Friday, July 31, 2015

Seven Trips On Seven Continents To Enjoy Or Book This Fall

 Austin Adventures (
enjoys a legacy spanning more than four decades of engaging travelers on small group trips to the world’s best destinations for active travel. With another record-setting summer winding down, the company turns its focus on the fall and upcoming winter seasons and recommends seven best-in-class adventures on seven continents.

Since inception, Austin Adventuresfounder, president and trip visionary, Dan Austin, had the goal of spanning the globe with world-class adventure itineraries for the intrepid traveler. This was finally accomplished in 2015 with the addition of Asia and small ship river cruising in Vietnam and Cambodia(departures offered December through April).

“While it’s hard to beat summer in Montana, my favorite time to travel is in the fall when the crowds thin out and you get the feeling you have a special place all to yourself,” shared Austin. “We put our collective heads together and have come up with a list of trips to either be taken in the fall when conditions are ideal or booked now before space disappears for prime-time winter travel.”

All of these trips listed include accommodations, most meals, transfers, required equipment, knowledgeable guides and more. Prices are quoted per person based on two people sharing an accommodation. More details are available by calling (800) 575-1540, visiting online at or by contacting the company via email at

North America
Fall is prime time in Southern Utah, and Austin Adventures’ Bryce/Zion National Park Adventure (multisport or all-hiking versions) covers the best of two national parks. From $2,398 per person for 6 days/5 nights, departures are scheduled Aug. 23 (hike) and 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20 (hike) and 27 (hike). This intimate tour brings guests past multi-colored hoodoos and spires, slot canyons and hanging gardens. Hiking Zion’s Virgin River Narrows, ranked one of America’s best adventures by National Geographic, is a must-do fall activity. The miracles of geology and ultra-clear nighttime skies play stellar roles enroute. See:

South America
No better time to head to the tip of South America than during fall and winter (their spring and summer). Chile – Northern Patagonia is the trip choice, priced from $5,898 per person for 10 days/9 nights, with weekly departures September through April on a custom basis with a minimum of two people. Hiking, biking, rafting and horseback riding reveal the jaw-dropping scenery in the Northern Lake district between Chile and Argentina. Artisan villages, deserts, a choice of 20 different treks and an end-of-day local Malbec to sip with exemplary local cuisine makes this journey to the end of the world worth it.

It’s the favorite time of year for locals! Austin Adventures’ France/Provence Multisport (from $3,698 per person for 7 day/6 night departures Sept. 6 and 27 and Oct. 11) is the escape of choice. The tapestry of fertile vineyards becomes more vibrant in the fall, as ancient Roman ruins mingle with the oh-so-present fragrances of lavender, honey and thyme, and markets rife with summer’s bounty tempt between-meal snacking. But wait! A bouillabaisse and baguette with fromage de chèvre paired perfectly with a glass of crisp local rosé await. See:

Now is the time to reserve a December 2015 through April 2016 vacation in Bali (recommended travel months for this region). Bali – Indonesia Luxury Adventure, bookable with just a minimum of two people (from $5,398 per person for 13 days/12 nights), offers the seduction of this exotic Indonesian island laced with terraced rice paddies and ancient temples. Standup paddle boarding, hiking through clove plantations, chasing a pod of dolphins from the nose of an outrigger, snorkeling in a reef and biking back-country roads bring paradise up close and personal. See:

After a brief hiatus as the world’s leading wildlife destination, Africa is back and prime season bookings are now being taken. Austin Adventures’ Iconic Botswanadeparts weekly from April through November 2016 on 11 day/10 night adventures from $8,798 per person. Wildlife on the delta viewed from your own safari tent deck, flora and fauna teeming in the wetlands of the legendary Okavango Delta and the spray of Victoria Falls mingle with the magic of the Big Five scouted on guided walks and game drives. See:

One of the last great wildernesses to be explored, Antarctica is always in high demand and anyone wanting to reserve a space on a cruise must act now. Antarctic Peninsula Small Ship Cruise starts at $9,300 per person for 11 days/10 nights exploring the southern-most continent, a frozen desert revealed by snowshoe, kayak, zodiac and from the deck of the 114-passenger M/V Plancius. Think sliding penguins, slumbering seals, 3,000-foot ice walls, and surreal sunsets.  See:

Another superb destination for small ship cruising, Australia: Kimberly Wilderness Cruise offers weekly eight day/seven night departures in 2016 from April through August with rates from $11,095.  Champagne sunrises, helicopter flight-seeing, rainforest explorations, aboriginal drawings, hiking, mud crabbing and billabongs come with passage on the 36-passenger M/V True North that plies in luxurious fashion the waterways of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region.  See:

About Austin Adventures
Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2014, Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations, was named the World’s Top Family Guide byOutside Magazine. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined theXanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in theGrand Canyon, including Grand Canyon Railway and The Grand HotelYellowstone;ZionCrater LakeGlacierRocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Windstar Cruises, and VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

10 Reasons To Visit Quito, The First Capital City To Be Named A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Quito was the first capital city to be named a World Heritage site by UNESCO and recognized for the second consecutive year as “Best Leading Destination in South America” by the World Travel Awards (2013 & 2014). This city will amuse visitors with its cultural and natural wonders.

