Top 5 Sustainable & Sensational Travel Destinations

Note: This article was published to increase traffic to a British currency company’s website. As part of my salaried duties, I researched, wrote and posted 3-4 similar original articles weekly.

 

Top 5 Green Sustainable & Sensational Travel Destinations 

The UN declared 2017 the year of sustainable tourism, lending a boost to the growing momentum towards environmentally responsible travel. Green travel, in its purest form, would be hopping on your bike or walking to your holiday destination, since your carbon footprint would be reduced to your literal footprint.  Taking planes or driving cars to reach destinations is avoided by some eco-tourists, who favor using trains or other low impact transportation to reach natural areas.

Another form of the industry supports the locals- often indigenous people- to preserve their pristine environments by bringing them an income where they live. This means they aren’t forced to sacrifice their cherished surroundings in order to support themselves. These trips usually include flying around the world in order to experience tropical forests, wildlife, organic orchards and farms that are managed by locals who boost their income by providing hospitality for international visitors.

The creative solutions that eco-friendly lodging employs to protect the environment help you experience the world in exhilarating ways that are far more meaningful than typical mass travel can ever hope to be. Many of the resorts have built-in physical challenges, giving guests the opportunity to exercise more than they would on other types of vacations.

Here are five fabulous green destinations to inspire your travels:

  1. Taking tree-hugging to new heights

Tree hotel juxtaposes contemporary Nordic design with the iconic childhood treehouse. The result: seven distinctive structures in a Swedish forest. There’s a nearby restaurant with a bar, television, and internet but in each of the tree hotel rooms, the emphasis is upon fully experiencing the majestic woodlands you’re nesting inside of. Tucked high into the Lapland treetops, guests enjoy majestic views of the Lule River and the northern lights. You can reach your tree hotel by taxi or a helicopter flight from Lulea Airport, which is a short flight north from Stockholm. All prices are in Swedish Kroner, so you can pay the bill for your room, airport transfers and meals by using your currency company to lock in the very best exchange rates.

  1. Alpine luxury geo-glamping

Whitepod offers an eco-luxury alternative for enjoying the Swiss Alps. The geodesic domes set on a hill overlooking Valais, Switzerland are kept snugly warm by pellet stoves. Both the staff and guests hike up steep hills to the pristine site. Waste is recycled and local ingredients are featured at the luxury restaurant on the grounds. The Les Cerniers restaurant also offers guests the delivery of gourmet meals which they will bring to your pod so that you can stay warm in the winter. In warm weather, they offer picnics for guests who want to enjoy the scent of wildflowers and hillside views while they dine al fresco.

Mountain biking, paragliding, and dog carting are among the activities at this ecological glamping option and a massage can be booked when you make your reservation. Since payments are made in Swiss Francs, remember that you could stretch your budget by making a transfer to pay for your stay through your currency company.

  1. Airbnb’s green contemporary

Ecobnb brings you affordable and sustainable places to stay, especially across Italy where the concept of a bio hotel network was born. The rooms that are listed on the site have green buildings with 100% renewable energy and car-free accessibility options like bikes and buses. Organic food and wines are also an important feature of many places that offer retreats you’d otherwise never discover in the Italian countryside. Children can play with small goats and chickens while spending some memorable family time away at organic Tuscan farms. Adults can learn how to make homemade Italian pasta in a small luxury hotel in the ancient village of Rotonda.

The network is dedicated to teaching travelers that there are better alternatives than visiting sites like Venice and Rome, which are increasingly overwhelmed by hordes of tourists. They suggest seeing lesser-known places and traveling during the off-season to help support the destination by reducing the summer crowds which are destructive to the sites.

Ecobnb seeks to dissuade people from using cruise ships because they are the most ecologically destructive way of taking a holiday, as well as a fast-growing global industry. There’s hope that by educating travelers to more sustainable alternatives, the cruise industry’s popularity might wane.

