Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Elk Falls Colorado: Visit the Highest Waterfall near Denver

Do you think there are still places on earth that are unknown to most?
Well, the answer is yes.

It is the case of Elk Falls in Colorado, the highest waterfalls near Denver, that had remained inaccesible to the majority of people for long time.
These stunning 75 feet of falls are located at only 50 minutes from the city and have been part of Staunton State Park since 2013, when the park opened.
After the park creation, people could admire Elk Falls from a distant overlook; nowadays, thanks to two newly constructed trails, the waterfall can be experienced in a more intense way.
(image source: http://photos3.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/b/7/f/4/600_442067092.jpeg)

Reaching Elk Falls and Stauton State Park

Following north on Elk Creek Road for 1.5 miles you will find the park entrance.
The park is open all year from 8 am to 5 pm and a park pass is required for each day of your stay (it costs 7 $ a day). You can leave your car at the group picnic area.
Once you have parked, take a map at the main entrance and start your trip to Elk Falls (you can find a small guide and a general map here).

There are some hiker-only trails and many multi-use trails for hiking, biking and horse riding: all trails are very well signed, but you can ask park rangers and volunteers for any needs.

If you love nature, peace and the sound of the water falling down, you cannot miss the majestic show this area offers. You will enjoy a variety of landscapes and vegetation: meadows, dramatic rock formations, forests, streams and waterfalls.
On your hike you could even meet coyotes, red foxes, deers, hammingbirds and other wildlife.
Make sure you have always your camera with you.
You can enjoy the trail throughout the year with the proper measures in the different seasons: trekking poles and shoes traction devices, since you can find ice and snow on the trail, or snowshoes in case of heavy snow.
Astonishing colors will welcome you in fall, while the snow will accompain you during winter months.

Hiking on Elk Falls

Rated as moderate, the hike distance is about 12 miles round trip (from 4 to 6 hours).
The starting elevation is about 8200 feet and the elevation gain is approximately 900 feet.
Take Staunton Ranch Trail and, after a 3.3 mile hike in the forest, follow Bugling Elk Trail and reach Elk Falls Pond (it is possible to fish here, but a Colorado fishing license is required).

Take a rest admiring the landscape and the main inhabitants of the place: the marmots.
At this point, Lion's Back Trail directly leads to the breathtaking Elk Falls Overlook.
From Elk Falls Pond, the new Chimney Rock Trail connects to both Lion's Back Trail and the Elk Falls Trail that will bring you down to the formerly inaccessible base of Elk Falls.
Elk Falls Trail, in fact, has been recently opened and gives the visitors the chance to enjoy some of the best scenic views that were not accessible before.

Getting closer to the waterfalls you will first perceive the sound of the water falling on the rocks and then an incredible scene will open up. Before taking your way back, following the same trails, seat on a boulder, stay there for a while, watch, breath, and hear this awe-inspiring result of nature.

General behavior on Elk Falls

If you want to fully enjoy, you should follow some simple rules for your own safety and on the basis of the leave-no-trace principles so to minimize your impact on the environment.
  • Dress properly
  • Stay on the marked trails to help preserving the surrounding environment
  • Respect vegetation and wildlife
  • Take your trash
  • Keep your dog on a leash and clean up after it
  • Use the avalaible restrooms (in the parking areas) and if not possible, cover your waste in a hole at least 200 feet from streams and trails

Staunton State Park

The park, the newest state park in Colorado, stretches for over 3908 acres, about 40 miles southwest of Denver and around 6 miles west of Conifer. The city of Denver could certainly be the perfect starting point for visiting both the park and the waterfalls: you can view all our hotel offers in town here.

