InStyle Vacations's Blog

How the Postponed Tokyo Olympic Games Will Feature Japan's National Sport

We should be watching the opening ceremony of the XXXIII Olympiad right now. 

But COVID has changed the history of the Olympics along with so many other features of our lives. Tokyo 2020 retains the name, but the dates have changed.

Originally scheduled to take place from July 24th through the second week of August this year, Tokyo 2020 now opens on July 23rd 2021. They are the first Summer Games to be postponed instead of cancelled due to an international crisis.

You can still make plans to be in the stands for Tokyo 2020 in 2021 and part of the excitement in Japan’s capital. The date changes will mean a magnified Olympic energy, pent up for an extra year. Always an international, feel-good rally, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in 2021 promise to be even more symbolically charged in the year following the COVID crisis.
So next year more than many other Olympics, all eyes will be on Tokyo. In addition to all our favorite Summer Olympic sports, new competitions at Tokyo 2020 will include freestyle BMX and 3x3 basketball, as well as the debut of surfing, skateboarding and karate, sports proposed by the host country.
But Japan’s national sport will not be played at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Sumo is only practiced at the highest levels inside Japan. There is no competition between nations like Olympic Games for sumo.
Instead, between the closing of the Olympic Games and the opening of the Paralympic Games, the Japan Sumo Association has planned to stage a special, two-day sumo exhibition tournament.
It gives attendees at the Olympic Games the opportunity to be a part of one of the world’s most rare, ritualized, ancient sports still part of a country’s modern culture.
Sumo is often caricaturized in Western culture. You may have even been to parties where brave or joker guests don inflatable ‘sumo’ costumes, throw themselves at each other and roll around on the floor, laughing.
But a bit of knowledge about Japan’s version of wrestling gives viewers new appreciation for this unique sport and martial art.
  • Sumo was first mentioned in writing in the 700’s, but pre-historic wall paintings show sumo’s roots in ritual dances for good harvests;
  • Matches are held in a 15-foot wide clay ring;
  • Far from colliding and rolling around on the floor like the Western party game, sumo wrestlers try to force their opponents outside of the ring in full-contact, ritualized movements that are considered a martial art;
  • Sumo wrestlers are required to wear their hair long in a waxed topknot, in an historically Samurai warrior style;
  • In the ring, they wear 30-foot long belts (not diapers!), tied in the back, that the other wrestler can latch onto to throw his opponent out of the ring;
  • Matches begin with a powerful crouch and charge that use the wrestlers’ great size to full effect;
  • There are no weight classes in sumo, so the bigger wrestlers can get, the better! Sumo wrestlers consume specific, traditional foods – up to 20,000 calories every day, or 10 times what an average person needs! – to gain and maintain weights in excess of 300 pounds. In modern sumo history, 3 famous sumo wrestlers have even weighed in at over 600 pounds!;
  • Even today, other customs and traditions of sumo are very linked to Japan’s ancient Shinto religion, including the throwing salt to purify the ring.
If you are not in Japan for the special tournament following the Tokyo Games, six sumo tournaments are held for two weeks each every year throughout Japan. Tokyo’s tournaments are in January, May and September, and other major cities have one each, including Osaka in March, Nagoya in July, and Fukuoka in November.
It may never be an Olympic sport, but sumo is one of the best-preserved ancient sports anywhere in the world, and an experience not to miss if you ever have a chance to travel to Japan.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


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Change #WorkFromHome to #WorkFromTheBeach with a New, 1-Year Remote Workers Visa for this Island
For a lot of us, #WorkFromHome is the new normal, and many companies say they plan to continue the practice permanently even after the COVID crisis. 
That’s giving a lot of people new freedom to re-structure their lives in a way that brings them more joy than long commutes and office cubicals. 
One Caribbean island is capitalizing on this huge shift in work and lifestyle. Barbados has introduced a ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’, an invitation for international travelers, including US and Canadian citizens, to relocate and work remotely for a year.
If you dream of an island beach way of life, this 12-month visa gives you the opportunity to move your home office to a paradise island famous for:
·     Making the top ten of a list of Top 100 Destinations around the world;
·     Crane Beach in St.Philip, voted one of the world’s sexiest beaches;
·     Being the first Zagat-rated Caribbean Island, with a reputation as the culinary capital of the Caribbean;
·     The annual Barbados Food & Rum Festival;
·     World-class golf;
·     And cricket!;
·     Being superstar musician Rihanna’s home island, where she maintains ties to her community;
·     Offering visitors picturesque plantation houses and villas, quaint bed and breakfasts and award-winning, five-star resorts to use as a base while they explore the island.
 
But instead of a one-week, 14-day or even month-long vacation, you can live like a ‘Bajan’ for a year.
You could end your work day like this.
The country anticipates this new visa will appeal to individual creatives, digital nomads, entrepreneurs and even whole teams. Your new island lifestyle won’t interfere with your productivity, either. Barbados Tourism says the country has already caught the eye of Millennials, who can enjoy working vacations as it “boasts the fastest fiber internet and mobile services in the Caribbean.
“Our country also offers excellent health care and a high education standard, which we know is critical for those who want to bring their families to the island for a 12-month period.”

Health and Safety in Barbados

Barbados had suspended non-essential travel to the island in response to COVID-19, incurring just over 100 cases among its nearly 300,000 residents. Health and safety guidelines similar to many jurisdictions are in place as the island’s borders have re-opened, including face masks and physical distancing.
Currently, on arrival in Barbados, travellers must present evidence of a negative result of a COVID-19 PCR test, a fill out a questionnaire relating to COVID-19 symptoms and undergo temperature checks.

Streamlined Visa Process

Applications are now open for the 12-month ‘Barbados Welcome Stamp’ visa. And if you fall in love, you can reapply for a renewal. 
The Barbados Welcome Stamp application is a simplified process for remote workers re-locating, requiring minimum paperwork – photos, copies of your passport, birth certificate, proof of relationship of co-applying family members and an entry visa if applicable.
It’s not free, however. Applicants must pay $2000 USD for an individual or $3000 USD per family once they’re approved. Barbados Tourism does point out visa holders will not have to pay income taxes in the country.
You can learn more about the new visa and submit an application at www.Barbadoswelcomestamp.bb.
 
If there are silver linings to the COVID crisis, one must be the innovation resulting from a transformed global business landscape.
 
Barbados’ Prime Minister is quoted as saying, “The sunshine is powerful. The seawater is powerful. They’re both therapeutic in ways that are hard to explain. Why not share it?”

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy Barbados Tourism.

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Drink Like the Queen with the First Official Buckingham Palace Gin
In the times of COVID, even Her Majesty needs a side-gig. Why not in the tasty world of spirits?
In a Royal first, official Buckingham Palace gin has gone on sale to the public – and the first batch sold out online in only 8 hours!
The premium, small-batch, London dry is an initiative of the Royal Collection Trust. It is infused with citrus and herbal notes that are derived from 12 botanicals, including some collected from the Buckingham Palace garden itself, like lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves.

Gin for Art Conservation

Priced at £40 - about $50 USD per bottle, sales from the gin don’t go into the Queen’s already pretty well-lined pockets.
It’s an initiative of the Royal Collection Trust, a privately-funded charity. 
The Royal Collection of art, artefacts, furnishings and more is one of the largest and most important collections in the world and one of the last remaining intact royal collections in Europe. It is dispersed between over a dozen royal residences and properties, many available for visitors to see during public opening hours. The Royal Collection is not owned by the Queen as an individual. The Trust is responsible for maintaining and displaying the priceless works for the Crown’s heirs and the nation.
The charity has revealed it’s expecting a shortfall of tens of millions of British pounds without ticket sale revenues due to pandemic closures, so the tremendous success of the Buckingham Palace gin will help ensure the Trust can continue its conservation work.
Luckily, a second batch was already ordered and available just in time to stock shelves at the Royal Collection shops that re-opened July 23rd at Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.
North Americans will have to wait to taste Buckingham Palace gin. Online delivery is only available in the UK. Fortunately, there are lots of other items on the Royal Collection Trust’s web site to give you a taste of British royalty until you can travel to the UK again.

Drink like the Queen

The Royal Collection Trust recommends enjoying Buckingham Palace gin in a classic, hot-weather thirst-quenching gin and tonic. It also says the gin will be served at official Buckingham Palace events.
But the Queen’s reported pre-lunch cocktail (you read that right, pre-lunch) isn’t a G&T, although it does feature gin, along with Dubonnet, an aperitif made from fortified wine and a special blend of botanicals including peels, spices and herbs.
Until you can visit the UK and pick up a bottle of Her Majesty’s new gin, any premium, London dry gin will do (it’s said HM traditionally drinks Gordon’s), and the recipe is easy:
·     1 part gin
·     2 parts Dubonnet Rouge
Stirred with ice, strained into a cocktail glass over cubed ice, served with a slice of lemon.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon



Images: The Royal Collection Trust
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This is the First US-based River Cruise Line to Restart Cruising in Europe
Americans are still barred from Europe, and Canadians are technically permitted into Europe but still under their own government restrictions against leisure travel and required to quarantine 14 days upon their return to the country.
 
So it’s hard to imagine that one of North America’s favorite river cruise lines has begun sailing the rivers of Europe again.
 
As of July, AmaWaterways is pioneering the re-opening of European river cruise operations, with a series of charters of AmaKristina in Germany for local guests.
 
AmaWaterways’ return to the rivers comes with new, enhanced health and safety protocols developed from EU, CDC, World Health Organization, and cruising authorities’s guidelines. 
 
The line’s new health and safety measures are designed to protect both guests and crew, while maintaining the warmth of guests’ onboard experience that past AmaWaterways guests know and love.
 
The new and current measures include:
 
·     pre-boarding health questionnaires;
·     daily temperature checks for guests and crew;
·     in-depth, updated crew training;
·     designated Public Health Officer on each AmaWaterways ship overseeing the new protocols;
·     reduced capacity – AmaWaterways ships with all 150 guests on board were already spacious, but now only 100 guests will be on board;
·     masks required for crew at all times and for guests while moving around the ship; and
·     adaptations like plexiglass dividers accommodate social distancing in lounges and public spaces.

 
Some of AmaWaterways’ river ships and cruising experiences already facilitate COVID protocols, like:
 
·     space in the ships’ Main restaurant and included specialty restaurant The Chef’s Table already accommodate new safe distances for all 100 guests;
·     personal portable Quietvox commentary systems allow guests to hear guides while social distancing during the included small-group shore excursions (many involve hiking and biking tours that are already outdoors and naturally allow for safe distancing);
·     ships were already equipped with individual air cooling and heating units, eliminating recirculation of air in staterooms or in public areas;
·     nearly all staterooms include fresh air balconies, for private outdoor relaxation, and
·     Sun Decks covering nearly the entire top of the ship give guests open air space as well as stunning views along the river.
 
And signature elements that guests love about their AmaWaterways river cruises are still there to enjoy, like:
 
·     modern, tasteful ship design and the warmth of a family-owned company;
·     innovative stateroom design featuring unique ‘twin balconies’;
·     wellness activities, including
·     included shore excursions featuring biking and hiking options for the active traveler;
·     award-winning dining—including The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant as well as
·     complimentary fine wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner;
·     onboard amenities such as hair and massage salons and a fitness room, and
·     many have heated outdoor swimming pools with swim-up bars;
·     themed sailings and sailings geared towards active travelers and families as well as group and charter options.
 
It’s just a start for AmaWaterways: one ship in one country for local guests – for now. It’s a symbolic moment. It’s a new beginning, and proves that guests can return to enjoying unforgettable river cruise vacations under new health and safety protocols.
 
It’s also an indicator of how river cruising will continue to re-open as travel restrictions evolve: with charters and single-country itineraries for groups of bubble travelers, expanding step by step to include more ships, more countries on individual itineraries, with a wider range of guests traveling together.
 
It’s the first step towards the full re-deployment of all of AmaWaterways’ 25 ships sailing Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Saône (in 2021), Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro Rivers, Asia’s Mekong and Africa’s Chobe and Nile Rivers (also in 2021). 
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy AmaWaterways.
 