There are many reasons to visit Quito; we will enumerate 10 of the “must do & see” in this wonderful destination.
  1. Quito in the Middle of the World
Quito is the capital city located closest to the sun with its 9,350 feet above the sea level, and is also the only place in the world where you can put one foot in the North Pole and the other one in the South Pole… at the same time! You can feel the pure energy of the center of the world while you walk the Equatorial line, which is an imaginary line, drawn by the Geodesic French Mission in the 18th century which determined Latitude 0°0’0’’. This privileged geographic location gives Quito over the top virtues that are easy to notice in its weather and its natural richness.
  1. Its wonderful Centro Historico
Discover the impressiveness of the historic center, considered the biggest and the best conserved of all Latin America. This is the jewel that made Quito in the first capital city to be named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. In this place you will find the history of the city in its most recognized sites: La Compañía de Jesús, top work of the Baroque period in the Americas; La Plaza Grande as the heart of important historic deeds that relates Quito´s and Ecuador´s history; go through the religious complex of San Francisco; also stroll at La Ronda, a street that keeps its charm with the diverse workshops and traditional trade.

The Centro Historico is not only a great museum, it is a dynamic place that merges the daily life of its inhabitants, traders, religious people and public servants with visitors from all over the world.
  1. Quito´s cuisine
The flavors of Quito´s cuisine deserve to be savored by every good traveler. Traditional dishes of the city are mestizos (a mix of pre-Columbian and Spanish), Andean and Iberian: locro de papas, seco de chivo, fritada, empanadas, envuelto (wraps: corn dough wrapped in leafs and cooked in steam), aji sauce, fruit juice and paila ice cream, are some of the dishes that you cannot miss while you visit this city. Enjoy this menu in high-end restaurants and typical flea markets.Of course, Quito offers the flavors of the world in various restaurants that will satisfy all your cravings, and vegetarian dishes cannot be left behind.
  1. The people and its workshops
During the Spanish colony, Quito was an important cultural and artistic center, this virtue has been maintained through the time. Today, it is common to find artisans that preserve their trade: traditional hairdressers, tailors, hat crafters, herbalists, among artists like Oswaldo Viteri, Oswaldo Guayasamín, Luigi Stonornaiolo or Eduardo Kingman which have workshops that are open to the public with the owners available to teach visitors more about their work and their life.
  1. Museums, theaters and cultural centers
Quito has many places that relate stories and realities of other times, besides promoting the culture by temporary and permanent expositions, theater, music and movies performances. The City Museum, “El Alabado” House Museum (with an extraordinary colection of pre-Columbian art), the Wax Museum, the Sucre Theater, Contemporary Art Center and the House of Music are some of the “must see” places. And of course the site museums in the surroundings such as Tulipe, Rumipamba and La Florida; and for the kids there are also spaces and activities such as Yaku Park Water Museum, the Interactive and Cience Museum and the Train Museum.
  1. Nightlife
When you visit The Mariscal, La Floresta, Guapulo or La Carolina neighborhoods, you will find yourself immersed in various options of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and nightclubs. You will find music, local and international gastronomy, party and overall, the so characteristic of Quito´s entertainment.
  1. Take a tour in Train
From the popular Chimbacalle neighborhood, to the south of the city, set forth on what was once described as “the toughest railroad of the world.” Today this heritage has been converted into a touristic train. Ecuador connects the Costa and the Andes with this impressive work of engineering from the beginning of the 20th century. Visit the station, its museum and ride this great adventure.
  1. Shopping
If shopping is you passion, this city is ideal. In Quito you will find a wide variety of options for every taste and budget. From modern shopping malls such as “El Quicentro Shopping” or mall “El Jardín” with local and international renowned brands. In La Floresta or La Mariscal neighborhood, you will find stores and galleries with contemporary design; in the Centro Historico you will find specialized art craft stores such as “El Quinde”. For art shopping, Quito is your destination. On weekends at “El Ejido” park you will find paintings, sculptures and more. At “La Mariscal”you will find the perfect place for galleries and antiques shops.
  1. Paramo and the Cloudy Forest
Just an hours trip, you can enjoy of different activities available in farms nested at Los Andes paramos. Some of the activities are: hot spring waters, horseback riding, hiking, agrotourism and much more.
In the north-western zone, you can discover the beauty and the richness of the Cloudy Forest, a real paradise for birdwatching. More than 500 species live here, where the quinde or hummingbirds stand out, always with the opportunity of sightseeing the Spectacled bear, or the Andean bear, a unique South America specie.
  1. Close to everything
Quito is the departure point for Ecuador’s main tourist destinations because of its strategic location and well developed tourist infrastructure. Quito is an ideal place from which to start a trip. You can depart from here to the Pacific Coast with beaches, fisherman´s towns and great gastronomy. To Los Andes with the path of volcanoes that amused Alexander Von Humboldt. To the Amazonia with all its magic and extraordinary vegetation that gives home to ancestral towns. And to the Galapagos Islands, a unique place in the world that relates the evolution of the species where Charles Darwin supported his evolution theory.

