Author Archive for The Traveler – Page 2

Guest post by Karen Field

Bezbog Lake, Bulgaria

I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this. The view from Bezbog lake in the Pirin National Park looking back towards Bansko was breathtaking – surrounded by mountains offering great hiking and good value accommodation.

The two-seater chairlift up to Bezbog was grey and functional – no gloss here but somehow it fits right in. This area is still relatively undiscovered but to those in the know it provides a stunning summer destination teeming with wildlife.

Brown bears and grey wolves are still found here in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Pirin National Park although you’d be very lucky (or not!) to see them – our host James said they live deep in the mountains; he’s been here for 20 years and has yet to see either.

But if you’re looking for more friendly fauna and flora, you can find over 200 species of butterflies, over 400 species of birds and over 3000 plant species. This is a country with unspoilt countryside and traditional methods of farming.

Read More→

Hacienda Pinilla: “Green” Greens of Costa Rica

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

By Kat Sunlove, M.A 

As environmentally concerned golfers, my husband Layne and I often worry about the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers on the golf courses we play, not only for the integrity of the environment but also for the possible effect on our own health as we walk those green fairways and breath in chemically-laced air.

Historically, golf courses have not been seen as paragons of environmental virtue but that may be changing. According to Audubon International, golf courses can provide an ideal setting for wildlife sanctuaries if properly designed and managed. Non-playable areas comprise some 70 percent of most golf courses; that’s a lot of paradise left unpaved. These spaces offer opportunities for wild animal “corridors” and allow native vegetation to flourish. By practicing erosion control, water conservation and water quality management, employing careful and minimal use of chemicals and maintaining wildlife habitats, golf courses can be a positive, rather than a negative, addition to a community’s environment.

Read More→

Everyone’s Wild About Harry!

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Special Feature by Bob Kelley

Sipping ice cold butterbeer inside the boisterous Three Broomsticks, Ed St. Amour pondered his dilemma:  Which was the better investment: Dumbledore’s wand or fashionable (especially at Halloween) Gryffindor class robes?

A pre-teen mulling over how to spend his weekly allowance?  No, actually St. Amour is a 50-something human resources manager from Atlanta trying to decide on the better bargain for his hard earned dollars.

From the moment the first of J.K.Rowling’s series hit the bookstands, the adventurous story of the youthful wizard and his quest to vanquish He Who Must Not Be Named has transcended generations, appealing to Muggles of all ages.  (For the unitiated, Muggles are non-magical folks like you and me.)  Quicker than you can say wingardium leviosa, parents preferring to read the books before allowing their children to do so were soon hooked themselves.

Word of mouth spread the news to childless adults who love a good read. The books were entertaining and rekindled wonderful lifelong lessons in friendship, loyalty, bravery and, above all, the choices one makes and the consequences of those choices.

For young and adult fans, Pottermania reached its zenith with the opening in 2010 of Universal’s $265 million Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWHP).  The 20-acre park within a theme park is credited with boosting Universal Orlando’s attendance 36 percent (more than one million visitors) in its first three months. Visitors who journey to the WWHP are rewarded with state-of- the-art attractions, a restaurant and shops that bring the wonder and magic of the heavily-detailed Potter books and movies to life.  As a testament to its popularity, within six months of opening the attraction sold its one millionth mug of butterbeer, the drink of choice for Harry and his friends.

Read More→

Blown away by Bamfield, British Columbia

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

By Cherie Thiessen

The Shores of Bamfield British ColumbiaArrival
The M.V. Frances Barkley nudges the pier on the west side of Bamfield. Its famous boardwalk twists along the inlet, cottages perch alongside, docks sprout into the waterway. The red and white buildings of the Coast Guard station alongside the dock gleam, and through my binoculars I can see the proprietor of the tiny boardwalk store hanging out a sign: closed for freight receiving.

M.V. Frances Barkley arrives Our binoculars have never been far from our eyes during this three-hour voyage up Alberni Inlet from Port Alberni to Barkley Sound. We’ve spotted eagles, inched by rainbows, chugged in and out of mists, rainstorms and occasional splatters of sun, and passed a wilderness that goes on and on. The passenger freighter’s crew of five is casual and friendly, and the captain, John Adams, who retired as captain from B.C. Ferries but just couldn’t stay home, has pointed  out interesting spots along the way – like Kildonan, for example. In 1914, it was a thriving cannery and 500 people lived there. Now it’s home to only a few summer cottagers and fewer still full timers, who gather at the dock. In the season, the Frances Barkley also stops at the old Sechart whaling station just outside the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve; it’s now a lodge catering to kayakers. The Norwegian built ship can carry 200 passengers and 100 tons of cargo, and it makes stops wherever it’s needed: fish farms, small settlements, and even float homes.

We’re met by Don Kapalka from the Imperial Eagle Lodge in his cherry red Ranger. There’s only room in the ATV for two plus luggage, so I get to ride along the steep and rocky track while the others head to the lodge along the boardwalk. Don fills me in en route. Read More→

Guest post by Constance Owens

Le Charmois Farmhouse

The road was only a dirt lane leading up to the house.  We huffed and puffed our way past cows lowing in the fields at the dairy farm nearby.  The calves lying close to the fence started and darted away as we approached. Then, we ran past more fields with horses swatting flies with their thick brown tails.    On occasion we would hear a car or tractor off in the distance.  For the most part, we were alone with the steady pounding of our feet.

We were in Moyen, Belgium,  which is in the French speaking region of Eastern Wallonia in the Semois Valley near the French border.

A good, long run, followed by a hearty breakfast feeds the soul like nothing else, which is one of the reasons we came here. We wanted to “rest” on this vacation—mentally as well as physically. We did not want to fill our days rushing around crowded tourist sites trying to squeeze in everything in a few days. We were looking for a “local” experience.

We found Le Charmois, a lovingly restored nineteenth century farmhouse resting on several acres of pastoral land in the Belgian Lorraine. According to DK’s Eyewitness Travel Book on Belgium—a most unlikely place to find such a quaint bed and breakfast.  Normally the best B&B’s are found by stumbling upon them, not scouring guidebooks. Luck was on our side when we booked the reservation by calling directly to the farmhouse. Read More→