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Are Disney Parks Re-opening? And A Taste of Disney at Home with a Recipe for a Favorite Disney Treat
Can you take a Disney family vacation this summer? The answer is not as simple as you might wish (…upon a star… See what we did there?)
 
Disney Parks have multiple locations in both the US and around the world. Asian Disney Parks have successfully re-opened already. In the US, the company had announced it would begin a phased re-opening in July.
 

Masking Up and Other New Health Measures

Be prepared for changes to your next Disney experience. The company has implemented new measures that increase sanitation and reduce contact, including mandatory advance ticket booking, social distancing in line ups, on attractions and in venues, as well as temperature checks and face masks for everyone over the age of 2. (Get full details from Disney Parks’ Chief Medical Officer here.)

Even with these new protocols in place, with Disney Parks located in two of the biggest current COVID hotspots in the US: Florida and California, fans, season pass holders and travel industry observers had been waiting to hear if those opening dates would be pushed back, (like we’ve seen in other travel sectors). 
 

Disneyland

And in fact, that’s what's happening in California. Citing the high volume of new cases in the state, and taking employee concerns into account, Disneyland re-opening has been put on hold, with no new re-opening date yet set.
 

Disney World

In Florida, there’s a different story. Disney World is still on track for its partial re-opening July 11th, beginning with Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Park, followed in a few days by EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Other area theme parks have already opened, including Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando.
 
Even though Disney World is opening, with international and even national travel still restricted, it primarily accommodates guests who can drive there.
 
So it looks like most families looking for a chance to pose for a pic with Mickey and the gang or immerse themselves in their favorite Star Wars scene or superhero universe will have to wait just a bit longer.
 

Disney Parks Churro Bites Recipe

 
You can drum up a little Disney magic yourselves at home, though. Like other travel companies during COVID, Disney has shared a recipe for one of the most popular treats found at all its parks around the world.  
 
Churro bites are irresistible, and a sweet snack you can make in the summer heat without turning on your oven!

 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ cup sugar
Method
(You can follow Disney’s helpful video here, if you’d like.)
  1. Combine water, butter, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in 1 ½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Add flour and stir vigorously, cooking the dough on low heat for a few minutes as the mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest and cool for 5-7 min.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in medium skillet or 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚.
  6. Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 1-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry. 
  7. Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer.
  8. Drain churro bites on paper towel.
  9. Mix sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.
 
 
Making these churro bites isn’t the only way to get a taste of Disney from home. You can snack on them while you’re online enjoying Disney’s special virtual viewing of the all-new “Magic Happens” Parade at Disneyland park, the behind-the-scenes tour of Walt Disney Imagineering or a creative at-home recreation of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images and recipe courtesy Disney.
 
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5 Steps to a Cruise Comeback
If you’re one of the majority of cruise travelers, you can’t wait to return to the waves and waterways. (It’s true! Surveys show over a third of cruise travelers want to board a ship within 3 months of the return of cruising!)
Cruise travel involves a lot of moving parts (that’s one of the reasons most cruises are booked with a travel advisor’s help). And they all have to be in safe operation. From the moment you leave your home to the onboard health protocols that keep guests and crew safe. 

Unprecedented Partnerships

The good news is that there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. A number of cruise lines in the last few days have announced they’re putting together teams to come up with health and safety practices that will get ships sailing again. 
In one extraordinary move, rival cruise companies Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises) and Royal Caribbean Group (Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara, Silversea) have teamed up to develop common standards that will benefit the entire travel and hospitality sector. The CDC will have a seat at the table, and the team’s work will be freely available to other businesses, from spas to hotels to destination companies.

(The Emerald Azzurra launches in 2021; it's being custom-built for Mediterranean, yacht-like cruises)

Europe’s New Cruising Guidelines

These announcements come on the heels of last week’s release of cruising guidelines by the European Union. The guidelines (they’re not regulations) include the expected, like more physical distancing, mask wearing when distancing can’t be maintained, more hand and ship sanitization.
But they also include recommendations that might be much harder for some cruise lines to deliver than others, and that might change your cruising experience a lot. Things like:
·     designated boarding windows to reduce crowding;
·     routine health and temperature checks;
·     fewer amenities in rooms and only providing mini bar, in-room coffee service on request;
·     no self-serve food;
·     no indoor pools (including pools with retractable roofs);
·     only members of the same household in hot tubs together;
·     minimum 5 feet between deck chairs and between guests and crew at all times;
·     limits on public space occupancy (keeping empty seats at theatres, lounges and restaurants);
·     guest ‘bubbles’ who dine, take zodiac tours, embark and disembark together to reduce exposure;
·     reduction of occupancy to allow for extra rooms to be available for guests or crew to be in completely isolated accommodations if they show symptoms of COVID;
·     shorter cruises (3-7 days); and
·     fewer port calls to reduce exposure to and from people on shore.
It’s not known how many of these EU recommendations will become part of your new cruise experience. 
But here’s how I see your opportunities to cruise unfolding in Post-COVID Cruise 2.0:

1. Bubble Cruises

Like having social bubbles at home, cruises that take guests just from a specific location, and sail within that same space, maintaining the local established and agreed-on health protocols, are a safe way to provide the cruise experience and minimize risk. 
Bubble cruises have begun. For example, French cruise line Ponant’s ships were recalled from around the world to France, where they are sailing French coastal itineraries for French guests.

(SeaDream has resumed sailing in Norway)

2. Small Ship and Luxury Cruises

(Especially with new, ‘bubble’ itineraries or private islands)

It’s easy to see that small and luxury cruises are already set up to achieve many of these new guidelines. They already have more space allotted per person, and more staff available to undertake extra cleaning.
It’s happening: In late June, SeaDream became the first small-ship, luxury cruise line to re-start cruising, with Norway-only ‘bubble’ itineraries so much in demand, the line has added more ships.

3. Cruises to Nowhere

Lots of cruise travelers are saying they’d take a cruise to nowhere, just to get onboard a ship again. Cruise lines may start giving them what they want.
(Edit: They've begun! Just as we published, we learned Carnival's German cruise line Aida has opened bookings for German citizens on August 'cruises to nowhere' departing from and returning to German ports with no ports of call.)
Destinations continue to ‘re-open’ for tourism, but many still have quarantine (like the UK) or negative COVID test requirements (like Puerto Rico) upon arrival. So cruises for North American guests within the Caribbean but without ports of call may meet the demand for warm weather cruising. 

(Celebrity Flora was designed and built exclusively for Galapagos itineraries)

4. Remote and Expedition Cruises

It’s easy to avoid interacting with people on shore if there’s no one there. Wilderness-focused, ‘expedition’ cruises to destinations like the Galapagos and Antarctica - especially since many expedition cruises are smaller ships – see above – can help kickstart cruising again. 
In addition, as long as those on board are safe and well, remote areas that are COVID free would be safe itinerary choices. For example, Hurtigruten is already sailing Scandinavian-only guests on remote, ‘bubble’ Norwegian itineraries. And Windstar has announced it will commence cruising again in September in Tahiti, which is COVID free.

5. Big, Mainstream Ships

These are the ships whose experience may be most changed by new guidelines. As they carry the most guests, distancing is harder. Masks, directional arrows to manage foot traffic flow, new dining and entertainment arrangements, pools closed off, staggered, designated dining times… all of those possibilities seem on the table. 
But there’s one big advantage to these ships, too. These are the cruise lines who have already heavily invested in technology to serve more guests with fewer crew, so safely contact-less transactions, reservations and communications are already part of the cruising way of life on these lines.
Cruising on the big ships will likely begin with modified ‘bubbles’ from drive-to ports of embarkation, on itineraries with fewer ports of call – maybe even just the cruise line private island (pictured top: Holland America anchored off the line's private island, Half Moon Cay) and days at sea!

Will any of these changes stop you from – or convince you to start – cruising again? We’ll soon see.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host BestTrip TV

#DreamNowTravelSoon


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Places You Can Tour Wine Country Close to Home
There may be more places than you think.

California's legendary wine regions and famous wineries have the weather, the scenery, the lifestyle, and of course, the wines, that put them at the top of global wine travel lists.

But as we are planning our first post-COVID trips, wine lovers should expand their lists of wine tour regions close to home to get our fix of wine tastings, vineyard strolling, and re-stocking our cellars with one-of-a-kind vintages.

Vastly different landscapes throughout America's states and Canada's provinces have resulted in some surprising wine regions with thriving scenes and award-winning wines.

If you love discovering new wine, pack your bags for these US and Canadian wine regions, and remember to leave plenty of space in your luggage for bottles of the delicious new wines you're sure to discover!

By Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host BestTrip.TV
 

Texas

The very first vineyard in North America… was in Texas. Franciscan priests in the mid-1600's toiled to grow the continent's first vines and produce its first wines in mission outposts. European immigrants brought more grapevine cuttings to continue expanding the region's wine through the 19th century. Prohibition wiped out all of America's wine production in the '20's, but Texas has reclaimed its historic wine roots – literally.
These days, the Longhorn State boasts 8 AVA's (American Viticultural Areas) producing wine from grapes that thrive in the state's unique climate and soil. The Texas Hill country AVA is the 2nd largest in America, 9 million acres in the heart of Texas north of San Antonio and west of Austin. The vast wine region is home to a range of one-of-a-kind microclimates that produce cool climate wines to Bordeaux and Italian varietals. 
Idaho's Snake River Valley

Idaho

Move over, potatoes. Idaho's most famous crop has competition. Idaho lies to the west of the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains. The terrain, explored by Lewis and Clark and a central feature of the Oregon Trail, these days is home to a fruitful wine industry you'll want to explore too.  
You may think of Idaho as a very new wine region, but in fact, it dates back to the mid-19th century. The first grapes in the Pacific Northwest were planted in Idaho by French and German immigrants. Prohibition in the 20's took out this wine region, too, but grapes are back again in Idaho. The Snake River Valley became the state's first AVA, and now covers 8000 square miles at latitudes similar to other global wine-growing regions, with a unique combination of seasonal temperatures, rainfall, and soil not only rivaling other wine regions, but even giving Idaho wines an edge in quality.
Idaho now has more than 50 wineries producing cool climate wines, especially whites like Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurtztraminer, and more recently, reds like fan favorite Cabernet Sauvignon.
(Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho)

Washington State

This newcomer on the global wine scene has been a quick learner. Washington State is already America's 2nd largest wine producer. Its wines win acclaim and awards that rank Washington as one of the world's top wine regions.
Wine has a pedigree in the state. In 1825 the Hudson's Bay Company planted the area's first wine grapes at Fort Vancouver.
The last decade or so has seen a resurgence of wine-making in Washington. Now, over 55,000 acres are devoted to vineyards. The viticulture trend is growing fast, drawing wine-makers from Europe and New World wine regions to the state's unique terroir and conditions for producing premium white and red wines.
Washington's young and internationally-influenced wine culture exhibits some of the latest trends in wine-making that visiting oenophiles will love. Hand-crafting, sustainability, as well as organic and biodynamic wines make visits to this Pacific North West wine region so unique.
Shea Wine Cellars, Oregon/ Carolyn Wells Kramer

Oregon

It's America's 3rd largest wine grape producing state. Oregon has over 700 wineries growing 72 grape varietals in a thousand vineyards. In spite of that scale, Oregon's famous for its small-batch wineries and artisan wines. Most Oregon wineries produce fewer than 5000 cases a year of an incredible range of wines from Riesling to Viogniers, Pinot noir to Syrah, with sparkling, rose, and dessert wines to tempt your palate.
For wine-loving visitors to Oregon, that means two things. In winery tasting rooms, you'll have the chance to taste small-batch vintages that will never see wide release on store shelves in your home town. And hands-on, artisan vintners love to share their passion for wine, their vines, and wine-making styles with visitors to wine estates.

(Above and Top Images Courtesy Wines of British Columbia)

British Columbia, Canada

North of the border, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the 2nd largest-producing wine region in Canada, with over 150 wineries and nearly 10,000 acres of vines. The valley stretches 155 miles from Lake Okanagan, south along the Okanagan River into Washington State (where it’s spelled differently: Okonogan) into the Columbia River, itself a growing and renowned wine region on both its Washington State and Oregon banks.
The Columbia and Cascade Mountains shield the region from Pacific and Arctic moisture, and the Okanagan’s desert-like conditions result in slow-ripening, smaller fruit with concentrated flavors. There’s still a variety of landscapes, growing both red and white varietals, from its signature Merlot, to Cab Sauv, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, as well as Chardonnay.

