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by Janet K. Rodgers
Flights-of-Fancy Exclusively for Sololady.com,
... to intrigue, inspire and propel
(For extensive, amazing past entries, ideas and links, please click here for our archives.)
Emphasizing affordability and authenticity, the new language-learning vacations in 2011 from Cactus feature: Spanish and Latin Dance in Leticia, Colombia on the banks of the Amazon; studying German in the low-key, less touristy Bavarian town of Lindau overlooking the Swiss Alps; and mastering Russian in culturally diverse Kiev, Ukraine near Belarus.
Spanish? Learn it in any of their 70 spots in Argentina, Costa Rica, and Spain. French? Choose among 26 locales from Biarritz, Bordeaux, and Monaco to Montreal, Canada. Italian? 22 locations across Italy. Or wait a minute. Try Thai, Turkish or Brazilian Portuguese.
Sample incentives: A free week with the purchase of two-weeks of French in Nice starting at $682 - Five free cultural lessons with a Spanish language program in Madrid starting at $284 - A free excursion to Murano, the glass-blowing island, with their Italian study program in Venice starting at $312.
Amazingly, Cactus tailors its broad range of programs to fit individual needs and tosses in special experiences, like wine tasting, cooking, dancing and diving that reinforce the language lessons. Great for solo travelers.
To learn more before you leap, check out: http://www.cactuslanguagetraining.com/us.
Pick Pocket? Read On
If you want to try kayaking in British Columbia but will do anything to avoid camping out, the quaint 7-room lodge called Gods Pocket Resort appeals. They offer private rooms-with-bath on a remote uninhabited island in the heart of Gods Pocket Provincial Park just off the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Take off by boat from Port Hardy and glide gently past rugged mountains and forested islands on the pristine waters of Queen Charlotte Strait.
Sea Kayak Adventures has recently made available an exclusive, wilderness adventure right in this heavenly spot. Daily excursions take you into the intricate network of waterways surrounding the many islands that make up the park. If you are willing to paddle-yourself in a kayak, enjoy front-row center seats to watch awesome humpback and fin whales, sea otters, porpoises, seals, sea lions and bald eagles. Hiking trails lead you into the islandâ€™s lush rainforest.
Lovely meals prepared from locally grown organic produce, fresh seafood, and fresh baked wholegrain breads and desserts are served around the communal table.Then sunset and star- gazing fireside from their spacious floating deck, followed by a blissful sleep in a comfy bed in absolute quiet â€¦ fantastically rejuvenating.
These special 5-day Gods pocket pickers take off every Monday during June and July from Vancouver Island from June 21 through July 30, 2011 and prices begin at $2295 per person.
Want to know more? Call Sea Kayak Adventures at (800) 616-1943, or click: www.seakayakadventures.com
Mexican Nose Jobs
With the medical tourism expected to reach a $100 billion by next year, Casa Velas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico expands its medical program to combine the most advanced elective procedures with luxurious “recupe” vacation stays. The adults-only hotel works together with board-certified, bilingual doctors of Amerimed, a network of hospitals in Mexico that adhere to US healthcare standards for facelifts, tummy tucks, nose jobs, gastric bypass, botox, varicose veins, the works. Plus their spa for holistic treatments - massages - acupuncture - body wraps -facials. [But Caveat emptor: Travelista! is not reporting this from experience.]
Round-the-clock personal attention and creative cuisine sourced from the on-site gardens designed to maximize nutritional catalysts and anti-oxidants.
The “Week of Wellness” includes a medical consultation and physical exam, two acupuncture treatments, Yoga sessions, curative spa treatments and unlimited use of their hydrotherapy. The package also provides personalized holistic menus to heal, rejuvenate, and energize the body and mind. Minimum stay is four nights, amazingly, starts at $285 per person per night (double occ). Pre- or post-surgery accommodations start at $210 per person per night (double).
For more information on the medical procedures available, please contact Dr. Marcelo Bialek at 52-1-(322)429-5157 or mail: email@example.com.
For more on Casa Velas, boutique hotel and ocean club on Marina Vallarta’s 18-hole golf course, member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World, a recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award, just five minutes from Puerto Vallarta Airport and only 15 minutes from the popular downtown area, art galleries and “El Malecon” (the Boardwalk), surf to: http://www.hotelcasavelas.com
Madrid to the Med ... and in Minutes
The train is Spain is no longer mainly on the plain. The Alta Velocidad Espanola, affectionately known as the AVE, is the new high-speed train that will “fly you” from Madrid to Valencia in only 90 minutes (a trip that took almost 4 hours pre-AVE) traveling now at speeds of up to 205 miles per hour. Whew.
Valencia epitomizes the lure of Spain today, the blend of traditional and cutting edge, a charming old city, Gothic and Renaissance art, the art nouveau “mercado central” fabulous food market, Europe’s largest aquarium in the City of Arts & Sciences, an interactive science museum, a planetarium, an IMAX, and even a state-of-the-art opera. The redesigned waterfront hosts the American’s Cup and a European Grand Prix with cars racing along the road that hugs the harbor. Charming villages, especially in the provinces of Alicante and Castellon, 300 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Are we/you missing anything here?
