Luxe Adventure Traveler http://luxeadventuretraveler.com Adventure Travel With a Glass of Wine Sun, 19 Apr 2015 17:33:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Best Grand Canyon Day Hikes http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/best-grand-canyon-day-hikes/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/best-grand-canyon-day-hikes/#respond Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:38:25 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64802 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Each year more than five million flock to the Grand Canyon to see the staggering views. But forget the tour bus and don’t be satisfied with simply peering over the rim. The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is from below the rim. With more than 500 miles logged hiking the Grand Canyon trails, [...]

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Each year more than five million flock to the Grand Canyon to see the staggering views. But forget the tour bus and don’t be satisfied with simply peering over the rim. The best way to experience the Grand Canyon is from below the rim. With more than 500 miles logged hiking the Grand Canyon trails, I consider myself a bit of an authority on the best Grand Canyon day hikes and have rounded up these ones that are definitely worth pulling out your trekking poles and hitting the trail for.

Beginner Day Hikes

Grand Canyon Kaibab LoopSouth Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

The South Kaibab Trail is one of the most scenic trails in the Grand Canyon. It follows the path of a ridge line all the way to the Colorado River seven miles later. Going down may seem like a piece of cake, but if this is your first Grand Canyon hike I recommend turning around after the 1.5 mile mark at Cedar Ridge or the 3 mile mark at Skeleton Point. There isn’t any water available on the South Kaibab Trail, so pack at least 3-4 liters.

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Hiking the Bright Angel Trail with my cousin Rob, a fellow Cubbies fan

Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens

The Bright Angel Trail is the heaviest traveled trail in the Grand Canyon, but don’t let that discourage you. The well sloped trail has water during the summer months at the 1.5 mile, 3 mile and 4.5 mile points at Indian Gardens. This is one of the best trails for an introduction to canyon hiking. Be on the lookout for big horn sheep and deer along the trail.

Grand Canyon Horseshoe Mesa

A snowy Horseshoe Mesa with my dad

Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa

For those looking to venture off the main corridor trails, consider this hike on the Grandview Trail. While the trail isn’t in as good of a condition as the first two hikes mentioned, the views will make it worthwhile as you descend into the giant horseshoe shaped mesa. There isn’t any water on the trail so bring at least a gallon for this six mile round trip hike.

Grand Canyon Yuma PointBoucher Trail to Yuma Point

For those comfortable with some basic navigation of Grand Canyon trails check out this hike to Yuma Point. While it’s only six miles round trip, don’t take this hike for granted. Be sure to take the quick detour to Dripping Spring to cool off or load up on water. The views from Yuma Point are some of the best in the Canyon.

Challenging Day Hikes

Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

Rewarding views from the Bright Angel Trail

South Kaibab Tonto Bright Angel Loop

If you are in good shape and ready to try a more challenging hike, take a look at this 12 mile hike. You can make this loop in either direction, but I recommend starting at the South Kaibab trailhead. By starting at the South Kaibab trailhead, when you are tired at the end of the day you are hiking up the Bright Angel Trail which conveniently has water available every 1.5 miles and has some shade available in the afternoon.

Colorado RiverSouth Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River

The South Kaibab Trail is my favorite way to get to the Colorado River. Fourteen miles round trip may not seem like much but you lose 3600 feet elevation in the process. Try to time your hike so that you are not hiking up the trail during the heat of the day. The only water available on the hike will be at Bright Angel Campground at the Colorado River, so plan accordingly.

Grand CanyonBright Angel Trail to the Colorado River

If hiking in the sun and carrying all your water isn’t your fancy, hit up the Bright Angel Trail. While it is longer than the South Kaibab Trail, you have water available at the 1.5 mile, 3 mile, 4.5 mile and 9 mile points. There is some shade to be found on the upper portion of the trail but not much around the Colorado River, so plan to avoid hiking during the heat of the day.

Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon

Cooling off in Ribbon Falls on the Rim to Rim hike

Rim to Rim

The ultimate hike for those seeking a grueling challenge is a Rim to Rim hike. Covering a minimum of 21 miles and 10,000 feet elevation change is no easy feat even for those who consider themselves fit.  Temperatures can range from freezing on the rims to 100°F along the Colorado River.  For a twist on the Rim to Rim hike stay one or two nights at the lodge on the North Rim and hike back across. Those truly insane will do a Rim to Rim to Rim in one day. I accomplished a Rim to Rim to Rim in 20 hours of hiking and it’s probably the greatest fitness test I have done to date.

Stay tuned for more in this series as I cover the Best Grand Canyon Backpacking Hikes and the Best Grand Canyon Backcountry Expeditions.

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Eccleston Square: London’s Bou”tech” Hotel http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/eccleston-square-hotel/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/eccleston-square-hotel/#respond Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:29:35 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64722 Luxe Adventure Traveler

I discovered a cool new London boutique hotel, not surprisingly given it’s high tech features, on Twitter recently. With their fun Twitter and Instagram feeds, friendly online personality and reputation as one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, I was thrilled when Eccleston Square Hotel invited me to come check out all of [...]

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I discovered a cool new London boutique hotel, not surprisingly given it’s high tech features, on Twitter recently. With their fun Twitter and Instagram feeds, friendly online personality and reputation as one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, I was thrilled when Eccleston Square Hotel invited me to come check out all of their amenities for a night.

Eccleston Square Hotel is the most tech-saavy hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The bou”tech” (see what I did there?) hotel has just 39 rooms and this definitely lends to the atmosphere of feeling like you’re a guest in a friend’s home. Owner Olivia Byrne is even there to greet and chat with guests herself and I enjoyed sitting down with her to learn a little more about what inspired her to open a hotel at just 23 years old and put in all these high-tech features.

Eccleston Square Hotel

My Signature King Room

It’s a good thing I’ve been to London loads of time and that it was a little rainy when I arrived, because I definitely didn’t want to leave the cozy Eccleston Square Hotel. I used the in-room iPad, which basically controls every facet of your stay, to browse the menu and order some room service from the hotel’s restaurant, Bistrot on the Square. You can even select the time you want it delivered.

Eccleston Square Hotel

Selfie with my 3D glasses

I also ordered a movie from the complimentary selection of 3D Blu-rays available to watch on your in-room 3D television. Both my room service and movie arrived shortly, along with a pair of 3D glasses. These weren’t a disposable pair of ridiculous looking paper glasses like you get at the movie theater either; they were very comfortable and light to wear.

After finishing my room service, I again used the iPad to indicate the tray was ready to be cleared. I selected the option that the tray would be outside the door, paused my movie to place it outside and kicked back on the Rolls Royce of beds. Billed as the world’s best bed, the Hastens massaging bed retails for more than £12,000 each and every one of the 39 rooms has one. It can be adjusted to contour to your body and has a variety of massaging features. I’m like the Goldilocks of hotel beds and this Hastens bed was definitely just right. When the massage feature is on, it is a little too loud to actually sleep with it on. I did enjoy the massaging feature while watching my movie though!

