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Adventure Awaits

Summer in Catalina Island

Consistently named one of the best island getaways by media outlets nationwide, Catalina Island, located just 22 miles off the Southern California cost, is a unique blend of laid back vibe, rich and historic past, features water and land activities to suit any taste and modern-day amenities and services for every budget.

 

(Photo Credit: Catalina Island Company)

The island is constantly evolving to offer visitors the best experience, whether it’s to relax and rejuvenate or rev up the action. Following are a few of the new happenings on the island this year. What do you say? C’mon and visit!

ESCAPE ROOMS

Ahoy…me hearties! Feel free to dress and talk like a pirate at Catalina Room Escape, one of two new Escape Rooms to open on the island. The Pirate Challenge allows participants one hour to solve a variety of riddles, discover clues and escape from the room. Info: 310.510.2777. CatalinaRoomEscape.

The rules are much the same at Escape Room Catalina. You and your group of two-to-eight confidants have one hour to crack the code, solve the mystery and escape the room. Room themes change with the season, so the company promises they always have fresh puzzles to solve. The company can set up a challenge at their location, or at a hotel room or vacation rental. Info: 310-510-8575. Escape Room Catalina

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES

 

Catalina Aerial Adventure is flying high. Be sure to try it to get your adrenalin pumping. The new ropes-and-planks course weaves through a  grove of towering eucalyptus trees deep within Descanso Canyon. Other adventurous activities nearby include  Zip line Eco Tour and  Catalina Climbing Wall.

HIKING

 
(Photo Credit: Catalina Island Company)

You haven’t seen the real Catalina if you just visit Avalon. Take a hike into the backcountry on the new-and-rehabbed  Trans-Catalina Trail, part of a 165-mile system of recreational roads and hiking trails on the island. Catalina Conservancy has added 27 miles of new trails, refurbished restrooms and is eradicating non-native plants. In other big news for the Conservancy, the  Catalina Trailhead Visitor Center, being built-in downtown Avalon, is expected to be completed in late 2018 or early 2019. Info: 310.510.2595 CatalinaConservancy.com 

 

More good news for hikers and backpackers: Catalina Backcountry is operating a concierge service for outdoor enthusiasts. The company will take a load off your back by transporting supplies and equipment. It also offers a naturalist-led hikes, can set up comfort camping or create an adventure expedition. Info: 310.510.1212, Catalina Back Country

TWO HARBORS

 

(Photo Credit: Catalina Island Company)

Yes, there is a second city on the Island of Catalina. Two Harbors, at the island’s West End, is known for being low-key and rustic. But it has undergone a face-lift, with a new sandy beach, plush plazas, lounge chairs, a group gathering place, food and beverage service on the beach and a small business center. You can take a Catalina Express ferry from San Pedro to Two Harbors. Info: 800.613.1212 Catalina Express; 310.510.4205 Visit Catalina

 

TOURS

Hope on an eco-friendly bus to tour the island. The all-electric buses are operating on Catalina Island Company tours of Skyline Drive and on Inland Expedition tours. In addition to eliminating the need for diesel or gas, the buses have huge windows, air conditioning and quiet, smooth rides. Info: 877.778.8322, Visit Catalina

About Catalina Island and Catalina Express

(Photo Credit: Catalina Island Company)

Located 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island is accessible by boat from three ports via Catalina Express: San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point. Catalina Express offers up to 30 daily departures and year-round service to Avalon and Two Harbors, transporting nearly one million passengers annually. It offers comfortable airline-style seats and grouped table seating. Traveling to Catalina Island in as little as one hour, each vessel was designed and built/purchased specifically for comfort and speed. Catalina Express is an unparalleled resource in Southern California, and one of the world’s most respected ferry fleets. For information and reservations call 800.429.4601, or visit Catalina Express

Catalina Island’s clear blue waters and Mediterranean climate and ambiance are a Shangri-La. The laid-back island town is chock full of places to eat, drink, shop. Catalina has a wealth of natural and cultural resources, unique animals and plants found nowhere else on earth. Sightseeing opportunities are numerous and varied from escorted tours around town, adventure rides into the interior, jeep eco tours, hummer rides, to zip lines, rock climbing and undersea adventures. Independent activities are plentiful, such as camping, hiking, snuba, to diving, snorkeling, kayaking, spa treatments, as well as beach lounging, golf, motor boating, parasailing, fishing, boat rides down the coastline and more.

 

(Photo Credit: Catalina Island Company)

Sailing through LA

HORNBLOWER CRUISES

Location: Marina Del Rey

Los Angeles, California has multiple harbors and piers scattered throughout beautiful beach cities such as Malibu, Ventura, San Diego, and Catalina Island. On many different occasions it is not uncommon to witness magnificent ships calmly sailing around the bay. On Friday, April 7, 2018 we had a wonderful experience aboard, “The Entertainer” which is a three-decker dinner cruise offered by Hornblower Cruises. In the next few paragraphs we’ll highlight our favorite attributes about the ships luxurious dining accommodations, friendly staff, and amusing entertainment. Come aboard as we journey through a full two-hour dinner experience with Hornblower Cruises!