Created out of a gift by Francis H. Staunton, Staunton State Park opened on May 18, 2013 and today offers many recreational opportunities:
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing: you can get your free downloadable climbing guide here http://www.fixedpin.com/collections/climbing/products/rock-climbing-staunton-state-park.
    It is not allowed to climb Lion's Head and the spectacular Elk Creek Spires, in order to protect them. Also, climbing can be prohibited during seasonal closure for nesting raptors.
  • Fishing: a Colorado fishing license is required and it is possible to fish at the Davis Ponds, Elk Falls Ponds and the streams. Swimming and boating are not allowed
  • Geocaching
  • Education programs: many educational activites are proposed for both adults and children (such as archery, wildlife photography or the Junior Ranger Program for children)
  • Birdwatching
  • Picnicking: there are picnic tables and BBQ grills close the the parking areas
  • Group picnicking: the site for group picknicking is for rent and available for reservation

General warnings

These areas can be very crowded, above all during holidays and weekends. Annual park passes can be puchased online.
Check the park website before leaving for your hike for alerts and winter information.
Camping is not allowed and it is not possible to stay overnight in the park. Hunting is also prohibited.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Best Tattoo Shops & Parlors in Las Vegas (Artists Included)

Wondering what the hottest tattoo shops of Las Vegas are?

Here is a list mentioning some of the best rated places near the Las Vegas Strip where you can get a superlative tattoo at quite reasonable prices.
You should call to arrange an appointment. Also, agree on prices before starting the work and directly check if they take credit cards.

The 10 Best Tattoo Shops of Las Vegas

1. Pair-a-dice Tattoo (304 E Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89104, Downtown; open 7 days a week); website: http://www.pairadicetattoolv.com/
Located near the Strip, it is one of the oldest tattoo shops in Las Vegas. It represents an example of cleanness and professionality and it is very appreciated also by local people. Here you can choose among superb artists and a wide range of styles.

Are you traveling to Las Vegas? Find out the best tattoo shops in town!

2. Downtown Tattoo Las Vegas (1106 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101, Downtown; open 7 days a week); website: http://downtowntattoolasvegas.com/
If you need some inspiration, just take a look around and be ready to get great ideas: tattoos pictures are everywhere on the walls. Even if the area is a bit shady, the place is a very bright open space, perfectly clean and welcoming. You will meet expert artists ready to make you feel comfortable and willing to help you out.

3. Atomic City Tattoo and Piercing (2310 Las Vegas Blvd Las Vegas, NV 89104, Strip North; closed on Sunday); website: http://atomiccitytattoos.com/
Even though sourroundings seem a bit sketchy, the shop is nice and clean, and the staff is very friendly. You will find high quality work at affordable prices by artist Johnny Vegas.

4. Studio 21 Tattoo Gallery (6020 W Flamingo Rd Ste B-2 Las Vegas, NV 89103; Westside); website: http://studio21tattoo.com/
Located one mile west of the Strip, this shop is open and bright. Its popular tattoo artists attract celebrities, locals and people all over the country and the world. Held by the Spencer family, the environment is familiar and friendly, but at the same time professionality is guaranteed.

Tattoist drawing a lotus flower in the Strip, Las Vegas5. Illuminati Tattoo and Piercing (3247 Sammy Davis Jr Dr Ste C, Las Vegas, NV 89109, Westside; open 7 days a week); website: http://vegas.tattooilluminati.com/
In a very comfortable, professional and clean environment you will find here different artists proposing different styles and techniques for all tastes.

6. Ironhorse Tattoos Piercings (700 E Naples Dr, Ste 106 Las Vegas, NV 89119, University, Eastside); http://www.ironhorseink.com/
Located nerby the UNLV, it is close to the south end of the Las Vegas Strip and open 7 days a week. Highly experienced artists work there assuring great professionality. Staff will make you feel comfortable and artists will make their best to realize your perfect tattoo. Their policy is such that they offer free touch ups for a year.

7. Skin Factory Tattoo and Body Piercing (3130 E Sunset Rd, Ste B Las Vegas, NV 89120, Southeast; open 7 days a week); website: https://www.skinfactorytattoo.com/
This place has all the characteristics you should find in a tattoo shop: it is clean, comfortable, customer-oriented and also it's approved by the Health Department. Here customer care and safety, artistic quality and honest prices meet.

8. West Coast Tattoo Parlor (9151 S Las Vegas Blvd, Ste 320, Las Vegas, NV 89123, Southeast; open 7 days a week); website: http://westcoasttattooparlor.com/
Located nearby the south end of the Strip, the place is very clean and welcoming. Staff at the front desk is very friendly and their artists are professional, talented and creative.