The room is equipped with touch pads to control the lights, curtains and temperature. Even the do not disturb is a light controlled by touch pad, which I loved so I didn’t have to fight with the door hanger than inevitably always falls off the door when coming in and out of the room. But my favorite touch pad feature was the ability to turn the see-through glass of the bathroom to frosted glass with just the touch of a button. I’ll admit I was like a little kid who flicks the light switch on and off repeatedly.

Eccleston Square HotelThe bathroom also had a very nicely sized walk-in shower with three different shower heads to choose from, including a high-pressure double rain shower. The mirror is a steam proof mirror with built-in tv, which is perfect since I always steam up the mirrors with my hot showers. The marble floors were also heated and who doesn’t love heated floors when it’s chilly outside? My only complaint about the bathroom is that there were no outlets to plug in my hairdryer and straightener. That the hotel stocks my favorite L’Occitane beauty products made up for having to set-up my compact as a make-shift beauty station to dry and straighten my hair.

Eccleston Square Hotel

The in-room iPad and Eccleston Square Hotel app work as a digital concierge

Perhaps one of the best tech features of Eccleston Square Hotel though is the app, which acts like a digital concierge. You download the app to your phone or iPad and order room service or a drink to be waiting for you when you arrive back in the hotel, make dinner reservations at Bistrot on the Square or arrange whatever else you need to from the concierge.

Eccleston Square Hotel

Eggs benedict at Bistrot on the Square

Breakfast can also be ordered right from the app and delivered to your room, but I chose to actually go downstairs and enjoy the beautiful space that the restaurant is in. If you snag a window table, or if it’s nice enough to dine outside, there is great people watching as Londoners from the neighborhood make their way to work. I actually prefer that the menu is a la carte and I selected eggs benedict, my breakfast indulgence, and a pot of tea.

Some of the other things I loved about this hotel are that the wifi is free (and fast), there is a cocktail happy hour each afternoon and drinks are surprisingly affordable for both London and a luxury hotel, complimentary pots of tea can be delivered to your room daily from the app or in-room iPad, and that hotel guests have complimentary access to the neighborhood’s private garden and tennis courts. The concierge can even arrange picnics in the garden.

Eccleston Square Hotel is fantastic and terrific value. I loved the hotel, friendly staff, small touches like free wifi and complimentary bottled water regularly re-stocked and the location (just a few minutes walk to Victoria Station). And while this hotel is absolutely perfect for business travelers with its high-tech amenities, it can also easily be a luxe romantic retreat.

Know Before You Go

BookingLocation
Rooms at Eccleston Square Hotel start from £184 per night.
Eccleston Square Hotel is located just a few minutes walk from Victoria Station.

Eccleston Square Hotel hosted me for a one night stay in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty for all the Senses http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:16:14 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64670 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Museums just typically aren’t my thing. To be completely honest, I find most of them a bit boring. But London’s Victoria and Albert Museum was able to lure me with the promise of over-the-top tartan frocks, crystal encrusted shoes and surreal accessories. The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, the most visited show in the history [...]

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Museums just typically aren’t my thing. To be completely honest, I find most of them a bit boring. But London’s Victoria and Albert Museum was able to lure me with the promise of over-the-top tartan frocks, crystal encrusted shoes and surreal accessories. The Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition, the most visited show in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, pays tribute to the late designer with an expanded collection of his garments and accessories.

Alexander McQueen Savage BeautyThe exhibition takes over several galleries in the V&A Museum and each room is themed. It starts with McQueen’s early collection when he was an up and coming London designer. Looking at the early pieces – blazers, trousers and skirts in dark solids and subdued prints – it’s almost hard to believe they came from the daring designer.

As the exhibition moves through McQueen’s collections, the weird and fantastical are evident. Jackets with human hair sewn inside, animal skulls that adorn the shoulders, and a dress made almost entirely of bird feathers are just some of the designs that elicit verbal reactions from the otherwise silent crowd taking the exhibit in. This is what McQueen is famous for.

Fashion is not about utility. An accessory is merely a piece of iconography used to express individual identity. The Devil Wears Prada
Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

Cabinet of Curiosities

Alexander McQueen Savage BeautyThe Cabinet of Curiosities is the centerpiece of the exhibition. The room is filled with more than 120 pieces – a headpiece made of fluttering butterflies, a Union Jack clutch with skull clasp, a wooden dress, crystal encrusted shoes – while 27 screens shows clips from almost all of McQueen’s catwalk shows. You could spend hours alone in this single room taking in the sometimes shocking pieces.

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty

Platos Atlantis

Everyone lingers in the final room, dubbed Platos Atlantis with futuristic dresses and sky-high platform shoes, watching another catwalk video play out on the screen and wanting more.

My McQueen experience wasn’t over just yet though; I walked the short distance to The Kensington Hotel for a special Fashion Forward afternoon tea inspired by the designer. All the usual sweets, sandwiches and scones are served in the hotel’s cozy Town House restaurant, with a twist.

Kensington Hotel Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea

Red velvet cupcake, raspberry pannacotta, marzipan covered cherry cake, marzipan and raspberry and red pepper macaron

As the three-tiered tray is delivered to my table, I remember the butterfly headpiece made of hand-painted turkey feathers from the Cabinet of Curiosities. Now it is in the form of a red velvet cupcake with chocolate butterfly. The red marzipan dress reminds me of the red feathered dress and the marzipan covered cherry cake is inspired by the skull clutch.

Kensington Hotel Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea

Foie gras croissant, crab cocktail and golden quail egg

The sweets are delicious, but the elegant savories were actually my favorite. My favorite bite is the silver croissant filled with foie gras and mango, the Dorset crab and artichoke cocktail is delicious, and the “just because” golden quail egg is fun.

With scones, a selection of sandwiches, tea and a glass of champagne, I linger over it all as I did the Savage Beauty exhibition itself. The afternoon has been a fashionable feast for all my senses!

Know Before You Go

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty TicketsFashion Forward Afternoon Tea
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, in partnership with Swarovski, supported by American Express and made possible with the co-operation of Alexander McQueen, runs from 14 March – 2 August 2015. Booking tickets in advance is recommended and is £16 (+£1.50 booking fee per ticket) per adult.
The Fashion Forward Afternoon Tea is £35 per person and is served daily from 12pm – 6pm. Book online.

Our visit to the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition was provided by the Victoria and Albert Museum and exhibition images were provided courtesy of the V&A Press Office in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month: Rachel Fang http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-rachel-fang/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/luxe-adventure-traveler-of-the-month-rachel-fang/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:49:07 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64595 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com. This month we check in with [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

Welcome to the Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month series! Here we check in monthly with regular travelers just like you – no blog, no job in the travel industry, just travel. Want to be a Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month? Get in touch with us at info@luxeadventuretraveler.com.