HornBlower Employees & Staff:

Celebrations are an important part of life, whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or anniversary. At Hornblower Cruises and Events, the employees recognize this importance with each guest and plan to enhance your experience to it’s full potential. We received wonderful customer service throughout our time on board with Hornblower Cruises! The moment you arrive, there is a friendly photographer at your disposal to snap as many pictures of you and your loved ones in front of the astonishing vessel. Once it’s time to board, expect top-notch service from the staff entering the ship, a wonderful dinner experience, cocktail hour, and a great deal of excitement when it’s time to put on your dancing shoes! In our experience, our waitress was extremely helpful in patiently explaining our dinner in detail, and accommodating our large group of 16 people.

Luxury Dining Cuisine:

Time to talk about the food! Imagine being handed a glass of bubbly right before being seated at your dining table with a variety of Artisan flat breads and baguettes. Then the waitress explains how you will be served with generous portions of a house Caesar salad appetizer, a delicious portion of Panko Crusted Salmon and Captains Beef Short Ribs with a side of house special potatoes, and finally complete with a chef selected dessert which in our case was tiramisu. In conclusion, be prepared to have full and happy bellies.

 

Enjoyable & Amusing Entertainment:

After a fulfilling dinner, strap on your dancing shoes and prepare for an exciting evening of strobe lights and an interactive DJ playing today’s top radio hits! Since our group was large, all 16 people in our party decided to take to the floor as soon as the music started. Occasionally we found ourselves at the top outer deck snapping photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Although the entire experience is only 2 ½ hours, we could have lasted double the amount of time. We recommend Hornblower Cruises to anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion as it made Ashley’s birthday celebration memorable.

Norwegian Getaway: The Transatlantic Way of Travel

Norwegian Getaway: The Transatlantic Way of Travel

 Cruise liners have brought people enjoyment world-wide since the first proposed passenger ship, Princess Victoria Luise, set sail in June of 1900. If we fast-forward to present day, it is considered to be a common method of travel with an astounding average of over 20 million people cruising each year. The most prevalent names in the industry are heavy hitters like Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line just to name a few. Each brand has a vast majority of vessels that are all shapes and sizes including an array of activities and entertainment. We have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian multiple times domestically, however, in October of 2016 we partnered up with Norwegian to experience a transatlantic cruise. In this article we’ll review all that the Norwegian Getaway has to offer from our point of view, and highlight areas we felt are the best attributes of this magnificent shipCome explore with us as we set sail on an epic adventure!

The Prelude:

After an epic three-month journey across 12 countries in Europe, We decided it was time to come back home for the holidays to visit family and friends. At that current moment we had just finished eating lunch in beautiful Santorini, Greece, and quickly found a perfect option to take a transatlantic cruise back to the USA. The only catch was that the sailing dates were a couple of weeks away, and the departure port was none other than Copenhagen, Denmark. Although this altered our itinerary, we managed to visit London, England for one week before flying to Copenhagen to spend a few days before our cruise. The day of departure, I remember stepping out of our Danish taxi, and taking a couple of minutes to admire the size of Norwegian’s newest addition. The excitement overcame us as we dashed to the check in line, which brings me to my first travel tip. If you are able to choose the “Priority Boarding” option, you and your luggage are granted access to the ship first. Once we had our room keys in hand, it was time for a memorable Bon Voyage!

 

The Getaway offers a variety of activities; here are a few of our favorites:

Adventure Ropes Course and Zip Line:

   

Settle in and strap up for an exciting workout as you balance your way over narrow beams and wobbling ropes! This ropes course is designed for people of all ages, and is most enjoyable with friends and family. It is completely up to you on how much time to spend and what routes to take at your leisure. If you dare, make your way to the other side of the ship and attempt to walk a frightening plank seventeen stories high above the ocean. Finish off strong as you zip line across the bow of the ship back to the start of where it all began. Always remember to have fun and good luck!

 

Aqua Park and Free-Fall Waterslides:

After an exciting workout in the ropes course, cool off and dive into one of the two main pools on deck fifteen. There are two outdoor bars, four jacuzzis and two levels of beach style chairs surrounding the outdoor pool. There are also two of the fastest free fall water slides located on the same deck for only the fearless passengers. In our experience, we would recommend the drop water slide after your lunch has digested. In any case, nothing can prepare you for the exhilarating rush when free-falling.

Multi Level Sports Complex:

Whether soccer or basketball is what you fancy, allow the Getaway to indulge your athletic side. A full service basketball court, which transforms into a soccer field, is available for all guests. Just steps below the full service complex is a complete mini golf course at your disposal, and below that is a giant climbing rock wall. In our experience, we finished the ropes course multiple times, but did not get a chance to experience the rock wall.

Award Winning Casino at Sea –

Picture Las Vegas on the water, and you might have a good idea of what the Getaway Casino is portrayed to be. There are all sorts of gambling casino  games to play including a vast collection of slot machines, quarter games, roulette and black jack tables. Deal or No Deal happened to catch our eye as we approached, and quickly became our favorite game of the cruise. In our experience, the Casino was a fun little addition to our added fun, and a great concept for bringing the Las Vegas Strip concept to you.

Amenities: 

Spa Thermal Suite – Sit back and relax on one of the thermal heated seats in the spa thermal room. This addition is part of deck fifteen at the front of the ship where quality meets comfort. Although this may sound fun, it comes with a hefty price attached to its services. In our experience, this is a great way to wind down from the busy activities and unlimited eating you’ll encounter on any cruise.

