Hiking the sights of Northern Lanzarote

Most visitors to Lanzarote would list the beaches, shopping and nightlife as being the highlights of their stay. With plenty of cheap flights to Lanzarote, it is a great destination at any time of year with plenty to see and do.

Northern Lanzarote

Those looking for the “real” Lanzarote will certainly enjoy this scenic hike (or drive) around the northeastern peninsula from Teguise to Orzola and back down to Guatiza, taking in spectacular scenery, mountain top views and several well-known works by artist and mosaic master, César Manrique, along the way. The total hike is 50 km (31 miles), so it should be covered in stages over several days. This is one of several memorable hikes around the highlights of Lanzarote.

Teguise to Haria
After enjoying the artistic delights of the small whitewashed village of Teguise, a historic preservation area, head northwards towards Los Valles and Haria. Leave the distant outline of the Santa Barbara Castle and Museum behind you and look west across the sparsely populated area for glimpses of the crags of Famara. A hilly 17 km walk with plenty of miradors (viewpoints) will bring you into Haria which is known as the Valley of 10,000 Palm Trees. It is certainly a green oasis amidst the dry landscape of Lanzarote. If you have time, explore the small streets and squares and enjoy some well-earned refreshments.

Haria to Orzola
When the road forks just beyond the town, take the left LZ-201 to Guinate to visit the local zoo called Loro Parque. Carry on from there to El Mirador del Rio, a fantastic 475-metre high viewpoint carved out of lava rock with impressive views of the Chiniko archipelago below and the island of La Graciosa. The viewpoint was created in 1974 by local resident César Manrique and is considered one of the artist’s best legacies. After a refreshing break at the café, carry on along the coast to Orzola where the beautiful white sands and aquamarine waters beckon.

Orzola to Guatiza
After Orzola, the route heads south down the eastern coast of the peninsula to Los Jameos del Agua (impressive lava tubes) and La Cueva de los Verdes (large green caves), both amazing geological features. Finally reach your destination of Guatiza and visit the Jardin de Cactus with its 1400 types of cacti, a fitting end to the walk as the surrounding fields are filled with cactus. They are grown commercially for the red carmine dye which is harvested from the parasitic cochineal parasites which live on the plants.

You Know You’re Cruising When…

7 ways that going all-inclusive changes your holiday.

Dawn.
Photo by joiseyshowaa

There’s something strange about value for money and the way we all look at it differently. For some it’s getting the job done for the lowest price, getting what we want with the minimum of fuss and payout. For others, no price is too steep when wanting to be absolutely satisfied with every aspect of what is desired. Then there’s every shade in between.

It’s because of those differences that, for some people, the idea of going on all inclusive holidays is abhorrent. Paying a higher price for something that you might not get ‘full use’ of is not going to cut it. However, if your concept of value for money swings in the other direction, then it’s a very different matter altogether.

When the first payment is made, everything essentially becomes free (again, depending on your viewpoint!) Regardless, if you’re taking a cruise where money is literally no object, holiday habits can’t help but change accordingly.

Your Wallet is Nowhere to be Seen

Magic Wallet is Back
Photo by Paul McRae (Delta Niner)

There’s something profoundly comforting about not needing to carry a wallet, purse or any type of money pouch. It’s not the security, as you are unlikely to get robbed on a cruise ship full of other passengers with nowhere to go but the open sea until you pull into port. It’s more to do with the feeling that everything on board is available to suit your passing fancy without having to shell out for it. Like minor royalty, petty cash isn’t necessary.

The Cocktails Rack Up Astonishingly

Ramble
Photo by StuartWebster

Ever looked at a cocktail list in a bar and thought: “I love the name, but not the price”? Well, without the price tag attached, everything looks even tastier. You can simply pick and choose what sounds like it will be a treat for the tongue as well as the eyes.

Best of all, if after that first sip you decide it’s not for you, then there’s no need to bewail the dent in your pocket, because there won’t be one.

The Towels are Folded

Folded Towel
Photo by PauloRibeiro

Now technically this isn’t something you usually ask for, all-inclusive or not, but it is a hallmark of the ‘everything thrown in’ style of service. The novelty factor of coming back to your room to be greeted by a towel given artistic expression doesn’t wear off quickly.

Relaxed folded towel
Photo by PauloRibeiro

You Visit Places Without Worrying About the Cost

Egypt-2009-5833
Photo by PauloRibeiro

Don’t forget your wallet/purse when you walk off the ship, because you’ll be back in the real world where the inconvenience of having to carry cash rules once more.