Michigan

Michigan is the 5th largest wine-producing state in the US, producing nearly 3 million gallons of wine a year. The unique, Great-Lakes microclimate that makes Michigan a famous cherry producer also nurtures acclaimed wines.  Most of the state's wine grapes are grown within 25 scenic miles of Lake Michigan, benefitting from 'lake effect' moderation of both winter and summer climate.
There are over 100 wineries in Michigan, and 150 tasting rooms where visitors can sample and buy the wide range of Michigan wines from red, white, dry, sweet, even ice wine, sparkling wine, and wines made from its famous cherry crop. Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail in the north-west part of the state is considered one of the best in the country.

(Toronto in the distance on the shores of Lake Ontario. Photo: Wine Country Ontario)

Ontario, Canada

Many people outside Canada think it’s too cold, and don’t think to add the country to their list of wine touring regions. If this is you, think again.
One Canadian wine sweeps global wine competitions by taking full advantage of those famous Canadian winters.
The granddaddy of Canadian wine regions is the Niagara Peninsula. Ontario is the country’s top wine province, with over 130 wineries and nearly 20,000 acres of vineyards that take advantage of the Great Lakes’ moderating effect on the weather to grow grapes, especially cool-climate Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, for wine.
Ice wine is Canada’s award-winning claim to fame in the international wine circle. More ice wine (originally white, but now, red, too) is produced in the Niagara Peninsula than anywhere else in the world.
The silky, sweet dessert and cheese wine has become virtually synonymous with the Niagara region, where consistently reliable cold winter temperatures allow vintners to harvest grapes after they have frozen on the vine. Freezing concentrates the juice, resulting in higher levels of sugar and an unmistakable wine. This may be the only place in the world whose annual wine harvest celebration, the Ice Wine Festival, takes place mid-winter!
As the name suggests, the wine region shares one of North America’s biggest tourist attractions, Niagara Falls, that straddles the US/Canadian border. And the Niagara Escarpment, a 650 mile-long limestone ridge that runs from upstate New York through the region, has a big influence on its wine.
Only an hour and a half’s drive from the big-city attractions of Toronto, the Niagara region also boasts a world-renowned theater scene, and the epically-charming historic town (and wine micro-region) of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  
 

#PlanNowTravelSoon


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4 Tips to Navigate Travel's Re-Opening Like an Expert

Recent weeks and days have seen a flurry of changes in travel restrictions and COVID status. Some countries have started declaring themselves COVID-free, while other places - like the US - continue to see spiking numbers.

So re-opening rules keep changing and are different from place to place. It’s a lot for our US and Canadian readers to keep up with.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV, helps you stay on top of the latest best practices for an informed traveler.

Europe and the UK

Everyone was holding their breath last week as the EU prepared to issue a list of countries on July 1st they decided had COVID under control enough in their own countries to safely enter Europe.
People began dreaming of Tuscan wine country, the museums of France, a Greek island vacation, a Danube river cruise…
For some, those hopes were dashed. Canadians are on the list of those free to travel to the EU, but Americans, for now, are not.
Canadians didn’t have long to celebrate. A couple of days later, the UK eliminated a requirement for travelers to quarantine on arrival from countries on its own new list. Neither Canada nor the US was on it.
Unlike the outright EU ban on travel, travelers can still enter the UK. But you must quarantine for 14 days, (as do British returning from any country not on that new list). 
Note that in America’s own most recent travel restriction updates in June, the US extended its ban on travelers from the EU, UK, and Ireland (as well as China, Iran, and Brazil).

The US and Canada

For travelers returning to the US, the ‘CDC recommends that travelers stay home and monitor their health for 14 days’.
Canada’s approach to travelers from all countries remains a restriction on leisure travel, and anyone traveling for essential reasons must quarantine for 14 days immediately upon entering the country.
That rule, too, was set to expire June 30th. Canadians hoped by July 1st, they’d be free to travel to Europe and return home without restrictions. Those hopes were dashed as Canada’s mandatory quarantine requirement for all arrivals was extended another month. 
The border between our two countries remains closed by mutual agreement with a very few exceptions. Although the closure is currently set to expire on July 21st, the consensus is that this travel ban will also be extended – for months to come.
Within our own countries, travel remains restricted in some cases to ‘bubbles’ of adjacent jurisdictions who have the spread of the virus equally under control. Puerto Rico (pictured top) will start requiring even mainland American travelers to present a negative COVID test from within the last 72 hours. 

Tips for Travel 2.0:

 1. Get a Mask
You’ve seen the sign: No shirts, no shoes, no service? Add masks to that list.
Jurisdictions can legislate mask use (the city of Toronto now requires masks in all public indoor spaces), and companies, from airports to airlines to hotels and stores, have the right to declare terms of service. That can include wearing a mask.
Airlines in the US and Canada may have abandoned their policy of keeping middle seats empty for physical distancing, but they ARE adopting strict mask policies - as a man on an NYC- Florida flight discovered the hard way when he was de-boarded for refusing to don a mask.
2. Follow the Law
Ignorance is no excuse, and web sites, border authorities and signs communicate regulations clearly.
Compliance is not optional.
Just ask the American couple permitted to enter Canada with clear instructions to immediately quarantine for 14 days. They were later fined $2000 CDN (nearly $1500 USD) after they were seen in public in several places around the Canadian border community.
3. Be Prepared for Changes - and Last Minute Quarantines
‘Be prepared’ is an essential rule of thumb anytime you travel. Now more than ever.
Make sure you have access to wifi and data so you can stay in touch with home, your travel advisor, airline and other travel providers, so if your situation changes, you will be quickly able to put together a new plan.
New outbreaks might arise unexpectedly. So you should have a plan – in both your travel destination and on return to your own country – in case you need to quarantine.  
4. Use Only Official Information Sources
Misinformation and rumors can get you and others into trouble. Make travel decisions based on official sources, and be part of the solution by only sharing official information about COVID and travel, including:
For Americans:
For Canadians:

#PlanNowTravelSoon


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This Company is Sending a Local Hero - and their Nominating Travel Advisor - On a Life-Changing Trip to Africa
Until June 30th, travel advisors can nominate a person from their community they feel deserves recognition.

Courtesy of African Travel Inc., a sister travel company to luxury Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Red Carnation Hotels among other outstanding travel providers, the chosen hero and their guest will receive the ultimate 8-night escape to South Africa and Botswana, experiencing Red Carnation’s Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and the new Xigera Safari Lodge as well as the Chobe Game Lodge.
 
The advisor who nominates the winning hero will receive their own complimentary spot on an African Travel educational journey to South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania.

For over 40 years, African Travel has created luxury, handcrafted safaris ensuring immersive and authentic cultural encounters across the continent with exceptional service by local experts every step of the way.

(Chobe Game Lodge is an elegant, five-star, fully Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and the only property located inside the world-renowned Chobe National Park)

From now until June 30th, 2020, travel advisors can nominate a person who they feel deserves recognition for going above and beyond in their community. African Travel wants advisors to share their stories, whether it’s about an essential worker on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic or a co-worker helping their community heal.
 
Advisors nominate local heroes by briefly explaining how their hero has positively impacted the people, planet and wildlife in their local community, which reflects African Travel’s philosophy to TreadRight.
 
The TreadRight Foundation was established by The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, that includes African Travel, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, among others. The foundation sets the standard on sustainability for those travel companies, and executes its mission to #MakeTravelMatter.
 
TreadRight supports community-based projects worldwide that safeguard the planet, people and wildlife. To date, the foundation has supported 55+ sustainable tourism projects in 280+ communities worldwide, that have included WWF, Conservation International, WildAid and The National Trust in the UK, while current initiatives include WE.org, Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School, Wilderness Foundation Africa and Wildlife SOS. 
 
This contest is in gratitude for people’s efforts to make their communities better places, a theme especially powerful during COVID, which has reinforced how ‘we are all in this together as a travel family’.
 
Advisors can nominate a hero by completing the online form here.
 
African Travel will shortlist the top 10 heroes and host a poll July 13-23rd, 2020 for the travel community to choose the deserving hero.
 

Nominations close June 30th.


Don’t miss this opportunity to reward a deserving local hero!

 
 
 
 
 





What's a Travel Bubble? Plus 3 Tips For Making the Most of Yours
You might see this view sooner than you think.
The world of travel has begun to re-open. But it’s not like the tap has suddenly been turned full blast. More like a trickle. And there’s a clear pattern that’s going to shape your travel opportunities for at least the rest of this year, and possibly into 2021.

Bubble Travel

Human interaction has gone from shelter-in-place, work-from-home and no contact with anyone outside your household, to health authorities laying out phases for a return to normal. Phase 1 involves ‘bubbles’. Each household selects a small group of friends or family who are taking the same level of precautions as you, you trust to stay the course, and not mix with others who might not be on the same page. And you are ‘exclusive’ with just that small ‘bubble’.
Just like bubbles for individuals, travel is re-opening in regional and international ‘bubbles.’
Here’s an example: Right now, Canadians have been asked to stay in their own province. As a first step towards re-opening travel to all Canadians, the 4 neighboring maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland have agreed to launch a travel bubble, with residents permitted to travel just within those four provinces.

(Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland)

New Travel Opportunities

Some people are describing bubble travel as restrictive.
It’s true that many international and regional borders remain officially closed. European countries, for example, have decided their ‘bubble’ includes residents of other European countries only – not even Great Britain, let alone the US or Canada – yet. 
Some borders are, if not officially, then effectively closed. Australian airline Quantas has announced it’s operating flights only within Australia or to next door New Zealand until 2021.
But I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, and I see travel bubbles as an opportunity to actually get travel started again and even create new travel experiences. Some travel companies are viewing it that way, too:

Bubble Cruising

  • Expedition cruise line Hurtigruten, a Norwegian company, become in June the first ocean cruise line to re-start cruising – BUT only in its own country, with coastal and fjord cruises only for guests from Norway and Denmark.
  • French-flagged luxury line Ponant is doing the same thing: with all its ships back in France, it's launching new itineraries just along the coasts and waterways of France beginning in July, and German river cruise line A-rosa has also re-launched select European river cruises for its bubble guests.
  • Luckily for Americans, the US has its own flagged ships able to offer ‘bubble’ cruises, too. 
Not the big ships. Most of the big cruise lines sail ships flagged from other nations, not the US, so they can’t offer exclusively American itineraries. Only US-flagged ships are permitted to sail exclusively American itineraries. Furthermore, the CDC has issued a no-sail order for all US ports that applies to ships with more than 250 on board, an order that expires in July, but might be renewed. 
But that still leaves smaller, US-flagged ships able to sail American, 'bubble' itineraries. For these cruise lines, that's what they specialize in:
  • UnCruise Adventures is one of the very few cruise lines currently able to sail in Alaska (with Canadian ports closed for the season and the US/Canada border still closed). UnCruise is picking up its Alaska season beginning August 1st.
  • American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company, which operate US river cruises, both plan a return to cruising this summer.
  • In one remarkable example of lateral thinking and creating new opportunities, American Queen Steamboat Company and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises (which operates European and exotic river cruises) have established a reciprocal alliance. AQSC offers special pricing to Uniworld guests unable to take their planned Uniworld cruise this year so they can sail in their American ‘bubble’. And Uniworld will reciprocate with a special offer for AQSC guests to cruise on their European, and exotic itineraries later. 