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas tattoo

9. Skin Design Tattoo (3963 Spring Mountain Rd Las Vegas, NV 89102, Chinatown; closed on Sunday); website: http://skindesigntattoos.com/
Established in 1999, it is considered one of the best tattoo shops in Las Vegas. The owner's work, Robert Pho, is appreciated all over the world. You will be surprised by the amount of awards the artists of this place won over the years.
The shop is modern and clean. They are also specialized in covering up previous tattoos and scars, and also in laser tattoo removal. If you think that tattoos are a form of art and culture, you have to visit this place.

10. Last Chance Tattoo Parlor (4265 S Arville St Las Vegas, NV 89103; open 7 days a week); website: http://www.lastchancetattoovegas.com/
Active since 2006, it has recently moved to a new location. The environment is clean, welcoming and professional and it hosts some of the best tattoo artists of the city. You have the chance to choose from thousands of designs, or their tattooists will be glad to design a custom piece for you.

Red Hot Flea tattoos

Tattoos shops within hotels

You can also find upscale boutique-style tattoo parlors in many famous hotels in the Strip. We mention here just a few:
The Hard Rock and Casino Hotel in Las Vegas

Want to Get a Tattoo in Las Vegas?

Tattoo industry in Las Vegas is an increasing element for the city's economy.
The most populated city of Nevada offers a large selection of tattoo shops and parlors, also attended by celebrities, and some of the world best tattoo artists to choose from.
So, if you want to get a tattoo, just come to Las Vegas and take home a permanent souvenir!

And remember: a tattoo is forever, so choose carefully and search for quality, cleanness and safety.

Beware cheap places, but be careful: expensive does not necessarily mean more professional.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ethiopian Food in Portland: The 10 Best Restaurants

Are you in Portland, Oregon, and have a craving for Ethiopian food?
Lucky you! There are many yummy Ethiopian restaurants and spots here.

Let the true aroma of Ethiopian herbs, food and spices welcome you!
Get ready to unveil the 10 most famous Ethiopian restaurants in Portland, from North to South.

1. Gojo Ethiopian Restaurants (915 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211 Northeast Portland, King)
Closed on Monday, the restaurant is open also for lunch. The prices range from $11 to $30. Platters are rich, served with plentiful injera bread (the typical spongy unleavened flat bread).
Beside the meat menu, you have many vegetarian and vegan choices. Gluten-free options are also available.
The ambience is simple and warm, the owners are very friendly and you will feel like at home. Choose the combination platters to try different tastes.
It is the perfect place to first experience authentic Ethiopian food and fall in love with it.

Ethiopian injera

2. Queen of Sheba International Foods (2413 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212, Northeast Portland, Eliot)
It is considered one of the best (not only Ethiopian) restaurants in Portland. It opens every day for dinner; on Thursday, Friday and Saturday it is open also at lunch time.
Products and ingredients are mainly imported from Ethiopia. Along the restaurant's corridors the colors and flavors of Ethiopia will accompany you. The menu offers a wide choice of combination options. They are sensitive to gluten-free diet. You can find full menu here.

3. Sengatera Ethiopian Restaurant (3833 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97212, Northeast Portland, King)
It is closed on Tuesday, it is open also for lunch on Saturday and Sunday.
The environment and the staff are nice and welcoming. They offer traditional family recipes. The fresh ingredients and typical spices come directly from Ethiopia.
This restaurant also offers live music shows during the week.
They also set the place for parties and birthdays.
Have a look at their menu on this page: http://sengaterarestaurant.com/menu.html.

4. Aberus Ethiopian Restaurant (438 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211, Northeast Portland, King)
Open also for lunch, it is closed on Monday. It is quite a small restaurant for about 50 people. Family run, you will find a very warm and nice environment.
Food is typically served on a single platter and you generally eat with your hands.
The menu offers a very varied meat menu and a little bit more limited choice of vegetarian food. Combo platters are the best way to experience the different tastes of the traditional Ethiopian food. Prices are reasonable, ranging from $11 to $30.