Now you know my traveler friend! If you are looking for cultural experiences or to get a close look into nature, Quito is the place to be.

Follow us on:  @visitQuito @VisitQuito
For more information on Quito, please visit:

Tourism Ministers From Israel And Seychelles Meet At The Knesset In Jerusalem

Tourism Ministers from Israel and Seychelles meet at the Knesset in Jerusalem

Minister Yariv Levin, the Minister of Tourism of Israel officially met with Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture at the Knesset in Jerusalem on Wednesday the 29th July.
The Israeli Minister welcomed his Seychelles counterpart at the Knesset during in important day of their Parliamentary Session. For this bilateral meeting Minister Levin was accompanied from the Israeli side by Amir Halevi, the Director General of the Israel Ministry of Tourism and Hagit Ringet their Director for International Relations. On his part Minister St.Ange of the Seychelles was being accompanied by Rosemarie Hoareau, the Director of Marketing at the Seychelles Tourism Board and Arie Goldstein, the Honorary Consul of the Seychelles in Israel.
The two tourism ministers discussed closer cooperation between their respective ministries. Minister St.Ange said as he thanked Minister Levin for the meeting that they had more work to do through the UNWTO in order to consolidate tourism as a vector of stability. "Tourism is the only industry that has the ability to put money directly in the pockets of people of the world. But for a consolidated tourism industry we need peace and for this we have to continue to be Ambassadors for Peace at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation" said the Seychelles Minister who is heading a public / private sector delegation to position Seychelles as a tourism destination in Israel.

MH370: Badly Damaged Suitcase Washed Up On A Reunion Island Beach

MH370: Badly damaged suitcase washed up on a Reunion beach

A suitcase was found Thursday morning on a tropical beach on the popular volcanic tourist island Reunion.
Reunion is part of the Vanilla Island group in the Southern Indian Ocean and a part of France.
This may not just be any suitcase. It appears to be a very damages piece of luggage washed away from a Boeing 777 and belonging to a passenger on flight MH370, the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
The suitcase was found on the same beach in the small Reunion town of St.Andrew. It was on the same beach debris of an airline wing was secured a day before on Wednesday.
Boeing investigators on the island confirmed the part found on the beach on Wednesday was a flap from a Boeing 777 wing floating in the water for at least a year.
Australian, Malaysian and French authorities are now more convinced than ever, the material found on the beach may be a major step forward to clear up the mystery around MH370. This was echoed by Australia's deputy prime minister earlier, calling it a major lead.
The suitcase was locked and in very bad condition according to French authorities on Reunion.
Hardly anyone now believes earlier statements debris were from a different plane. All focus is on MH370.
Is the greatest mystery in aviation history about to be solved?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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The Barnes Foundation Announces Extended Hours And Special Tours for World Meeting Of Families

To accommodate more visitors during the World Meeting of Families, the Barnes Foundation will extend hours and provide special tours between September 21st and September 25, 2015. The Barnes Collection and special exhibitions Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen, and Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting will be open from 10am – 8pm, Monday, September 21 through Friday, September 25, including Tuesday, September 22, a day the Foundation is usually closed to the public. The Foundation will be open from 10am – 5pm the following week, including Tuesday, September 29.

“With the world’s most important collection of post-impressionist and early modern art and an exciting line-up of tours and programs, it is important for the Barnes Foundation to be as accessible as possible for visitors from around the world who are coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and the Papal Visit,” said Thom Collins, Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation. “We have developed award-winning programs and tours that we know will be entertaining and educational for families visiting Philadelphia in September.”