(Alaska, courtesy Abercrombie & Kent)

Bubble Land Touring

Land tour companies in particular have pivoted, expanding their North American itineraries to accommodate bubble travel with unprecedented speed and agility.
  • Abercrombie & Kent has launched new American itineraries, plus an innovative private driving tour series that speaks directly to the concerns of travel in the time of COVID. The company’s ‘Great American Road Trips’ series includes a private car, with a driver/ guide, customized start and end points depending on your location, local guides providing behind the scenes access and hands-on activities, and pre-selected hotels that meet the company’s high standards.
  • Last week, we learned about Globus and sister, budget tour company Cosmos’ new ‘Undiscovered North America’ tours that follow the ‘Undiscovered’ format of their European tours of the same name: focusing on ‘less-traveled highways, legendary lanes and scenic country roads to the special places and parks other tour companies don’t visit. These itineraries help travelers discover the world’s tucked-away towns, lesser-known nooks and secluded seafronts for an unforgettable – and unique – vacation close to home.’
  • And just this week, Trafalgar Tours have announced a brand new ‘Near Not Far Limited Series’ of tours ‘hand crafted by Canadians for Canadians, to further your appreciation for your own backyard, connect you to locals you wouldn’t typically meet, and support local communities by doing something that you love – traveling,’ with similar new series in other countries where it operates.

Tips for Bubble Travel

What does all this mean for your holiday plans in the immediate and mid-term future? Primarily, bubble travel offers you safe and inspiring ways to travel sooner than you thought might be possible.
Here's how you can take advantage of your own travel bubble:
Switch reservations
Talk with your travel advisor about the possibility of changing an existing travel booking outside your travel bubble to one inside, while sticking with the same travel provider. 
If you have a favorite escorted tour company, you may be able to switch your Europe reservation, for example, for a tour within your bubble area. Then you can book Europe again later when it's possible.
Explore options for your favorite travel style within your travel bubble area
With so many travel companies performing incredible feats to pivot and offer new travel options closer to home, your travel advisor may find never-before-offered, exciting new tours and cruises for you.
Along with some great offers and savings to make travel close to home even more worthwhile.
Expand your horizons
Or you could switch it up and try a new style of travel. Are you a devoted cruise lover? Maybe this is the year you re-discover the joys of heady mountain air and scenery. 
Do you look forward every summer to an extended family reunion with dozens of relatives all descending on a beach resort or cruise? Maybe this is the year you take just your family bubble on an intimate journey to discover history or natural wonders within your travel bubble area.
 
Bubble travel is not just an important next step towards returning to normal in a post-COVID world. 

It opens the doors to discover whole new ways to see, taste, learn about and experience the Nature, culture, history, and flavors in our own backyard - even before the kids go back to school this fall.

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
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Celebrate This Holiday Weekend with Travel-Inspired Picnic Recipes
With back-to-back national holidays, Canada Day on July 1st and America’s 4th of July, many residents of both countries have often packed up as soon as the kids were out of school and headed across the border or across the country for family summer vacations. 
COVID-19 restrictions mean the biggest holiday weekend of the summer won’t feel quite the same. But we’ve created a US and Canadian travel-inspired menu of sandwiches and sweet treats so your Celebrate-From-Home long weekend in your backyard can feel like the cottage or seaside or big city summer vacation you’ll be able to do again soon.
Gather your favorite summer sipping beverages, some chilled watermelon, and get the recipes below for this cross-border picnic menu (pictured above, clockwise beginning top left):
·     Lobster Rolls from Maine
·     Cubano Sandwiches from Miami
·     Beignets from New Orleans
·     Butter Tarts from Ontario, Canada

Wishing you a Happy 4th of July and Canada Day!


LOBSTER ROLLS

From Canada’s Maritime provinces, south through New England, the coastal lobster harvest season runs from about June through October, making lobster rolls summer’s staple seafood sandwich.
Throughout the season in Maine, lobster boats dot the sea like gulls, lobster shacks are open all along the coast, and every restaurant seems to have at least one fresh lobster dish on the menu. Tasting lobster is an essential experience on a visit to Maine, from lobster shacks and food trucks to fine dining establishments across the state – even a famous fast food restaurant with golden arches out front offers lobster rolls in season! 

(Seaside lobster shack courtesy Visit Maine )
Some chefs tweak original lobster roll recipes with new seasonings or ways to serve. But Chip Gray, the innkeeper of the Broad Arrow Tavern at Freeport, Maine’s Harraseeket Inn, shared this authentic and traditional lobster roll recipe. 
“This is my mother, Nancy Gray's, recipe which we have been serving to guests since we started innkeeping in 1943. It was her mother's.
“Boil and pick enough lobster for 3 to 4 oz per roll, (approximately one 1 1/4 lb lobster per roll). Fresh caught and fresh picked is the secret to truly excellent results.” 
 
Ingredients:
·     Hot dog roll (top split, if available)
·     3 to 4 oz fresh picked lobster meat
·     lettuce
·     mayonnaise 
·     butter
·     salt and pepper
 
Method :
Brush with butter and toast both sides of your favorite hot dog bun in a frying pan.
Line roll with chopped lettuce and add the fresh lobster meat tossed with mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.
OR
Warm the lobster meat in melted butter and place in lettuce lined toasted hot dog bun.
 

CUBANO SANDWICH


Even in the summer heat, some like it hot, and a ‘Cubano’, or Cuban Sandwich, from Miami’s Little Havana, fits the bill. The grilled pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickle sandwich is just one of the cultural contributions of the expat Cuban community in south Florida. It’s even become the ‘official dish’ of Miami!

Little Havana, courtesy Miami and Beaches
Tampa challenges Miami’s claim to the original and authentic Cubana. But this recipe was shared with us by Versailles, the landmark Cuban restaurant on Little Havana’s main street, Calle Ocho. Versailles does more than serve timeless staples of Cuban cuisine. The neighborhood institution is also the ‘unofficial town square’ for the Cuban community. 
The restaurant has weighed in on the debate, telling us that Tampa’s Cuban Sandwich, “includes ingredients that aren’t traditionally Cuban. Their version includes Genoa salami and mayo, a melting pot of the strong Italian influence in that city. Versailles’ “Cubano” and the rest of the Cuban restaurants in Miami make it the way it’s been made in Cuba for many years… no salami in Miami! It is one of our most popular dishes and has been on our menu since 1971. We serve hundreds of authentic Cuban sandwiches every day!” 

Ingredients for 4 Cubano Sandwiches:
·     1 Cuban bread loaf
·     12oz. sweet ham, thinly sliced
·     8oz. lean pork, thinly sliced
·     8oz. Swiss cheese
·     8 dill pickle slices
·     Mustard
·     Butter
 
Method:
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat or a sandwich press to 300 F.
Cut the loaf of bread horizontally. On the top side of the bread layer the mustard, pickles, swiss cheese and then the ham. On the bottom side of the bread layer the pork. Cut the loaf into 4 even pieces. Place the mounted halves face down on the pan so that the ham and pork heat up. While this is happening butter the outside of bread. Once cheese begins to melt close the sandwich and grill both sides of the sandwich, occasionally pressing down. Grill until bread becomes golden brown. Remove from heat. Cut each piece diagonally.

BEIGNETS

 
The rest of America eats doughnuts, but in NOLA, its signature, square doughnut-without-a-hole taps into the city’s French heritage and goes by the name ‘beignet’ (pronounced bayne-YAY). 
A key pastry of Creole cuisine eaten at any hour of the day or night, the Louisiana version of fried dough heavily dusted with powdered sugar has expanded its fan base beyond New Orleans' coffee shops to the entire country.

New Orlean's French Quarter, courtesy Visit New Orleans
The ultimate New Orleans experience today, is a piping hot beignet with a café au lait, or local coffee with chicory at one of the beignet shops like the famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter.
New Orleans tourism shared this classic beignet recipe you can use to recreate the favorite pastry of the Big Easy at home.
 
Ingredients for about 32 Beignets
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • vegetable shortening, for deep frying
  • confectioner's sugar
Method
In a small saucepan combine the water, butter, granulated sugar, and salt and bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook the paste over low heat, beating briskly, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the dough cleanly leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. By hand or with an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the paste until it is smooth and glossy. Stir in the vanilla.
In a deep fryer or deep saucepan, heat 3 inches shortening to 370 degrees F or until very hot. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls into the shortening, and fry the beignets in batches, turning them, until golden brown (about 3 minutes). With a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle the beignets with the confectioners' sugar and serve hot.
 

BUTTER TARTS

The ‘True North Strong and’… sweet. English Canada’s famous sweet treat, the butter tart, is deceptively simple: flaky pastry shell with a butter, egg and syrup filling. While it dates back to pioneering days, it has remained a mainstay of pastry and coffee shops across Ontario’s small towns, farm communities and cottage country, where the subject of butter tarts can incite intense debate about how runny the filling should be, the use of raisins, and other variables.
Every baker and bakery has their own butter tart recipe, with variations that use maple syrup and add other dried fruits, nuts, even bacon! To the filling.
You won’t ever be able to taste all the countless versions, but you can try. There’s a Butter Tart Tour with over 50 locations along the waterways and scenic country roads of the cottage and farming region of the Kawarthas outside Toronto. 

(The Kawarthas, courtesy BestTrip TV)

This recipe was shared by South Pond Farms in the Kawarthas, which you may recognize from its popular Netflix TV series, Taste of the Country.
Southpond Farms’ Honey Butter Tarts
Pastry:
2 cups flour
½ lb of butter cold cut into pieces
½ tsp of cardamom
1 tsp of salt
¼ cup of ice water more or less
Make a crumb with the butter and dry mixture. Add water until it hangs together. DO NOT OVERWORK THIS DOUGH. Pat into a ball and wrap and put in the fridge for 1 hour or more.
 
Butter Tart Filling for 24 tarts
1 lb butter
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons (20 mL) of vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a standard muffin pan.
Make pastry and let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Brown the butter by melting it in a saucepan, then keep on cooking it, swirling gently. Watch this butter! Don’t let it get too brown. If you blacken the butter, toss it and start again. The line between brown and burnt black is crossed quickly. Cool for 10 minutes. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs then whisk into the butter as well. Lastly, stir in the flour.
Flour your hands, the dough, the work surface, and a rolling pin. Roll the pastry out into a circle about 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Using a 3-1/2-inch (9 cm) cookie cutter (or an empty 19-ounce/540 ml can with both ends removed, or the ring from a wide-mouth canning jar), cut circles from the pastry, as many as you can. Form a pleat along one side and fit the pastry into the muffin cups, evenly filling each cup right to the rim. Gather up the remaining dough, roll out, and repeat.
Evenly divide the filling among the pastry shells. Bake until the pastry is browned and the filling partially sets but stays a bit runny, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly until you can remove the tarts from the pan.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Top Images, clockwise beginning top left:
South Pond Farms’ Ontario Butter Tarts, https://southpondfarms.ca/
 
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Canada's Iconic 'Castle and Cabin' Western Mountain Hotels Re-Open
June 1st was the 132nd birthday of the iconic Banff Springs Hotel, and this year, the date marked another milestone: the re-opening of the four Fairmont Hotels in Canada’s Western Mountain region following a nearly two-month pandemic shutdown.
Fairmont Banff Springs is joined by its sister hotels in Canada’s western mountains Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Fairmount Jasper Park Lodge, which are also re-opening with new measures for guest and staff protection including physical distancing, new cleaning and disinfecting protocols, 48-hour periods between guests in rooms, and temporary changes to amenities like restaurants and spas.


Historic and Legendary

Canada’s ‘Castle Hotels’ are part of a string of luxury properties in epic wilderness and central downtown locations across the country. Today they are part of the Fairmont family of world wide landmark hotels. But they were originally built as railway hotels at the most scenic, or most important urban locations along Canada’s cross-country railroad. Styled with a vision of French chateaux in many cases, today’s Fairmont hotels in Canada are legendary.
Four hotels in Canada’s spectacular Western mountain resort regions are the first Fairmont hotels to re-open in Canada.
The setting for adventures in the wilderness, celebrations, milestones, romance, and many more unforgettable memories, the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and the Fairmont Chateau Whistler are spectacular mountain playgrounds.

Magic Every Season 

At any time of the year, experience breathtaking moments in the mountains, in some cases, in the heart of some of Canada’s oldest National Parks, amidst glacier-fed spas, panoramic vantage points, and charming mountain towns. Discover breathtaking views of vast mountain ranges on a gondola ride. Get a glimpse of the bears, elk, deer or bighorn sheep that may live nearby.
Collectively, Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise and Whistler are renowned for being among the world’s best alpine ski destinations, where endless winter activity extends beyond your usual experiences on the slopes: the exhilaration of heli-skiing and dog sledding, the pristine backcountry scenery of cross-country skiing, and the romance of horse-drawn sleigh rides and ice-skating.
Summers at these mountain resorts celebrate the joys of alpine hiking and ziplining, fishing and canoeing, retracing the steps of early adventurers up tall peaks and through deep canyons, not to mention championship golf on a lush mountainside.
 

