind that you will be adequately pre-screened and the US authorities reserve the right to require additional specific security features if needed.
After passing all the necessary procedures, you can board a plane or a boat and begin your exciting American adventure.
I hope this Springfield Mo travel guide will help you enjoy your Springfield Missouri sightseeing tour to the fullest during your Springfield Mo vacation.
After travelling for two days from Detroit, MI, the last thing we wanted to do once we landed, was to spend another 2.5 hours getting to the resort.
Dreams Las Mareas Costa Rica has an airport shuttle and arranged for the airport transfer to the resort, however, we waited outside the airport with our driver for at least an hour for the rest of our party.
Once they finally arrived, we had an hour and a half drive, over some pretty treacherous roads, until we finally arrived at our destination.
Arrival at the Dreams Las Mareas Hotel
Once we arrived at Dreams Las Mareas, we were greeted with chilled champagne and cold towels. A bellboy took our bags while we checked in at the desk. Once this process was complete, we were able to begin our vacation!
We were shown to our room and were immediately drawn to the balcony. Our balcony had a stunning view of the resort property and the jungle-covered mountains in the distance.
The balcony also had a large jetted tub that we enjoyed in the evenings as adorable little geckos appeared on the exterior walls and ceiling. The rooms themselves were pretty basic, although tasteful.
Resort Setting and Activities
I am not familiar with much of Costa Rica’s terrain, however, if the long treacherous drive from the airport was necessary for us to stay in that magical setting, then it was all worth it.
The Dreams Las Mareas resort is located on a small beach, with jungle-covered mountains on either side. The beach is public, however, it was never crowded.
I actually enjoyed the public nature of the beach because we were able to chat with locals and buy souvenirs and enjoy services for a fraction we would have paid on the resort property.
One afternoon my husband and I enjoyed hour-long full body massages on the beach. Two Costa Rican women (I wish I remembered their names) had massage tables set up on the beach in the shade of trees just a short walk down the sand from the resort area.
I have had many massages in my day, and this was by far one of the best massages I have ever had. The Dreams Las Mareas staff make the most of this magical setting by offering yoga every morning on the beach and offering a guided wildlife tour circling the area around the property.
Each morning I walked to the beach, where the sand was still damp and cool from the night tide. An instructor provided us all with mats and instructed us through hour-long yoga sessions, during which we synchronized our breath to the sounds of the ocean waves.
Some very well cared for and friendly beach dogs sat on the sand and watched us sweetly throughout the yoga class. This was such a magical way to begin each day!
One afternoon I also went on the guided wildlife tour led by Dreams Las Mareas staff. This was a fun way to socialize with other vacationers and learn the names of various tropical plants.
Rishikesh is an enchanting place surrounded on all sides by low hills and forests. This ancient centre of pilgrimage attracts travellers from all over the world.
You’ll find spiritualists, backpackers, solo travellers, yogis and more when you pay a visit to this land situated in the Himalayan foothills. Rishikesh isn’t just a place; it’s an emotion, a feeling that stays with you even when you have left it behind.
From its bustling bazaars to narrows streets to the alluring banks of the River Ganga, this Himalayan travel destination will leave you satisfied, enthralled and most importantly, happy once you set foot on it.
The popularity of Rishikesh has increased by leaps and bounds over the years among travellers, thanks to its reputation as ‘The Yoga Capital of the World’ as well as plenty of places to see and visit from here.
What Are The Best Places To Visit In Rishikesh And Nearby?
Here’s a list of 6 places to visit in Uttarakhand near Rishikesh, where you can explore the best parts of this spiritual travel destination.
Located only at a distance of around 20 km from Rishikesh is Haridwar which is among the 7 most sacred pilgrimage places for Hindus across the world.
The word Haridwar actually comes from two Sanskrit words – Hara meaning ‘Lord Shiva’ and Dwara meaning ‘Gateway’ which combines to form, ‘Haridwar’ or ‘Gateway to Lord Shiva’.
Situated along the banks of the Ganges, Haridwar also holds a reputation as a place where one can attain ‘Moksha’ or ‘Salvation’. Being a holy city, the place is like a refuge for sadhus (holy men) and is full of temples and ashrams.
The amazing sights and sounds of this place are unique to it and so bask in its glory when you’re there. Also, don’t forget to witness the spectacular Ganga Aarti during the evening time and visit the famous, Saptarishi Ashram.