The extended hours of the Barnes Foundation (2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia) are:
Monday, September 21, 2015: 10am – 8pm
Tuesday, September 22, 2015: 10am – 8pm
Wednesday, September, 23, 2015: 10am – 8pm
Thursday, September, 24, 2015: 10am – 8pm
Friday, September 25, 2015: 10am – 8pm
Saturday, September 26, 2015: CLOSED
Sunday, September 27, 2015: CLOSED
Monday, September 28, 2015: 10am – 5pm (regular hours)
Tuesday, September 29, 2015: 10am – 5pm

Daily, Monday, September 21 – Friday, September 25, 10:30am, NOON, 1:30pm, 3pm, and 6pm, and Tuesday, September 29, 10:30am, NOON, 1:30pm, and 3pm.
The best way to experience the Barnes Collection is through a tour. On the Masterworks Tour, Barnes docents will lead visitors on an exciting voyage of discovery that features highlights of the collection, historical information on the Foundation’s educational mission, and the thinking behind the extraordinary presentation of these masterpieces. This tour is not only invaluable for first-time visitors, but also inspires new ways of seeing the collection for those who have visited before and want to learn more. Approximately one hour; includes post-tour collection and special exhibition access. $45; members $22. Check the ticketing calendar for available times.

Thursday, September 24, 2pm
What makes the Barnes unlike any other art institution in the world? While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged according to light, line, color, and space—principles that defy curatorial norms but follow the "universal language of art" according to Dr. Barnes. Dive into the mind of a self-made entrepreneur turned eccentric collector and deconstruct his "experiments in education" that posited art as a powerful tool for educational and social reform. Approximately one hour; includes post-tour collection and special exhibition access. $45; members $22.

Daily, Monday, September 21 – Friday, September 25, and Tuesday, September 29, 11 am or 2 pm (subject to availability).

The Barnes Foundation offers private tours of the Barnes Collection for small groups of up to six people. A Barnes docent will be provided for each tour, and will shape the tour to meet your interests. Private tours are one hour in length and are all conducted in English. Requests for tours must be made at least two weeks in advance. Private tours are $60 per person, which includes museum admission. Payment will be collected one week in advance of scheduled tour dates. All private tour fees are non-refundable. To request a private tour, please contact or 215-278-7200.

Download our adult and family tours app, Audio Tours at The Barnes Foundation (MasterworksFamily TourCézanne at the Barnes, and William Glackens) for free on your Apple or Android device (iTunes store or Google Play). Or, pick up an audio guide on-site; it's included with collection admission. Available in English, Spanish, French, and Japanese. Funding for the Cézanne at the Barnes audio tour generously provided by John H. McFadden and Lisa D. Kabnick.

In addition to the legendary collection of impressionist, post-impressionist and modern masterpieces, the Barnes Foundation also includes many important ecclesiastical objects and religious works, Old Master paintings, metalwork, African sculpture and antiquities from Greece Egypt, and Rome. Dr. Barnes hung his collection in an unconventional way – in symmetrical wall arrangements calledensembles – in order to reveal connections between artists and artworks from various cultures across time. In addition, two new exhibitions will be on view: Strength and Splendor: Wrought Iron from the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen featuring masterworks from the world’s most important collection of wrought iron, and Ellen Harvey: Metal Painting, a site-specific installation by artist Ellen Harvey (b. 1967) commissioned by the Barnes Foundation that engages with Dr. Albert C. Barnes’s iconoclastic placement of his extensive wrought iron holdings alongside his collection of paintings by old and modern masters. Both exhibitions will be on view in the Barnes Foundation’s Aileen and Brian Roberts Gallery from September 19, 2015 through January 4, 2016.

The Barnes Arboretum in Merion, Pennsylvania (300 N. Latch’s Lane), will be open during its regular hours of Friday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm, with hour-long guided tours taking place Friday – Sunday, 1pm. General admission: $5; members free. Guided tours: $10; members $8. Tickets available on-site.

About the Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation ( was established by Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture.” The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedeo Modigliani, Chaim Soutine, and Giorgio de Chirico; American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast; old master paintings; important examples of African sculpture; Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles; American paintings and decorative arts; and antiquities from the Mediterranean region and Asia. While most collections are grouped by chronology, style, or genre, art at the Barnes is arranged in ensembles structured according to light, line, color, and space - principles that founder Albert C. Barnes called "the universal language of art.” The Barnes Foundation’s programs, including First Fridays, Young Professionals Nights, tours, tastings, and family programs, as well as the Barnes-de Mazia Education Program courses and workshops, engage diverse audiences. These programs, held at the Philadelphia campus, online, and in Philadelphia communities, advance the Foundation’s mission through progressive, experimental, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Barnes Foundation is open Wednesday – Monday, 10am – 5pm, and also 6pm – 9pm every First Friday and select Friday evenings. Tickets can easily be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215-278-7200. For tips and assistance planning your visit, please visit our website.