For more about whooshing on the AVE click: www.renfe.es.
Headwaters with the Huaorani
The Ecuadorian Huaorani nomads who live plying the headwaters of the Amazon had no contact with the outside world until the 1950s. Today they number about 2-3,000 and still speak their own totally unique language. An innovative community-based tourism project has created the Huaorani Lodge to help them to earn income as well as maintain control of their territory, lives and culture.
A new tour offered by Montana-based Detour Destinations begins with a fantastic overland journey past snow-covered volcanoes, down into the cloudforest to the tiny town of Shell in the eastern foothills of the Andes for a small-plane 45-minute flight into the Amazon. The Huaorani guide leads travelers down the Shiripuno River in a traditional dugout canoe to the lodge. Highlights: meet the local Huaoranis, hike with their guides who demonstrate traditional ways of life, kayak downriver for spectacular wildlife viewing, explore the nearby community of Quehueri'ono. So not on any other itinerary.
Click on: www.detourdestinations.com, or call: 866.386.4168
Bodacious in the Bugaboos
Canadian Mountain Holidays, largest heli-skiing and heli-hiking adventure operator now covers the calendar: December through April for heli-skiing and July to September for summer adventures, perfect for solo women travelers.
With the success of their Summer Adventures CMH is scaling new heights with two new inspirational women-only "Bodacious" trips in 2011 for all fitness levels. Trips include private helicopter flights to breathtaking mountaintop locations surrounded by glaciers and meadows ablaze with wildflowers; yoga and meditation; deluxe meals and accommodations in the Bugaboos, a granite mountain range in British Columbia. Affectionately known as “the Bugs.”
Marvelous Summer Menu:
To know more, heli to: www.cmhsummer.com or call Sarah Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org
With pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi recently released from house arrest in Myanmar, David Weber and his wife Patty, of the exceptional R. Crusoe & Son travel company recently revisited and excitedly report that in spite of the military junta still in place, the Burmese people are friendly and warm. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is still by and large an undiscovered destination. Yangon (formerly Rangoon), a bustling historic city, is filled with awesome architecture and great restaurants, a thriving modern-art scene and a developing entrepreneurial spirit.
In addition to custom trips, they offer a 9-day “Burma & the Road to Mandalay” tour: glide in a traditional long-tail boat to visit enchanting Inle Lake for an experiential understanding of Burmese life, visiting private homes and places of work. And on the Irrawaddy River, central artery of the country, float aboard the 5-star Road to Mandalay, an Orient-Express river cruiser with superb food, service and ambience to visit the breathtaking city of Bagan, miles of 11th-13th cent. sacred Buddhist shrines.
Though some might question visiting Burma at all, the Webers feel American visitors benefit the Burmese directly. They use hand-picked Myanmar companies, privately owned, without government partners, and the income flows directly to local employees.
Their 9-day trip costs $4450 pp sharing but for the full scoop and many options, contact Jane Franklin at email@example.com, or call: 888-490-8019. Note: even if you are not the least bit interested in Burma, the R. Crusoe international catalog is by far one of the most original, charming and artistic in the travel industry. And they are unusually sensitive and attentive to solo women travelers.
Sea the World
Tip top rated, fancy pants Crystal Cruises has just announced a menu of 300 adventure escapades for its January 18-April 21, 2012 World Cruise - a year in advance of sailing. The Crystal Serenity sails round-trip from Los Angeles through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and Japan), Russia, Alaska, and Canada: a grand total of 35 ports-of-call, this "Epic Islands and Empires" World Cruise lasts 94 days. [Segments of 16-22 days can be selected.]
Many “Maiden” calls in such exotic ports as: Akureyri, Iceland; Damascus, Beirut,
For more information call 888-799-4625, or visit www.crystalcruises.com.
Top of the World
Push off from the northernmost point of the European continent onboard the 807-passenger Black Watch from Dover, England for an eye-popping “Arctic Russia & the North Cap” cruise. Get a cool view of Midnight Sun and the wildly beautiful flora and fauna in and around the Norwegian fjords. Learn a bit of Viking history in the Lofoten Islands in the Arctic Circle of northern Norway. Take part in a King Crab Safari and then dinner in Honningsvag, self-proclaimed northernmost city in the world. Onboard, the ArtsClub offers expert photography advice.
One departure: July 9, 2011 for a 14-night cruise operated by award-winning Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. Their classic ships are big enough to be comfortable yet small enough to drop anchor in smaller, off-beat ports. Prices start at $3050 per person. This cruise ID # is W1109, good to know in the numerous offerings on www.nichecruise.com. In the U.S. call 425-867-0399, or e-mail NicheCruise@msn.com.
An energetic world-wide traveler and guidebook author, Janet Kaplan Rodgers is a veteran public relations travel pro.
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