The Beatles Ashram
Almost everyone now knows that The Beatles visited Rishikesh in the year 1968 and stayed at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram.
But, if you’ve read about their stay in the ashram and what they gained after their visit then, it must have intrigued you to pay at least one visit to this place. This shouldn’t be about going there since the Beatles visited but, about something else.
The Beatles said that their stay at the ashram was a truly life-changing journey where they connected with their inner selves and found exactly what they wanted despite having everything.
Though the place has changed over the last few decades its essence still remains and that’s the reason you need to go there.
Neer Garh Waterfalls
Though many people talk about a visit to Laxman Jhula while in Rishikesh, they fail to understand that eventually, you end up going there even if you’re not planning it.
However, a more adventurous and exciting place is just located at a distance of 5 km from Laxman Jhula known as Neer Garh Waterfalls.
A short trek will take you to the waterfalls. There are basically two tiers and you can even take a dip in the pools where the water accumulates.
It is refreshing, rejuvenating and most importantly, far away from the hustle and bustle of the main city, which gives you a perfect opportunity to be at one with nature.
This place is also famous as Lord Shiva’s abode and has a number of temples with interesting history and architecture.
Shivpuri is only 16 km from Rishikesh and the best part is that all the camping activities are carried out beside the Ganges which makes it even more fascinating.
The enthralling atmosphere of the place, with mountains on all sides and the river flowing by, creates a mystical aura that every adventurous soul can cherish.
Parmarth Niketan Ashram
For seekers of spirituality, wellness and complete rejuvenation of the body and the mind, Parmarth Niketan is often the preferred choice.
The ashram was founded in the year 1942 by Swami Shukhdevanand Ji Maharaj and it happens to be the biggest in Rishikesh with more than 1000 rooms.
From yoga and meditation to Reiki to Ayurveda treatments, the ashram promotes various practices related to overall wellness.
The picturesque setting of the ashram offers you the perfect gateway to relax and unwind your tired body and soul. You can also participate in various forms of traditional yoga like Hatha Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Vinyasa Yoga.
Sit under the divine tree ‘Kalpavriksha’ and meditate to connect with your inner-self or treat yourself to an invigorating Ayurvedic therapy or massage – the choices are plenty.
Situated along the banks of the flowing Ganges is the Triveni Ghat. During daytime, the place is mostly filled with pilgrims or sadhus taking a dip in the holy river.
However, during the evening, the scenario is completely different. The resplendent Ganga Aarti is a sight to behold in an atmosphere that is filled with divine chanting of sacred mantras (recitations of Holy Scriptures).
This is also an opportune time for shutterbugs to capture this beautiful moment and make memories that will last forever.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of good places to visit in Rishikesh and around. If you found this article useful, do leave a comment below.
Dubai is a home to the world’s tallest buildings, biggest man-made islands, and largest shopping malls.
But there’s another addition to this list of superlatives – IMG Worlds of Adventure – the world’s largest indoor theme park. It took around three years and over 1 billion dollars to construct this park.
The park is huge and it measures about 1.5 million square feet in size. It can accommodate over 20,000 guests in one day and includes many roller coaster rides and special attractions to fascinate visitors.
It is located in the City of Arabia, alongside Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, and sports a slogan that says, ‘Live the epic adventure.’ It was opened in 2016 and since then it has offered great experiences for visitors all year round.
Theme park rules:
Every visitor to the IMG Worlds of Adventure Dubai needs to follow certain rules. These include:
Once tickets are pre-booked, there are no refunds
You must show a valid ticket to enter the park
All kids below 12 years should be accompanied by an adult
A valid proof is required for re-entry into the park on the same day
Tickets with no date mentioned are invalid
Every visitor needs to go through a security check. Some of the items not allowed are weapons, illegal drugs, glass bottles, explosives, alcoholic beverages, skateboards and more.
There are plenty of adventure zones in the amusement park. The four major ones include:
If you’re a fan of Marvel superheroes such as The Hulk, The Avengers, Spider-Man, you’ll love this zone. This is the action-packed area of the park with some amazing rides.
They include Avengers Battle of Ultron, Hulk Epsilon Base 3D, Thor Thunder Spin, and Avengers Flight of the Quinjets. There are dining options and restaurants here too.
This is a fantasy world dedicated to the dinosaurs. There are magnificent rides and special attractions for the people who wish to explore the Lost World.