The Barnes Arboretum, at the Merion campus, contains more than 2,000 varieties of trees and woody plants, many of them rare. Founded in the 1880s by Joseph Lapsley Wilson and expanded under the direction of Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, the collection includes 40 state champion trees, a Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus), a dove tree (Davidia involucrata), a monkey-puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), and a coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). Other important plant collections include lilacs, peonies, Stewartias, ferns, medicinal plants, hosta and magnolias. The Horticulture school at the Barnes Foundation in Merion has offered a comprehensive three-year certificate course in the botanical sciences, horticulture, garden aesthetics, and design since its establishment in 1940 by Mrs. Barnes. Horticulture workshops and lectures are also offered regularly. The Arboretum is open Friday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm, from May 1 – November 1. Tickets can easily be purchased on-site, online, or by calling 215-278-7200.

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The Best New Way to Fly Around The World

Star Alliance recently launched its newest booking tool, which allows passengers to travel around the world in premium economy on its 28 partner airlines.
An around-the-world trip by air is the kind of travel splurge many people reserve for their bucketlist, but often time and money restrictions cause to remain there.
But the Star Alliance, with its membership of 28 airlines, is aiming to make it easier and more affordable to circle the globe in style. Travelers can now build an itinerary crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific, flying every leg in Premium Economy rather than cramped in coach. (Of course, you can opt to fly in business or first class, but that may bring this kind of trip back to fantasy-only.)
booking tool to enable this premium economy version is now live on Star Alliance's website. It was inspired, in part, by the growth in premium economy offerings throughout the industry, with more carriers opting to carve out cabins space for the roomier seats. A cross between coach and business class, it’s got more legroom, improved amenities, and more comfort overall. Lufthansa and Singapore, both members of the Star Alliance, have added premium economy classes within the past year. Other Star airlines that offer this class include Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, EVA, LOT, SAS, Thai, and Turkish.
If you want to avoid coach at all costs, it’s possible—you’ll just have to do some careful planning. A Star Alliance spokesperson came up with the following itinerary: Chicago – Frankfurt – Copenhagen – Istanbul – Tokyo – San Francisco – Chicago, at a fare of around $7,000.
The rules for these fares are as follows: There are three levels of pricing, depending on how many miles you're logging, with the lowest fares for jaunts of 29,000 and the highest at 39,000 miles. (The above example is for the 29,000 mile zone.) In general, you must travel in one direction—east or west—although you may take some detours on a single continent. Both major oceans must be crossed, and stops lasting at least 24 hours have to be made in at least three cities—up to a maximum of 15. While you can’t change your itinerary once you’ve departed, you can change your dates without penalty. Regardless of the rules, the best part is the duration of the trip; it can be as few as seven days or as long as up to a full year.

American Airlines to Launch Nonstop Service to Jamaica from the West Coast

American Airlines, the world’s largest airline, will add nonstop flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay starting December 18, 2015. In response to high demand, the carrier’s new route, currently open for sale, will give the West Coast market direct access to Jamaica twice a week, on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Los Angeles-Montego Bay route will be operated using a Boeing 737-800, with a capacity of 160 seats, of which 16 are in First Class and 144 are in Economy. The flight schedule in local times is as follows:
·        AA2599: Departure from Los Angeles International Airport at 10:59 p.m., arrival in Sangster International Airport at 7:40 a.m. (next day)
·        AA2598: Departure from Sangster International Airport at 10:00 a.m., arrival in Los Angeles International Airport at 1:21 p.m.

“We are pleased that American Airlines has chosen to expand their service to Montego Bay with this new nonstop service” said Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism.  “California is a notable market for Jamaica and the addition of this flight will increase the destination’s convenience to West Coast travelers. We’re delighted to work with American Airlines to help travelers discover Jamaica’s beautiful attractions and outstanding hospitality.”

"As the premier carrier to the Caribbean, these new flights highlight our commitment to providing our customers with a network that is second to none," said Art Torno, American's senior vice president International and Cargo.  "We are committed to Jamaica and this new route will further promote travel and tourism to the country."
Jamaica, with its mountainous ranges and beautiful coastlines, is blessed with magnificent waterfalls and natural wonders. A year-round vacation destination, Jamaica has more attractions than any other English speaking Caribbean country. From adventure excursions to relaxing on a bamboo raft, the island has a variety of options for all travelers. Its accommodations range from luxury resorts and villas to charming cottages and inns, all focusing on top-notch service with restaurants to fit any taste and price point.

