the Indonesian island of Bali Vacation

the island forever, to look at, Bali is the picture postcard island that you dream of, located just east of the island of java in the Indonesian archipelago.

Bali Vacation

The island of Bali is less than 150 kilometres long at its longest point, with lush tropical forests, scented by clove and cinnamon trees, emerald rice paddies and beautiful white sandy beaches. From east to west, there is a chain of six volcanoes between 1,350 and 3,014 metres high.

Bali is home to incredible wildlife, including 300 species of birds, barking deer and monkeys. Unfortunately the native elephants and tigers are now extinct, but nature lovers will not be disappointed with the rest of the wildlife that is on offer.

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Although Bali is just over 5,500 square kilometres (2,000 square miles) in area, there are about 4000 hotels to be found there, which is approximately half the number of hotels found in Indonesia.

Hotels cover every price range: it is possible to live quite cheaply, in various guesthouses, or in rooms rented within the houses of the Balinese people. Most hotels have shrines in their gardens and throughout Bali, you will find stunning Hindu temples including Besaikh, Bali’s ‘mother temple’ which encompasses about 200 temples and shrines.

Bali goes under many names, the ‘Island of the Gods’, the ‘Dawning of the World’ and Shangri-La – ‘The Last Paradise’.

Grouse Grind – Free Vancouver BC

I love the Grouse Grind. What an incredible hike!

This is a butt buster but I have seen seniors, children, competitive athletes all complete this.

What I like is that everyone doing this is so supportive of each other.

The official course record to date for men is 25:01 held by Sebastian Salas set at the 2010 BMO Grouse Grind Mountain Run®. For women, the record is 31:04 held by Leanne Johnston and set at the 2007 event. Unofficially (that is, a record set outside the annual Grouse Grind Mountain Run®) the course record is a blistering 23:48 that is also held by Sebastian Salas.

My wife and I completed this in under 1 hour (my personal best is 50 minutes – I was so tried after).

Here are some stats about the Grind:

Length: 2.9 kilometres (1.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 853 metres (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 metres above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 metres (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830

Statistics: Annually, over 100,000 people hike the trail.
Average Time: On average it takes up to an hour and a half to complete the hike. For novice hikers, two hours is recommended.
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Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge – Free Tour

Most Vancouver tourists know about Capilano Suspension Bridge, which is a great experience, but what they don’t know is that if you are visiting and are on a budget, that you can also visit Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge (not much further) for FREE!

The Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian bridge located within Lynn Canyon Park, in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia. It is 50 metres high from the bottom of the canyon. The bridge was built as a private venture in 1912.

It is a lot of fun and I hate heights but I enjoyed the raw beauty and smell of the forest. It is really easy to get to (bus directions are available on BC Transit).

There are also many popular swimming holes that are perfect for a refreshing swim during the summer months as well as breath taking waterfalls.

We enjoyed seeing all the clean picnic areas and the great cafe in the entrance.

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Salt Spring Island Saturday market

We love to visit this quaint island where the pace is slow compared to Vancouver Island.

They have one of the top markets around in the Ganges village.

It takes place between the hours of 8:30 am and 3:30 pm from mid-March until the last Saturday of October rain or shine.

It is a major event right through the summer, attracting both locals and visitors to the island.

We rate this very kid-friendly because of the nearby park and marina and the free entertainment!

You will find local farmers that sell fresh produce and food and many local artists, craftspeople and artisans display their work at the Village Market.

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Ganges, Salt Spring Island Aerial Photographs, British Columbia, Canada.

 

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Weather & Seasons In Aruba – Best Time To Visit Aruba

Aruba is a small island (in length of 33 kilometers or 21 miles) located in the Leeward Antilles (together with other two Dutch islands – Curaçao & Bonaire – and several smaller islets belonging to Venezuela), part of the Lesser Antilles, in the southernmost part of Caribbean Sea.

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This part of Netherlands is since years one of the most visited islands in the entire region due to the numerous high-end hotels and beach resorts that provide fantastic all inclusive vacation packages, but also because of the excellent weather. Due to the excellant weather conditions Aruba resorts are extremely popular among tourists. You can find more details here.

Most people know about the Caribbean Sea that it features a warm tropical weather and only two seasons, one dry and one wet, the last one including a hurricane season. These characteristics are just partially recognizable in Aruba because it is located completely outside of the hurricane belt and features a unique and very specific weather.

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Symbol of love: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is the iconic symbol of India. Stands as a monument of love, Taj Mahal was made by Shahjehan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal. Taj a means “crown of palaces”. Taj Mahal is a mausoleum made up with white marbles. Taj Mahal is jewel of India, of Muslim Art, masterpiece of the world heritage. Taj Mahal’s beauty has landed it a place in list of Seven Wonders of the World.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is finest example of architecture, as it has combination of styles from Persia, Turkish and that of Indian styles. It is listed as the UNESCO World Heritage site. Taj Mahal’s construction started in 1632 and it got complete in 1653. In making of Taj Mahal some thousands of people were employed, artisans, and craftsmen alike.