Spa Salt Room – At first glance, the salt room can be overwhelming if you have never tried it before, however, it can also be extremely relevant in your daily cruise life. This room is similar to a sauna, with the exception of salt transforming your body. In our experience, trying it once is well worth the admission price.

Pulse Fitness Center – lace up those Nikes and put on your newest pair of LuLu Lemons for a full range work out at the Pulse Fitness Center. This gym is fully equipped with multiple treadmills, bikes, strength building machines, and weight lifting. In our experience, we decided to at least visit the gym twice during our two-week cruise. One day for each week of eating at the buffet.

Mandara Spa & Salon –

Mandara offers a range of services from massages to haircuts. Although we did not experience either one, we felt the need to highlight the fact anyone is eligible for a free spa service. At the beginning of your cruise, there will be a drawing anyone can enter to win a free massage. In addition, there are other prize drawings that will allow a heavy discount percentage off any service, or a free exercise class of your choice. In our experience, we did not win anything, however, anyone can take advantage of the free ten-minute preview massage in case they wanted to book something, and that’s exactly what we did.

Destination Limitation:

Although this transatlantic cruise happened to be 15 days, there were only two international stops along the way. The first port of call is an autonomous archipelago in the mid-Atlantic called Azores, which is a region of Portugal. The islands consist of small fishing villages and dramatic landscapes in a picturesque location. The duration of our stay was between the hours of 7 am to 4 pm, and this was plenty of time to explore the area.

In our experience, we ate breakfast on the ship, which allowed us to disembark right at 7 am, and then we ordered a taxi for a day to the closest black sand beach. This port of call was more relaxed than others we have encountered, however, a great addition to the itinerary.

The second port of call is a blend of British and American cultures combined with vibrant beaches and tropical landscape. This colorful island is also famous for their world-renowned pink-sand beaches that are a popular tourist attraction, and the mention of their name in a Beach Boys song. As you may have guessed, this destination is none other than Bermuda.

We spent two full days docked at this amazing location, however, the weather happened to be very windy. Unfortunately, we were unable to complete our scheduled scuba dives, but we were able to visit two of the pink-sand beaches. Horseshoe Bay Beach was brilliant with vibrant colors and a onsite restaurant. The only drawback is the crowd of tourists at this location.

The second beach was a hidden gem among the local houses called, “Somerset Long Bay.” At this site there were only 5 other tourists spread across this mile long bay with a family of sea turtles swimming around us. Luckily, I was able to capture great drone footage at this beach before the rain came in. Personally, we would have liked to have a couple more stops on this cruise, however, we realize this would have been impossible for the duration of the cruise from Europe to America.

 

Award Winning Entertainment: The Barricade Boys

The Barricade Boys were a highlight of our trip. The Barricade Boys are created and produced by Les Miserables alumni Scott Garnham and Simon Schofield. They perform powerful ballads and beautiful operatic arias to some of the best rock, pop, and swing number of all times. Their voices  are absolutely incredible. We attended three of their shows on the Norwegian Getaway and we already look forward to attending future performances! One of our favorite perfomances we had the pleasure of seeing on the ship is when they performed Les Miserables, “One Day More”. We are happy to have had the opportunity to get to know some of these guys and become friends. Shoutout to Rob and Paul for swimming with turtles with us in Bermuda!! 

Cuisine:

We were highly impressed with the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus on the Norwegian Getaway. Some of our favorite dishes included the chocolate molten lava cake with chocolate chip gelato, the recess peanut butter cheesecake, the caprese salad, the french onion soup, the pistachio creme brulee, the lasagna, and the steak and shrimp. 

Our favorite restaurant was the Teppanyaki. Although it is an extra fee, it is well worth the money!

Conclusive Thoughts:

Overall our experience was nothing short of magical, and a considerable idea instead of booking a round trip ticket. The cost of booking a one way ticket to Europe accompanied by a transatlantic cruise ticket back to the United States might be the same price if not cheaper. In addition, this way of travel allows for two different experiences wrapped into one. Another great fact to consider when decision time comes up is that all your food is included with your cruise ticket. The complimentary activities and shows are an added bonus, and allows for an entreating journey along the way! The staff on Norwegian is wonderful and we always appreciated the amazing animal figures made from towels they left hanging around our cabin!

Thank you for your support in reading this article, and please feel free to visit other destinations on our website for more travel tips and exciting adventure stories from our travels around the world!

 

Have a great one, and always remember your Adventure Awaits!

Rome with “Us”

Rome with “Us”  

Rome is a poem that has been pressed into a city filled with marvelous architecture and sprinkled with drops of Italian heritage. At nearly 3,000 years old, this metropolis possesses incredible sites to behold such as the ancient ruins from the Roman Empire and the infamous Vatican City, which are the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Intimidating as all this may sound, we have managed to compress a few of our favorite highlights from our visit to help you decide if Rome is right for you! Come explore with us as we take a look into true Italian culture!

Maya Tours Rome: Walking Tour

  

The only thing better than experiencing history is having professionals to guide you. These individuals have been trained with a wealth of knowledge to assist with any possible questions you may have and can explain in detail quality information. In our experience, the walking tour of the city was private, which was beneficial due to my inquisitive self. The tour started in the middle of the Piazza Navona where we met our wonderful guide, John. Once he had explained the significance about the massive pillar at the center, we understood how it connected all the streets together. We then proceeded to the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, Trevi Fountain, and finally the Quattro Fontane.