For more information on planning a trip to Jamaica, go to, or visit a local travel specialist. 

 For details on upcoming special events, attractions and accommodations in Jamaica go to the JTB’s Web site or call the Jamaica Tourist Board at 1-800-JAMAICA (1-800-526-2422).  Follow the JTB on Facebook, on Twitter at, on Instagram at, on Pinterest, or on YouTube at View the JTB blog at

REI Adventures Introduces New Active Trips To Unforgettable Places

Explore storybook scenes in England and Scotland, play in Belize and Baja's crystal blue waters,
 and go deeper in national parks
- For nearly 30 years, REI Adventures has brought guests
 to unforgettable places to enjoy activities they love with like-minded travelers. Today, the leading 
active travel company announces new itineraries.
REI Adventures Logo
"Our new trips feature the rich history and traditions of Europe, clear blue waters of Latin America, and
 desert wonderland known as Joshua Tree National Park," says Cynthia Dunbar, general manager of REI
 Adventures. "Time and time again, our guests share how their travel changed their perspective of the world
 and that fellow guests are now lifelong friends. Key to their experience was our local guides' attention to
 every detail and unexpected highlights from adventures that go off the beaten path."

Europe – Four new trips, including:
England Coast to Coast Hiking: REI's nine-day hike traces highlights of the famous 192-mile route by
 focusing on the most stunning landscapes, storybook castles, and quaint villages that boast local
 teahouses and lively pubs. With prevailing winds at their back, hikers journey west to east, starting 
in England's romantic Lake District. The group heads into James Herriot country to explore the rolling
 hills of the Yorkshire Dales before crossing the purple heather-strewn moors of the North York Moors
 National Park to reach the wild North Sea.

Scotland Family Adventure: An activity-filled trip takes families on an eight-day journey through the
 Scottish Highlands where they learn about the country's history, while enjoying hiking, biking, 
kayaking, geocaching and trekking with reindeer. Families also ride on the Jacobite Steam Train,
 learn the art of archery and explore a medieval castle on the shores of the mythical Loch Ness monster.
Latin America – Six new itineraries, including:

Baja California Hiking and Kayaking: This multisport trip ventures between the Pacific Ocean and
 Sea of Cortez, and it's no wonder why the region is called an "island in the sky." After hiking the
 peninsula and summiting the highest peak in the Sierra de la Laguna range, guests kayak in clear
 blue waters along picturesque beaches and abundant marine life, and snorkel with sea lions. A
 seven-day family itinerary is also available.

Belize Lighthouse Reef and Mayan Adventure: Over nine days, guests experience all that Belize has
 to offer: hundreds of bird and fish species, tropical plants and cultures living in harmony. Travelers 
first visit the Barrier Reef, the longest unbroken reef in the western hemisphere. They then snorkel 
and kayak around Half Moon Caye and Blue Hole Natural Monument, one of the world's top scuba
 diving and snorkeling sites. After four days on the reef, the group heads inland to hike and bike the 
mountainous terrain with Mayan archaeological sites, rocky plateaus, creeks, waterfalls and more.

United States and British Columbia – 11 new trips, including:
Backpacking Joshua Tree National Park: This expedition-style 
trip covers more than 25 miles in four days. The group starts with a gentle hike in Hidden Valley, 
followed by the Maze Trail where guests navigate through mini slot canyons and boulder formations
 that are secluded from crowds. Highlights also include seasonal pools at Willow Hole that attract
 bighorn sheep and many types of birds, and a scramble up Key's Mountain for an incredible view.
Late this year, REI will introduce another series of national park trips to expand its camp assortment.
 As the "Official Outdoor Retailer" for the National Park Centennial celebration, REI is donating 10 
percent of the retail price for each national park trip to the National Park Foundation through 2016. 

About REI Adventures Award-winning REI Adventures has been a global leader in worldwide guided active adventure
 programs since 1987. The company offers unique itineraries focused on sustainable, human-powered
 outdoor adventure including: hiking, biking, kayaking, climbing and more. Guests will experience 
iconic destinations as guides take them off the "beaten path," and provide opportunities to explore a
 destination, get to know the local people, their culture, the flora and fauna and discover things they 
would not be able to duplicate on their own or with another travel company. REI members receive a
 special discount price on most trips. For more information, full itineraries and trip reviews provided by guests, visit

About REIREI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation's largest consumer co-op,
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Jura Holiday Guide: What To See Plus The Best Bars, Hotels And Restaurants