This month we check in with Rachel, who is a foodie. We met Rachel virtually when she got in touch with us to help her decide between a trip to Sweden or Iceland to celebrate her engagement. She and her fiance ended up choosing Iceland and they did see the Northern Lights, by the way!

Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month

Rachel and her fiance in Dublin, Ireland

Name: Rachel Fang

Occupation: Marketing Manager at an Australian dot com

Hometown: Singapore

Tell us a little about yourself: I am an insatiable lover of travel (nature and cities), food and technology (particularly gadgets). Discovery of any kind in my loved categories inspires me to leap off my daily routine and explore something new, or perhaps see familiar things through different eyes.

How many countries have you been to? I have been to about 11 countries.

Favorite US city and your favorite thing to do there? My favorite city in the US must be San Francisco… having said that, I’ve never been to New York nor do I think I’ve experienced enough of the States to truly be able to make a decision on this. Watch this space :)

Luxe Adventure Traveler of the Month

The ice caves on Rachel’s latest adventure to Iceland

Favorite international city and your favorite thing to do there? Tokyo. The people, the culture, the dichotomy of both… it’s just amazing. The food and landscapes are just amazing and it feels truly like an exploration and discovery trip particularly when it is so foreign to what I am familiar with. Unless you’re Japanese, it’s really hard not to find pleasures in the discovery of this city.

Least favorite country? Why? Possibly Malaysia. While it’s beautiful and so romantically local, I find it hard to see past its political inequalities of the Chinese and Malay. Perhaps this is a biased opinion as I am Singaporean.

You post a lot of drool-worthy Instagram photos of your meals around the world. Tell us a little about that and which destination has been your favorite to eat in. I would have to say that Japan is hands down the place I have fallen in love with the most when it comes to food. As a cuisine, the Japanese approach their culinary as an art form, intricate details, balances and all. And in addition to that, they are so heavily influenced by the French and Dutch cultures that they do food as good as if you were in those cities! You can walk down laneways to discover new treats, get the freshest seafood in the world and indulge in the most amazing meats like Kobe beef. How can one not love the diversity the Japanese bring to food!

Five things you never travel without? (Passport is a given). In this day and age where we are all attached to a smartphone, I’ll leave that out because it has become just as vital as my passport. The remainding five are: camera, good walking shoes, multi-adapter, a pair of shades, and an open mind.

Favorite travel iPhone app? I have to say it would be Instagram. I know it’s not particularly a travel app, but being able to view pictures by location tags is simply amazing. I feel like it gives me the best insight into what a place looks like and what I can expect to find!

What is your most embarrassing or worst travel moment? When I got stuck at customs because the chip in my passport wasn’t updated with my permanent residency visa for Australia and I was detained and questioned on my way out of Abu Dhabi. I thought I would miss my connecting flight and be stuck in a country in the Middle East.

My dream travel destination: I’m not too sure at the moment, but I am thinking either Canada (yes, all of it) and perhaps Nepal at this point in time. I’ve found myself in a stage of my life where I just want to be outdoors and be witness to nature, but in a luxe sort of way.

You’re a Luxe Adventure Traveler reader. What’s your favorite tip or suggestion you’ve gotten from our site? My favorite tip has got to be the one about chasing the Northern Lights. It’s one thing to read about someone’s travels, but another to get such great tips on exactly how they did it. Things like waking up on the hour every hour to try and catch a glimpse of the auroras.

What’s your favorite travel website(s) (besides Luxe Adventure Traveler, of course!)? I have to say that Conde Nast. I’ve been a big fan from when it was first a magazine and when it was finally digitized, the content became so much more dynamic!

Best travel tip: Travel with an open mind and heart; be prepared to leave the person whom you know as yourself behind to discover the person you can become through the experience of travel.

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Arosa: The Perfect Ski Getaway http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/arosa-tschuggen-grand-hotel/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/arosa-tschuggen-grand-hotel/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 17:49:30 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64591 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Seemingly dropped in to a bowl, Arosa is a postcard-perfect Swiss village with dazzling 360-degree views of the Graubünden mountains. Arosa isn’t a mega-resort – you know, the ones with hundreds of kilometers of pistes – and that’s perfect for me as I’m here to attempt to learn to snowboard. There are still a great [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

Seemingly dropped in to a bowl, Arosa is a postcard-perfect Swiss village with dazzling 360-degree views of the Graubünden mountains. Arosa isn’t a mega-resort – you know, the ones with hundreds of kilometers of pistes – and that’s perfect for me as I’m here to attempt to learn to snowboard. There are still a great mix of challenging runs for more advanced skiers like Tim. And more importantly, as least for a beginner snowboarder like me who can only manage a few hours of lessons before shaky legs and sheer exhaustion sets in, there are plenty of non-ski activities to enjoy. That the exclusive Tschuggen Grand Hotel is my Arosa ski getaway home during our stay is just an added bonus of one of my new favorite Swiss villages.

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

Spectacular views from bed!

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

Not only do I have a new favorite Swiss village, I have a new favorite hotel. I would seriously move in permanently if they’d let me! And some guests do just that, for the season anyway. Many of the Tschuggen Grand Hotel’s guests are repeat visitors to Arosa, coming several times throughout the ski season. Instead of lugging all that stuff you need for skiing back and forth on planes and trains, the resort stores guests belongings, launders any clothing, and carefully places it all back in to the rows of closets in guests’ rooms just in time for their next arrival.

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

Each room is unique decorated and each floor has a different color theme. Our room on the red floor.

The Rooms

The rooms are so comfortable and homey, I hardly wanted to leave. Each is uniquely decorated and has a color theme that coincides with the different color themes of each floor. We stayed on the red floor and had a lovely sitting area with red leather chairs I’d comfortably curl up in with a book for a bit each afternoon. With the sun shining, it was even warm enough to enjoy the sun loungers on our balcony.

I’m seriously the Goldi Locks of hotel beds and the Tschuggen Grand’s were just right. Not to mention the absolutely stellar view of the mountains I didn’t even have to get out of bed to stare at. If the mountains weren’t calling our names, we could have stayed cocooned in that bed for days.

I have to mention how fabulous the bathroom is with its heated floors, a fabulous separate rain shower, double sinks and a bath big enough to take a swim in. Candles are around the bath, perfect for a relaxing evening or maybe some romance.

Tschuggen Berogase Spa

Indoor/outdoor pools and ladies sauna at the Berogase Spa

Bergoase Spa

It’s worth spending time each day in Tschuggen Grand Hotel’s award-winning Bergoase Spa, which is spread over four floors, each day. The pool can really only be described as a water world, with indoor and outdoor areas. You can swim right from indoor to outdoor, so you never even have to get out of the warm water if you don’t want to. Be sure to explore the pool, because are various massaging features that definitely soothed my sore body from all the inevitable falling down you do when learning to snowboard.