 

 

After a fascinating evening of learning about gifted architects like Gian Lorenzo Bernini and creative painters like Leonardo Da Vinci it was time for dinner. Our awesome guide treated us to great wine, delicious food, and a night full of laughter. We recommend Maya Tours for travelers of all ages.

 

Secret Food Tour: 

 

Tradition comes in many flavors, and that is exactly what you will taste on the Rome Secret Food Tour. At approximately eight in the morning, we lined up outside of Piazza Navona to meet with our lovely tour guide. The tour started off with a trendy espresso accompanied by classic biscotti. After that introduction, we went on to visit multiple cafes, restaurants and family owned cheese delis. One of the major components with this tour is that you will not go hungry. In fact, you may find yourself deciding whether to skip a few items on the never-ending menu. Once again we found ourselves learning about “Al Dente” pasta and savoring the original version of the canoli throughout the day. Of course this tour would not be complete without a big gelato finish! Overall, our experience was filling yet satisfying beyond belief. We recommend this tour for the hungry travelers. 

 Vatican City:

 Long before Tom Hanks portrayed Robert Langdon in the Hollywood hit “Angels & Demons” where he warns the Vatican of the estranged group known as the Illuminati, which could potentially hurt their existence, there was a mysterious sovereign state in the middle of Rome, Italy. Vatican City may be the smallest country in the world; however, with a net worth of almost 15 billion dollars it is far from the weakest.

  

If a person was to visit the Vatican from opening to closing hours seven days in a row, they might be able to see almost what this entire powerful city has to display.

  

In our experience, we were privately guided through St. Peters Basilica, and quietly marveled at the world-renowned painting, by Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable in a biblical context, and patient in answering all our questions. Due to the nature of this tour, we would recommend for teenagers and above. We also highly recommend booking Maya Tours for this fantastic experience!

 

Colosseum:

“Are you not entertained?!” This quote may have become famous when Russell Crowe played Maximus shouting it out in the Hollywood blockbuster film, “Gladiator,” however; the iconic stadium in which he stands is really the shining star of that movie. The Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built, and a true representation of what Roman times were like. There have been a number of events that have taken place in this very location including gladiatorial events, public spectacles, animal hunts, mock sea battles, and world-class concerts. In our experience, this was the second part of our tour for the day, where our tour guide treated us to lunch right outside the famous walls. Once we had entered through the gates we instantly became captivated by the architecture and overwhelmed with excitement.

Some of the most interesting facts about this site are the historical conditions below the centers surface. Big game animals such as lions, tigers and packs of wild wolves would be stored in tiny crates in the worst environment to ensure they’re willingness to attack prey. In addition, the fighters would practice right next to them with no ventilation system causing irritation and anger. Once the person is inside the circular stage, a random animal would be catapulted from the floor resulting in a fight to the death battle. Although this tour was one of our favorites, the weather conditions prompt us to say we recommend it to teenagers and above.

After spending one week in Rome, Italy, we can say with confidence that only a quarter of the city was explored. In actuality, one could spend an entire month navigating around the narrow streets and visiting the ancient attractions in order to completely submerge themselves in Roman culture. Never the less, we truly appreciate every partner who was willing to work with us, and make our stay that much more enjoyable. We consider them family, and patiently await our return. Vivere una vita bella!

  

Adventure Awaits in Catalina Island

 

Living in Los Angeles can feel quite exhausting whether it’s a daily commute in rush hour traffic on the 405 freeway or working hard to keep up with the cost of every day living expenses. Fortunately, there is a charming island off the California coast line that is only an hour-long ferry-boat ride from Long Beach where you can escape to at several different times on any given day. Sitting at only 22 miles long and 8 miles wide, Catalina Island is a California paradise with tropical weather during the summer and awesome scuba diving conditions year round. In this article, we’ll highlight our favorite activities and magical moments to showcase why Catalina Island should be your next get away!

Flexible Travel Options: 

The Catalina Express provides one-hour ferryboat trips from three mainland cities: Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. One other available method of transportation is a fifteen-minute Helicopter ride on the Island Express. The Catalina Express is our preferred choice of transportation and the boat offers an upgrade to the Commodore Lounge, which we highly recommend. The Commodore Lounge includes comfortable seating arrangements and a complimentary first beverage and snack

In our experience, we truly enjoyed the upgrade that was provided by Catalina Express. There was a separate line for all Commodore passengers that was significantly shorter in size to board the vessel creating a fast and efficient transition from land to boat. In addition, we selected two complimentary mimosas to start off our morning, that were accompanied by two adorable miniature sized Chandon Champagne.

Finally, our ticket also included a choice of either a packaged sized snack of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies or spicy trail mix. Our recommendation would be to opt for the upgrade, as it is only a $15.00 difference in price. 

Awesome Activities & Adventures:  

Catalina Zip line Eco Tour

 

The Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour is an exhilarating approach to view the island’s landscape from an aerial perspective and jam-packed with excitement! The tour includes full equipment complete with two guides that will explain in detail safety instructions at the beginning, and delivers five platforms high above the canyon floor. Experience dropping at heights of 600 ft above sea level across lines up to 1,100 lineal ft at speeds up to 30 mph! The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the islands history and the animals that reside on Catalina Island. Each platform holds information displayed on a stand for reference while each tour guide explains the details of each animal. 