Emperor Shah Jahan described the Taj Mahal in his words as:

“Should guilty seek asylum here,

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made;

To display thereby the creator’s glory.”

The Taj Mahal place has:

The Moonlight Garden which is in the north direction of the Yamuna river
Terrace area: which has the main Tomb of Shah Jahan and Mumtaj Mahal, and a Mosque in it and also the Jawab
Charbagh the gardens
Gateway
Attendant accommodations
Other tombs
Taj Ganji that is the bazaar

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Exterior decoration of Taj is of finest work, using paint, stone inlays, stucco and carvings. There are plant motifs on the walls and calligraphy work of written verses from their Quran. Interior is done with precious stones and gems. There are intricate carvings to be seen, again here there are calligraphy on the walls, motifs of twinning vines, flowers and fruits. The decoration is such a delicate piece of work, must see the Pietra dura jail, pierce work, Arch of jail and plant motifs.

Taj Mahal was and rather is under serious threat, as the white marbles are becoming yellow in color due to emmisions from the factories, pollution and more. The Government of India and its Supreme Court have taken actions so as to save the Taj Mahal from further destruction.

Many poets have written verses on beauty of Taj Mahal, still its beauty is not defined. Many have tried to explain its beauty, but words have always been less when the beauty is so magnificent taj Mahal attracts over two million to four million visitors annually, which includes tourists from the overseas.

Taj Mahal’s beauty and popularity got it some hundred million votes making it part of New Seven Wonders of the World in a recent poll. Viewing Taj Mahal in full moon light is mind blowing and amazing experience.

Late Cruise Deals: Pros and cons

Typically, people look for late cruise deals for a simple reason that, if got one, it can save loads of money as compared to those paid handsomely while booking before! But, the fact is that the saved money is always the outcome of an expense. Now, there are two favorite booking times for a cruise, very well in advance or at the last minute. Now this way of saving money for some people can just be no more than a minor inconvenience, while a few might end up ruining their exciting vacation. So, it is necessary to know how to handle the late cruise deals so that you can verify as to whether they are for you or no.

Late Cruise Deals

No matter what may be the outcome; but the fact remains that the big benefit of the late cruise deals is to enjoy a cheap cruise vacation. And it is logical because the cruise lines, for their maximum profit, must have a fully booked ship before the journey starts and that to ensure this, they always hack the prices when there are only some weeks left for the cruise to depart. Now, the best bet is that you enjoy all the luxury of cruise for a budget payment in contrast to those who experience the same glory, but at an expensive cost. So, you must have booked late after getting a cheap cruise deal, but you do not get a cheap cruise experience, in fact, you experience a luxurious one. You get access to all the services, food, and amenities as others get on the ship!

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One of the rumors is that there is something like free late cruises. Well dude, there is no such deal! What is required from you is patience coupled with flexibility for the late and cheap booking. Flexibility relates to your departure dates by which you need to take a leave from your office on a quick notice. Most of the times, the leave application is generally asked to be made well in advance because of which your late booking never becomes successful. But, the bottom line is that you have to get that quick notice permission for the best late cruise deals. Next, you need to be flexible with regards to your booking times. Note that the cruise lines witnesses the most difficult time while packing their rooms during the off-season. So, go for the off-season booking deal.

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Flexibility also has to be maintained for the destinations where you want to travel. The problem is that you will not always get your desired ports of call, particularly during the high season and if the ports are very famous as they get booked very fast. For example, a cruise to the Caribbean will not give you this problem, but if your desire is to dive in the barrier reef of Belize; it is wise to book off the cruise as early as possible. But, this does not mean that you cannot get a last minute cruise deal to a certain port. However, the fact sustains that the choices are limited with the famous sites.

Going for a late cruise deal mostly means compromising on the desired cabin to stay, for instance, a seaside one. Yes, this is true! But still, what I am saying is that the chances of losing the required cabins are very high, not that you won’t you get it all. Looking at the positive side, you most time will be spent in the port of call or on the deck. So, if you are strict with regards to staying, it is better to book early.

I recommend you to start your research at orbitz.com where you get an insight to the different prices of a variety of cruise lines. Even I did the same thing and believe me; it is really helpful in getting you what you are looking for.

The World’s Longest Beach – Long Beach WA

Is Long Beach, Washington really the longest beach in the world? Located on the beautiful Peninsula of Washington State, Long Beach runs 25 miles long and 2 miles wide. It certainly isn’t the longest beach in the world that I’ve been to but it sure is long enough to be called Long Beach!