But having come from an environment where everything is ‘free’ it’s only natural to psychologically allocate the money you would have spent on food, drink and entertainment to the proper exploration of the places where you pull into port.

Meal Timings Lose Some of their Relevance

Buffet or Sculptures
Photo by Darkmuse

When a passing phase of being peckish can be indulged without fuss then traditional meal times are likely to take on something of an elastic quality. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus any other mealtime you care to make up, move to suit you, rather than the other way around.

The opportunity is there to take on the culture of a Hobbit, with many more meal times occurring throughout the day.

Egypt Buffet
Photo by PauloRibeiro

You Rarely Look Through a Porthole

Budapest from cabin
Photo by Willow&Monk

Spectacular though the view may be, you’re not likely to see it much through your cabin porthole. That’s because you can’t work on those free meals and cocktails in the show-like atmosphere down in your cabin.
The cabin is likely to be relegated to becoming just a comfortable place to rest your weary but contented head before the next day of pampered cash-free alternate reality.

You Sit Back and Enjoy the Show Without Worrying Whether it’s Worth it

Cabaret
Photo by fide

We’ve all done it; sat down in a cinema or theatre and thought half-way through the show that it hasn’t quite lived up to expectations and therefore, the cost of the ticket. Sometimes we’ve even gone one further and thought: “I’d happily by watching TV over this trash!”

This worry is pleasantly removed as you are your own master of what entertainment to see or avoid. When the admission price is zero then so is the anxiety for it to be ‘good value’. You can concentrate purely on the entertainment without worrying about the bottom line.

Coral Reef and Sandy Lane Resorts in Barbados

There are many options when it comes to taking a holiday. There are hundreds of countries and thousands of destinations from which to choose. Sometimes with so many wonderful places to visit, it can be difficult to settle on the right place to spend your money. One of the very best places to take a luxury holiday is Barbados. It has a lot to offer, and there are many different resorts from which to select. I have spent many vacations there because I love it so much, and I think that two resorts stand out head and shoulders above the rest.

The first of the two is the Coral Reef Club Barbados located in St. James. This luxury resort has all the wonderful amenities you would expect. The spa has a Zen feeling that instantly relaxes me. I usually spend a large portion of my time at the resort in the spa. It has a wonderful hydrotherapy pool, amazing masseuses and body treatments featuring locally harvested botanicals.

What makes this resort really special is that it is a family-run establishment. The O’Hara family specializes in service, and they make it a point of emphasis with their staff. I have found them to be extremely accommodating, quick to offer me upgrades and to do anything possible to make sure that I leave feeling as happy and relaxed as possible.

The beach is quite beautiful and the resort is spread out over twelve acres. The gardens are spectacularly beautiful, and it is amazing to wake up every morning to the plethora of birdsong that these gardens support.
There are options to stay in cottages and suites on the property, which all come with their own pools.
I have never left a stay at Coral feeling less than satisfied. The only problem I have with it is that it is so wonderful that I find it hard to leave.

The other resort that is amazing on the island is the Sandy Lane Barbados. This luxury resort is located on a former sugarcane plantation. It has two world-class golf courses designed by Tom Fazio, one of which held Tiger Woods’ wedding. It has a coral reef that has a sunken ship, which makes it absolute heaven for scuba divers. I am not a scuba diver myself due to bad ears, but my friends have told me that the scuba diving here is world class. I will say that I have found the water to be crystal clear when I go snorkeling here.

This resort also has an amazing spa, one that offers all the relaxation and pampering you would expect from a world class resort like this. When I am here I spend most of my time at the beach, as it is extremely beautiful with spectacular water. The restaurant has the best in gourmet cuisine, and I have never had a better steak anywhere in the world. The whole resort is stunningly beautiful, and I would recommend a stay here to anyone who wants to get away from it all.

Top Resorts in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is often referred to as the entertainment capital of the world. The city is bustling with entertainment complexes and leisure facilities, making it a favourite for tourists, whilst world famous casinos make it a must do for gambling enthusiasts.

Las Vegas Boulevard, otherwise known as ‘The Strip’, is a Mecca of entertainment. The 4 mile section of road is home to some truly breathtaking hotels and structures, each with their own unique theme that is certain to wow guests. Here are some of the top resorts on the strip.