There are also saunas (even a separate ladies only sauna), various steam baths and massaging showers. I enjoyed relaxing on the comfy sun loungers in the solarium, though there are also fireplaces to curl up in front of and are exactly where I would have been had the sun not been shining. What I also loved it that I found both bottled water and a selection of fruit infused water in the relaxation areas, which was complimentary.

You can get a variety of spa treatments including various massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and various beauty treatments. For a bit of privacy, reserve one of the two spa suites located in the glass sails, complete with your own private jacuzzi, sauna, treatment and relaxation areas. And if you haven’t worked off all the delicious cheese while skiing, walking or swimming, there is a well-equipped gym.

Tschuggen Grand Hotel

Champagne truffle fondue at Bünderstube

Dining

Arosa has many adorable restaurants serving up Swiss specialties, but we didn’t even have to leave the hotel to find a variety of dining options. Tschuggen Grand Hotel is home to Arosa’s best restaurant, the Michelin-starred La Vetta. It’s closed Mondays in winter and we sadly didn’t get to try it on this visit. Next time.

The Grand Restaurant’s menu changes nightly and both a 4-course fixed menu or a la carte options are offered. The Grand Restaurant is a bit more upscale at dinner and jackets are required for men. We mixed and matched our 4-course menu from the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and the portions were just the right size so that we didn’t feel like we were so stuffed that we couldn’t move.

But my favorite restaurant was the Bünderstube, which serves traditional Swiss dishes. I simply couldn’t pass up having fondue – and not just any fondue. The champagne truffle fondue is to die for! It’s rich, so the burlap sack of boiled raclette potatoes that is served with it is the perfect pairing. Try it with a local white wine from the Obrecht vineyard. I swear this meal alone is reason enough for a return trip to Arosa.

Tschuggen Grand HotelOther Amenities

We don’t have kids, but we have to admit that the kids club is pretty awesome. There’s a play area for smaller children and a pool table, foosball and game system hooked up to a massive screen for older kids to keep busy while mom and dad enjoy a kid-free meal together.

There’s even a bowling alley. Yes, a BOWLING ALLEY, right in the hotel. Is there anything you can’t do at the Tschuggen Grand? It opens after 9pm and is complimentary for guests.

It was all the little things that really made Tschuggen Grand Hotel an experience, not just a hotel stay. I honestly can’t remember staying at another hotel that had as many complimentary drinks and snacks as we found here. From stepping in to the lobby where there was always a refreshing pitcher of mint-infused water and fruit shots, to the organic apples for guests in the lobby of each floor, the hotel ensures guests never go hungry or thirsty. We were even given a snack bag upon departure with chocolates, apples, water and a little bag of lavender bath salts to take a little of Tschuggen home with us.

Tschuggen ExpressTschuggen Express

Perhaps the coolest hotel amenity is Tschuggen Grand Hotel’s very own private mountain railway. It’s completely automated and complimentary for guests. You simply take your card and swipe it to “call” the train. In just a few minutes, the 12-seater mountain railway is opening its doors for you to board, and with the push of a button, whisks you up to the ski area.

The hotel also has complimentary toboggans and you can ski or toboggan right back down for a ski-in, ski-out experience.

Arosa, SwitzerlandSkiing and Snowboarding in Arosa

Arosa is serviced by 13 lifts and has 70 kilometers of pistes. It’s also connected to the Lenzerheide ski area, where you’ll find an additional 155 kilometers of pistes. In Arosa, there’s a great mix of blues and reds so that works great if your group is of mixed abilities like Tim and I.

I had one previous snowboard lesson at Lake Annecy Ski Resorts in France just a few weeks before. In that lesson, I managed finding balance and turning. So when I met up with my instructor from the Skischule Arosa, we reviewed what I already knew. Not much, by my standards. But this time I wouldn’t be confined to the flat kids area.

We went right for a blue run and thankfully it wasn’t too busy during the week (otherwise known as not too many for me to take out on my tumbles). Learning to snowboard is hard! But for every fall (there were at least 20 of them), I got right back up and tried again. As I was sitting to recuperate for a minute and appreciate the views, another girl learning to snowboard came tumbling down the same run I’d just managed to not-so-gracefully fall down. We caught each other’s eye and had a good laugh. There’s camaraderie when massively bruising your dignity…and your bum.

The instructors seriously have the patience of saints. I know I was no easy student, but by the end of my lesson my instructor had me feeling more confident and I’d learned how to better control my board. Most importantly, I learned how to stop without just throwing myself down because I was feeling out of control.

Private snowboard lessons with Skischule Arosa start from 145 CHF and meet at the Innerarosa Office just five minutes from Tschuggen Grand Hotel.

Tschugeenhütte

Sausages and Swiss coffee at the Tschugeenhütte

Tschugeenhütte

The mountain hut Tschugeenhütte is easily accessible from the Tschuggen Grand Hotel via the Tschuggen Express or ski in if you’re already on the slopes. Believe me, the scents of the grilled sausages wafting up the mountain at lunchtime will be too much to resist. There is a sit down restaurant where you can try local specialties like Arosa sausages with a side of rösti. The staff will probably also recommend their coffee with caramel liqueur, and if you’re like me, it won’t take much for them to twist your arm to try it. Delicious!

If you want a quicker snack so you can get back on the slopes, there is also a snack bar on the other side of the Tschugeenhütte. The walk-up window has sausages served with a roll, burgers and fries.

Tschuggen Grand HotelFor the Non-Skiers

Since I’m just learning to snowboard myself, I know that one of the most important things for a ski holiday that everyone enjoys is that there are plenty of things to do for the non-skiers. Arosa definitely has both skiers and non-skiers covered. Not only does the Tschuggen Grand Hotel have a variety of daily activities offered that includes everything from Thai yoga to wine tastings, but you can find a plethora of activities in and around Lake Obersee.

Ice Skating on Lake Obersee

From mid-November to mid-April Lake Obersee becomes a frozen paradise where professional and hobby ice skaters take to the ice alike. There is also an artificial ice skating rink near the lake and some skating sessions are open to the public. Check with the concierge at Tschuggen Grand Hotel to find out when the evening ice skating is or to book an ice skating instructor.

Curling Lessons

Curling is a huge sport in Europe and you can try your hand at it in Arosa. Stop by the Arosa Tourismus office to arrange a private or small group lesson to learn all the ins and outs of the sport.

Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides

I think horse drawn sleigh rides are romantic and if you’re visiting with family, kids will delight in riding around in a sleigh. The sleighs congregate around the train station like taxis and you can hire them for on or off mountain rides.

Hot Air Ballooning

Since we were married in a hot air balloon, they always hold a special place in our hearts. And we think ballooning over the Swiss Alps is one of the most beautiful places in the world to take to the skies. You can balloon around Lake Obersee from December through March and Arosa even hosts a 5-day balloon festival each winter. Contact Walter Vollenweider at +41 044 391 37 14 to inquire about prices and to make a reservation.