Baume les Messieurs in the Jura.A jewel of the Jura … the secluded valley with limestone cliffs enclosing the village of Baume-les-Messieurs near Lons-le-Saunier. Photograph: Franck Guiziou/Corbis

The rolling fields, vineyards, mountain ranges and untouched forests of this region of eastern France are packed with wonderful places to eat, drink and stay

If it is still possible for France to have an undiscovered region, the Jura can lay a serious claim, as the lush valleys, thick forests, lakes and mountains of this rural landscape are still very much off the beaten track, even for the French. I should know – my wife comes from around there. After many years spending the sacred month of August on family holidays, I can highly recommend it as a destination to enjoy both the great French pursuits of eating and drinking, plus relaxed biking, hiking, sailing and fishing.
Squeezed between Burgundy, Alsace and the Swiss border, the Jura has no big industrial cities, no famous sights and an economy that essentially revolves around producing outstanding cheese and wine. The market towns of Arbois and Poligny are the foodie capitals, and here you can visit a traditional fruitière – nothing to do with fruit, but a co-operative for making wine and cheese, especially delicious comté.
The Jura is tiny, compared with many of France’s better-known regions, and its countryside rapidly transforms from rural medieval hamlets, surrounded by grazing cows and rolling vineyards, to dramatic Alpine scenery and family ski stations, such as Les Rousses. And for those who come to spend more than just a lazy weekend, there is even the Grandes Traversées du Jura, 300km of trails that can be followed on foot, horseback and mountain bike in spring and summer, or on cross-country skis in winter.

What to do

Winemaker villages
vin jaune
 Photograph: Jura Tourisme
Winemaking in the Jura is still practised on a human scale, with small, mainly organic vineyards run by enthusiastic young vignerons who welcome anyone passing by to taste their very distinctive wines. Create your own wine route through the bucolic villages from Arbois down to Revermont, but be sure to visit Château-Chalon, precariously perched on a clifftop, and Arlay, with its imposing chateau. It’s worth planning a trip at the end of January when these villages take it in turns to host La Percée du Vin Jaune, a riotous festival celebrated by 35,000 people to unveil the new vintage of straw-yellow local tipple – vin jaune.
Les Salines de Salins
Don’t bother with the nondescript spa town of Salins-les-Bains, but be sure to visit the Unesco-listed maze of vast underground caverns and galleries, where salt has been mined in frightening conditions for 1,200 years. It’s amazing to learn that the search for “white gold” only ended 50 years ago.
 Guided tours daily, adult €7.50, child €3.50-€4,
La Maison de la Vache Qui Rit
vache qui rit
 Photograph: Alamy
In the centre of Lons-le-Saunier, capital of the Jura, this brilliant modern museum is irresistible for kids – and for anyone interested in food and design. Dedicated to Laughing Cow, France’s famous processed cheese, the interactive museum has a wonderful collection of posters and advertising, dating back to 1921.
 adult €7.50, child €3-€6, family €21,
Pays des Lacs
The Jura’s own lake district, in the Petite Montagne nature reserve, is perfect for biking and rambling, swimming and fishing. Within an hour’s drive are the wild ice-age lakes of Bonlieu and Narlay, the 60-metre-high Hérisson waterfalls, and the sandy beaches and turquoise waters of Lac de Chalain.
La Sergenterie, Poligny
Le Sergenterie, Jura
 Photograph: John Brunton
Poligny’s town square is dotted with dairies and wine bars offering tastes of their famous vins et fromages, and both feature prominently on the menu of the casual Sergenterie restaurant. Steep stairs lead to a 17th-century vaulted cellar, a comfortable locale for a relaxed and lengthy meal of cuisine de terroir. Expect huge portions and delicious dishes like smoked pork knuckle in creamy comté sauce, or rösti with juicy morteau sausage smothered with hot cancoillotte, a naturally runny, low-fat cheese.
 Set menu from €9.50, 31 place des Déportés, +33 3 84 37 37 11,
Le Grapiot, Pupillin 
With its stunning avant garde wooden exterior, the Grapiot is quite a shock in this sleepy vineyard village, and the innovative cuisine of talented young chef Samuel Richardet is even more of a surprise. The five-course tasting menu at €50 (€60 with wine pairing) is brilliant value and might include trout sushi stuffed with fresh goat’s cheese, slow-cooked saddle of rabbit, and chocolate “spring rolls” with a tangy lychee sorbet.
 Set three-course lunch €20, rue Bagier, +33 3 84 37 49 44,