Some of the rides include Forbidden Territory, The Velociraptor, Dino Carousel, Predator, and Adventure Fortress. Here also, you’ll find some restaurants.
If your kid is a Cartoon Network fan, they’ll love this zone. Some excellent rides include Ben 10 5D Hero Time, The Amazing Ride of Gumball, Lazy Town and more. There are also shopping sites, hangouts, and eating joints here.
This is a combination of thrill and leisure. The attractions include a haunted hotel, popcorn factory, flavours of Arabia, samosa house, and the coffee house.
Movies at IMG Worlds of Adventure
NOVO Cinemas is a 12-screen multiplex in the IMG Worlds of Adventure amusement park located at just a distance of 15 minutes from the Dubai central.
This movie zone offers a 7-star experience to visitors with 3D IMAX technology. If you’re a serious movie buff, you’ll probably never want to leave.
It has state-of-the-art-technology to give audiences a real-life experience and includes some dining and shopping too. Overall, it is an amazing experience to watch movies here.
Dining at the world’s largest indoor theme park
Besides the adventures at this park, there is no dearth of dining options. Every zone of the park has restaurants with different themes and offering unique cuisines.
Some of the places you can enjoy food include:
Hotdog Express: Obviously for hot dog lovers.
Captain Scoop: For ice-cream lovers, yo.
Downtown Shawarma: Love shawarma like Iron Man. Get yours here.
Smoothy: The yummiest burgers!
The Candy Palace: Get your sweet tooth on.
Spice Valley: For tandoor and roasted meat lovers.
360 Burgers: More burgers and hotdogs
I challenge you to not pick up some memorabilia from this fun place on your way out. You’ll be spoiled for choice with all the merchandise available.
A few places for some retail therapy are:
Empire News and Comics: Comic book lovers can buy comics and souvenirs here.
Avengers Exchange: Get all the toys you like from The Avengers Warehouse
Cartoon network classics: Small toys of your favourite cartoon characters
There are many more shopping zones like the ones mentioned above.
Why You Should Visit IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai
If you’re in Dubai, you cannot miss this extraordinary theme park. It could end up being a fun outing for your family where you can spend quality time and create some great memories. After all, it’s not called the world’s largest theme park for nothing.
How To Travel To Dubai?
There are a lot of flights available at Cleartrip that connect to Dubai from different countries. All you need to do is choose the best airline for your trip to Dubai.
Dubai offers a lavish experience to visitors so don’t pass up the opportunity to spend a vacation here. Try to book your flight ticket in advance to get the lowest price.
During our trip to Tromsø, in early September 2018, one of the places I was keen to visit was the Polar Museum in Tromsø, Norway.
Fresh from having binge-watched the Netflix series, The Terror, a fictionalized account of Captain Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition to the Arctic in 1845–1848, and my interest in Polar exploration whetted, I was eager to learn more about Arctic explorers.
Located in former Customs House on the quayside – a stone’s throw from our Tromsø hotel, the Clarion Collection Hotel With – and dating from 1830, the polar museum in Tromsø is all about Arctic exploration and trapping.
As the centre of seal hunting in North Norway in the late 1800s, Tromsø was the “Gateway to the Arctic” and an important base for many polar expeditions.
Near the museum is a statue of Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian polar explorer who led the Antarctic expedition of 1910–12, which was the first to reach the South Pole, on 14 December 1911.
He was an important person during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration and the first person to reach both poles. He also led the first expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage (1903–06) in the Arctic.
The museum is a shrine to these courageous men and women and the ships and equipment that were essential for life both on the sea and in the Arctic.
From the remarkably life-like exhibits, which ranged from macabre to fascinating, it is obvious that life as an Arctic explorer or trapper was hard and that they must have been used to great risk, hardship, deprivation and exposure to extreme conditions.
Some of the subjects of the exhibitions included:
Overwintering in the Arctic – The trapper Henry Rudi who killed 713 polar bears
The first woman to winter in the Arctic – Wanny Woldstad
Seal hunting in the Arctic Ocean
Fridtjof Nansen’s and Roald Amundsen lives and expeditions
Helmer Hansen and Hjalmar Johansen who accompanied Amundsen to the South Pole
Svalbard, Willhelm Barentz’ discovery of the region in the 1500s, whaling in the 1600-1700s and Russian overwintering
Temporary exhibitions with Arctic content
I feel obliged to include a trigger warning for animal-lovers. Some of the exhibits of animal trapping and seal hunting were downright distressing.