Paragliding

I look at paragliding as ballooning for the more adventurous and Arosa would be a stunning place to try it out! You can book tandem flights with an instructor. Contact +41 (0) 79 449 88 13 for prices and to make a reservation.

Where To StayGetting There
The Tschuggen Grand Hotel is the best hotel in Arosa and one of the top hotels in Switzerland. Rooms start at 670 CHF per night for weekend only stays and from 615 CHF per night.
Arosa is easy to reach via international flight to Zurich and then is around 2.5 hours via train. Arosa can also be reached by car.

Our trip was provided by Tschuggen Grand Hotel with the support of Arosa Tourismus in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

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Luxe Adventure Home: DIY Wine Cork Catcher Lamp http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/wine-cork-catcher-lamp-tutorial/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/wine-cork-catcher-lamp-tutorial/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:35:32 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=62904 Luxe Adventure Traveler

A few months ago we spent a few days at a wine spa and I really liked the understated wine decor. The wine barrel table and wine cork catcher lamp were elegant, yet fun accents that would perfectly fit the home decor of oenophiles just like us. Every time I passed the lamps, I studied [...]

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A few months ago we spent a few days at a wine spa and I really liked the understated wine decor. The wine barrel table and wine cork catcher lamp were elegant, yet fun accents that would perfectly fit the home decor of oenophiles just like us. Every time I passed the lamps, I studied them and decided I could easily recreate them with a do-it-yourself home project. Not to toot our own horn, but we think our two lamps turned out great! Follow this easy step-by-step tutorial to make your own stylish wine cork catcher lamp for less than $20:

Cork catcher lamp tutorialWhat You’ll Need

Cork Catcher Lamp

One of our finished cork catcher lamps

 DIY Wine Cork Catcher Lamp

1. The demijohn may come in a plastic basket. Cut the basket off. Clean the demijohn, if necessary. You can use a bottle brush to scrub the inside. Let it completely dry.

2. The Ikea Hemma Table Lamp Base comes in three pieces all already attached by the cord. The lamp needs to have the base removed, so you need to cut the cord to remove the plug, making sure you leave yourself as much slack as possible.  Remove the base plate from the cord.

*If you are going to drill a hole in the demijohn to feed the cord through the bottom, you’ll need to complete this step before re-wiring the plug to the cord. You’ll need a special glass drill bit, like this Bosch Glass Set.

Re-wiring the cord is simple: just strip back some insulation with wire strippers (even scissors will work), connect the wires back together and seal them up tightly with electrical tape.  This may not be the preferred method for something that would see a lot of use and handling, but for a lamp cord that will rest inside of the demijohn, it works just fine and won’t be seen once filled with corks.

3. For a 5 liter demijohn, we needed about 150 corks. Fill the demijohn with corks, regularly shaking the demijohn to even the corks out. Once you’ve filled the demijohn, wiggle the lamp pole and cord in to nestle in the center of the corks. You may need to shake it to once again even the corks out. There should be enough corks in your demijohn that the lamp pole securely stands straight.

4. Screw in the light bulb and attach the lampshade.

And as easy as that you have a wine cork catcher lamp for less than $20 and about 15 minutes of prep work. Or, you can also purchase a ready-made one, like this one for $159.95.

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Kayak Under the 2000 Year Old Pont du Gard http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/pont-du-gard/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/pont-du-gard/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 18:27:52 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64554 Luxe Adventure Traveler

We don’t typically play favorites when it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites; they’re all import and culturally significant. But to be completely honest, sometimes they’re also a bit boring and museum-like. And if you’re a regular reader here, you know that standing behind a rope just to have a look-see typically isn’t our thing. [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

We don’t typically play favorites when it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites; they’re all import and culturally significant. But to be completely honest, sometimes they’re also a bit boring and museum-like. And if you’re a regular reader here, you know that standing behind a rope just to have a look-see typically isn’t our thing. We feel connections when we can interact with a place, which is why we loved the Pont du Gard in Southern France.

Pont du GardIn 1AD ancient Nîmes was a pretty happening place. The bustling and prestigious city of 50,000 inhabitants needed a lot of water for its thermal baths, swimming pools and fountains and running water for its houses. But Nemausus (ancient Nîmes) wasn’t located in the most convenient area for channeling water to the city – low plains lay to the south and east making it impossible for water to flow to the city and engineers found the hills to the west too daunting to be a viable water supply route since they would have had to tunnel through them for some eight kilometers. So when in Rome, er, the Roman Empire, you do as the Romans do.

The 49 meter high Pont du Gard was built to channel water from the natural springs near Uzès to the Nîmes Castellum. The aqueduct, the highest Roman aqueduct in the world, supplied Nemausus with around 200,000 cubic meters (about 44,000,000 gallons) of water a day.

Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard

Kayaking beneath the arches of Pont du Gard

Sounds like an incredible engineering marvel, doesn’t it? So imagine paddling down the Gardon River, surrounded by the bluish cliffs on either side. Suddenly this imposing stone aqueduct comes in to view, the three levels of arches standing high above the river in all their glory. You stare up in awe as the kayak gently glides through the arches.

Pont du GardThis part of Southern France sees some 330 days of sunshine each year and you’ll definitely want to cool off by taking a dip in the Gardon River. Swim in the shadows of the Pont du Gard’s arches and even enjoy a picnic on the banks of the river. This spot is popular even for the locals to come and enjoy basking in the beauty of the 2000 year old Pont du Gard.

Pont du Gard

This olive tree is over 1100 years old

Plan to spend some time wandering the entire Pont du Gard site. You can walk across the entire bridge, taking in the magnificent views of both sides of the Gardon River. The right bank is home to beaches where you can swim and the left bank pays homage to the farmers that once used this land. There is an olive tree that was planted in 908, making it over 1100 years old.

We Recommend

France’s Ardeche is for Adventurers

There is also a museum that walks through the construction, how the Roman aqueduct worked and life in the Gallo-Roman town. Several food options are available too, including snack bars and an on-site restaurant situated with a beautiful view of the Pont du Gard and both a la carte and fixed menu options.

Know Before You Go

Opening Hours & TicketsKayakingGetting There
Pont du Gard is open year round from 9am. Check the website for closing hours as they vary by season. Admission is €18 per car (up to a family of 5) and includes parking. Visitors entering by foot, bicycle or kayak are €7 per person.
Kayaking is available with Canoe Callias from various points with routes varying from 8 to 31 kilometers in length. Rates vary by length of the trip and range from €22 – €35 per person.
Pont du Gard is located 27 kilometers from Nimes and 21 kilometers from Avignon and is accessible via car from the A9 motorway, via train with a bus connection from Nimes (Line B21) or Avignon (Line A15).

UNESCO_Logo-150x150This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more info click here.
You can see all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites we’ve visited here.