5. Enat Kitchen (300 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217, North Portland, Humboldt)
Open for lunch, it is closed on Sunday. Held by an Ethiopian family, the restaurant offers a wide range of typical Ethiopian dishes and tastes. It proposes both meat dishes made of beef, chicken, lamb or fish, and vegetarian specialties.
The 2-person combo platters are very generous.
The family style couple platter offers 2 meat dishes and 5 veggie ones for $29, perfect for 2/3 people. The larger family plate is for about 5 people for $40.

Ethiopian wat

6. E'njoni Cafe (910 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217)
This restaurant opens 7 days a week, also at lunch during the weekend. A warm environment will welcome you. It offers a wide range of vegetarian and meat dishes, with authentic and organic ingredients.
If you you opt for the veggie platter, you can chooose 5 vegetarian dishes for $13.
You can have a look at the online menu.

7. Bete-Lukas (2504 SE 50th Ave, Southeast Portland, OR 97206)
Open for dinner only, it is closed on Monday.
The environment is very welcoming with warm colors and artistic pictures on the walls.
It is a bit hard to find and not very well signed. It is on the 2° floor, following the stairway on the right of the building. The menu is varied and includes vegetarian, fish and meat dishes.
Try the vegetarian combo or the meat one: you will not be disappointed.
Prices are reasonable, ranging from $11 to $30.
Full menu here: http://www.bete-lukas.com/Dinner_Menu.html.

8. Abyssinian Kitchen (2625 SE 21st Ave Portland, OR 97202-Southeast Portland, Clinton, Hosford-Abernethy)
Closed on Monday, it is open for dinner only.
Price range is from $11 to $30. Having probably been a house before, it is a very welcoming and homey place, and the staff is very friendly. You will find high quality fresh food and staff sensitive to dietary needs.
View the online menu!

A typical Ethiopian dish you can enjoy in Portland Or

9. Emame's Ethiopian Cuisine (Portland, OR 97205, Southwest Portland, Downtown)
This place is perfect for a quick, good and cheap lunch. Open at office time, it is closed on Sunday. You should try the vegetarian combo: spicy lentils, cabage and injera bread. You will also find vegan options. The lady who runs the cart is very friendly.

10. Rahel's Ethiopian Food (Hazelwood, 10175 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97216)
This food truck will not disappoint you. The lady is very nice, food is fresh and cooked with love and prices are cheap. Open from 11am to 8 pm, it is closed on Sunday.

Do you love Ethiopian food, but want to cook it yourself? 

At Meskel Market (839 N Killingsworth Street, Portland, OR 97217, North Portland, Humboldt) and Merkato Ethiopian Music and Food store (2605 NE M L King Blvd, Portland, OR 97212, Northeast Portland, Eliot) you can find injera bread packs, Ethiopian spices, lentils, coffee beans and teff flour.

Getting to know real Ethiopian food

Ethiopian food tradition is an expression of the Ethiopian culture and food represents a true moment of sharing.
Generally, don't expect any fork or knife, but just the Injera bread serving as utensils, plate and sometimes also towels!
The Ethiopian cusine offers both vegetarian and meat dishes, from spicy to mild, or no spicy at all. Typical Ethiopian food can be accompanied by traditional drinks (wine, honey wine, beer, coffee and tea in their varieties).
Herbs and spices usually come directly from Ethiopia, so you get the chance to taste the real flavour of traditional dishes.

Injera, the typical Ethiopian bread

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Whitmore Hot Springs, Mammoth Lakes: The Ultimate Guide

Along the eastern side of Sierra Nevada Mountains, a few miles from the city of Mammoth Lakes, you will have the chance to visit some of the best and most primitive hot springs in California: they are the result of an ancient volcano's explosion, some 760,000 years ago, and mostly concentrate in the area between Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes itself.