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Canada’s original ‘Castle in the Rockies’, located in the heart of Banff National Park only 90 minutes from Calgary, Alberta, the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel reflects the majesty and grandeur of its magnificent surroundings and features:
 
·     Nearly 800 guest rooms from cozy rooms tucked away in quiet corners of the castle to spacious suites with sweeping Rocky Mountain views
·     A dozen restaurants and lounges, including a 24-hour deli offering seasonal fare
·     Direct access via ski shuttle to three world-class ski areas: Mt. Norquay, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Area
·     Championship golf at Stanley Thompson–designed 18-hole and Tunnel 9-hole golf courses
·     Willow Stream Spa
·     Shops and boutiques
·     Indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub and children’s wading pool
 

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

One of the most iconic images of Canada is the castle form of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise against the breathtaking backdrop of turquoise waters and mountain peaks of its namesake lake in Banff National Park. For over a century, the Chateau has been a symbol of elegance in the wilderness 2 hours from Calgary, and today features:
 
·     Progressive environmental stewardship and responsible tourism in its natural setting
·     Guided Mountain Heritage programs
·     Hiking, canoeing, horseback riding and rafting in the summer, or
·     Downhill and cross-country skiing, heli-skiing and ice-skating in the winter
·     Nearly 600 alpine accented guest rooms and suites
·     8 restaurants and lounges, including 24-hour deli
·     Health club, indoor pool and hot tub; salon with spa treatments
 

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Deep within the Canadian Rockies, in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Fairmont
Jasper Park Lodge is one of the last authentic Western Canadian lodges in a charming village of cedar chalets and heritage log cabins lakeside with views of majestic mountain glaciers and features:
 
·     Some of the best alpine skiing in the world 20 minutes away at Marmot Basin
·     #1 Golf Resort in Canada just outside your cabin door in the mountains
·     Abundance of wildlife experiences, icefield hiking, ice skating on the lake, canoeing or kayaking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing,
·     Rejuvenation at the luxurious Fairmont Spa
·     Year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub
·     Local cuisine in 7 unique restaurants and dining rooms and unique outdoor settings
·     Kids’ Club and Children’s Activity Centre
·     446 guest rooms, suites and Signature Cabins
 
 

The Fairmont Chateau Whistler

At the base of British Columbia’s famous Blackcomb Mountain and only 90 minutes from Vancouver, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is one of North America’s top mountain playgrounds and features:
 
·     Spectacular mountain or village views from each of 550 elegant guest rooms and suites
·     True ski-in/ski-out convenience
·     Championship golf at Canada’s only David Leadbetter Golf Academy
·     Year round alpine activities including mountain hiking and charming sleigh rides
·     Full-service spa, health club, including whirlpools, indoor/outdoor pools, sauna and steam rooms
·     5 unique restaurants and lounges, including famous après-ski and happy-hour gatherings
 
Whatever season you choose to visit any one of these magical mountain hotels, the sheer beauty of the landscape and the epic hotels nestled in the mountains will captivate you.
 

Start Your Trip!


Images courtesy Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.









First In-Person New Cruise Ship Delivery Since Pandemic Lockdown: The Silver Origin

Silversea has welcomed its first-ever destination-specific ship, the Silver Origin, designed for ultra-luxury expedition sailings in the Galapagos.

It’s a good-news, milestone event for the cruise line - and for cruising.

The global pandemic shutdown has resulted in a number of scheduled new ships to be delayed or postponed, so the official flag ceremony marking the completion of the Silver Origin will also echo through cruising, and is hopefully symbolic of its return.

The Silver Origin is a unique addition to the Silversea fleet; it was designed entirely with cruising to one destination in mind: the Galapagos.
Silversea, a trend-setter in luxury expedition cruises, was the first line to launch an ultra-luxury ship in the Galapagos. This year’s launch of the Silver Origin takes it to the next level, with the ship concept to design to operations all focused on year-round service in this very unique and sensitive group of islands.
The 100-guest Silver Origin integrates state-of-the-art technology and advanced execution of four pillars: sustainability, destination experiences on-board and on expedition, authentic local culture, and Silversea’s signature levels of comfort and service.

Silversea Lifestyle Customized for The Galapagos

Even in one of the most remote groups of islands in the world, returning Silversea guests will recognize the signature features of Silversea cruising on the Silver Origin – with destination-specific touches, including:
The Explorer Lounge:
An elegant space at the aft of the ship to relax, that on the Silver Origin also doubles as a state-of-the-art lecture room for Galapagos enrichment. Outside, a beautiful terrace with with a fire pit allows guests to maximize every moment in this extraordinary destination.

The Restaurant & The Grill:
Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. culinary program as it’s offered on the Silver Origin focuses on local ingredients and Ecuadorian cuisine, just as Silversea’s beloved ‘Hot Rocks’ concept is tailored with an Ecuadorian twist along with advanced sheltering system protecting diners from less-than-tropical conditions.
Guest Suites:
All suites. All private balconies. Among the most spacious accommodations in the Galapagos. And the only ship in the archipelago to offer butler service to all guests. All the Silver Origin suites also focus on providing guests with the best views of this life-changing destination, including some with ocean-view bathtubs accessible from balconies.

New Innovations on the Silver Origin


The Marina: Guests accustomed to embarking on zodiac expeditions or an afternoon of watersports via the marina will see this aft space in another, new light: On the Silver Origin, the marina is a groundbreaking arrival/disembarkation experience. With more zodiacs per guest than any other ship in the Galapagos, the Silver Origin’s marina features comfortable sofas, showers to rinse your gear, storage for wetsuits and equipment and special boarding facilities for two zodiacs at once.


Basecamp: On the Silver Origin, the marina is connected to ‘Basecamp’, one of the ship’s most innovative spaces, connecting the destination with the ship itself. It’s where Silversea’s team of local resident experts guide educational activities about the landscapes, wildlife and history of the Galapagos. They’re aided by an immense interactive digital wall, bespoke software, and multi-media content, some provided by the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Sustainability

Environmental Impact: The Silver Origin doesn’t just meet current requirements for ships in the Galapagos, it goes even farther to protect the archipelago, with additional fuel efficiencies, exhaust emission reductions, dynamic positioning to prevent damage from dropping anchor, waste management, recycling, and even conversions of seawater to drinking water to reduce the use of plastic on board.
Fund for the Galapagos: In addition, Silversea Cruises has launched the Silversea Fund for the Galapagos to support educational projects and promoting conservation in the Galapagos Islands to preserve them for future generations. Guests can also get involved in the fund, and the cruise line will match donations in the form of future cruise credits to reward their commitment to conservation in the Galapagos.

You don’t need to wait long to experience the Galapagos on the Silver Origin. Silversea’s newest ship
is scheduled to begin service in August, 2020.
 

Start Your Trip!

 
Images and renderings courtesy Silversea
 
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Summer Solstice at Stonehenge Goes Virtual: How You Can Attend this Mystical, Ancient Celebration This Year

Mark dawn in England on June 21st on your calendar. It will be worth or staying up late at night in North America to experience the online broadcast of one of the world’s most famous celebrations of pre-historic spirituality.

Summer Solstice is the astrological event that marks the longest day (the most sun) - and the shortest night (the least moon) of the year. Usually on June 21st, it’s the beginning of the Summer season in the northern hemisphere.

A Wonder of the Ancient World - and Accurate Solar Calendar

From ancient times, humans have marvelled at and closely observed the predictable movements of the sun, moon, stars and the earth. They connected them to celestial gods, earthly survival through good harvests blessed with enough sunshine to grow, and the insignificance of humanity amongst the heavens.
Ancient sites around the world are believed to have measured, marked, or honored celestial events like rare eclipses or the annual Summer Solstice (and its counterpart, Winter Solstice 6 months later on December 21st marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year).
Perhaps the most famous of these is England’s Stonehenge, or ‘hanging stones’. Stonehenge triggers an onslaught of fantasy and imagination in everyone who sees or experiences it. A circle of gigantic standing stones, some as high as 30 feet, and weighing in at 45 tons, even topped with other monster-sized stones fitted perfectly on top, they were arranged in a ring pattern that exactly lines up with the sun’s Summer and Winter Solstices even thousands of years later.
Like the pyramids of ancient Egypt, this 5000 year-old site has remained a wonder of the ancient world for the generations that followed, rediscovering and attempting to unlock its mysteries. It was even connected to Britain’s fabled King Arthur, so it could not be more ripe with legend and mystique.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

At this unparalleled Stone Age site 90 miles west of London, ten thousand or more people every year gather to watch dawn of the Summer Solstice. As the sun rises behind the site’s massive stones this one day of the year, its rays are framed to penetrate into the center of the prehistoric circle with astonishing precision. Members of today’s druid, pagan, and mystical communities who hold Stonehenge to be their temple believe it is a spiritual moment.
Whether or not you believe Stonehenge is an astrological ‘map’ or solar calendar or celestial place of worship by pre-historic Celtic priests, the celebration of the Summer Solstice at this astonishing site remains a moving and unforgettable experience for modern people. 

Summer Solstice Goes Virtual

So when the global pandemic made the gathering of crowds at Stonehenge this year unsafe, English Heritage, the organization that manages Stonehenge and many of the country’s historic sites, announced it would offer a livestream of sunrise on the site’s most celebrated and significant day of the year.
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge goes virtual this year on English Heritage’s social media accounts live on Sunday morning, June 21st at sunrise local time (4:43 am London time which is 11:43 pm Saturday night in North America’s Eastern Time zone.) Bear in mind, that’s the actual moment dawn breaks, so you’ll want to tune in earlier to get the full effect over the course of sunrise.
You can join the English Heritage event on facebook – click here.
Or watch a video of last year’s Summer Solstice at Stonehenge on English Heritage’s youtube channel (click here) while you wait for this year’s livestream to launch. 

So even on the other side of the Earth during the middle of a global travel shutdown, we can participate in the spiritual experience of this vital moment on the solar calendar. And take a moment to ponder that we still share the same rhythms of sun and seasons with people who built a monument to its everlasting truths thousands of years before our time.


#DreamNowTravelLater



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3 Travel Planning Tips in a Post-COVID World
There’s good news for travel lovers! We are starting to see travel restrictions lifted.
Once we do start traveling again, the world of travel will be different.
Here are 3 tips for how to prepare yourself to travel again.
 

Coming… and Going

It’s not enough to have a valid passport anymore .
These days, you may not be able to get there from here. Even if planes say they are flying, and hotels are open where you want to go, it doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to actually enter.  
Every day brings word about a patchwork of destinations opening, all on different schedules, with different restrictions.
Are you confused? So are we. But we've discovered a couple of helpful web sites tracking re-openings in the travel industry.
Some countries whose borders had been closed have now begun to open their borders, beginning with select – usually nearby – countries. Yours may not be one of them. 
But set aside the issue of crossing international borders. Even travel within countries – including travel within the US and within Canada - may not be possible, with air and road restrictions maintaining secure state or provincial borders.
Even if the border may be officially open, there could be a catch - you could face a 14-day quarantine when you arrive in your destination.
Or, on the flip side, you could face a quarantine period on your return home.
If quarantining on your arrival to your destination and/ or on your return home is NOT something you want to commit to do, make sure before you go you know all the regulations involved with arrival and departures so you don’t get caught by surprise.
If you know you’re going to have to quarantine, make sure you prep for that entire period of time in advance, with plans for someone else to restock you with groceries and medications and run any other errands you need so you don't break your quarantine obligations by not being prepared.