In our experience, our tour guides were extremely friendly and patient which allowed us to have a great time. We want to give a shout-out to Brandon for really going above and beyond and making sure we were having a blast on our tour. He always kept us smiling and laughing and was very enthusiastic. The weather was also in our favor, which is important to remember when participating in outdoor activities. We recommend this tour to any visitor on the island no matter what age or size as it will enhance your island experience!

    

Catalina Island Aerial Adventure

   

Adventure awaits you at the newest addition of Catalina Island with the thrilling Aerial Adventure course! There are five self paced and guided courses ranging from two beginner, two intermediate and one advanced. Each course is creatively designed with rope ladders; log bridges, balance beams and zip lines for your enjoyment. Prepare to climb, swing and slide from tree to tree through a series of obstacles and elements suspended high above the canyon floor

  

In our experience, we completed the second beginner course, along with both intermediate courses in the two-hour increment allotted for this activity. This excursion was our favorite, and we recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure. 

      

Catalina Room Escape

 

A fast paced growing trend in the United States is the variety of escape rooms that are popping up all over the country. We had the pleasure of participating in the The Catalina Pirate Challenge escape room and enjoyed every minute of it. The escape room is designed with a pirate theme complete with costumes for your amusement. 

Unfortunately we did not escape the room. Instead we had one more riddle to solve in order to escape before the 60-minute clock ran out. Although we’d like to discuss the details of this awesome experience, we understand the importance of keeping it secret for other visitors. What we can tell you is we would recommend this activity to every tourist who visits the island as we feel it is a great representation to Catalina as a whole. We had the pleasure of working with Matt. Matt and his wife Jeannette are the owners of the escape room. They are very kind, professional, and really go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your time on the island. Good luck and happy solving!

Delightful Accommodations:

 

Escape the ordinary at the Aurora hotel on Catalina Island. This lovely boutique hotel offers ocean view rooms, an outdoor rooftop lounge overlooking the marina, complimentary wine and cheese Friday evenings, and Saturday morning complimentary breakfast with a mimosa bar. The check in to check out process is seamless with the amazing staff at this hotel, and the centralized location makes it perfect when deciding what to do on the island.

 

In our experience, we recommend this hotel for an overnight stay or a long weekend get-away. This establishment is family friendly, and a pleasant and luxurious environment for your trip.

Cultural Cuisines & Delicious Dining Choices:

Descanso Beach Club

 

The DBC also known as Descanso Beach Club is a fantastic place to enjoy lunch and cocktails. The area is situated directly on the beach above the ocean with views of the canyon and the famous Casino on the island. The menu is tasty with items such as the islands iconic favorite drink, the “buffalo milk”, to delicious appetizers such as Tricia’s Nacho platter

 

In our experience, we ordered two Pina Coladas accompanied by a Black & Blue Caesar salad and a Descanso Cobb salad for lunch. The items we chose were very tasty and the service was impeccable. We recommend this restaurant to every tourist looking for feel good island vibes and appetizing food choices.

 

Blue Water Avalon

 

Looking for the best seafood on the island? Do you enjoy a waterfront patio with stunning views while dining? The Blue Water Grill has been voted “Best” of Catalina Island, and we would have to agree. This restaurant is perfectly situated in the middle of the Avalon harbor. This establishment offers great service, impeccable food, and an island ambiance to enhance your visit. 

  

In our experience, we ordered two buffalo milks, which are known as the island’s favorite iconic beverage, an order of the cedar plank salmon and lemon pepper crusted mahi mahi accompanied by jumbo shrimp cocktail and a cup of the clam chowder. This was definitely the best meal we had the pleasure of eating on the island. We recommend this restaurant to all visitors, whether the length of stay is a day or a week, as we feel this is the best dining establishment on Catalina Island

 

Thank you for your support in reading our article, and please feel free to visit our website at www.adventurpro.com for more travel tips and exciting adventure stories from our travels around the world!

  

Have a great one, and always remember your Adventure Awaits!

Sip, Sip, Hooray! Malibu Wine Safari

Sip, Sip, Hooray!

MALIBU WINE SAFARI

What do the colors red, white and blush mean to you? In the world of wine enthusiasts these common terms can have a variety of different descriptions. California is prevalent with an abundance of wineries ranging from colossal brands such as Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and Santa Ynez in the north, and quality labels like Temecula Valley in the south. Although each one offers there own unique style of tastings and activities, we recently encountered something unlike anything we’ve seen before. Malibu Wine Safari’s takes the game to a whole new level of fun! The idea of mixing exotic animals with exquisite beverages has captured our hearts, and we’ll highlight our top reasons why everyone should experience these magical moments. Welcome to the Saddlerock ranch and Vineyard!

Stanley the Giraffe Experience 

Although there are multiple safari tours available at Malibu Wines, there is one in particular that seems to be a crowd pleaser and a favorite. Stanley the Giraffe is a famous retired movie animal with such hits like, “The Hangover 3” under his giant size belt, and a number of commercials including Verizon and Doritos to name a couple. The tour’s first stop will take you straight to this loveable creatures habitat where you’ll have a few memorable moments feeding and petting him. The driver will explain interesting details about Stanley before or after you visit with him, which allows for a more personable encounter. Our experience was nothing short of magical, and we would recommend this tour to people of all ages. 

