Magical Dromoland Castle: An Irish Fairytale Resort

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

The Charm of Old World Elegance with Contemporary Luxuries

Enchanting entrance to Dromoland Castle

Enchanting entrance to Dromoland Castle

With visions of a fairytale visit, we follow the meandering drive as it passes lush magnificent lawns and a glistening lake to a 5th Century mystical castle.   Approaching Dromoland Castle, we are transported to a time when Lords and Ladies graciously welcome and entertain guests at their massive estates. It’s a real castle! Dromoland was originally the ancestral home of one of the few families of Gaelic Royalty; direct descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland. Today, it is a 5 Star Castle Hotel where guests have a “royal and regal” experience. Beautifully updated the castle still retains its old-world charm and crisp service. Continue reading

Waterville Golf Links –Embrace Pure Irish Links Golf!

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Thrill in the Lure of These Fabled Links

Cloudy skies greet us on this scenic courseAvenues of weathered sand dunes along rugged shores, tall fescue grasses rustling in the breeze, sunlight shimmering on the sea, and strong winds blowing across unprotected lands all mingle to create a perfect links golf course location. Add a sandy promontory jutting out into the Ballinskellig Bay at the tip of the Invereagh Peninsula in southern Ireland, and you find Waterville Golf Links. An almost natural golf course among the sand dunes, golf has been played on this mystical land since the 1870’s when Marconi engineers were laying the great transatlantic telegraph cables. With a recent Tom Fazio “make over” Waterville Golf Links lures even more golfers. Continue reading

The K Club: Superb Golf, A Luxurious Resort & More!

By Charlene Mixa

Thrill in the Lure of these Fabled Links

The K Club serves up 5-star service.

The K Club serves up 5-star service.

A traveler’s dream and a golfer’s paradise! Imagine a unique place where world class golf blends with a magical resort. Ireland! The K Club! Located on a 550-acre estate on the idyllic Kildare countryside is an outstanding resort that elegantly incorporates a 69 bedroom hotel, two Championship golf courses, a Resort Spa, and fabulous dining with a wide range of activities. The Kildare Hotel, Spa & Country Club is a luxurious five star Irish owned resort renowned for its superb golf and consistently recognized as one of Europe’s greatest golf destinations. Offering two Arnold Palmer designed courses, The Palmer Ryder Cup Course and The Palmer Smurfit Course promise to challenge and excite golfers with treacherous rough, water hazards in abundance, large greens and undulating fairways. Continue reading

New York’s Scenic Shawangunk Mountains

By Charlene Mixa

Sam’s Point Preserve for Hiking and Honors Haven Resort for Respite
Sam's Point PreserveHikers, bathe in the pristine vistas and untouched landscape of the Shawangunk Mountains of New York’s Ulster County. With thousands of acres of forever wild land, Ulster County is a primary destination for hiking and delighting in panoramic views of these scenic mountains. Adding special excitement are the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves, the largest known open fault in the United States with corresponding ice caves. After a full day enjoying the splendor of the mountains and exploring the ice caves, rejuvenate at the Honors Haven Resort. All within just two hours of Manhattan! Continue reading

Alcatraz: The Night Tour

 By Charlene Mixa

“The Rock” in the Dark!

An eerie ride to The Rock!

An eerie ride to The Rock!

A mile and ¼ from San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf is the infamous Alcatraz. A maximum security prison for 30 years, Alcatraz housed noted criminals including Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Robert Franklin Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz. With its closing, the last prisoner walked out of Alcatraz on March 23, 1963. Yet, the prison and island entice visitors to see what life was like on “The Rock”. Continue reading

Sensational Seattle

By Charlene Mixa

Pacific Northwest’s The Emerald CitySensational, yet cloudy, Seattle

Everyone loves Seattle! This vibrant city sits on the Pacific Rim with panoramic views of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Mountain Range and majestic Mount Rainier. It boasts of coffee, Bill Gates, Boeing, the Space Needle, Pike’s Market and being the nation’s most educated city. While offering its residents a high quality of life the Emerald City provides tourists a memorable visit. Continue reading