Insurance

No matter where you live and what kind of health insurance you have, travel usually changes your insurance status. And it is always – always! recommended to have comprehensive medical travel insurance so if you become sick while you are traveling, you have access to medical treatment to help you recover and keep other people safe from your sickness - and not be stuck with an enormous bill.
Now that COVID is a known factor, that has changed what is and is not covered under a medical travel insurance policy you might already have – many frequent travelers have an annual policy still in effect, for example. And it certainly affects what is and is not covered if you buy a new policy.
Please check with your travel advisor who sold you your travel insurance – or check directly with your insurance company, to see what is or may not be covered! 
That’s only one type of travel insurance. Travelers buy insurance to protect their financial investment in their trips, too, and those cancellation policies are also affected by the pandemic. You may be able to purchase an upgrade that will protect you financially if you need to cancel travel plans due to the outbreak.
When it comes to either travel or medical travel insurance, DO NOT assume you have coverage – it’s the worst situation to find out during an emergency that you do not. 
Double check so you can make smart decisions.

Immunity

What if you’ve already had COVID-19? There are now people beginning to travel – who, after exposure, are now immune to the virus. They should have no problems traveling, right?
For people who haven’t acquired immunity already, there are efforts underway to develop immunizations to make them able to safely travel, too.
The question is now: how to communicate or assure any destination of your immunity?
You could show a medical certificate.
Another proposal that’s been suggested – and we may see in our future - is for basically an ‘immunity passport’. That turns out to be controversial for some people. But from my point of view - this is neither controversial nor new. 
I still have my little document that tracks every vaccination I’ve had since I was a small child – right up to vaccinations I’ve had much more recently – in order to be able to go on some of my extensive travels.
People seem to forget in the panic surrounding COVID-19 that recommended – and required! With proof! – immunizations for travel are not new. 
Lots of people wisely get recommended immunizations for Hepatitis A & B just for week-long all-inclusive beach vacations a short flight away. And I’ve had vaccinations for typhoid and other serious diseases for the purposes of travel.  And did you know there are still dozens of countries that require travelers wanting to enter their countries show proof they’ve been immunized against yellow fever in order to get an entry visa? 
So it makes a lot of sense to me that COVID-19 becomes just one more line on my list of immunizations that I might have to show in order to be able to get an entry visa or cross a border. It helps me and my health care providers keep track – and it also shows respect to people in places where I want to travel that I’m not a health threat to their communities.  
It’s a privilege to be able to travel to so many places, and proof of immunization is us doing our part to earn that privilege and show that respect for their country and their safety.
 
We can’t wait to travel again- but in the ‘new normal’ developing in our post-COVID world, these are 3 new bits of research and preparations you are going to need to add to your travel planning process.


Happy traveling again soon!

 

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We’re all dreaming of the day we can return to cruise travel. So why not dream big? 

Vacations are all about treating yourself, and a luxury Crystal cruise is a delightful holiday indulgence. A butler suite on a Crystal Cruise is a dream come true.

Crystal Cruises come in different styles:
River Cruises
River cruising on four state-of-the-art, all-suite, butler serviced ships with the World’s Most Luxurious River Cruise Line, featuring the largest standard accommodations in European river cruising, unmatched choices and unrivalled inclusions.
Yacht Cruises
Sublime and spectacular, guests on yachting sojourns aboard Crystal Esprit travel with just 62 guests in all-suite, butler-serviced luxury. Savor extraordinary cuisine, friendly hospitality and an unstructured, carefree ambience while exploring boutique harbors and marquee ports.
Expedition Cruises
Due to the pandemic, the launch of Crystal’s first ice-class expedition ship, the Endeavor, has been delayed from late summer 2020 to the end of the year.
Crystal’s expedition ship offers guests accustomed to the line’s luxury intrepid discovery, exploring polar regions and remote landscapes where standard cruise ships cannot go. Aboard the all-suite, all-balcony, Crystal Endeavor, guests travel in butler-serviced luxury to discover fascinating worlds where classic cruise ships can’t sail.
Ocean Cruises
But there’s nothing like a classic, Crystal ocean cruise. The line’s two original ships, the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Serenity, earned Crystal its glittering reputation in luxury cruising.
BestTrip TV sailed on the Crystal Serenity, one of the line’s two original ocean cruise ships. The beloved ship has recently emerged from drydock, and among the highlights are gloriously re-imagined penthouse suites.
The suites themselves are spectacular, but maybe the biggest reason to sail in one of the Crystal Serenity’s penthouse suites is the experience of Crystal’s butler service.
WATCH THE VIDEO TO GET A TASTE OF THE RE-IMAGINED PENTHOUSE SUITES AND CRYSTAL’S BUTLER SERVICE.
 
 

#DreamNowTravelLater

 
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There may be no dish that evokes cruising more than Baked Alaska.


A miracle dessert of warm, caramelized meringue on the outside, still magically full of layers of frozen ice cream on the inside. No one really knows why, but somewhere along the way, it became a classic of traditional cruise culture.


Even today, Baked Alaska is often served on celebration, formal or farewell evenings. The ultimate Baked Alaska experience includes 'parades': a procession of dining room staff each bearing a flaming Baked Alaska for each table of diners to top off an evening of formal dining. (Hilariously, these days, often to the unofficial Baked Alaska parade theme song of 'Hot, Hot, Hot'). 

Rarely seen anymore on land, a flaming Baked Alaska never fails to awe and delight a table of diners at sea.

The story goes that Baked Alaska was created in New York's famous Delmonico's restaurant in 1867 in celebration of the American acquisition of Alaska from Russia. Regardless of its origin, creating Baked Alaska back in the day was only for the fearless. The elements are not complicated - it's really just cake and ice cream and meringue, all within reach of even a moderately good chef.

But the trick is in the execution. Get the temperatures wrong and you had a plate of dripping, soggy mess. Baked Alaska was a feat of culinary ingenuity in the days of unreliable refrigeration.

The dessert, flaming and resembling a snow-topped Alaskan mountain, became almost a status symbol and a classic showstopper of a dessert.

Perhaps the reason we still see Baked Alaska on cruise ships is that they seem to be the last bastions of hospitality traditions and a sense of ceremony.

And where better than a cruise to Alaska to learn how to make this classic cruising dish?

Regent Seven Seas Mariner's pastry chef showed BestTrip.TV his tips and tricks to perfect Baked Alaska… and shared his recipe here for you.


Until we can sail again to Alaska – or anywhere – this Baked Alaska recipe can help re-create the fun ceremonies of cruise ship dining.


 
Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Recipe for Baked Alaska
10 Servings
Ingredients
  • 250           grams          French Meringue (see recipe below)
  • 150           grams           Raspberry Coulis (Sauce)
  • 100           grams          Vanilla Sauce
  • 160           grams          Vanilla Ice Cream (or a combination of your choice of ice creams)
  • 160           grams          Chocolate Ice Cream           
  • 160           grams          Strawberry Ice Cream
  • assorted berries
  • mint leafs
Syrup
Bring to a boil, cool down
  • 62.5        grams          water    
  • 31           grams          sugar
Add the kirsch liqueur, keep refrigerated          
  • 6.5           grams           kirsch liqueur
Sponge (or purchased sponge cake)
  • 78           grams          whole milk
  • 23.5        grams          butter
  • 23.5        grams          flour
  • 5          fresh egg yolks
  • 6             fresh egg whites
  • 15.5        grams          sugar
  • grated zest of 1/3 of a clean orange         
  • 6            mL          Grand Marnier liquor
French Meringue
  • 9             fresh egg whites
  • 170         grams           sugar
  • 1.25        grams          vanilla extract
Method:
French Meringue:
  1. Start whisking the egg whites by incorporating one quarter of the sugar little by little.
  2. Once the egg whites have doubled in volume, add another quarter of the sugar and the vanilla.
  3. Keep whisking until firm and shiny, then add the remaining sugar and whisk for another minute.
Sponge:
  1. Combine milk and butter and bring to a boil.
  2. Pour the flour into the milk, keep on stirring over the heat until it starts to become a paste.
  3. Put mixture into mixing bowl, at low speed add the egg yolks, grated orange skin and Grand Marnier.
  4. Keep beating on fast speed for 10 seconds.
  5. Meanwhile whip the egg whites to a meringue with sugar.
  6. Mix a little meringue into the batter until obtaining a homogenized paste; then gently fold the meringue into the batter.
  7. Line sheet pans with pan liners, spread the mix onto it and make a fine layer of ½ cm in height.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 10 minutes and until the sponge is baked properly, cool down to room temperature, then before using in Baked Alaska, sprinkle the syrup over the sponge cake.
Assembly:
  1. For each serving, use a 6 cm ramekin, lined with plastic wrap.
  2. Cut a round disk of the sponge to fit the inner part of the bottom. Fill with chocolate first, then vanilla then strawberry ice cream.
  3. Cut a round disk out of the sponge fitting the inner part of the top, press gently down and freeze immediately
  4. Meanwhile prepare the meringue.
  5. Place your serving plate over top of the frozen ramekin, turn over and remove plastic wrap. Spread the meringue all over, using piping technique or a spatula. Mimic a mountain landscape.
  6. Turn on your blowtorch and brown the edges of the meringue. Decorate the plate with raspberry coulis and vanilla sauce, berries and a spring of mint.
  7. Serve instantly.

#DreamNowTravelLater


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In some very special places in North America, Mother Nature has found a perfect formula to make dramatic hillside scenery decked out in autumn colors even more breathtaking: she’s added waterfalls.

If you’re planning an autumn colors getaway, here are three fantastic falls that will put the icing on the cake of the fall color pictures you’ll want to post on your social media accounts.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

America’s West is full of great heights – and great falls. From the Grand Canyon, to Yosemite, to the very shores of the Pacific in California, dramatic waterfalls have taken visitors’ breath away since humans first set eyes on these wonders.
But unlike many western falls that dry up in late summer, Oregon’s Multnomah Falls work their magic year round, fed not just by melting snow and rain runoff, but also underground springs in the cliffs that line the Columbia River Gorge.
WATCH BESTTRIP TV’S VIDEO ABOVE ABOUT THE MAGIC OF MULTNOMAH FALLS
Said to be the most visited attraction in the state, at 620 feet, this two-tiered falls is also the tallest of the nearly 80 falls on the Oregon side of the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.  
The falls are tucked into a hollow in the cliffs, and mist and spray off the cascades create its own, lush microclimate that feeds fairytale moss on the basalt rocks, and lacy, leaved trees all around. It’s an incredibly romantic vision that you can feel a part of by walking up a trail to the bridge that spans the lower cascade.
The romance of the site is rounded out by a lodge at the base of the falls built from local rock in National Park lodge style that dates back to 1925. In addition to the usual lodge amenities, you’ll find hiking trail information. You can hike to the very top of the falls as well as on many surrounding trails, including to other falls along the Columbia River Gorge.
How to experience the falls:
  • The site falls within the Mt. Hood National Forest, and along the Columbia River Gorge, yet it’s only 30 minutes – an hour’s drive outside of Portland, Oregon. We always recommend taking the slower, scenic route, which will take you along some of the most breathtaking sites of the Columbia River Gorge. 
  • Many people make the falls, the gorge, and Mt. Hood a splendid day trip from the artistic and hipster attractions of Portland.
  • The falls are also a highly rated excursion from Columbia River cruises.

 

Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada and New York, USA

The granddaddy of waterfalls in North America, Niagara Falls are remarkable in so many ways.
  • It’s the only dual-country attraction in North America, straddling the US-Canada border. 
  • Niagara Falls refers to what are actually three side-by-side falls on the Niagara River dropping 160 feet down where Lake Erie flows into Lake Ontario eastward to ultimately drain into the Atlantic Ocean almost half a continent away.
  • They are the most powerful falls in North America, with more than 6 million cubic feet of water flowing over the edge of the falls every minute!
  • It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World.
  • The water flowing over Niagara Falls is a signature vivid green, created as the water erodes the rocks it flows over and absorbs the minerals.
The biggest falls are the perfectly-named ‘Horseshoe Falls’ on the Canadian side, where a nightly, year-round light show illuminates the Falls for awed visitors. Every few years, the Falls freeze in the winter, creating a fantasy of icy shapes and lacy frozen mist.
No matter which side you’re on, Niagara Falls, USA or Niagara Falls, Canada – the view is incredible.
How to experience the falls:
  • Observation vantage points and towers, helicopter tours, and (very wet) tours behind the falls and boat tours beneath the falls that take you incredibly close to thunderous cascades, are all favorite experiences on both sides of the border.
  • Niagara Falls, New York is only a half-hour from Buffalo, and Niagara Falls, Ontario is just over an hour’s drive from the bright lights of Toronto. On the Canadian side, the Niagara wine region provides the world with its best ice wine.
  • Great Lakes cruises often dock nearby for guests to enjoy the Falls, wine region, gardens, and other tourist-town attractions.
  • TAKE A VIRTUAL VISIT NOW: You can view the majestic Niagara Falls from home 24/7 with the Niagara Falls Live Web Cam, including the nightly Falls Illumination.
 