Le Bistrot des Terrasses, Plaisia
It is not easy to find this bright, modern wooden chalet, off a narrow country road near the Jura lake district. But young, dynamic owners Isabelle and Eric Giudici – who only opened two years ago – have won a faithful following with their enthusiasm for healthy zero-carbon food, sourced solely from surrounding farms. The menu features locally fished trout, organic seasonal vegetables and morbier, comté and goat’s cheeses from the village fruitière.
 Three-course menu €22, 1 route d‘Onoz, +33 3 84 47 54 20,
Le Bistrot des Claquets, ArboisFood lovers visiting Arbois are spoilt for choice: at the top end, there’s two-Michelin-star chef Jean-Paul Jeunet’s eponymous gastronomic temple. For a more rustic experience, there’s La Finette, a tavern specialising in succulent chicken braised in vin jaune, cream and morels. But the best deal in town is at the delightfully retro Claquets, serving genuine cuisine du marché (market cooking). A self-service buffet of healthy starters, such as lentil salad and carrot and lemon terrine, is followed by a plat du jour and homemade fruit tart for dessert.
 Three-course lunch €15, 33 rue de Faramand, +33 3 84 66 04 19

Where to drink

Le Bistrot de Port Lesney
Le Bistrot de Port Lesney.
On the bank of the Loue river, the shady terrace of this traditional bistrot is the perfect place to try the area’s unique wines: light and drinkable reds, made from the indigenous trousseau and poulsard grapes, and the distinctive white savagnin. Raymond Blanc fans may recognise the Bistrot from his Very Hungry Frenchman TV series – he’s a local boy.
 Place du 8 Mai 1945, +33 3 84 37 83 27,
Maison des Vins, L’Etoile
L’Etoile is tucked away at the foot of an idyllic valley lined with vineyards, but visitors tend to pass over the Maison des Vins because it looks like a tacky, modern convenience store. Inside, though, the bar is always buzzing, as this is the village’s favourite watering hole. More than a wine bar, it stocks local artisan beer Rouget de Lisle, a craft cider, and lethal fruit brandies.
 21 route de Robinet, +33 3 84 24 06 93,

Bistrot Chez Janine, Nevy-sur-Seille
Bistrot Chez Janine.
 Photograph: John Brunton
Authentic village bistrots like this one are disappearing fast but la patronne here, Madame Dédé, makes sure nothing changes, from her vintage table football to the battered leather sofa, rickety oak tables – where villagers like to sit and discuss their wine production – and the all-important summer pétanque competition she organises.
 Route de la Vallée, +33 3 84 44 62 43
Le Bistrot de la Tournelle, Arbois
Each summer, the crowds get bigger at Arbois. From 20 June to the end of August, eco-vignerons Evelyne and Pascal Clairet transform their waterside garden into what the French call a guinguette, a lively outdoor cafe where they serve their excellent organic wines, alongside specialities from Jura food producers. Each afternoon turns into a long, lazy picnic.
 5 Petite Place, +33 3 84 66 25 76,

Where to stay

Le Relais des Abbesses, Château-Chalon

Chateau Chalon.
 The village of Chateau Chalon. Photograph: John Brunton

Housed in an ancient coaching inn, which is perched on the hillside village of Château-Chalon, this B&B has five cosy rooms, several of them with spectacular views. One of the Jura’s most famous vins jaunes is made here – an intense, sherry-like wine aged for more than six years. Make time for a tasting at nearby winemaker Domaine Credoz.
 Doubles from €80, +33 3 84 44 98 56,
L’Entre Coeur, Ménétru-le-VignobleEric and Sarah Goypieron have recently renovated an ancient stone farmhouse in the middle of their vineyards into a smart winemaker/B&B. The rooms are bright and modern, the hearty breakfast includes homemade cakes, and each evening guests are invited down to the cellar for a tasting of their organic vintages.
 Doubles from €90, +33 6 95 08 73 54,

Château de Marigna, Marigna-sur-ValouseIn the grounds of a massive medieval castle, a farmhouse, barn and 15th-century dovecote have been transformed into smart guest rooms. The feel is more classy B&B than luxury hotel. It is surrounded by its own forests and lake, with free bikes for exploring, and there are special activity packages on offer, including horseriding and kayaking stays.
 Doubles from €90 B&B, three-storey dovecote €140, +33 6 86 12 15 30,
Château de Germigney, Port-LesneyThis chateau was built in 1700 as a hunting lodge for the local marquis and is the perfect lavish bolthole for a splash-out stay, though room rates are not outrageous. It is set in beautiful gardens with a landscaped pool, and has a Michelin-starred restaurant.
 Doubles from €100, +33 3 84 73 85 85,
For more information about the region, go to EasyJet has return flights to Lyon – the nearest airport – from £65,, or travel on Eurostar to Lyon from £89, Car hire was provided by

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