Long Beach WA

We were coming from Victoria, BC along the 101 south down the scenic route. Any scenic route is always longer and winder but traffic was light since it was the August long weekend in Canada we were heading the opposite direction.  It doesn’t matter what time of year or time of day the ferry crossing on the Coho which sails from Victoria Inner Harbour to Port Angeles is always full. I recommend reserving a spot which ever way you are heading unless you want to wait around for 2 sailing if you can even get across on the same day.

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The crossing is generally a little choppy and can be hard with a family since family seating is limited. The Coho is a private run company and as with any private run company trying to make a few bucks it’s over crowed with expensive tasteless food so bring your own food unless you want to be feeding the kids greasy fries. They pack the cars in like sardines and the border crossing in Port Angeles is long and not well organized however it is the only crossing so be prepared to put up with long waits and lots of people.

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The drive down is extremely scenic with many places to stop in for a picnic lunch or catch a beautiful sunset. I’ve driven this road twice now and by far the best time is after dinner when the traffic is low and the roads are clear. Driving along the coast in the dark can be hard on the eyes and tired-some.

The long drive out is worth it once we arrived in Long Beach Washington. The beautiful beach side town if filled with family friendly activities and attractions. With family friendly restaurants, cafes, bakeries and plenty of sweet shops.

Activities range from digging for clams,  bicycle build for two along the beach walk way, to amusements such as carousel an carnival rides you find at a fair. With bumper cars to arcades kids of all ages will enjoy.

Our favourite part of Long Beach by far is the fresh tuna that can be purchased for $7lb and the beach walk that extends for miles int the sand dunes and beach.

The price for accommodation is reasonable and beach houses can be rented out by the night, or week. The beach house is obviously more family friendly as this gives you the opportunity to BBQ your own fresh fish and enjoy the afternoon on the deck. But if you don’t want to rent a house you can always BBQ on the beach. Long Beach offers family friendly picnic areas with BBQ and tables. In fact you can even bring your own BBQ and drive your car down to the waters edge for a picnic.

The best time of the year to visit is late July and to mid August. Long beach is right on the coast with no land cover so the temperatures can range from extremely warm to mild and breezy along the beach. We have been fortunate to have outstanding weather during our visits  but we always pack a jacket and warm pj. The homes can be cool at night and in the evening!

If you are looking for a more budget way to enjoy Long Beach you might want to check out local websites or craiglist.com that offer housing swaps. We always manage to find a family that wants to swap their beach house for our condo in Victoria, BC. This makes a very affordable summer break.

One of the many events offered in Long Beach is the Kite festival that happens every year in mid August which Long Beach is well known for. The Kite festival is a must for any family!

Long Beach also offers plenty of farmers markets, whale watching and art festivals. As you can see the attractions, activities and events are endless.

For a family friendly vacation with a home away from home Long Beach has got to be one of the must do with a family!

Michigan Family Vacation: Popular Family Vacation Spots in Michigan

Are you taking a Michigan family vacation this year? Looking for ideas on what to do or where to stay? Keep reading for a list of some of the best family-friendly destinations in Michigan.

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The Air Zoo

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For your next Michigan family vacation, let your kids explore a replica of the International Space Station, learn about the Wright brother’s first flight, climb aboard a flight simulator and enjoy many educational and fun rides about the marvel of flight.

The Air Zoo is sponsored in part by the Smithsonian and is designed to be both a museum relating to flight, but also a family entertainment center that focuses on education too. It’s located in Portage, Michigan and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

General admission to the Air Zoo is $19.50 for adults and $15.50 for children. Toddlers and infants under the age are allowed to enter for free.

Alternatively, if you buy your tickets three days in advance and online, you’ll save 10% off the regular ticket price. If you plan to go multiple times in a year, you may want to purchase a family membership.

The Henry Ford Museum

Henry Ford Museum

The Henry Ford Museum is all about celebrating the American experience and history of ingenuity, commerce and progress. The museum is not only educational, but also fun.

However, it’s targeted towards families with children over the age of 5. There are different activities and itineraries for kids and adults, depending on their age and interest.

The museum is open every day of the year, excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Expect to pay $14 for an adult admission, $13 for a senior’s admission, $10 for a youth admission and nothing for children under the age of 5. For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.thehenryford.org.

Indoor Water Parks

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Michigan has the most indoor water parks than any other state in the country. From the infamous Gold Rush to the Great Wolf Lodges, Michigan is packed with hotels that feature massive indoor water playgrounds that are open for all four seasons.

Expect to pay more than you would at a standard hotel, but enjoy the benefits of relaxing by the pool while your kids are entertained with water sports and fun.

Corn Mazes

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Michigan state is known for its fall corn mazes. If you’re taking a Michigan family vacation this autumn, be sure to stop at some of the country’s largest corn mazes. In Williamston, you can find a 20-acre corn maze (visit http://bestmaze.com) for details. So, visit Michigan this autumn and get lost.

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