Route 395, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, near Mammoth Lakes

Whitmore Hot Springs

They are located in the Long Valley Caldera, 20 minutes south-east to Mammoth Lakes and are surrounded by the Inyo National Forrest, in California's Eastern Sierra.
You can reach them travelling along Route 395 and then following the Whitmore Tubs Road. You will find 6 or 7 hot spring tubs over a course of few miles.
The natural context of the Whitmore Hot Springs is astonishing.
Imagine to be in the middle of nothing but nature in all its different forms.
They are located in a rather desert and pristine valley, surrounded by alpine mountains. They blend in with an almost lunar landscape, giving you a direct contact with nature.
One of their main and best features is that they are free and not commercial at all.
Usually volunteers take care of them, there are no special signs or business premises indicating their presence and often there are no facilities around the tubs, such as bathrooms or trash cans.
In some cases, the springs have been enclosed in concrete and rock tubs of various sizes.
Some of them are very small and can host just one person or a couple at a time, others are bigger and welcome more people. They can have taps to regulate water's temperature which can vary and be really hot. So, be careful!

We list here the most famous Whitmore Hot Spring Tubs, where you can soak your body while feeding your spirit with incredible views and quiet surroundings.

Whitmore Hot Tubs, near the city of Mammoth Lakes, California

1. Hilltop Hot Springs
Here you will find just one pool to accomodate four to six people. It is very popular being easy to get to. You will enjoy a breathtaking open view over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

2. Crab Cooker Hot Springs
This tub is not easy to reach and it is not easy to park there. There is only one pool that accomodate no more than 6 people. There are taps to regulate the water temperature.

3. Wild Willy's Hot Springs
Surrounded by an incredible backdrop and sagebrushes, they include 2 pools (a bigger one and a smaller one), that can be reached through a boardwalk from the car park.

4. Rock Tub Hot Spring 
It is popular and often crowded and can accomodate 6 to 8 people. Its water is hot, reaching over 100°, and you cannot adjust it.

Dead trees at Mammoth Hot Springs

5. Shepherd Hot Springs

This pool is easy to reach by car, that's why it is popular and often crowded, but it is worthy the wait. The water can be very hot, but can be regulated.

6. Little Hot Creek
This pool, a bit difficult to reach, is located in a small and isolated valley within a wonderful landscape. Water temperature is nicely regulated. It is better to have a SUV to get there.

Other Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes

Hot Creek, close to Mammoth Airport, is an incredible hot spring within a cold stream surrounded by rocks and mountains all around; the effect of hot bubbles and cold water on your body is amazing. The spring can be very hot, so be careful. Recently the place has been closed for volcanic activity.

Travertine Hot Springs (Bridgeport Valley) consist of a group of 5 pools immersed in a wonderful natural context. Easy to reach, they are quite popular.

Benton Hot Springs and Keough Hot Springs are more structered and organized pools, offering the possibilities to lodge nearby.

Travertine Terrace, Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs


- The hot springs are often connected by dirt roads that may be muddy or extremely rough, and you may need 4x4 to drive there.
- In winter, routes and mountain passes can be closed.
- Local people are friendly, but they actually do not like much that the hot springs are overly hyped.  We suggest a sort of code of behavior in attending the hot spring tubs.
- There are both "closed, private" tubs (smaller) and "open" ones (bigger), be discrete in entering occupied small hot springs and choose rather the bigger ones, or wait until they are free.
- Do not park or camp too close to the pools.
Keep the pools clean after yourself and be respectful with the environment.

Accomodation in Mammoth Lakes

You can choose the best accomodation according to your tastes and needs.
Being an area of natural parks, if you like an adventurous way or you are travelling in your RV, there are some campgrounds and RV parks around.
If you prefer or have to sleep in a hotel, there are many options in Mammoth Lakes or along Route 395.

Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes

Beside the experience of lying in the hot mineral waters and relaxing among the mountains, the incredible natural and wild environment of Mammoth Lakes surroundings offers many opportunities, both in summer and in winter.

During the summer you can enjoy the landscape through activities such as hiking, sightseeing, biking, rock climbing, camping and golfing. This area is dotted with many alpine lakes where it is possible to practice many sports: canoying and kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and fishing.

During the winter this is an amazing place for skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice climbing.