Luxor
This hotel is both one of the most noticeable and unmissable on the Las Vegas strip. A 105 meter pyramid of black glass juts out from the skyline, further highlighted at night time by the world’s brightest beam shooting directly out of the point of the pyramid. The hotel has over 4000 rooms, while its interior atrium is the largest in the world. Looking out from one of the rooms from the top of the structure will give a breathtaking view of the interior – a small Egyptian town within the walls.

Mirage
Widely considered to be the father of modern day Las Vegas, The Mirage was the most expensive hotel ever built when it opened in 1989, with a construction cost of some $630 million. The hotel has a number of attractions within its grounds. The Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden is home to a number of very rare white Tigers and Lions, whilst the 20,000 gallon registration lobby aquarium houses 90 species of shark, puffer fish, and angel fish. Outside the hotel is an artificial volcano that actually erupts periodically throughout the evening!

MGM Grand
The MGM Grand is the world’s largest hotel, with over 5,000 rooms, and it is also home to the biggest casino in the whole of Las Vegas. Walking into the 16,000 square meter casino is a quite breathtaking experience, as slot machines and gaming tables stretch to as far as the eye can see. The hotel is also home to a lion exhibit, and a Studio 54 nightclub.

New York – New York Hotel and Casino
Located just across the road from the MGM Grand, the New York – New York is billed as ‘The Greatest City Inside Las Vegas.’ The hotel features a reproduction of the New York skyline, with buildings such as The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building as well as a 150 foot scale replica of The Statue of Liberty. Within the resort particular gambling areas, bars, eating areas and meeting rooms are named after New York neighbourhoods, the hotel also has a roller coaster within its grounds.

The best of Brussels

Better known by many for its mouth-watering chocolates and golden beers, Belgium’s chic and culture-rich capital actually boasts world-class architecture, wonderful art galleries, cosy cafés, fine dining restaurants, and elegant boutique shops.

Wandering along Léopold II’s boulevards, Belliard and La Loi, you could easily imagine you were strolling through Paris, with its grand buildings housing embassies, banks and exclusive apartments.

The city’s integrated public transport system makes it easy and quick to get around, combining a Metro system, trams and buses all on a single ticket system – so you can easily squeeze in most major tourist sites during a short break. And there are tons of great hotels in Brussels for your stay, catering for all budgets – Octopus Travel offers a choice of over 100 different hotels across the city.

Exploring the sights

Cobbled streets lead to one of Europe’s most beautiful squares, the Grand-Place (or ‘Grote Markt’ in Dutch) – a central market square that’s heavily dominated by the incredible Gothic Hôtel de Ville, and lined with ornate 17th century guild houses.

The 18mm eye on the Grand Place of Brussels
Flickr image credit: vainsang

Architecture fans can admire St Gudule and St Michael’s Cathedral, the construction of which began in 1215 but was only completed 300 years later, resulting in a rather dramatic blend of architectural styles. Love it or hate it, dominating the north-western skyline of Brussels from its home on Koekelberg Hill is the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart, combining a bizarre (and some say clashing) mix of neogothic and Art Deco styles. And if you venture out of the centre a little to the laid-back, arty areas of St-Gilles and Ixelles you’ll find buildings in Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, as well as quirky shops and restaurants.

Back in the centre, shoppers can explore Europe’s first covered shopping gallery, Galeries Royales St-Hubert, which was opened in 1847. Today it houses a collection of exclusive shops where you could easily max out your credit card – or just enjoy some free window shopping.

You won’t need to spend anything to visit the city’s botanical garden, either, which features an impressive neoclassical 19th century greenhouse surrounded by well-kept gardens that erupt in a blast of colour during the summer months.

Art lovers flock to museums such as the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, which features rare works by Pieter Brueghel the Elder alongside classic Rubens paintings and pieces by other important Old Masters – and to the René Magritte Museum, which occupies the house in which the Belgian surrealist painter worked for nearly 24 years.

Many other tourist attractions vie for your attention in Brussels, including the Royal Palace and the Musee des Instruments de Musique – but leave time to enjoy the classic Belgian clichés: beer and chocolate! There’s no shortage of places to indulge. Corne Toison d’Or is probably the city’s most famous chocolatier, housed in Galeries Royale de St Hubert – while you can also find out how beer is made at a working brewery and museum, Brasserie Cantillon, in the suburb of Anderlecht – and enjoy sampling a few beers along the way!