  1. Nicaragua: Known for eco-tourism

The fame of Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and private luxury reserve has established Nicaragua as the world’s premier rainforest retreat. The lodge is tucked into a leafy canopy beside the Pacific Ocean where luxurious guest quarters with private swimming pools command spectacular views from a treetop setting high above the ground. Guests enter the resort from the jungle, crossing a suspension bridge through a forest teeming with monkeys, sloths, and tropical birds. Natural materials are used throughout the lodge; the buildings were constructed by local craftspeople and much of the produce is grown on the farm in the reserve. A 5-night special honeymoon package for two which includes an ocean view room with a private plunge pool, meals, cocktails, surf lessons and horseback riding among other amenities costs $3,900. That’s around £3,000, without considering the cost of the flight to Managua.

Cabins on an organic coffee farm nearby don’t come with plunge pools, but Finca Esperanza Verde affords guests the opportunity to enjoy 247 acres of cloud forest that is being organically farmed and preserved. The jungle views from cabins that are perched high atop stilts are breathtaking and the meals fresh and locally sourced. The prices are more down to earth in a country where the average annual salary is under £350. The largest of the solar-powered cabins of this Finca is £85 a day, at most, and you can sip the local organic coffee all day, for no extra cost. What’s even better than free coffee? Knowing that your relaxing vacation is helping save the Amazon forests!

  1. Go native on Canada’s sunshine coast

There’s nothing new about living with reverence for nature. The Haida tribe has inhabited British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii Park, which means islands of the people, for some 13,000 years. Visitors can explore the waters of the park by kayaks, paddling in waters that are home to 20 species of whale and dolphin. Sailboat charters are also available and Butterfly Tours offer eight-day guided camping tours in the forests and kayak excursions into the Unesco world heritage site of SGang Gwaay, a sacred site which the Haida guard and preserve.

The watchman program serves to protect the native heritage site where trees carved into totem poles reflect their belief that their chief’s spirits become one with the trees when they die. The Haida natives are also there to share their native culture with the very few visitors who reach this remote spot.

For those who wish to experience a rustic homestead on remote Rose Harbour, the few residents there will work together to provide lodging and exceptional meals for guests. The former historic whaling station outpost has no electricity or indoor plumbing; accommodation with three organic meals is $150 Canadian Dollars a day.  You can reach Rose Harbour by boat or chartered plane from the village of Queen Charlotte to enter a timeless world where rugged, friendly people live in harmony with nature.

During the summer months, Air Canada flies into Sandspit International Airport from Vancouver daily. There are also trains and buses that bring you to the starting point for your unforgettable wilderness holiday on British Columbia’s sparkling sunshine coast which is warmer and sunnier than Vancouver or the mainland of Canada.

 

Save Sterling and See The Wild West

wolfgang-hasselmann-u4pTs6vZ5BI-unsplash

The lure of a romantic past, when windswept native American Indians on mustang ponies kicked up dust as they galloped across the vast landscapes, lives on in our imagination. So do the days of cowboy life, with the cattle drives, bucking broncos and gunslingers- all last as an enduring memory of America’s wild western heart. The traces of the past linger under skies crimson at sunset followed by the vast star-filled skies when you spend time in America’s wild western spaces.

The humbling vistas of the Grand Canyons, Grand Teton and Yellowstone Parks are once in a lifetime, dream destinations. Western travel tours and dude ranch accommodations cater to travelers who are itching to saddle up and see the wide open, natural spaces of America for themselves. This should whet your appetite for some of the best steaks, barbeques and Tex-Mex food you’ll ever taste.

Go west, pardner, and don’t spare the horses. Discover the friendly people, natural wonders and delicious culinary specialties for yourself and save yourself some Sterling doing it, to boot.