Being a wild environment, you have to be always careful and behave properly since you can see wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, deer, raccoons and wolves. Rangers are there to help you and give advice.

What to do in Mammoth Lakes

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Cancun Nightlife: Welcome to the Best Clubs in Cancun

Nightlife in Cancun has progressively become famous, since in the last twenty years the city has turned into one of the favorite university students' destinations during spring break.
Being a fundamental part of Cancun’s tourist economy, nightlife is as important and well-organized as daytime life: restaurants, bars and nightclubs are extremely refined and welcoming.

You only have to choose the perfect place for you.

Nightlife in Cancun can start from the beach

In Cancun there are clubs and nightclubs for all tastes and  all budgets, from the less ambitious to the most luxurious and sophisticated ones, offering also exclusive VIP areas and events.
Generally, you pay for an all-you-can-drink cover ticket at the entrance.
All places offer dancing, themed performances and non-stop music from disco and jazz to techno, from salsa and merengue to rock, from traditional Mexican music to reggae, with the most famous DJs of the country or live music, all accompanied by spectacular lasers and light shows.

Many places are restaurants until 9/10 pm and become then bars and nightclubs.
Senor Frogs (http://www.senorfrogs.com/cancun/), for example, is a children-friendly restaurant with kids’ menu that, after kids' bedtime, turns into a nightclub offering glow parties (on Sundays) and foam parties (on Wednesdays).

What’s the Best Program for an Intense Nightlife in Cancun?

Well, you could start with a drink in a bar: many hotels have their own bars and usually organise bar hopping tours to different nightclubs. This will help you to skip the line to get inside, that is generally very long (but the party is always worth the wait!).

Otherwise you can follow your tastes or mood and choose a place from the best and most famous clubs of Cancun, that mostly concentrate in the hotel zone of the city.

Cancun nightlife and clubs

8 Top Clubs and Nightclubs in Cancun

1. Roots jazz club and restaurantRoots jazz club and restaurant, in downtown Cancun is the most hippie club and it hosts important reggae, jazz and rock bands, and sometimes also flamenco shows.

2. Grand Mambo Cafe and Sabor Latino 
Both located in Plaza Hong Kong, they are ideal for visitors who are fond of Salsa, Merengue and Bachat.

3. La Vaquita 

Do you like hip hop, dance, latino music, litros of your favorite drink and no rules?
La Vaquita is the best place for you. It is a nice and new open-air bar with caw-themed decorations and sexy dancers ready to warm up your night.

4. Cocobongo Show & Disco

Cocobongo is one of the most popular nightclubs during spring break.
Are you after incredible shows all the time? This is the right place. You will see acrobats and even Spiderman flying on your head, and incredible dancers performing on Michael Jackson's songs. The code word here is to dance and dance wherever you can find a spot.
Congo, a small refined open-air club, is Cocobongo's less expensive offspring.

5. Dady'O Nightclub

If you are in your twenties (or you feel like that) and you like crazy dances, latino, techno, hip hop music and spectacular scenic designs do not miss Dady'O nightclub. Here you will have the chance to meet many celebrities. It looks like a five level huge cave with a big dance floor in the middle and intense colorful lighting effects. You will enjoy the performance of the best local Djs and live bands, and its popular bikini contests. It is one of the oldest and most famous club of the city. Dady Rock, nearby the Dady'O, attracts real rock-and-roll lovers.

Clubbing in Cancun

6. Mandala
Inspired by the colors and fragrances of the Indian ambiance, Mandala is one of the most refined and popular nightclubs of the party zone. You will perceive a VIP atmosphere all around.
If you want to experience a night pool party close to the seaside, you cannot miss Mandala Beach Club on Tuesdays.

7. Palazzo NightclubThis famous club has been recently renewed and it is considered one of the hottest in Cancun, well known for its stripper pole contests, but also for inviting the best DJs of the country performing the best music!

8. The City
An authentic must if you love really crowded crazy parties. This club is the biggest of Latin America, and it can accommodate up to 5000 people, all dancing and singing!
It hosts famous artists and offers all kind of music, besides many different breath-taking acrobatic shows.

