Month: September 2014

New Pilgrims’ Way Walk from Lucca to Siena in Tuscany

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 3.32.28 PMHighlights of a historic pilgrims’ trail are being offered as a new itinerary for 2015 by the Wayfarers Walking Vacations.

It is one of three brand-new all-inclusive Walks in the program. The others are the UK’s Northumbrian Coast and the Puglia region of Italy.

The Via Francigena is an ancient 1,200 mile route across Europe from Canterbury, England, to Rome, neglected over recent years, but now undergoing a resurgence in popularity.

“To follow in those pilgrims’ footsteps, traveling slowly, meeting people with a common goal, in such fabulous surroundings will, I’m sure make this a very popular choice.’

Wayfarers’ Walk Leader and Designer Lesley Bowles says: ‘For more than 1,000 years, pilgrims have walked the Via Francigena, once the major pilgrimage route from Northern Europe to the Holy See at Rome.”  The tour includes the following:

·      Guided walking tours of historic Lucca and Siena

·      A visit to wine cellars producing Vernaccia white wine

·      Two nights in beautiful San Gimignano

·      Gain a unique perspective on the real Tuscany

Details of all Walks in the spring 2015 Preview Brochure here http://bit.ly/1lecBgS

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When Money Is No Object

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Pristine beaches. Cosmopolitan cities. Incredible wildlife. Enjoy the Four Seasons experience every step of the way as you travel around the world on the newly designed Four Seasons Jet. At every stop, enjoy world-class accommodations at Four Seasons hotels and resorts that embrace the natural beauty and authentic character of each destination, including Seattle, Tokyo, Beijing, Maldives, Tanzania, Istanbul and Marrakech, to name a few.  For more information, visit www.tcsworldtravel.com.

A Journey to the Coastal Region of San Luis Obispo, California

One of the most breathtaking journeys along the California Coast is the Highway 1 Discovery Route, which encompasses a 101 mile road trip that showcases 10 different artisan towns and seaside villages, each one rich in character and history.

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While our journey did not allow for a full tour of each town, the highlight included the small community of Cayucos, an anchor in San Luis Obispo County.

The home base was Cayucos Beach Inn (cayucosbeachinn.com), which is within walking distance to the many features of the quaint town of Cayucos and only a short drive to the center of Morro Bay.

Upon our arrival, we parked the car and set out walking to visit some of the highlights, including:

  • Cayucos Cellars (cayucoscellars.com) for a variety of Bordeaux and Rhone wines
  • Cayucos Candy Company (cayucoscandycounter.com) for a huge selection of candy and fresh, cool ice cream
  • Remember When Antiques for antiques and collectibles
  • Lady Spencer Galleria (ladyspencer.com) for hand-crafted gifts
  • Brown Butter Cookie Company (brownbuttercookies.com) for a second dose of home-baked cookies that are as tasty right out of the oven as they are for the ride home
  • Walk on the historic pier in Cayucos to learn about the history and restoration efforts of this small beach community.

Staircase in San Luis

Other nearby attractions of note include:

  • El Moro Elfin Forest, adjacent to the Morro Bay Estuary, which supports 200 species of plants as well as 110 kinds of birds, 22 species of mammals and 13 species of reptiles and amphibians
  • The Audubon Sweet Springs Nature Preserve in the town of Los Osos with trails that lead through Monterey Cypress and eucalyptus to two fresh water ponds and around a salt marsh to the edge of Morro Bay
  • Montana de Oro, which about 25 minutes from Morro Bay and is a hiker’s paradise with trails that cover a wide variety of eco-systems including rugged cliffs, seclude sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons and hills
  • Estero Bluffs State Park, a kelp forest with trails along the Estero Bluffs, just north of Cayucos. Featuring views of sea otters and 355 acres of grassland-dominated coastal terrace that slopes from Highway 1 to the Pacific Ocean.

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Best bets for dining:

  • Hoppe’s Garden Bistro (Cayucos), located in the Old Way Station, with a rich history dating back to 1876. As a vegetarian, my favorite menu items were the butternut squash soup and butter lettuce salad. My companion’s favorite item was the sea scallops.
  • Schooners Wharf (Cayucos), with views of the ocean. You will want to try the calamari strips and a signature cocktail while soaking in the fresh sea breeze from the patio, then choose from a wide variety of fresh seafood and steaks
  • For more dining options in Cayucos and the other neighboring towns, visit http://www.winecoastcountry.com/cayucos-dining/

For more information and directions as well as hotel reservations, visit WineCoastCountry.com.