Tours to Grand Teton

What’s on offer on a western tour? You ride in a covered wagon, head down Snake River on a whitewater raft, spot wildlife at Grand Teton Park and see herds of buffalo thundering across golden plains at Yellowstone. You can set your watch by the famous Old Faithful geyser shooting a spray of steam, on schedule, 90 feet in the air.  Perhaps you’ll play a part in gunfights reenacted at Deadwood, South Dakota, the preserved western town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and Calamity Jane was laid to rest beside him.

You’ll see the territory of the Great Sioux Nation, meet native American artists producing their traditional handcrafts at the Indian Museum and Cultural Center of North America and learn about American history and modern adaptations to their way of life from a Lakota native’s perspective. A 9-day tour runs to $2,407 (about £ 1,800), not including your airfare into Salt Lake City, Utah and out of Denver, Colorado with this American tour operator. There are other companies that also provide this standard tour, for the same price, but they fly into Jackson Hole and leave from Rapid City, South Dakota, which won’t offer direct flights to the UK, so the journey could be more expensive.

A horseback holiday on a Montana dude ranch doesn’t try to pack in nearly as much; the majestic sights on offer are pristine, green mountain vistas and the wildlife that roam there. Triple J Wilderness Ranch has a remote lodge you can stay in and take a horseback camping trip into neighboring Bob Marshall Wilderness preserve. Pack mules carry your gear and tents, leaving you free to ride quietly enough to spot black bear, antelope, bighorn sheep and eagles in the unspoiled pine-scented hillsides. Hiking, fly fishing for trout and nights spent beside a campfire under brilliant stars let you unwind, enchanted by the wonders of western America. Their rates for wilderness pack-trips are $400 a day and a night’s stay at their lodge before and after the trip, including meals, is complimentary. They also offer hunting trips, providing shooting lessons and licenses for legally hunting your own venison steak supper.

Tee Pee Capital of the World

The Crow Indian Nation holds its 100th Old Crow Fair in late August, inviting visitors to watch their rodeo competitions and see them in full regalia as they continue passing their traditional dances and rituals onto their children. They gather annually at an area an hour away from Billings, on their Montana reservation. Seeing them today, on lands where they once hunted buffalo, and still continue to honor their unique culture is a moving experience.

Native Americans hold many festive traditional gatherings called Pow Wows, where visitors are welcome to watch the dances and competitions. These events aren’t parties, they don’t permit alcohol, and there isn’t an extra teepee set out for guests, so find a Pow Wow from this directory and look for a nearby hotel. Listen to Native festival music as you tour the area, it’s the perfect background sound for anyone who wants to appreciate the western landscape from a Dances with Wolves viewpoint.

The Alamo

Texas’ most visited historical landmark is the former Spanish Mission building in San Antonio where Davey Crockett was among the approximately 200 men who died defending the Alamo from Mexican forces in 1836. In later battles, the cry “Remember the Alamo” proved the Alamo was a pivotal point in the Mexican American war, indeed, it mobilized men to join the Texas forces against the Mexicans. Texas ceased being an independent republic and it was joined to the United States in 1845, to thwart British involvement occurring there.

Perhaps this partially failed, since there is a British Society of Texas in San Antonio who meet for lunch at the pub. These proudly British ex-pats don’t appear to be trying to blend in by wearing Stetson hats and boots. Are they on a daring mission to bring Morris dancing to Texas as this Yellow Rose of Texas performance appears to suggest?

The Cowboy Capital, Dude

Fancy a few days on a dude ranch learning the ropes from real rootin’ tootin’ cowboys? On nearby Mayan Dude Ranch, you’ll ride the dusty trails twice a day, eat massive cowboy cook-out breakfasts, enjoy swimming in the pool, rafting and fishing in the river and do country dancing to work off the Texas-sized steaks, Mexican specialties, and smoky barbecues. The daily rates for this family ranch’s rustic western-themed rooms are $165 (roughly £120) for adults and $80 for children under 12.