Montmorency Falls – Quebec City, Quebec

9 of the 10 tallest waterfalls in Canada are in the West / Northwest; 8 of them are in the Rockies (one on the Alberta side and 7 on the British Columbia side). Another is in the Northwest Territories.
But only one waterfall east of Alberta makes that list. And it’s not Niagara Falls.
Quebec’s Montmorency Falls are actually a hundred feet higher than Niagara’s famous falls, dropping 272 feet from the Montmorency River over a cliff into the Saint Lawrence River.
Year-round, visitors can climb a staircase or take a funicular to the top, where a suspension bridge spans the cascades.
How to experience the falls:
  • The Montmorency Falls are a popular day trip and an easy drive from Quebec City. It’s less than 10 miles from the heart of the more than 400-year Old Quebec City, considered a little piece of Europe in North America, with the only remaining fortified city walls on the continent north of Mexico, and historic, French-style buildings.
  • It’s a popular excursion from a Canada & New England cruise. You’ll want to make sure you add a pre- or post-cruise stay in this magical city, and include a trip to the falls, where many cruise lines offer excursions.
  • Helicopter tours of Quebec City often include the Montmorency Falls.


#DreamNowTravelLater

 
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Travel Companies Offering Free Vacations to Frontline Workers - and How You Can Get Involved
We’ve already reported some of the hotels and hotel chains offering complimentary hotel stays to essential workers in their own towns. The hospitality of these hotels gives frontline workers a comfortable place to stay between gruelling shifts, while keeping their families safely isolated at home during the COVID pandemic.
Now some travel companies have taken generosity and recognition a step further.
In gratitude, and awareness of the toll that work on the frontlines of the fight against the global pandemic is taking on these devoted professionals, hotel, resort, river cruise and airlines have begun offering essential workers free or discounted vacations once conditions permit travel again.
Here are some of our favorite travel companies enabling frontline workers to take holidays to recharge and reconnect with loved ones.
If you’re reading this, you likely believe in the power of travel, too, and these initiatives include ways for you to help frontline workers in your community benefit from a vacation when we are able to travel again.

Karisma Hotels & Resorts

Nominate a frontline worker for a free, all-inclusive beach getaway

Karisma Hotels & Resorts is running a ‘Holidays for Your Heroes’ initiative, providing 150 luxury, all-inclusive resort stays for essential workers and their families.
The recipients of the 150 vacations will be selected from nominations. Anyone can nominate an essential worker with a simple explanation of what makes them so deserving. Workers can also nominate themselves.
Nominations are accepted at www.karismahotels.com/holidays-for-your-heroes#nominate until June 30, 2020.
The lucky 150 nominees will be chosen in July, and will receive a complimentary 5-day stay for up to 5 family members (2 adults and 3 children).
Once travel restrictions are lifted, the recipients will receive a stay at one of Karisma’s beach properties from across its portfolio of brands for either a romantic stay or a family getaway. Options include El Dorado Royale, A Spa Resort by Karisma; Azul Beach Resort Negril, by Karisma in Jamaica; the family-friendly Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic; and the newly opened Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancun.

(Karisma's El Dorado Maroma, Riviera Maya, Mexico)
Stays include gourmet food and beverages, 24-hour room service and a full-service concierge in addition to a wide variety of watersports, live entertainment, spas, fitness centers, yoga, dance, cooking and mixology classes, language lessons, and supervised programs for kids and teens.
You can do more than nominate a deserving essential worker. If you’re feeling generous and want to participate more, the program also allows anyone to sponsor a vacation for a frontline worker. Karisma will allocate 100% of donated funds to providing a gift of a vacation - at cost - to a frontline worker and family.

AmaWaterways

Frontline workers sail free on a river cruise

The river cruise line has unveiled its program supporting medical, first responder and essential workers who are eligible to register for a complimentary Future Cruise Certificate. 
Once river cruise travel resumes, the certificate can be used with one paying guest in the same stateroom for any of the line’s Europe or Asia sailings through the end of 2021, for reservations made within 90 days of the sailing date.

 
In tandem with the complimentary cruise-only offer, AmaWaterways is also extending a book now option to those eager to reconnect with family and friends and reserve their 2021 journey to any AmaWaterways destination: sailing Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro Rivers, Southeast Asia’s Mekong, Africa’s Chobe River and Egypt’s Nile River (beginning in 2021, pictured). The book now option offers hundreds of dollars in savings plus complimentary pre-paid tips.
AmaWaterways also acknowledges the role travel agents play in their communities, and recognizes that they will know personally friends, family and clients who are frontline workers. It allows travel agents to apply for Future Cruise Certificates on behalf of frontline worker clients by visiting AmaWaterways.com/Hero.
 

Hyatt Hotels and American Airlines

Friends & Family Rates and free vacations for healthcare workers

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has teamed up with American Airlines to show their appreciation for the work of thousands of healthcare professionals in the heart of the pandemic storm. Together, they’re providing all 4000 staff members of one of the hardest-hit hospitals in New York City with roundtrip American Airlines flights to Hyatt hotels for 3-night, complimentary vacations in the US and Caribbean. 
It marks the largest total flights ever provided to an organization by American Airlines, and the two companies hope to be able to extend the program further.
In addition, in response to messages from loyalty club members interested in helping, Hyatt is permitting you to donate your points to support the initiative, saying, “Your World of Hyatt points contribution will help support our commitment of providing complimentary vacations for select healthcare workers and a guest—giving them something to look forward to.”

(Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Bahamas, above and top)
And it’s welcoming healthcare workers around the world into the Hyatt family by extending the hotels’ Friends & Family rate to them through June 30, 2021. Qualified healthcare workers can access the special rate using the Special Offer Code THANKYOU and validating their professional status.

#DreamNowTravelLater

 
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Revealed for the 1st Time: This Hotel’s Famous Cookie Recipe

Challenging times call for fresh-baked cookies. For your COVID-19 #StaySafeStayHome pleasure, a cookie recipe for all the home baking and snacking we hear everyone is enjoying during lock down.

Not just any cookie recipe. These are cookies of legend.

They are the welcoming treat so many guests of DoubleTree by Hilton look forward to when they check in. Receiving a paper sleeve of straight-from-the-oven warm sweet treats makes a hotel stay at one of the company’s nearly 600 hotels in almost 50 countries feel a lot like coming home.
DoubleTree cookies have a long history and - no surprise - an avid fan following. More than 30 million cookies are eaten every year, and copycat recipes have been circulating on the internet.
They are also the first cookies baked in space! The hotel chain partnered provided the recipe for its world-renowned cookies to test cooking equipment for space on the International Space Station.
Travel on earth may be grounded. But now, DoubleTree by Hilton’s beloved cookies can continue to put smiles on faces. For the first time, they’re sharing the official bake-at-home recipe for the chocolate chip cookie so at-home bakers can create the warm and comforting treat in our own kitchens. 
“We know this is an anxious time for everyone,” said a spokesperson for DoubleTree by Hilton. “A warm chocolate chip cookie can’t solve everything, but it can bring a moment of comfort and happiness.”
 

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

Makes 26 cookies

½ pound / 225 grams butter, softened (2 sticks)
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon / 165 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup packed / 150 grams light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ teaspoons / 6.25 mL vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon / 1.25 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ¼ cups / 280 grams flour
1/2 cup / 45 grams rolled oats
1 teaspoon / 6 grams baking soda
1 teaspoon / 6 grams salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 2/3 cups / 465 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups / 220 grams chopped walnuts 
 
  • Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 
  • Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 
  • With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 
  • Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  • Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 
  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 
  • Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
 
On the off-chance you haven’t just eaten all the dough or baked and enjoyed the full recipe of cookies all at once, they’ve even provided a tip so you can enjoy fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies for days.
 
You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.
 
The Doubletree spokesperson says, “We hope families enjoy the fun of baking together during their time at home, and we look forward to welcoming all our guests with a warm DoubleTree cookie when travel resumes.”


#DreamNowTravelLater


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When a destination’s nickname is ‘The Rock’, you don’t expect a warm and cozy place. Newfoundland is the eastern most point in North America, the vanguard of the continent where it faces into the North Atlantic waters and winds that once brought Vikings and still bring icebergs to its shores.  
In this dramatic setting and tough climate, only the strong survive. Newfoundlanders are tough survivors, but the opposite to their stark environment with famously welcoming, colorful, charming, musical and comedic culture.
The ponies that Newfoundlanders brought over from Northern Europe developed the same characteristics over 400 years, until they became their own breed of tough, sweet, sure-footed and gentle ponies.
Nearly extinct only couple of decades ago, Newfoundland Ponies are now, along with Newfoundland dogs, the animal symbol of the province, and a special treat to meet ‘in person’.
BestTrip TV met these Newfoundland Ponies at The Doctor's House Inn & Spa, an hour away from the province’s capital of St. John’s. The graceful Tudor-style mansion occupies 100 acres of oceanfront Newfoundland terrain with breathtaking views of Trinity Bay. 
Converted into an inn with charming rooms, acclaimed fine dining, one of the most beautiful private gardens on the island, walking trails, luxury spa and an event venue in the restored barn, it’s become not only a country retreat and hub for visitors to explore the region, it’s also become a world famous wedding destination.
Warm Newfoundland hospitality at The Doctor’s House Inn & Spa includes the welcome of sheep, goats, chickens, ducks… and a small herd of now-rare Newfoundland Ponies. They add a ‘Newfoundland theme’ to weddings, drawing the bridal couple in carts.
Not only picture perfect, but irresistible, too. 
 

#DreamNowTravelLater




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4 Places to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day

2020 likely marks the last major milestone anniversaries for the Second World War with living members of the Greatest Generation.

May 8th is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day.

The day was marked at the time by a spontaneous eruption of joy throughout the streets of London after years of losses under siege and aerial bombardment by the Nazis. Images sent around the world of partying crowds, Churchill and the Royal Family waving from the balcony of Buckingham Palace remain among the most iconic images of 20th century history. (VJ Day in the Pacific theatre, came a few months later).
Plans for dramatic and ceremonial remembrances of VE Day’s 75th anniversary have been stymied by the COVID pandemic. Instead the Queen, who as a very young woman during the War served in uniform as a mechanic, is issuing a rare televised address with her personal memories. In a very moving tribute, a national singalong is also planned with people standing in their yards and doorways and balconies joining to sing the unofficial anthem of British pluck during WW2, Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ with Dame Vera Lynn herself leading from a window at her home.
North American history buffs or remembering family and community members who contributed to the defeat of the Nazis have had their travel plans to VE Day commemorations cancelled.
But you can plan now a pilgrimage for a personal commemoration of a turning point in the history of the world.

Here are 4 top destinations to commemorate critical pillars of the Victory in Europe:



The Soldiers:

D-Day Landing Beaches, Normandy, France
Before there was VE Day, 11 months earlier, there was D-Day: June 6, 1944.
A fabled event in military history, D-Day was the largest seaborne invasion in history. Operation Overlord achieved the extraordinary feat of landing 24,000 Allied soldiers to re-take the Nazi-fortified beaches of France. It was the beginning of the liberation of Europe that ended on VE Day.
Canada's Juno Beach, Britain's Sword and Gold Beaches, and America's Omaha and Utah Beaches remain an essential travel destination to honor, first-hand, the monumental task and tremendous sacrifices of D-Day, and walk in the very footsteps of the soldiers who landed there. The isolated D-Day Landing Beaches (above and top) with cliffs, restored battlefield sites, museums and oh, so many cemetaries are essential travel destinations.
 