PVA Explores Asia in Palau

The International Night Market on Friday, September 5th at Bethlehem Park was themed “Asia in Palau”. The Asian region is the largest and most populous region in the world composed of a wide variety of ethnic groups and cultures. The highest ranking visitors to Palau are from the Asian Region: Japan, Republic of China – Taiwan, Mainland China, and Korea, respectively. Right here in Palau, many Asian ethnic groups including Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Bangladeshi have become part of our community. This prompted PVA to take a closer look at Asia: those coming to visit and those who are now settled and are part of Palau’s community.

As a means of “exploring” Asian Region through cuisines, PVA reached out to the various local restaurateurs to share the unique taste of Asia at the Bethlehem Park.   Representing India was The Taj Palau: a very popular Indian restaurant that joined the Night Market for the very first time to share some of their specialties including Butter Chicken, Beef Curry and Vegetarian Curry. Representing a fusion of Japanese and European cuisines were: The Fisherman, Tomoko’s Kitchen, and the Red Rooster Café. The Filipino Community of Palau (TFCP) was also present to serve Filipino cuisine including local favorites of pork and beef kebabs.

These vendors were joined by our regular vendors selling local foods and Arts & Crafts. MJ Burger Hut is another regular vendor present to share their now famous roast pork and other Filipino delicacies. Most notable of the regular vendors was Kayangel State serving “Aho”, a flour and coconut porridge. A specialty of the State that is popular with the locals, it has gained a following with the tourists. As usual, the night market was a successful sharing of foods cultures made possible by all vendors present.

To complete the cultural exchange and exploration of “Asia in Palau”, the Bangladeshi Association, Inc. of Palau was on hand to share their culture through performing arts and fashion. The crowd was delighted with presentations of Bangali traditional and contemporary dance and flute performances. The group also shared Bangali fashion with a demonstration of the Panjabi – men’s traditional prayer dress, and the Tupi – traditional prayer cap. The crowed was also enchanted by the presentation of Bangali women’s fashion by Mrs. Mosammat J. Azad demonstrating the Buka or traditional dress worn by married women and Ms. Morseda who demonstrated the use of the Sari. The Sari is actually an 18 feet long material that is fashionably wrapped around a woman’s body to form a dress. Ms. Helen Gulibert was the lucky member of the audience who was chosen to be part of this demonstration.

Approximately 700 locals and tourist enjoyed a night of cultural exploration and discovery that is the underlying theme of all Night Markets.   PVA extends its appreciation to all of the vendors who joined on this night making the event a true cultural exchange. Appreciation is also extended to the Bangladeshi Association, Inc. of Palau for their part in sharing a bit about Bangladeshi culture. The next Night Market, through special arrangements with US Embassy Koror, is on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. Please call PVA at (680) 488-2793/1930 for information on vendor registration and program.

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Ms. Morseda in a Sari, Ms. Helen Gulibert – Palauan Sari model, and Mrs. Mosammat J. Azad in a Buka.

New Trends at PVA Night Markets

In recent months, the PVA Palauan and International Night Markets have grown to be one of the regular social events frequented by many locals. Interestingly, the Night Markets have taken a life of their own as represented in the different age groups and ethnicity, including our foreign guests or tourists, found at Bethlehem Park on any given night market. Some come for the cultural activities such as local dance performances, arts & crafts, dine on local and international cuisines, or just to socialize with family and friends while enjoying fresh and healthy local cuisines. 

At the last International Night Market on September 5th featuring “Asia in Palau”, we witnessed several new trends. A couple from Austria, Barbara and Daniel, got the opportunity to learn more about Palau’s rich culture and history direct from the locals. The young couple are avid divers and this led them to learn about Palau’s pristine waters and bountiful marine life. Based on their research, they booked a 10 day trip to Palau that included 2 days in Koror and 7 days in Peleliu for diving.