The ranch is near Bandera, “the Cowboy Capital of the World,” home to many champion professional rodeo stars. Watch riders on bucking longhorn steers and broncos and soak up some local atmosphere at Bandera Pro Rodeo where cowboy’s hats never seem to fall off no matter how rough their ride is.

Spend Less at a Luxury Lodge

The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming promise a blend of rusticity and luxury in majestic natural surroundings.  Log cabins and lodge rooms are well-appointed with western-themed décor and can accommodate family groups who want to travel back to the wild west in luxury the cowboys never imagined.  The largest lavish cabin sleeps six and includes a staffed private kitchen that serves you meals and premium beverages for $4,200 (around £3,150) a night.

How can you possibly save money on this lodge or, for that matter, any of the other itineraries described here? You simply use your currency company to transfer your payment and you get an easy, instant improvement on the Sterling to the Dollar exchange rate. It’s a far better rate than your credit card or bank can offer you and you won’t pay any fees, either. If you book an all-inclusive trip, you haven’t got the hassle of sorting out any amusement for yourself and you’ll save money, as well.

That’s the way the west is won, these days, pardner.

 

 

Why I Drive A Shed

Nikos watched me back up away from the rocky cliff edge I’d parked beside. His woodworking studio is up in the hills, overlooking the village with an airplane’s view of the sea shimmering into the horizon.

”Is car for sale?” he wondered, his eyebrows raised, head cocked.

I didn’t want to say no, not after he’d given me some oak trim as an apology for overpricing the strips of wood, so I joked: ”You have a good donkey to trade?” We agreed  it is a nice car, although, it is, in fact, a  shed that happens to be as old as my son. He’s 31 today.

My son’s trusty chariot is a new red Ford Mustang whose doors don’t creak like they need another lashing of WD-40 every time you get out. The Mustang has some cool options my Diahatsu ( say it like you are aggressively sneezing in a marital arts film-Diaaahatsuuu!) never considered adding, including suspension. Smooth roads are the worst, passengers tend to close their eyes tight, at some point, and then they have to peek because they’ve come to beieve you’re trekking into lunar craters when you slowly ease around potholes. Drive over a speed bump and you’d swear on the Blue Book the front axle just snapped.

But– get this baby off the road and into the wilds of western Cyprus and she kicks Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s back bumper! Embarrassed to be seen in my car as we make our way through the village, my friends are suddenly waving like comrades at other cars we meet off-road. We glide over rocky tracks left by tourists on rented quads, taking ravines in stride, we get right up the edge of the Akamas park. The dirt roads leading to Laura Bay are buttery compared with the paved ones beside Coral Bay, where the sands are packed with tourists, expats and Cypriots. The pristine beaches of Laura Bay are dotted with more metal baskets protecting sea turtle nests than visitors, even at the height of summer. It’s a piece of cake to pop over, in my white rusty, trusty shed.

DSC_0021
Abbi, my shed!

In the village, I’ve just seen the baaad boys, at it again. One kid was posed on top of the battered compact sitting beside the field he was recently born in. Good luck jumping all the way up to the top of my shed, buddy, I thought. The older goats beside him are the legendary baaad boys–the posse of kids that stripped that Russian’s Mercedes of every trace of it’s exterior rubber not once–but thrice! They  came down the lane strutting purposefully,  only one car on their collective, crazy-eyed radar: His gleaming new black Merc. The windshield wipers  and door trim were mere appetizers. Their movable feast was the tires which they gnawed at with a fury that intensified in tandem with his shouted epitaphs and threats. The guy, who was said to be mafia, spent time in his kitchen;  for two years he was seen at the window, drinking, growing out a shapeless beard, his eyes fixed on his car. Suddenly, he sold up and disappeared. They never nibbled on anyone else’s autos previously or since. It’s difficult  to  determine what drives young goat’s tastes in cars.