Enjoy the sun rising after clubbing in Cancun

Just in Time for Sunrise

Once you get out the club, it will be time for sunrise, we promise.

So, if you want to fully enjoy Mexican summer-life and make the most of your days (wonderful white beaches during the day and intense party-life at night), then Cancun is the place where you want to be: fun is guaranteed all day and all night.

After a day spent on one of the most astonishing beaches of the area, get ready for a very long night full of music, dance and energy.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Papakolea Beach: Discovering a Green Paradise in Hawaii

Dreaming of a true Hawaiian paradise?
Papakōlea beach, better known as the Green Sand Beach, in the Big Island, is precisely what you are looking for.

Papakolea Beach Hawaii: an authentic paradise on earth
The beach is an authentic jewel, being made of small green crystals, the so called Hawaiian diamonds, that give it its famous color. This is due to a green mineral of volcanic origin called olivine.
Papakōlea beach is located, in fact, in the eroded cinder cone of an extinct volcano, that last erupted 49.000 years ago. Olivine crystals are separated from the cinder by the action of the ocean and mixed with the sand of the beach.

Olivine sand from Papakolea Beach

How to Reach Papakōlea Beach 

If you rent a car, you have to follow Highway 11 up to South Point (Ka’u area, between mile 69 and 70), which is the southernmost tip of the United States. There is a parking area where you can leave the car.

Can I Get to the Beach by Car?

You usually cannot drive your rental car in the beach area. The road is dangerous and it is only for expert 4X4’s drivers. You'd better ask local people for a ride in their 4WD jeeps: they usually charge about $15 round trip per person.

Hiking to Papakōlea Beach

If you like adventure and peace, this place is worth the hike, which is also the best choice to preserve the environment.

Now you are probably wondering "Is it easy to reach?"
It is not: paradise is never easy to reach. Nevertheless, the hike is feasible.
The round trip hike to the beach is about 5 miles, it can be uneven and rocky, and the climate can be very hot and windy. You will find no tourist services in the beach: so, it is important to be properly equipped and organized! If you decide to go there, it is better to leave early in the morning.
You'll need to wear hiking shoes (no flip-flops please!), walk carefully and bring some water, food and sunscreen with you and proper clothes.

Reaching Papakolea Beach after a long hike from the parking area.

The panoramic view from South Point is amazing and the trip down to the beach is breath-taking. During the walk you will also see the remains of ancient heaiu (Hawaiian temples) dedicated to fishing. Being hard to get there, the beach is isolated and rarely-visited.

Once there you will enjoy the incredible color of the sand, the unspoilt nature, the silence broken only by the wind and the sound of the ocean. The waters can be rough and the wind strong, but swimming and snorkeling are possible with better conditions (for example in the morning).

Accommodation on the Big Island

If you have made your mind up and want to see the sublime Green Sand Beach, you need to find a confortable accommodation on the island. You can have a look at our best hotels in Hawaiʻi before organising your holiday there.

To Conclude... Did You Know That? 

  • the Green Sand Beach is one of the only 4 green beaches in the world (the others being Talofofo Beach on Guam - USA, Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island in the Galapagos Islands, and Hornindalsvatnet in Norway)
  • it is the greenest of the 4 green beaches because of its concentration of olivine into the sand
  • it has 3 names. Besides the self-explanatory name (Green Sand Beach) and its Hawaiian one (Papakōlea beach, where kōlea is a bird you can see in winter), it is also called Mahana beach, from the name of the original volcano Pu’hu Mahana.
Hornindalsvatnet in Norway

Friday, 2 September 2016

The Top 5 Things To Do In Seville

Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is a perfect tourist destination during all year. Whether summer or winter, the city is always cheerful and lively. Along the Guadalquivir river in summer, or in one of the numerous cafes in winter, the warmth of the locals and their cheerfulness will always welcome you. Walk down its medieval old town and the interweaving of alleys, palaces and picturesque squares and you will breathe the history and the stories of three continents that here meet: Europe, Africa and America. Romanesque, Arabic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture coexist in a fascinating aesthetic embrace.

view of seville historic centre

Book your hotel and fly to Seville, your eyes will be filled with beauty. Among our best hotels in Seville we suggest:

- Hotel Silken Al Andalus Palace – 4 stars
- Hotel Nh Sevilla Plaza De Armas – 4 stars
- Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla – 4 stars
- Hotel Murillo - 2 stars

So what are the top 5 things you must do and see in Seville?