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13 Reasons to Go to Friuli Venezia Giulia Right Now http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/things-to-do-in-friuli-venezia-giulia/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/things-to-do-in-friuli-venezia-giulia/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:25:14 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=43085 Luxe Adventure Traveler

Everyone knows any Italy itinerary should include visits Rome, Florence, and Venice. You might even know some of Italy’s “off-the-beaten-path” (that really aren’t so off-the-beaten-path anymore) destinations like San Gimignano, Bologna, and Cinque Terre. But I’d bet that unless you live in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia like us, you’ve probably not heard of or ever considered [...]

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Everyone knows any Italy itinerary should include visits Rome, Florence, and Venice. You might even know some of Italy’s “off-the-beaten-path” (that really aren’t so off-the-beaten-path anymore) destinations like San Gimignano, Bologna, and Cinque Terre. But I’d bet that unless you live in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia like us, you’ve probably not heard of or ever considered a visit to Italy’s most north-eastern region. Why should you go, you ask? Well, here are the top things to do in Friuli Venezia Giulia:

Aquileia

Roman ruins at Aquileia

1. Walk in the steps of the Romans at Aquileia

The Roman Empire stretched far and wide in its time, so it’s not surprising that Roman ruins can be found even in the Friuli Venezia Giulia. Don’t expect a Colosseum a la Roma, but the ruins of palatial villas, temples and baths provides a reminder of the splendor of the Roman Empire. After all, it was here that Emperor Augustus received Herod the Great in 10 BC and again served as the site where the early Christian church held a council to settle doctrinal issues in 381 AD. Aquileia is merely more than a village these days, but the site of Aquileia is believed to be the largest Roman city yet to be excavated and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Friuli Venezia Giulia Strada del Vino

On the Strada del Vino in Friuli

2. Sip your way along the Strada del Vino

Italy has literally thousands of wine varieties, though most people automatically think of Chianti when thinking of Italian wine. After all, Tuscany was one of the first wine regions in Europe and is Italy’s top wine producing region. The alpine foothills of the Friuli are some of the best white wine producing estates in Italy and though the wine producers’ names – Radikon, Zidarich and Schiopetto – hardly sound Italian, the vineyards and villages the producers are scattered amongst are undeniably, authentically Italian.

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5 Must Visit Wineries for Cantine Aperte

A fantastic way to taste to is to come for Italy’s Cantine Aperte, when many Italian vineyards open up their tasting rooms to the public on the last Sunday in May. The weekend before Cantine Aperte, the 2015 Sauvignon World Championship is also being held in the Friuli Venezia Giulia.

3. Ham it up in San Daniele

The hilltop town of San Daniele, in the province of Udine, is world-famous for its prized ham and rivals Parma in the Emilia Romagna. Perhaps I’m a little biased as a resident of the Friuli, but I prefer the less salty and sweeter prosciutto di San Daniele. The salty Adriatic breeze blows in to mix with the cooler alpine air from the mountains and creates the perfect drying conditions, requiring less salting and air-drying time per kilogram of meat than Parma ham.

Up until the 60s, prosciutto di San Daniele was made from black Friulian pigs, but then the pigs nearly went extinct. Even though the Friulian black pigs are no longer used, the prosciutto is produced much the same as it was for centuries. The DOP regulations control production and only certain breeds of Italian pigs at least nine months old and weighing no less than 350 pounds are used.

Visit in June (June 26 – 29, 2015) during the Aria di Festa, at which the proscuitto di San Daniele is celebrated for four days and many factories open up their doors for visits and tastings.

Cima Manera

Cima Manera is the highest peak of Piancavallo at 2251 meters

4. Hit the hiking trails in the Dolomites

Perhaps why the Friuli Venezia Giulia isn’t on the tourist radar is because it is not home to cities like Rome, Venice or Florence that lure visitors to revel in the days gone by. The Friuli is still very much a region that communes with nature and every bit of it can be explored by hiking its trails. There are 13 nature reseves located within the Friuli Venezia Giulia region alone and a number of varying hiking trails throughout them.

One of the most challenging day hikes is the I Sentieri delle Acque (translated to The Water Paths). It was here that woodsmen transported wood over the water. The trail runs through a deep valley cut by the Chiarso Creek, has many spectacular panoramas and even passes by the famous 170 year old and 115 feet tall white spruce named Palma.

There are even trails that follow the footprints of Antonio, the dinosaur who’s skeleton was found near the village of San Giovanni in Tuba. Though you have to visit the Civic Museum of Natural History in Trieste to see Antonio’s skeleton, the trail pays homage to the fantastical character he has become in these mountains.

Download a Friuli Venezia Giulia trekking guide here.

Castello di Miramare5. Visit the castle of the Mexican king

Castello di Miramare (or the Castle of Miramare) is a commanding presence on the Gulf of Trieste and is a “new” castle in that it wasn’t built until 1860s. Built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg for his beautiful wife, Charlotte of Belgium, the castle is believed to be cursed because of the ill fate both Maximilian and Charlotte suffered. They became Emperor Maximilian I and Empress Carlota of Mexico in April of 1864 after Napoleon pressured them to during the French intervention in Mexico.

We Recommend

The Curse of Castello di Miramare

Despite the curse, it’s safe to make a day trip to Castello di Miramare and visit the 20 or so rooms still furnished with the original furnishing of Maximilian and Charlotte.

Grotta Gigante

Inside the Grotta Gigante

6. Descend deep into the earth at Grotta Gigante

The Friuli Venezia Giulia is home to the Guinness Book of World Records holder for the largest tourist cave on Earth, the Grotta Gigante. It is a single cavern that is estimated to be around 10 million years old and stretches an astounding 280 meters long, 65 meters wide and 107 meters high.

We Recommend

Grotta Gigante: The World’s Largest Tourist Cave

Though it is a tourist cave, you do have to navigate down 500 steps to the cave floor at about 80 meters deep. The steps are divided into comfortable ramps, but this particular cave is not best suited for people with difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Visits are only possible with Grotta Gigante’s specialized guides.

7. Bike the Alpe Adria

Crowned as the best bike path in Europe at the Fiets en Wandelbeurs travel fair in 2015, the Alpe Adria leads cyclists from the Salzburg to the Friuli Venezia Giulia in about one week. Beginning in the city of Mozart, the bike path takes cyclists through the valleys and mountains of Austria, passing towns like Bockstein, Villach and Arnoldstein before crossing the Austrian-Italian border and meandering through the mountains and quaint villages of Tarvisio, the vineyards of Gemona and Udine, and finally finishing at the Adriatic Sea in Grado.

8. Go cross-border skiing

The highest ski resort in Slovenia is also linked to the Friulian ski resort Sella Nevea, offering a cross-border ski (or snowboard) experience. The two resorts operate with a single ski pass and have access from both the Slovenian (Bovec) and Italian (Sella Nevea) sides of the mountain. Not only that, Bovec Kanin-Sella Nevea’s season runs until the beginning of May – long after the Friuli’s other ski resorts have closed up for the season.