Here’s a photo-essay of some of the exhibits I found most fascinating.
Many of the exhibits are not labeled in English so it was hard to figure out what they represented.
These, of course, showcase some objects used by explorers.
This exhibit contains British and Dutch graves that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
This dog accompanied Roald Amundsen at the Gjoa-expedition, the first navigation through the Northwest passage in 1903-1906.
Objects that belonged to Norwegian trapper and polar bear hunter, Henry Rudi, who was born in Tromsø.
We didn’t actually end up spending a lot of time inside the museum because the thermostat was set so high, we found it uncomfortably warm in all the layers of clothes we were wearing.
But if you like history and creepy stuff, visiting the Polar Museum in Tromsø is one of the things you might enjoy doing.
The Grand Sirenis is a luxury resort in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula that I loved so much that I have actually been there on three different holidays!
Yes, it is fair to say that I am a regular. But it isn’t just the resort that I love so much, but the area as well.
I truly think that if you want to take a luxury vacation to Mexico, then you should consider checking out the Yucatan especially the area between Playa del Carmen and Tulum!
And, if you are going to this area then the Grand Sirenis is an option for a great place to stay!
Where is the Grand Sirenis Located?
The Grand Sirenis is located about halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the beautiful Mayan Riviera. The closest international airport is in Cancun which is about a 3-hour drive away.
While it isn’t necessarily close to the airport, the remoteness is what makes the location so special. The resort is right on the beach offering lots of swimming and snorkelling in the Caribbean Sea.
It takes about 30 minutes by car to get into the touristic booming city of Playa del Carmen or the smaller but equally as beautiful town of Tulum.
What is there to do near the Grand Sirenis?
Because of the Grand Sirenis’ location in the Mayan Riviera, a there is a ton of things to do and see near the resort! One of my personal Mexico highlights would be exploring Cenotes which are large natural pools in the ground.
Some are intricate cave systems and some connect with rivers, but they are all fun to swim and scuba dive in and make for an adventure!
There are also many amusement/adventure parks nearby. Xel-Ha, Xcaret, and Rio Secreto are just a few of the most popular. I personally loved exploring Xel-Ha.
I went tubing in a natural river and conquered the water-based obstacle course. Xel-Ha even hosts special events throughout the year to celebrate certain Mexican holidays and festivals such as Day of the Dead.
There are also many different ruins to check out near the Grand Sirenis. You could go see one of the wonders of the world Chichen Itza on a day trip organized right at the resort, or explore the Tulum Ruins, or even go to the Coba Ruins.
A tour of ruins is a great way to learn about the Mayan history and immerse yourself in the culture.
Going to different beaches or visiting Playa del Carmen or Tulum are also popular things to do near the Grand Sirenis.
What makes the Grand Sirenis special?
There are a couple things about the Grand Sirenis that I think sets it apart from some of the other resorts in the area.
For me, the best is the snorkelling available right at the resort. Many resorts only have a sandy beach and there are no rocks or fish to look at.
But at the Grand Sirenis, they have a sandy beach and rocky area which attracts tons of fish! Bring your snorkel or rent one and go exploring in the sea!
The other thing that is unique to the Grand Sirenis is the “Lazy River.” While there are several pools throughout the resort, the lazy river is a special feature. It is a man-made river system that winds throughout the entire resort grounds.
The supply air-filled tubes and then you jump in the river and float around the resort with a drink in hand! It makes for a very relaxing way to explore the resort and is more entertaining than just sitting poolside.
The atmosphere at this resort is also very special. There is a mix of families, couples, wedding parties, and partiers that all mix together and seems to work.
The staff keep everyone smiling with games and the bartenders love to have a good laugh. But at the same time, there are plenty of places isolated for those who want to relax or have a fine-dining experience.
What are the food and service like?
To be completely honest, I have been to resorts with better food. One of the Grand Sirenis’ strong points is not its food. They do have “a la carte” restaurants which I find are a lot better than the buffet.
While the food isn’t always amazing, there is always a ton of it and you will not find yourself going hungry during your stay there!
The staff are generally happy and helpful. Some of them don’t speak English but still will greet you with a smile and find another staff member who does speak English to help you if needed.
The biggest downside to the resort is the paper-based reservation system which makes checking in extremely slow and often incorrect.