Animal Safari Adventure

  

Zebras, Alpacas and Ox’s, oh my! Ok so that last phrase sets the tone for entering into the Wizard of Oz, however, this also may depend on the number of wine tastings you’ve had at this point. In any case, you’re in luck because this next stop of the tour will bring out your inner animal lover side. Grab a couple carrots and get ready to hand feed a Zebra! These gentle mammals are calmly waiting gate side for tourists to give them a healthy snack accompanied by a friendly pet. Next will be a couple of international ox’s who are just as hungry, and anxious to meet you! Finally, there will be a group of alpacas of all different shapes and sizes eager to make your acquaintance. Luckily, your tour guides will have buckets of chopped up carrots and lettuce heads to feed your new hungry friends, and of course the tour wouldn’t be complete without some heavy petting. This was our second favorite part of this wonderful tour, and we recommend having your camera ready for those great shots!

  

Wine Tasting Flights

  

It’s time to discuss the goods, and what you all have been patiently waiting for the wine! There were two wine tasting stops on our tour. The first stop was directly after the Giraffe experience, and started off with all white wines. The three wines included a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Stanley’s very own Moscato label. On the second stop, the red wines included a Pinot Noir, Merlot and our personal favorite the Syrah. Once you have tasted all three wines you will have a chance to revisit the ones you liked. Each stop will have a picturesque background with rolling hills of vineyards that is perfect for photo ops! The tour guide is extremely polite and will offer to take complimentary photos with your camera or phone. In our experience, we recommend taking a picture on the wooden bridge over the quaint lake during your second destination. Smile for the camera!

Overall our experience was absolutely amazing and truly a fantastic fun-filled day! 

Thank you for your support in reading this article, and please feel free to visit other destinations on our website for more travel tips and exciting adventure stories from our travels around the world!

Have a great one, and always remember your Adventure Awaits!

Escape Krampus in Downtown La!

Escape Krampus in Downtown La

What’s more terrifying than a, “half goat, half demon,” known as Krampus? How about being locked in an extremely dingy and spine-chilling room for 60 minutes with frightening sounds and terrorizing tasks at your fingertips to escape the claws of death! Still not convinced? In this article we’ll highlight our favorite reasons why 60 Out Escape Rooms should be your top pick to visit when looking for a scary time with friends and family.

Wonderful Location:

The city of Los Angeles can be a giant headache when it comes to driving at any given time of any day of the week. Whether it’s the congested rush hour traffic or limited parking spaces available, it is common to feel the frustration that people of this spectacular city have felt. 60 Out Escape Rooms is located just outside the main hub of towering infrastructures and high-rises with plenty of parking space available. In addition to the stress-free environment, there are also a variety of restaurants, sit down or fast food, ready to service you before or after your trip. In our experience, we arrived for an evening session of fun with two other couples, and were able to park with ease, take a 3 minute walk to the building, and sign in worry free all in about 5 minutes.

Diversified Games:

Each new season brings a selection of new games that can be played. In our case, Krampus is a part of their winter season selection of spooky rooms. Today there are over fifteen escape rooms offered at 60 Out Escape Rooms and they are excited to be introducing two new ones, Jumanji and Time Machine! These exciting rooms range from mystery, action, funny, to horror, and usually are played with anywhere from 2 – 10 people depending on your room. Krampus in particular felt like a rollercoaster of excitement with one hair-raising task after another. Some escape rooms might have one big room with clues scattered throughout and only one way to escape. Other rooms will have multiple doors that lead to multiple rooms with riddles and puzzles that can easily be solved in groups. Even though we aren’t able to tell you the exact description of the Krampus room in hopes of not spoiling it for the others, we are able to vouch for it’s creepy appearance. Krampus delivers an exciting experience that will keep you on your feet the whole time! A word of advice, try not to look behind you and don’t be scared of the dark!

Level of Difficulty:

On a scale from 1 – 10, we would rate this escape room as being at an intermediate level. Some rooms can be less difficult than others, and in this case we would recommend attempting to complete with a group. We have visited almost half a dozen escape rooms from northern to southern California, and only had a 20 percent chance of escaping them all. In this case, we were unsuccessful at escaping Krampus with only one more task to unscramble and seconds left on the clock. There is always a bittersweet taste of freedom when the buzzer goes off, and you’re still locked away inside the room. In our experience, we enjoyed every minute of this thrilling room, and recommend it to anyone seeking to enter into a fear driven world of Christmas mayhem.

Ireland’s Lucky Number Seven

Ireland’s Lucky Number Seven

Have you ever wanted to visit the “Emerald Isle?” How about following a rainbow to that pot of gold? Legend says that the luck of the Irish can bring fortune and fame according to Hollywood movies. Let’s take a trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the Northwestern part of Europe where we’ll find a beautiful island nestled on the continental shelf. Imagine infinite rolling hills covered with lush landscape draped with vibrant shades of green. Welcome to Ireland, land of the green Shamrock! Come explore with us as we uncover our top seven favorite places to see on your next Ireland vacation.  