Victoria, BC and Inspiring Butchard Gardens

By Charlene Mixa

Touring Charming Victoria and Inspiring Butchard Gardens

Gorgeous flowers are everywhere in Victoria
Gorgeous flowers are everywhere in Victoria

 

Imagine enjoying gardens and flowers blooming year round in Canada! What a wonderful surprise to find that Vancouver Island in British Columbia has the mildest climate in Canada with gardens blooming throughout the year. Continue reading

A “Reel” Fish Story: Salmon Fishing in Alaska

By Charlene Mixa

A “Reel” Fish Story: Salmon Fishing in Alaska

Richard and I with our first salmon catch.
Richard and I with our first salmon catch.

 Ketchican, Alaska the “Salmon Capital of the World” is the perfect place to go sport fishing for salmon. Five varieties of North Pacific salmon abound in the frigid waters off Ketchikan. A friend had recently returned from Alaska, saying salmon fishing is a MUST for anyone going to the 49th state. Continue reading

Methods of Public Transportation in Southeast Asia

By Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

There are several ways to get around with public transportation in South East Asia. Vietnam has a large number of taxis, both with and without meters. It is much preferred to use a taxi with a meter and visitors should always agree on a fare before they enter the taxi. Taxis are not particularly expensive, but the fare can vary widely.  We had to learn the hard way when we were charged the equivalent of twenty dollars for a ride that should have been three dollars. Fortunately, we had booked the taxi through our hotel and they had the time and the name of the taxi company on their records. We got a refund within an hour. So actually, we learned two lessons which are invaluable throughout the world.  Always know the fare ahead of time and whenever possible book through your hotel when you need a taxi. The hotel can also give you a good estimate of what the fare should be in order to reach many popular destinations.

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The Mysteries and Delights of the Far East

By Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

Gate 1’s 17 day tour of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, is presented not as a “walk in the park” but as a sensory, visual and physical immersion in the culture of the three countries. Our group of 17 walked among the people and viewed their homes, temples, schools and places of business. We ate their food, starting with noodle soup for breakfast, fried noodles for lunch and noodles and vegetables for dinner. It was soon apparent they did not eat much meat and most of us found the diet quite healthy.

We arrived in Bangkok at 11.30 p.m. after 17 hours of travel. Our Gate1 representative was waiting to bring us to our hotel. It is no small thing that after such a long journey, our hotel, The Chaophya Park, was a deluxe refuge and relaxing haven from the rigors of travel. After a refreshing sleep, we were ready for a full day of Thai culture.

Bangkok is the capital and most densely populated city in Thailand. Traffic is out of control. Boat service on the Chao Phraya River services approximately 50,000 people daily and helps to alleviate traffic in the city center. Taxi service includes cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks.

Our first stop was Wat Pho, which is the largest temple complex in Bangkok. It is home to the gigantic golden reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 150 feet long and 40 feet high and takes up the entire building. It is covered in gold-leaf and shines like the sun. Along the sides of the temple are 108 small bronze bowls where visitors can buy coins to deposit in each bowl and make a wish. It is more than impressive, it is amazing. Visitors are reminded that it is an active temple and proper clothing must be worn. Shoulders and legs must be covered and shoes removed.

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

We spent about an hour roaming freely around the rest of the complex which includes 394 Golden Buddhas sitting in the lotus position, a school of Thai massage and numerous small buildings and statues in a park-like setting.

In the afternoon we had our choice of visiting the Grand Palace which houses the Emerald Buddah and is still used for cultural and government functions, but is no longer a royal residence, or wandering on our own through the maze of street venders and small shops.

Late in the afternoon we returned to our hotel and availed ourselves of the nearby Thai massage facility. The Thai massage is very different from our usual massage. It is invigorating instead of relaxing and uses yoga style postures to relieve and stress and improve blood circulation. The charge was $15 for an hour and we were definitely hooked.

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