I could happily be a Land Rover owner, I love their Hibernot campaign. The notion of being able to trek boldly into desolate landscapes where a Mini can’t take you-this is why I own my shed, at a fraction of a Land Rover’s price tag. Obviously, I will be trading old Abbie in for a slightly newer ride at some point up the road; ideally, that would be a Land Rover. I’ve gotten the one thousand euro I paid for her back in the two years she’s been mine. Whatever I do, I will avoid driving a Civilian Retirement Vehicle (CRV), the soul-sapping middle-class British expat’s most common choice of  vehicle. Why should anyone want to blend in with the “respectable expats”?  No Cypriot asks them if they’d sell their car.

Some people don’t get why I drive a beat up, rusty white, three door shed that pitches and rolls when I go around a corner. I’ve met a couple of English mechanics  who told me my car was just a  time-bomb, ticking away toward an inevitable moment of roadside failure. Another shook his head, said I’d be ‘reaching into my pocket nonstop to repair it’. That was a year and a half ago, and she’s hummed along fine, ever since. Much to my surprise, Abbi passed a Cypriot MOT, a few months ago. The only other serious criticism I’ve had was from another Nikos who loves his bike. But, he’s a city guy. His complaint was that you only need a seat or two that gets you from one person to the next. He loves his motor scooter with more passion than I have for my shed.

 

DSC_0080I fully appreciate the attributes of his scooter for jaunts around the city, but my ride was born to be wild.  Unlike his scooter, or a donkey, I get to bring people and dogs to the places we can share together.

DSC_0025

Getting those babies in the sun

Writing can be too dang solitary. Lots of people go to a coffee shop because being near other people gives them the ability to steal a buzz of energy. I laughed again today when I passed the village coffee shop at the ludicrous image of myself trying to focus on creating something there. Since I write non-fiction, maybe this is a stretch toward making new patterns, this following imaginary interaction which is fiction: The men nod, but fall silent as I enter their domain, giving each a respectful flash of eye contact that’s neither long enough to enflame passion nor so short it appears I’m a shy child and of course, wanting to fit in, I tip my head at each one-all seven of them as I say “Yasas.” Their raucous laughter has skittered away, replaced by the void of shocked silence. But not for long can they hold their opinions. It’s insane, they mutter and in protest as the one with the largest mustache rises and strides out the open door, scowling back at me, his eyebrows twitching. It’s too sunny to sit outside at a table-I couldn’t see the screen in the midday glare and it’s not much better in the corner, so I have to angle my notebook and scrunch down in a position that makes my neck ache even before the woman comes to take my order. There’s no hope of them having decaf, so I don’t even ask  and I do enjoy a Greek coffee but…it’s a small shot that packs a lot of cafienne. You knock it back in six sips and then there’s the glass of water which you could drag out into a half hour affair, at best. And then what? Foreign woman is sitting there, basically squatting in the men’s territory: The coffee shop. The laughter resumes and it’s good I don’t speak Greek because I don’t need to know precisely what’s being said about me. These old timers know all about laptops. People use them to watch porn. Period. That’s the one and only thing they do on them. Ever. And look at me with my nose almost touching the screen- my God what a nymphomaniac I obviously am! Brazen hussy dragging her obscenity right into the last bastion of Cypriot male sanctity- to their coffee shop! Filthy slut.

Yeah, what a charming work day that would be, eh?

This site seems like a better alternative today. Yesterday I entered my first writing contest ( Creative Nonfiction on the topic of weather)and now here I am starting this site because my babies-the writing- needs to see the light of day. I’ll never be as good a writer as I ache to be, but I’ve graduated to the stage where  I need to join a community. A single expat American woman living in Cyprus, I’m writing a memoir-a big ambitious first book that’s teaching me how and why I write. I write to connect. I write to learn. I yearn to meet fellow travelers and writers in every nook and cranny of the globe. Whether you’ve put your work into the glare of the light or are just coming to be ready to do that, like me, I’m joining the tribe and I hope to be of some use to you.