Tarvisio Alpine Bob Coaster9. Speed up to 40 KPH on Tarvisio’s alpine bob coaster

Tarvisio’s new alpine bob coaster is fun for the whole family. Descending over 1000 meters through the forest, the alpine bob coaster zigs and zags as you race down the track. Seat belts keep you glued to the seat as the coaster bounces along at any speed you’re comfortable with, since you control the “gas” and brake. For the true daredevils, you can get up to 40 kph on the track.

Apline bob is open Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm – 4:30pm and is 4 per ride or 11 per 3 rides. Kids under 8 are free and the coaster does accommodate an adult and child. Reach the alpine bob from the Snow & Fun Park.

10. Learn to mush a dog sled

You don’t have to go all the way to the Arctic to learn to drive a dog sled; the International Mushing Sleddog School in Tarvisio offers tours and in-depth courses for your chance to drive your very own dog sled. And I can guarantee that it will be much, much warmer than a dog sledding tour in Lapland. There are even summer programs offered for those that really, really don’t like the cold.

11. Play a round of golf

The Friuli Venezia Giulia is home to seven 18-hole golf courses, many set beautifully amongst the vineyards with panoramas of the snow-capped mountains. In the heart of the Collio, the Golf & Country Club Castle Thick is popular for the modern fairways set amongst a castle that dates back to 1200. Or head to the seaside Grado Golf Club for a challenging game with hazards and bunkers. The club even has a spa and is located close to lovely beaches.

12. Watch the world’s largest sailing regatta

On the second Sunday of October (October 3-11, 2015), be sure not to miss the spectacle that is the world’s largest sailing regatta. Over 2000 boats of all sizes gather each year for Trieste’s Barcolana. The “festival of the sea” becomes a stage for friendly competition, music, food and entertainment – truly an Italian festival for the entire family to enjoy.

Gliding at Piancavallo

Gliding at Piancavallo

13. Soar above Aviano

For the truly adventurous, take a flying leap of faith off of Castaldia at 1108 meters. This area of Piancavallo is ideal for easy take-offs due to the topography of the mountain and is a great place for your first tandem paragliding or gliding experience. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see from the mountains all the way to the sea. Adventure Sports in Porcia offers tandem paragliding experiences.

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10 Bucket List Trips to Take in Your 30s http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/10-bucket-list-trips-to-take-in-your-30s/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/10-bucket-list-trips-to-take-in-your-30s/#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:32:34 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64230 Luxe Adventure Traveler

I have celebrated my faux 29th birthday again and again…and again. I officially enter my mid-thirties in a few days and it’s time to embrace it. I mean, what’s really so terrible about being 35? If you’re like me with your 20s undeniably in the rear view mirror, you probably have more money in your [...]

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Luxe Adventure Traveler

I have celebrated my faux 29th birthday again and again…and again. I officially enter my mid-thirties in a few days and it’s time to embrace it. I mean, what’s really so terrible about being 35? If you’re like me with your 20s undeniably in the rear view mirror, you probably have more money in your bank account, a better sense of who you are, and more importantly, you’ve discovered your travel style. I know I have, so I’ve put together a list of 10 bucket list trips to take in your 30s for adventures who love a little bit of luxury at the end of the day:

Lion cubs in Serengeti National Park

Lion cubs in the Serengeti

1. Go on an African Safari in Tanzania

A bucket list trip I’ve already taken in my 30s, going on an African safari in Tanzania tops the list of most amazing trips I’ve ever been on. Aside from spotting all of Africa’s Big Five, we watched a pack of hyenas hunt, zebras and wildebeest as they migrated on the Serengeti Plains and giraffes crane their necks just for a drink. We combined adventure with luxury by sleeping in tented camps and 1000 year old baobab trees all while traveling by private plane on a SkySafari.

2. Camp in Antarctica

The seventh continent has been on our bucket list for a while and we WILL make it there in our 30s. Not all Antarctica cruises are created equal though. When we go to Antarctica we not only want to step foot on the continent, we want to camp on it. It would be the highlight of my 30s to wake up to a curious penguin checking me out while cocooned in my sleeping bag. Quark Expeditions, the leader in Polar travel, offers the option to camp on the continent and when we go, we’ll be going with them. (Unless I get that job at the Penguin Post Office.)

3. Glamping in Moab

I like the fancy form of roughing it. Tim likes a bona fide camping experience. Glamping is a great compromise to make both of us happy – he’s out in nature and I still get to be squeaky clean every day. Moab Under Canvas sits right at the edge of Arches National Park, allowing you to commune with nature’s bizarrely beautiful formations and sleep under the stars. We’d love to spend a few days glamping and wetting our appetite for adventure while white water rafting the Colorado River, hiking in Arches and Canyonlands National Park and hot air ballooning over Moab.

Anantara Kihavah Villas Maldives

No filter needed when you’re in paradise!

4. Snorkel in the Maldives

It be cliched to say, but the Maldives truly are paradise on earth. The 1100 islands that make up the Maldives are home to some of the largest coral atolls on Earth. Swimming right off your over water villa is like diving right in to a life-sized aquarium. The over water villas with private plunge pools, underwater restaurant where you can dine on aphrodisiacs like lobster, couples massages and pristine white sand beaches at Anantara Kihavah Villas make for a sexy holiday best shared with your special someone.

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Un-Cruise Adventures in Alaska

How incredible does kayaking in Alaska look? Photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures.

5. Explore the Alaskan Wilderness

Alaska. The last frontier full of untamed, untouched wilderness. We think it’s the perfect adventure for a thirtysomething; after all it’s been an adventure destination since the times of Captain Cook. With only 20% of Alaska accessible by roads, we think Un-Cruise Adventures is the way to go. Massive floating resorts, er cruise ships, aren’t our thing. But a small expedition style ship that can navigate small inlets and passages and hosts an itinerary full of adventure activities from kayaking to hiking and even SUP is right up our alley. And we’d just be tickled pink to get up-close with Alaska’s brown bears!

6. Go Wine Tasting in Bordeaux

We retired from the club scene years ago and moved on to the art of eating well and enjoying the finer things in life, like wine. Meandering through the lush vineyards of Bordeaux, sipping some of the most highly coveted wine blend in the world, blend our own wine and taking a cooking lesson to prepare the perfect meal to pair with the wine are just some adult ways to have fun.

7. Swim with the Bahamas’ Swimming Pigs

Once upon a time we planned to honeymoon at the brand new Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas. That was 13 years ago now and it never happened. And now if we were to plan a trip to the Bahamas, we’d opt for the lesser known islands to seek out pristine beaches and exotic nature. The Exumas, where you can call ultra-exclusive luxury resorts home at the end of an adventure filled day, make us go googly-eyed. And you can swim with the Bahamas’ famous swimming pigs!