1. The Alcazar 

The Alcazar, built by the Arabs in the tenth century, was originally a fortress. Today the palace, partly still used by the royal family, is Unesco world heritage site. It is an impressive building with many rooms, patios and courtyards, which has grown over the centuries and has seen a sequence of caliphs, kings and architectures. Arabic, Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles mingle in harmony in an unbelievable aesthetic triumph, one of the most beautiful things to see in Seville!

Real Alcazar, one of the 5 best things to see in Seville

Wonderful seventeenth century tapestries are preserved in the nearby palace of Charles V. Take a walk along the beautiful Alcazar gardens to experience a sort of space-time jump (some scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in this extraordinary place).

2. Seville Cathedral and Giralda

Another thing to do in Seville is to visit the Gothic cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. The cathedral, UNESCO heritage site, is one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world.

View of the Gothic cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, Seville

Divided into five naves and two chapels, it is the third largest church in the world after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. It symbolizes the Christian reconquest and it was built in the fifteenth century on the structure of a mosque. Inside you can pay homage to the majestic tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Originally a minaret, the so-called Giralda was later transformed into a bell tower, but it fully preserves the beautiful Arab architecture. Simple and monumental at the same time, it is 96 metres high (314 ft). It is possible to reach up to 70 metres (229 ft) and admire the city. Its name derives from the bronze statue that turns on itself with the wind, which was added in 1568.

Giralda, a bell tower to see in Seville, Spain

If you have a bit of time you should visit the nearby General Archives of the Indies, a huge collection of books and documents that testify the times of the Spanish conquest and the colonization of the Americas.

3. Plaza de España

Near the Maria Luisa Park, which is well worth a walk, you can find the huge Plaza de España, built for Expo 1929. The so-called "Venice of Spain" will leave you speechless: decorated with bricks and colourful ceramics, it covers 50,000 square meters and it includes an oval square with a fountain, a semi-circular building in neo-classical style, a porch and a channel that symbolically unite in an embrace Spain and its colonies, glorifying the Spanish power.

Another curiosity for movie lovers: here some scenes of Star Wars - The Clone Wars were filmed.

Panoramic view of Plaza de España, top attraction in Seville

4. Pilate’s house

If there is still something of Seville architecture that can impress you, this is the Casa de Pilatos. It is a private house of the sixteenth century, maybe inspired by the house of Pilate in Jerusalem. This building sums up and exalts a form of a typically Spanish mixed art, the Mudejar, which merges the Arab and Christian traditions and the most diverse architectural styles. Your eyes will be caught by the arcaded courtyard, the surrounding garden, the decorations and colourful ceramics, the stuccoes, the paintings and sculptures that you can find along the whole building.

Pilate’s house, a must-see in Seville, Spain

5. Museum of Fine Arts in Seville

Among the museums we suggest the Museo de Bellas Artes. It is the second most important museum of Spanish art after the Museo del Prado in Madrid and is the most important in Andalusia. Also here the architecture is king. The museum is in an impressive building dating back to 1600, it is built around three courtyards and is divided into 14 rooms. It houses works from the medieval period to the modern one and devotes a section to the painters of the Seville Baroque school.

Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville one of the most important museums in Spain

And what are the 5 things you must do if you spend a few days in this city?

- Walk in the evening along the picturesque Barrio San Bartolomè and Barrio de Santa Cruz, the Jewish quarter.
- Drink a beer at Calle Betis in the charming district of Triana.
- Enjoy the fresh air of Seville terraces listening to music and having an aperitif in one of the many bars.
- Fix in your mind the beauty of the city, from the Ferris wheel in the garden of Prado de San Sebastian, or from the terrace of the futuristic Metropol Parasol, a must if you love contemporary architecture.
- Finally, attend a flamenco show!

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