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BE READY WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS
 
(2016 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: JANE STOKES



As we explore the planet, travel trends emerge periodically to reflect new interests and expectations. It would appear this year, the pledge “to seize opportunities” is our ticket to much more excitement.

If you’re planning a getaway right now, for instance, you may insist on one or more of three components: opportunities to sample a different culture; flexibility to extend a business trip; and engagement with family and friends using the latest in communications technology. Altogether, we currently feel a 2016 vacation is at its best if we have a chance to learn more, linger longer to smell the roses, and share it all with our loved ones in real time.

Let’s examine the requirements for connectivity first. Wireless technology is available practically everywhere now, except perhaps on cruise ships and in isolated areas where satellites do the job, resulting in slower communications. And sometimes, even in populated places, travellers face challenges with cellphone compatibility, recharging devices, language barriers,  hotspot reliability, and the cost of using data far afield. Be sure to research or ask about your specific needs, but the following may take the edge off the most common concerns:

•          Capability: Cell technology varies around the world so find out if your phone adapts to travel. Most modern equipment does.

•          Cost Control: Unlock your phone to replace the SIM card with one from the destination—a common purchase abroad. If your device is permanently locked, solutions include replacing it with a disposable phone once you reach your destination; renting a portable Wi-Fi hotspot; or taking advantage of free signals in a local hotspot.

•          Recharge: Determine the voltage in your destination and, if necessary, carry a converter along with your charging cable. The wall plug may also be the wrong shape. Adapter plugs are easily found in hotels and airport shops.

With connectivity assured, it’s time to share some of this year’s most exciting experiences.

ALBERTA:

As part of your trip to the Calgary area, imagine experiencing ice fishing on the Spray Lakes Reservoir located just outside Banff National Park. Surrounded by the towering Canadian Rockies and dense forests much of which have never been seen by a human being, link up with a guide for an insider’s opportunity. He or she will set you up in your shanty hut where you can fish for lake trout and fry them up immediately on a portable cooker. While summer fishing here is known for the totality of the experience, winter fishing is considered a mellow social affair. banfflakelouise.com

QUÉBEC:

From North Bay, Ontario, cross provincial boundaries into the mineral-rich Abitibi-Témiscamingue region for a “Canada North Québec-style” adventure. Here, between the 49th and 47th parallel, surrounded by boreal forests and 22,000 waterways, a population of only 145,000 people often get a front-row seat to the Northern Lights. Good food and hospitality are signature features of the “Québec style” and you can actually get a glimpse of how Canada must have looked 8,000 years ago. Stop at Refuge Pageau, which shelters and heals orphaned, lost and injured animals. Stay in a teepee or yurt on a canoeing expedition; descend into a deep and dark gold mine; or sign up for a snowmobile tour in winter or a motorcycle tour in spring. abitibi-temiscamingue-tourism.org

FLORIDA:

Did you know preservation of nature in Florida is as much of an enticement as the state’s man-made attractions? The chance to view sea turtles nesting in Palm Beach County, for instance, is on equal footing with the desire for upscale resorting. And, further up the coast on Amelia Island, you may easily feel time has stood still since the era when marine animals were the first residents there. Observe the turtle-nesting ritual yourself. On warm summer nights, females lumber out of the ocean toward drier sand, dig their nests, lay as many as 110 eggs over a three-hour period, cover them and swim away. Two months later those eggs begin to hatch, so on any given night dozens of tiny hatchlings can be seen making their way to the safety of the sea. Turtle watching is strictly monitored so be sure to join a guided group. visitflorida.com

NAPA VALLEY, CALFORNIA:

From Sacramento or San Francisco, why not drive an hour or so to the serene vineyard of the Oakville Cross Road, known as the epicentre of Napa’s premium Cabernet country? Vineyards may make you thirsty however, if you are also hungry, the best bet is a stop at B Cellars Vineyards and Winery, where delectable bites are celebrated with its premium wines. Take a glass of white or red with you as you tour the culinary garden, the vineyards and the precision operations. Then sit down to sample delicacies such as the “heirloom squash agnolotti with black truffles” paired with a superior Tuscan blend. bcellars.com

RIVIERA NAYARIT, MEXICO:

Golfers are always seeking inspirational settings to improve their scores so it’s no wonder most beautiful places on Earth attract the world’s best course designers. If a business trip takes you to Guadalajara, Mexico, for instance, why not add a few days in Riviera Nayarit on the Pacific coast or plan to meet your family there? Lavish resorts host several golf courses and each one is cleverly designed with panoramic surprises. For example, how about playing on a green in the middle of the sea? If you have a hard time imagining this, just book time to experience Hole 3B on the Punta Mita golf course at the Four Seasons Resort. rivieranayarit.com

BRITISH ISLES & IRELAND:

Such a joy to explore, but instead of experiencing the white-knuckle left-hand driving, schedule a luxury coach tour. Take a look at the short and extensive itineraries organized by Trafalgar Tours, Globus and Insight Vacations, among others. These are not your granny’s coach tours. Emphasis now is on the unforgettable. In Ireland, for instance, stay at the 13th-century Ashford Castle, offered by the premium-luxury Insight Vacations. On the six-day Best of Devon and Cornwall (by Trafalgar), you are guests of honour at a choral music performance at the candlelit 15th-century “gingerbread church” in Exeter. Or, on Trafalgar’s 14-day Best of Britain tour through England, Scotland and Wales, visit Penny Lane in Liverpool to unravel the Beatles’ lyrics. visitbritain.com

 
 
 
 
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