Snaefellsnes Peninsula

A typical road in Iceland

8. Drive the Ring Road in Iceland

Iceland is a great destination to go to no matter your age and we’ve seen the twenty-somethings hitch hiking, surviving off of nothing more than the $2 gas station hot dogs and pitching a tent wherever the wind took them that day. But in your 30s you can splurge on amazing experiences like a helicopter flight over the Holuhraun eruption, luxury accommodations like the stunning Hotel Ranga and feast on Iceland’s fantastic cuisine. Honestly, after a day of hard core adventures like trekking to the summit of a glacier, wouldn’t you prefer to soothe your tired muscles in a hot tub under the stars before indulging in lobster bisque and filet of lamb?

We Recommend

Iceland’s Ring Road in 1 Week

Northern Lights in Abisko, Sweden9. Chase the Northern Lights in Lapland

Northern Lights tourism is still a relatively new trend, though the Northern Lights themselves are not. The Aurora Borealis, and its southern counterpart the Aurora Austalis, have been dancing in the Polar Night for at least as long as the Earth is old. Over the last two or three years as the sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle, spectacular photos of green, red, purple and sometimes even blue curtains have intrigued people enough to travel to the far north in teeth-chattering temperatures for a chance to witness the phenomena in person. Taylor made holidays to Lapland combine Northern Lights tours with other adventure activities from dog sledding to sleeping in an ice hotel. It truly is a trip of a lifetime, albeit an expensive one, and worth the splurge.

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10. Explore Easter Island on Horseback

I’ve wanted to visit the remote speck of an island in the middle of the Pacific, known as Easter Island, since I saw Matt Lauer report from there in his Where In the World is Matt Lauer series on the Today Show. Though only a few flights each week carry adventurous tourists to Easter Island, it’s certainly not an undiscovered place. But some of Easter Island’s most spectacular Moais (the weird statues) are accessible only by trail and best explored on horseback. It’s even possible to arrange multi-day horseback excursions around Easter Island, which sounds like the perfect adventure to me.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Wine Tasting http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/beginners-guide-to-wine-tasting/ http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/beginners-guide-to-wine-tasting/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:16:01 +0000 http://luxeadventuretraveler.com/?p=64209 Luxe Adventure Traveler

You sit down at a nice restaurant and are presented the wine list. You might ask for a few recommendations and finally settle upon a bottle to order. Before you know it, your waiter is proudly presenting the bottle to you and pours just a tasting amount in the glass with a flourish. If you’re [...]

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Beginner's Guide to Wine TastingYou sit down at a nice restaurant and are presented the wine list. You might ask for a few recommendations and finally settle upon a bottle to order. Before you know it, your waiter is proudly presenting the bottle to you and pours just a tasting amount in the glass with a flourish. If you’re not a certified sommelier, you’re probably like the rest of us who swirl it, taste and nod your head that it’ll be just fine. But wine tasting doesn’t have to feel intimidating or pretentious, especially when you know what to look for. Follow this beginner’s guide to wine tasting and you’ll have your waiter convinced you’re a wine connoisseur!

Step 1: Sight

Wine tasting truly uses all of your senses and our eyes give us the first impression of the wine. Like many of us recently learned with “that dress,” our eyes can play tricks on us. To sip like a sommelier, you’ll want to get the full color range of the wine and look at it in four different ways. First, look straight down in to your glass to take in the deep color of the core of the wine.

Next, hold the glass to the light and look at it through the sides of the glass. Wine should always be clear with some sparkle to it, like a brilliant diamond. A murky wine is a sign of a problem with the fermentation process or a chemical imbalance.

Tilt the glass to let the wine thin out toward the edges to determine if the wine is young or old. If it looks watery or very pale at the edges, it could be a wine that is too young and lacking any flavor. You can also see if the wine is past its prime and oxidized if the color of the edge looks brown for a white wine or orange for a red wine.

Finish off your sight evaluation with the swirl. And you might laugh, but the mid-air swirl is a practiced technique. Beginners should place the glass back on the table and swirl while firmly planted on that table. There’s nothing more embarrassing that sloshing some wine out while “free-styling.”

Step 2: Smell

Did you know that 50% of taste comes from smell? So it’s pretty much a crime not to allow your nose to take in the bouquet of the wine. You’re robbing yourself of half of the taste!

To get the full bouquet, it’s best if the wine can oxygenate before smelling it. For a red, 30 minutes in a decanter is optimal. But even a few minutes in the glass while you’re examining the color will make a big difference. The swirl also helps release the bouquet.

Don’t stick your nose right in to the glass; that just looks ridiculous and you won’t get the full bouquet of the wine. Instead, hover over the glass and take several short sniffs, swirling in between. While it’s impressive that sommeliers can name a number of the fruits, spices and herbs in a wine, and it can even be fun to guess, it’s really not necessary to learning how to taste and enjoy wine. But if can you pick out a few, it admittedly does enhance your experience. Whenever I sniff blackberries, I know the wine is going to be a hit in my book.

Just like bad apples happen, flawed wines happen. Certain scents are a sure fire way of sniffing out a spoiled wine. Scents like vinegar, nail polish or rotten eggs are scents you definitely don’t want in your wine. It it smells funky, it will definitely taste funky. If you’re at home, pour it right down the drain. If you’re at a restaurant, send it back.

Step 3: Taste

Finally it’s time to put that glass you’ve been tinkering with to your lips and get a taste of that divine liquid! But as with sight and smell, you want to savor it; don’t just swallow it. Take a sip and swirl it around your entire mouth to get a true sense of taste and texture.

Yes, wines definitely do have different textures – one of my favorite textures is a jammy wine. Sommeliers, I know you cringe at jammy wines but don’t be a hater. A jammy wine has a syrupy, cooked berry quality about it. In my world of wine, jammy = yummy.

Back to tasting though, the taste happens in three parts: initial impression, evolution and the finish. The initial impression is when you pick up the flavors and is influenced by the sniffing phase. You smelled black pepper? I bet the wine tastes a bit spicy to you. Picked up on those blackberries? It feels jammy in your mouth.

The evolution is when you pick up on more subtle flavors that you didn’t notice initially. Take the time to enjoy it and think about the familiarity of the flavors. The finish is how long the wine keeps expressing itself in your mouth. A good, quality wine will linger.

Food also influences the taste of wine. There are a number of wines I just don’t like as a stand alone, enjoy a glass with a book wine. But paired properly with food and suddenly they are delicious! Reversely, improperly pairing wine with food can also make it not taste good.

Wine tasting in Crete

There’s obviously nothing pretentious about this group of wine tasters!

Take a Wine Tasting Class

If you really want to get a grasp of wine tasting and learn more about the various appellations of the wine region you’re visiting, there are often wine tasting classes you can attend. I attended a beginner’s guide to wine tasting in Crete and learned about the Cretan wines from a local expert who walked our group through a variety of six different wines. The wine cellar is in the heart of Chania, perfect for then taking a stroll to a nearby taverna for dinner after. You can even purchase wines at the cellar, which I did to take to the beach with me the next day.

viator-ambassador-400Our Crete wine tasting was provided by Viator in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own.

Luxe Adventure Traveler

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