Barbara and Daniel stopped by the International Night market on September 5th and shared a table with none other than Did ra Ngmatel Men’s Group headed by Adelbairekeseuaol Harry R. Fritz. Introductions were made all around the table and the group took it upon themselves to share with the couple, a verbal tour of Palau’s fresh local foods, rich culture and colorful history. Did ra Ngmatel Men’s Group is a regular presence at the night markets where they invite tourist from Japan, Taiwan, China, Korea, and others to sit with them ensuring that our tourists gain a deeper understanding of Palau. Add this “personal connection” to the pristine marine environment that the tourists come to see, surely they all return home with fond memories and a deeper appreciation of their visit to Palau.

Yet another interesting new trend is the presence of the whole family including young children at the night markets. Mr. Leonard “Gork” Basilius got home from work and knowing there will be a night market that evening, requested his daughter to get Jordan ready as they were going to enjoy live music at the night market. Knowing how crowded the events usually get, Gork brought his 1 year old grandson along with a spiffy tricycle in tow. The tricycle has a built-in handle for an adult to push and steer while a toddler sits back and enjoys the ride.

According to Gork, he wanted his grandson to experience the many activities available at the night markets including the traditional dance performances, live music, and other activities on the main stage. He says it is also an opportunity for his grandson to learn social skills by observing the many participants at the event. In an amused way, Gork also went on to mention that the night markets are now a regular family event where many local parents free their calendars on Friday nights ensuring the whole family attends the night markets for the chance to enjoy healthy local foods prepared fresh, local dance performances, and of course live music.

Trends like these go a long way in promoting Palau’s tourism products such as the Night Markets. It was truly a pleasure to observe Barbara and Daniel enjoying and learning from the Did ra Ngmatel Men’s Group. It was also a nice surprise to see Gork and Jordan bringing new innovation to our events. See you all at the next Night Market brought to you by PVA.

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Did ra Ngmatel Men’s Group sharing Palauan culture with Barbara and Daniel from Austria.

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Gork and grandson Jordan enjoying International Night Market.

Travel Wellness Expert Offers Tips for Staying Healthy on Business Trips

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The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that Americans make more than 405 million business trips each year. Whether these business trips are 250 miles from home, which is most common, or they are 1,000 miles or more from home, which accounts for about 7 percent of the trips, it’s important that business travelers do all they can to remain healthy. The last thing that employers need is for those they send on trips to come back home sick, creating a loss of productivity in the days that follow.

“It’s common for business travelers to come home feeling sick, stressed, or having gained weight during their trips,” explains Jayne McAllister, of Jayne McAllister Travel Wellness. “That just adds to the cost of the business trip and results in less work being done. The good news is that much of this can actually be avoided.”

 Here are some tips that McAllister offers that can help keep travelers healthier:

  • Watch the food. It’s easy to grab things as you are walking through the airport, but they may be options that are loaded with fat and calories. Watch the snacks, opting for healthy choices even if you have to carry some fruit and nuts with you. Also, depending on where you go there may be some places where it’s safer to avoid raw foods, street vendor foods, and to also stick to factory bottled drinks.
  • Keep exercising. Maintaining an exercise program prior to your travel will help you do better while traveling, too. During your traveling it is important that you still keep exercising. Look into the hotel gym, pool, nearby gym, or even consider going for a walk or jog around the area where you are staying.
  • Stay hydrated. Be sure to get enough water during travel. Your best bet is to take a bottle of water on the plane with you, but purchase it after you have already made it through the security gate. Even better, purchase a reusable bottle with a built-in filter that you can use while traveling.
  • Clear your mind. Business travel can be a cause for a lot of stress. Do something to help reduce the stress. In addition to the exercise, other good options include meditating, journaling, taking a walk, or reading.
  • Mind the germs. Frequent hand washing is going to be your best option for fighting the germs. They are most commonly found on the plane tray tables, in the bathroom, and on the hotel room remote control. Consider taking a couple of antibacterial wipes to clean those things off before using them.
  • Sleep tight. Getting proper rest is essential when it comes to stress reduction and helping to keep your immune system strong. Seek out comfortable accommodations and ask for extra linens if they are needed.
  • Plan ahead. Those who spend a good portion of their time traveling for business should plan ahead to ensure they remain healthy. They can scope out where they will stay, exercise, and even make a list of restaurants in the area offering healthy meal options.