#7 – City of Dublin

 The city of Dublin is abundant with rich Irish heritage, and happens to be the capital of Ireland. The international airport located in this vicinity will most likely be the arrival and departure point for your trip. In our experience, it was convenient to use this as a central location when navigating around our list of sights to see. Dublin is also home to one of the most famous dark beers ever created, the Guinness Stout. A massive factory resides in the heart of the city, which brings us to our next topic of conversation; the Guinness Storehouse!

 #6 – Guinness Storehouse

 

 In the year 2000, the Guinness Storehouse was created and quickly became one of Irelands top tourist attractions. The building consists of seven floors surrounding a glass atrium in the shape of a Guinness pint, and has received over an estimated four million visitors year to date. A rooftop bar is located at the very top of the structure where guests are invited for a free tasting of the world-renowned beverage. In our experience, we spent a total of about four hours touring the facility before making our way to the rooftop. The interesting history and entertainment is well worth the $30 USD admission, however, with a Dublin pass entry is complimentary. In any case, have fun and enjoy!

   

#5 – City of Cork

 

 If a rental car is within your budget and adventure is what you crave, there is University City just three hours north of Dublin. The city of Cork boasts rustic buildings with new age fashion, and is the perfect place to spend a holiday. Aside the local Quinlans restaurant which serves outstanding fish and chips for a hearty meal, there are also creative dessert bakeries such as Sticky Fingers that can satisfy even the most intense sweet cravings at your disposal. In our experience, the neighborhood was extremely courteous to us, and we are forever grateful for their hospitality!

#4 – Blarney Castle & Gardens

   

 Welcome to the Blarney Castle & Gardens located about fifteen minutes outside the beautiful city of Cork in the south of Ireland. This tourist attraction has captured audience’s hearts around the world with its grace and beauty. These grounds consist of a historical castle, a royal mansion, multiple magnificent rock and garden formations, and the famous Blarney Stone. The tradition of kissing the Blarney Stone became popular in the 1800’s, and although there are many legends surrounding this ritual one thing is for certain. The gift of eloquence will be bestowed on whoever kisses the bluestone stone wedged at the top of this medieval fortress.

In our experience, we recommend purchasing the delicious ice cream cones topped off with a chocolate treat at the front gate before making your way to the castle.

Once you have climbed the ancient stairs to the top of the castle there will be a designated person waiting for you to lay down on your back, grab the rusted metal with both hands, and lean down for a smooch on the magical stone. The price of this excursion is about $17 USD, and the hours of operating are from 9 am – 4 pm. This activity is family friendly and the perfect photo op moment.

 #3 – Village of Doolin

Have you ever pictured yourself wanting to take a international vacation to a foreign land, and you wind up in a local pub where the drinks are flowing all night accompanied by singing Irish folk music? Now is your chance to experience a night just like the one mentioned above in a quaint little village known as Doolin. This delightful discovery is somewhat off the beaten path, and surprisingly close to the famous Cliffs of Moher. In our experience, we enjoyed a fantastic evening of laughter, meeting new friends, singing along to authentic Irish music, and enjoying life to its fullest as a married couple in this very location. We would recommend a visit if your itinerary allows a little bit of freedom.

 #2 – Cliffs of Moher

 The Cliffs of Moher rise above the Atlantic Ocean at a maximum height of seven hundred feet and about eight miles across the coast of Ireland with majestic views and landscape that will take your breath away. This destination is a regular site for filming, and has hosted big blockbusters such as “The Princess Bride,” “Leap Year,” and the well-known series “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.” Admission is completely free to this magnificent tourist attraction; however, parking can be an extra cost. Tourists can typically spend an average of fifteen minutes to one hour when visiting. In our experience, the day we went was extremely windy with rain clouds, but we still recommend trekking the distance past the far off wooden gates to the left in order to capture the best footage of these spectacular cliffs. Have fun and enjoy the scenery!

#1 – Giants Causeway

  

Saved the best for last is a phrase that has been used across the world, and a perfect description for our number one Ireland attraction. Located at the northern end of Ireland lies an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns from a volcanic eruption known as the Giants Causeway. This marvelous design of nature has been ranked as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom. Legend says the causeway was built by an Irish Giant, and destroyed by a Scottish Giant when he realized he did not want to fight.

  

In our experience, we arrived extra early around 6:45 am. The Causeway opens to the public at 9 am. This is the absolute best time to snap a few picturesque photos before the anxious audience arrives. Breakfast awaited us at the Causeway hotel on the cliff above this amazing site directly afterward, and we recommend this to everyone visiting the awesome country of Ireland.

  

 

Tis’ The Season: Big Bear, California

Tis’ The Season: Big Bear, California

Southern California is known for its charming coast line, variety of cultural food, and within a few short hours of driving scenic views of lakes, forestry, and mountains. Big Bear Lake is located adjacent to the San Bernardino Mountains, and holds a vast majority of activities throughout the seasons. In particular, we are going to focus on our top five winter attractions to do in Big Bear, California.

#5 Bear Mountain Ski Resort

 

On December 8, 2017 the much-anticipated opening day of Bear Mountain arrived. Although there were only a handful of lifts available at this time, beginners to the experienced visited the mountain. In recent years, the monstrous Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort had joined forces with Bear Mountain Resort to create one conglomerate of a company. The upside to this merger was that the mountain would no longer be able to sell out of tickets, however, the downside is that prices were raised across the board on all lift tickets. Overall, our experience was nothing short of entertaining, and we recommend this as our number five activities on our list of things to do.