Is the Grand Sirenis good value?
Overall I think a vacation at the Grand Sirenis is the great value. With the rooms, you get all you can eat food, a la carte restaurants for dinner, unlimited drinks and access to the beautiful resort!
While it isn’t perfect, it is for the great value that I keep returning. I know that if I need a vacation and an escape from reality that the Grand Sirenis resort will leave me feeling refreshed after a fun and relaxing holiday.
It only takes one Instagram story on a trip to Reykjavik before you permanently ink this destination onto your bucket list.
The scenery is beyond amazing, and a trip to Iceland is bound to make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the stairway to heaven.
But there are a few things you should know before that dream trip to Iceland becomes a reality.
Iceland isn’t for the faint of budget
The first thing you’ll notice when you get to Iceland is that nothing is cheap. Prices on this island can range from costly to exorbitant. Expect to pay $20 for one meal at a fast food joint and about $7 for a gallon of gas.
Airport transportation can be particularly expensive, so if at all possible, avoid taxis. Keflavik Airport has a very efficient shuttle service that leaves from outside the main terminal every half hour. It makes stops at all the major hotels in Reykjavik and the BSI bus terminal at the city’s centre.
The ride costs about USD $25, but a taxi would run you around USD $100. The drive from the airport to the city centre is around 45 minutes, so a $25 shuttle fee isn’t that bad. As a bonus, they have complimentary Wi-Fi on board.
This is not something to scare you off from visiting, but you should be prepared and budget for the extra cost. Expect just about everything to be more expensive in Iceland.
There are alternatives to the Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field near Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Is it amazing? Yes, but it’s also expensive and can get overcrowded.
If you have your heart set on going, just expect to deal with crowds. If you’re open to alternatives, though, you may enjoy the nearby Kópavogslaug in Kópavogur.
Don’t bank your trip on the Northern Lights
Unless you’re visiting Iceland in the winter, you probably won’t see the Northern Lights. A lot of people mistakenly think they can see this spectacular phenomenon any time of year, but that’s simply not the case.
But on the other hand, if you’re visiting at a time when the Northern Lights are visible, you won’t be able to miss them.
In order to see the Northern Lights, you need darkness. And because Iceland sits at a high latitude, you won’t find the necessary darkness in the months between April and August.
The lights typically reach their peak in September and March because these are periods of the equinox. If you’re visiting in the winter and want to catch a glimpse of Aurora Borealis, your best chance is between 9:30 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.
Rent a car
Renting a car is the best way to see all the beauty Iceland has to offer, so you should definitely plan for this. But you should know that Iceland is filled with rugged terrain and weather that’s often punishing.
Most of the roads in Iceland are unpaved, pothole littered and completely jagged. They’re absolutely beautiful to the eye, but they are very rough on your vehicle.
All this is to say that you need to get all the insurance coverage the rental company offers. They’ll ask about the type of driving you’ll do, and you can bet you’ll be off-roading and driving up mountains.
If nothing else, the extra insurance will give you peace of mind as your car is jostled around on Iceland’s primitive roads. You definitely don’t want to be stuck footing the bill for repairs on a new vehicle.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that Iceland’s Ring Road runs about 1,332 kilometres. Bringing the necessary equipment such as a map, a reliable GPS, an extra tank of gas, a flashlight, and snacks are all essentials to help you prepare for the unknown road on your trip around Iceland by car!
The weather changes dramatically
They say if you don’t like the weather in Florida, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. Well, Iceland’s weather can be even more unpredictable and dramatic.
Always dress in layers and always expect rain. Weather changes can be even more dramatic in the mountains, and there’s also more of a chance you’ll encounter ice. Make sure your rental car is equipped with spikes on its tires to get you through these touchy conditions.
Low-grade hurricanes are also very common in Iceland, especially in the winter months. These can have a quick and drastic impact on driving conditions. In a winter hurricane, you may encounter what Icelanders call the “white wall.”
As the name implies, it’s a wall of white snow that takes visibility down to zero. Take the weather conditions seriously and follow vedur.is or road.is to get driving condition alerts as they happen.
If you have Iceland on your bucket list, you’re in for a big adventure. The sights are amazing, and the experience is completely unforgettable.
But just like with any vacation, you should do your homework before embarking on your trip. This way, you can be prepared for the worst and in a good place to experience the best.
Family travel blog on responsible, sustainable tourism.