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McAllister provides corporate wellness assistance to those companies with business travelers who spend 30 percent of their time, or more, on the road. She specializes in such training issues as weight loss for travelers, healthy eating while traveling, ergonomics for the traveler, functional exercise, jet lag recovery and avoidance, sleep quality, and nutritional cleanses. She has also created Dine Out Lose Weight, a 21-day guide for dropping weight without setting foot in the kitchen. For more information on her services, visit the site at: www.jaynemcallister.com.

Places in San Francisco that Love You to Love Ice Cream

Along with a delicious variety of neighborhoods to explore, San Francisco offers some of the best ice cream in the country in an array of classic and unique flavors. Here is a list of some of the coolest spots in the city to indulge a sweet tooth.imgres

Cole Valley

The Ice Cream Bar, 815 Cole Street, http://theicecreambarsf.com/
Harken back to the days of the soda fountain and delicious memories of childhood will come back to you. The Ice Cream Bar is a full service 1930s style soda fountain and classic lunch counter, serving house-made ice cream and sodas. On top of this, they serve “remedies” for the 21 and up crowd. What’s popular: New Orleans Hangover (non-alcoholic). What you should get: Sassy Granny Sutton (Alcoholic).

 Fisherman’s Wharf

Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop, 900 North Point Street,  http://www.ghirardelli.com/sites/default/files/locationsevents/MenuRevGlass.pdf  
Ghirardelli is a San Francisco institution that has been around since 1852, when they started making the chocolate that we all know and love. Today, Ghirardelli is home to some of the most decadent ice cream sundaes in the city. What’s popular: Ghirardelli Square (Hot Fudge Sundae). What you should get: Treasure Island (Warm Brownie Sundae).

Lower Haight

Three Twins Ice Cream, 254 Fillmore Street, http://www.threetwinsicecream.com/ 
An all-organic ice cream, their unique flavors and creamy texture make it impossible to have just one bite. What’s popular: Lemon Cookie. What you should get: Mint Confetti (extra points for the awesome name).

Marina

Over the Moon, 2144 Chestnut Street, http://overthemoonsf.com/index.htm 
Inspired by Grandma, Over the Moon is a creamery with a retro bent. The combination of rich creamy ice cream and warm, gooey, fresh-baked cookies will hit the spot every time. What’s popular: Honey Lavender. What you should get: Coffee Caramel Crunch (with cookies). 

Mission

Bi-Rite Creamery,  3692 18th Street and 550 Divisadero Street, http://biritecreamery.com/ 
A local favorite, there will always be a line out in front of Bi-Rite Creamery, especially if the sun is peeking out behind the clouds. What’s popular: Salted Caramel. What you should get: Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodle cookie pieces).

Noe Valley

Mitchell’s Ice Cream, 688 San Jose Avenue, http://mitchellsicecream.com/ 
Before there were lines out the door or inventive flavors with the word secret in them, there was Mitchell’s. Established in 1953, Mitchell’s has been making ice cream in small batches that people keep coming back to time and time again. What’s popular: Stracciatella. What you should get: Grasshopper Pie. 

North Beach

Gelateria Naia, 1520 Columbus Street, http://gelaterianaia.com/ 
After realizing there was not one decent scoop of gelato in the Bay Area, the owners decided to make their own. After traveling to Italy and meeting with master artisans, they started making their small-batch gelato by hand. What’s popular: Ube (Peruvian). What you should get: Zabajone and Nocciola.

Richmond

Joe’s Ice Cream, 5420 Geary Boulevard, http://www.joesicecream.com/
Want a traditional scoop of ice cream in the Richmond? Joe’s is the place. The family-run ice cream shop has been serving its award-winning homemade ice cream flavors to locals and visitors alike since 1959. What’s popular: Blueberry Cheesecake. What you should get: Coffee Crunch and a Joe’s It.

Russian Hill

Swensen’s, 1999 Hyde Street, http://www.swensensicecream.com/
What is a global franchise today actually started in 1948 on Union Street and Hyde. Over the years, Swensen’s has modified their offerings to match the ever-changing American palette, but the three things they have never sacrificed are quality, quantity and value for your money. What’s popular: Sticky Chewy Chocolate. What you should get: Swiss Orange Chip.

Sunset

Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream & Polly Ann Ice Cream, 1447 Taraval Street (Marco Polo) and 3138 Noriega Street (Polly Ann)
Marco Polo and Polly Ann are two ice cream shops that offer delicious flavors such as black sesame, arcobaleno and green tea. What’s popular: Durian. What you should get: Lychee.