 

 #4 Mountain Room Escapes

 

Lights, Camera, Action! Imagine that you are trapped inside an avalanche covered ski resort, with nothing but riddles and clues at your disposal where you have exactly one hour to escape while the rush of anxiety keeps building second after second! Escape Rooms have quickly blossomed around the west coast and east coast area, and welcome large groups of people to participate. In our experience, we played the game with ten of our closest friends, and escaped with 15 minutes to spare on the clock! If you are one of the lucky escapees, there is a bonus room with extra games and puzzles! Best of luck!

#3 Action Segway Tours

 Are you ready for a fun, beautiful scenic two-hour tour gliding on a Segway lakeside through the forest while exploring the remarkable quaint town Big Bear has to offer? Action Segway Tours provide a professional and wonderful experience year round. They provide certified trained guides that will teach you the history of Big Bear and make sure you have a great time. This tour is not only educational, it is an exhilarating adventure. Although we opted for the zipline tour with Action Tours, we can’t wait to return and join a Segway experience! We have heard amazing reviews of the tour and have experienced the amazing staff ourselves! We highly recommend trying Action Segway Tours when visiting Big Bear. 

#2 Action Zipline Tours

 Get ready for a thrilling ride as you race through the Big Bear forest between nine zipline platforms! This three-hour tour will have you on an adventure of a lifetime! Start off your morning with a safety instruction video to ensure a fun-filled day, then relax during a 30 minute drive to a privately owned landscape paradise. Once you’ve strapped on the necessary equipment including a safety helmet, board their safari vehicles for your off road ride up to the platforms and allow yourself to live life on the edge while zipping through giant pine trees. After the first zipline, you will take a crazy walk on a fun suspension bridge. During our experience, our guides were very knowledgeable, funny, and knew how to make us have a great time. They were very helpful and explained to us how to work the brakes. They were always available to take pictures and always made sure we were having fun. The last two ziplines were our favorite. They were what we call the Big Mamas!! The best part on the last two ziplines was that we were instructed to not use our brakes and just fly! This was a blast! The ziplines all range from 140’- 860’ long and they are up to 85’ above forest floor. Action Zipline Tours was professional and we highly recommend this company! The tour operates in summer and winter, so whether you are flying high through the snow or zipping on a bright sunny day, get ready to make memories that will last forever!

 

#1 Snow Play

  

Dashing through the snow, on winter inner tubes, holding hands we go, sledding down in two’s! Snow Play is an area located right off Big Bear Blvd that is designated for people of all ages to come sled the day away on one of the eight slippery slopes offered! There are a lot of reasons why we chose Snow Play as number one on our list of top activities to do when visiting Big Bear. There is no age limit, which means that anyone is at liberty to enjoy the day at this family friendly establishment. The price of a ticket is $35 per person for anyone that is 7 years old or older. The hours of operation are from 10 am to 4 pm daily, which is perfect timing for daylight. In our experience, two hours was more than enough time to be able to ride 5 times each down the small mountain, and capture some pretty epic footage along the way. We recommend this activity as a must do when visiting big bear that’s only skill required is to have fun! Enjoy!

 

Iceland: How to Make the Most of your Layover

Iceland: How to Make the Most of your Layover

Getting to Iceland:

If you are looking for extremely low fares, WOW Air is a great airline for budget friendly travel. The airline offers the lowest prices you will see in today’s market. Iceland now offers free stop-overs in Reyklavic. You can either fly into Reyclavik or Kevalivik airport. Once you’ve arrived in this beautiful country, we recommend locating Thirfty car rental and renting a car from them. They are quick, effiencent, and the cheapest deal for the day. We recommend renting a car over taking the tour busses so that you can not only explore the island, but the conveince and cost is well worth it. It is much cheaper to rent a car then to take public transportation.

Activities:

During our layover, we had the opportunity to visit one of the wonders of the world, The Blue Lagoon! It was breathtaking! We highly recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon if you have an adequate amount of time on your layover in Iceland. It is very important to make reservations online in advance as the lagoon sells out very quickly and will almost always be sold out day of. We recommend the Comfort Package for your best deal which includes a towel, your first free drink (alchool included), and an additional algae mask. We truly enjoyed this package and felt it was well worth our money. The grounds at the Blue lagoon are beautiful. There is many places to take pictures and the staff are very friendly and welcoming.

  

One key fact about the Blue Lagoon is the average temperature of the water is 100 degrees farenheit on a daily basis. We recommend purchasing early evening tickets no later than 8pm. In some cases, depending on the time of year, you may be lucky enough to see the northern lights during your time in the geothermal lagoon.

  

If you would like to enchance your experience, massages are available inside the lagoon and we highly recommend dining at the world reknown Lava restaurant. Our top favorites on the menu were the Royal Mojito and the Filet Tenderloin.

Before you make it back to the airport. We recommend taking a drive to the town of Recjklavic.. Here you will find great shopping, the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja church which is the largest church in Iceland and among the tallest structures, and the fun-filled Icelandic nightlife.

We stumbled into a local bar called Vedour which we highly recommend. Iceland is known for their famous alchohol Brenemin. We definitely advise ordering an Icelandic mule!

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