The Leaders: 

Churchill War Rooms, London
Of all the political and military leaders who strove together towards victory, Sir Winston Churchill remains legendary. The British Prime Minister was one of the earliest leaders to resolve to defeat Nazism, and his eloquent speeches (still often quoted today) and steadfast refusal to give up hope famously rallied the British and Allies to victory.
Nazi planes flew nightly over the English Channel to bomb the capital, and Londoners blacked out the city and retreated underground. Thousands spent nights in London’s ‘tube’ stations. The government went underground, too, into a complex underneath the Treasury building in Whitehall. Knowing what was coming, construction on the War Rooms began in 1938. Operations there began just a week before the war began, and the lights weren’t turned off for the next six years until the war was over.
Today’s fascinating and evocative Churchill War Rooms museum includes restored government wartime command center and a museum devoted to Churchill’s life. 

 

The Victims: 

Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Of the millions of military casualties and civilian victims, the diary of Anne Frank remains the most famous personal story, and the young girl herself remains the symbol of the over one million Jewish Europeans exterminated by the Nazis.
Anne Frank House preserves the tiny suite of rooms in central Amsterdam where Anne, her parents and sister and four other people hid behind a bookshelf for over two years in fear of capture by Nazi occupiers.
Not long before the liberation of the Netherlands, the group was discovered and Anne was sent to a concentration camp where she died. Her diary of her life in hiding was saved and published, and ensured her voice and story and the lessons of the Holocaust continue through the ages. 
The gripping and emotional museum features the life and times of Anne Frank and the dangers of persecution and intolerance.

The Home Front:

Your Own Neighborhood
Communities large and small across North America have cenotaphs listing the names of fallen local residents who went off to war.
Veterans’ homes, the Legion… places for current generations to serve veterans exist close to home.
And many local museums show the heroic efforts of the wives, mothers, girlfriends, workers in industry and farming who made the achievements on the front lines possible.
Until we can travel again, once it’s safe to move around in your community, find a way to acknowledge in your hometown the service of the veterans who won Victory in Europe in 1945.
 

#PlanNowTravelLater


 
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As we all look at our calendars trying to plan when we’ll travel again, one cruise line is sure its small ship cruises will strike a chord with travelers eager to explore again next year. 
Emerald Cruises has confirmed its two new builds, scheduled to debut in 2021, are both on track for delivery and launch of their European itineraries. 
Affordable, All-Inclusive Superyachting in the Mediterranean
We shared with you a few months ago the exciting announcement of Emerald’s first oceangoing superyacht, the Emerald Azzurra, designed specifically for guests to experience the Mediterranean yachting lifestyle. 
WATCH VIDEO ABOVE: What the Emerald Azzurra will be like when she launches next year
Designed for off-the-beaten path cruising to the small, intimate ports of the Mediterranean Sea, the 360-foot, 100-guest Azzurra is being built in a shipyard in Ha Long City, Vietnam. Emerald Cruises reports she is on track to set sail in August 2021. 
With many of the features of luxury small ships, including fares all-inclusive of tips, wine and spirits with meals, transfers, almost all balconies, an infinity pool, a marina at the back of the ship so it can anchor in a secluded bay for the guests to enjoy kayaks, paddle boards and other water-based exploration right off the ship, and chefs re-provisioning in local ports to bring truly authentic flavors on board, what makes the Azzurra a gamechanger is that the ship is positioned to be an affordable way to experience yachting lifestyle in the Med.
Her 47 itineraries throughout 2021 and 2022 explore destinations including the Mediterranean – Greece, Croatia, Italy, France, Cyprus, Turkey, Malta and Spain – and the Red Sea – Israel, Jordan and Egypt. 
Another ‘Star-Ship’ on the Waterways of Europe
Emerald Luna is set to become the 9th ship in Emerald Waterways’ fleet of river cruise ships. 
On schedule to set sail in the spring of 2021, the Luna will join Emerald Sky, Star, Sun, Dawn and Destiny cruising the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Emerald Liberté on the Rhône River, Emerald Radiance on the Douro River and Emerald Harmony on the Mekong river round out the Emerald fleet.
Emerald Luna promises its 180 guests all of Emerald Waterways’ innovative and modern ‘Star-Ship’ features, including the fleet’s signature indoor heated pool that seamlessly transforms into an evening cinema, the panoramic Sun Deck, three-tiered atrium, and sleek and contemporary staterooms and suites with ingenious all-weather balcony systems.
Like the new category Emerald Azzurra superyacht, the Emerald Luna follows the inclusive, affordable philosophy of the line, with all dining, wine and spirits with meals, tips, and a choice of daily excursions that include active and immersive experiences that open up the heart of Europe to guests. 
Renderings courtesy Emerald Cruises.
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Earth Day Marks A Quarter Century of Conservation for Disney

For more than 60 years, beloved fictional animals have been central to Disney storytelling and families’ experiences in Disney parks and ships. 

And for the last 25 of those years, the Disney Conservation Fund, inspired by the conservation of Walt Disney himself, has played a role in saving real wildlife around the world.
Founded on Earth Day (April 22nd) 1995, the conservation fund has inspired millions of people to take action to protect the planet, directed millions to reverse the decline of wildlife in more than half the countries in the world, engaged communities in conservation, and connected kids and families around the world with the magic of nature.
Earth Day in 2020 is overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic that’s keeping much of the world self-isolating at home.
So festive gatherings may be off the table, but we can still join in celebrating the Disney Conservation Fund’s contributions to wildlife preservation over its first 25 years: 
  • $100 million to non-profit organizations to save wildlife;
  • 1000 species protected, focusing on apes, butterflies, coral reefs, cranes, elephants, monkeys, rhinos, sea turtles, sharks/ rays, and tigers;
  • 53 million kids connected to nature through Disney experiences like those found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and through programs, tools and resources supported by the Disney Conservation Fund;
  • 315 million sensitive acres protected; and
  • Projects supported in 6 of 7 continents, all 5 oceans and over 100 countries around the world.
Recent Wildlife projects include momentous contributions like these: 
  • 103,000+ square miles of critical forest habitat achieving protection to support endangered apes in the Democratic Republic of Congo through a Great Apes Conservation Action Plan (the Jane Goodall Institute) (Jane Goodall pictured top at a previous DCF event, courtesy Disney
  • 2,000+ Atala butterflies and 1,000+ endangered Shaus’ swallowtail butterflies raised and released in the wild (University of Florida)
  • 2,300 coral pieces grown, 12 coral nursery sites established, and 3,000+ coral fragments planted to repopulate reefs in The Bahamas (Perry Institute for Marine Science)
  • 7 Siberian cranes outfitted with satellite transmitters during their migration to identify the most important wetland areas for conservation and protection (International Crane Foundation)
  • 1 million+ acres of forest habitat surveyed to protect important areas for African elephants (Wildlife Conservation Society)
  • 20 tons of plastic waste removed from the environment, 175+ families supported through income-generating programs, 164,000+ trees planted, and more than 37,000 acres of forest protected in Colombia and Brazil to protect cotton-top tamarin and golden lion tamarin monkeys (Associação Mico-Leão Dourado, Proyecto Tití, Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and Wildlife Conservation Network)
  • 20 Rhino Protection Units (anti-poaching teams) in Indonesia trained in advanced monitoring practices to better protect two national parks and the Sumatran rhinos who live there (International Rhino Foundation)
  • 238,000 pounds of marine debris removed from sea turtle habitats and 1.2 kilometers of sea turtle nesting habitat restored and cleared of debris (University of Florida)
  • 156 species of sharks and rays studied to help identify where management or protection efforts are needed the most around the world (Wildlife Conservation Society and partners)
  • 4,131 miles of forest patrolled by community rangers to protect tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia (Wildlife Conservation Society)
The DCF is also involved in projects Protecting the Planet
  • Helping strengthen the livelihoods of 52 communities while aiding in the protection of more than 200,000 acres of critical habitat to support endangered species including Sumatran tigers;
  • Supporting implementation of water restoration projects across California and Arizona to improve water use efficiency on agricultural land, reduce the amount of water diverted from rivers and creeks, and improve water quality, recreation and wildlife habitats;
  • In celebration of Disneynature films, The Walt Disney Studios and the Disney Conservation Fund have collaborated to support animals and habitats around the world, resulting in:
  • 3 Million trees planted in Brazil’s most endangered forest.
  • 40,000 Acres of a new marine protected area established to conserve coral reefs in The Bahamas.
  • 65,000 Acres of savanna protected to create conservation corridors in Kenya.
  • 130,000 Acres of wild chimpanzee habitat protected in the Congo, and 60,000+ local youths educated, and chimpanzees cared for.
  • 495,000 Acres of forest protected to restore key corridors for wild pandas and establish a new snow leopard conservation program in China.
  • Conservation projects across 400,000 acres of US national parks supported, park visitors educated, and animal and plant species protected.
  • Conservation projects supported across one million acres in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, benefiting hundreds of species and protecting fresh drinking water for local populations.
The DCF also annually recognizes local people or teams who have dedicated their lives to conservation in their communities. So far, it has acknowledged the work of nearly 200 wildlife heroes in 4 dozen countries. 
As we wait to create new family memories at Disney parks and cruises, we can learn more about The Disney Conservation Fund on its web site (https://thewaltdisneycompany.com/disney-conservation/), and explore an interactive map of its world-wide projects that help care for the planet and ensure a world where wildlife thrives, and nature is treasured and protected.
Image: Disney
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#LookUpTogether During Dark Sky Week and at the World’s Largest Dark Sky Preserve’s Festival in the Rockies

The COVID-19 pandemic kept everyone at home, resulting in an unexpected and heartening clearing of skies and revival of Mother Nature in surprising places. But one thing that continues to disappear from the world… is darkness.

Light pollution doesn’t just prevent you from seeing the constellations in the middle of the city. Light spilling far into the countryside interferes with nocturnal creatures’ ability to thrive, as well as the essential rhythms of nature. Many species, including the human species, need periods without light, and we hear about shift workers and peoples in the far north whose health and sleep are impacted by interruptions of natural cycles of darkness and light.
The loss of darkness by human expansion around the world is so profound, that, just as people have established reserves for wildlife and irreplaceable wilderness, spaces on earth with an unimpeded view of the stars above are being preserved, too.
The International Dark Sky Association in Arizona works to protect the night, and its International Dark Sky Places conservation program recognizes and promotes excellent stewardship of the night sky.
Over 130 Dark Sky Places around the world have been designated to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.

International Dark Sky Week

International Dark Sky Week is a worldwide annual event hosted by the International Dark-Sky Association to celebrate the night and bring attention to the problems caused by light pollution. International Dark Sky Week is held during the week of April’s new Moon, when the sky is darkest and the stars most visible. 2020’s celebrations run from April 19th through the 26th, which appropriately coincides with Earth Day on April 22.
So if you and your family have ever wondered how to find a constellation in the night sky… Or how cultures around the world, and across time, saw their place in the stars... Or what critters are exploring the night while you sleep… You’ll find presentations daily during International Dark Sky Week on the organization’s.

Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival in the Canadian Rockies

Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s mountain parks, famous for magnificent glaciers, lakes and mountains. Jasper has also been designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada as a Dark Sky Preserve for its special commitment to protect and preserve the night sky and to reduce or eliminate light pollution in all its forms.
It’s one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada, the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve - meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.
As daylight hours begin to shrink, the month of October is the perfect time for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival. Dozens of events including dark sky photography workshops, interactive experiences at Jasper’s Planetarium, black hole sculptures, and ‘Animals of the Night’ hikes, indoor and outdoor events, speakers and hands-on celestial activities celebrate the night skies that cradle the earth.
ASK YOUR TRAVEL ADVISOR ABOUT THE BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE JASPER’S DARK SKIES.
(Jasper National Park/ Jasper Tourism)

Jasper’s Wild Beauty and Darks Skies by Train on the Rocky Mountaineer

A Rocky Mountaineer rail journey has been called one of the ‘World’s Greatest Trips’. The incredibly scenic train, with its glass-domed, panoramic cars, gets rave reviews about the magic and wonder of a train trip through the majestic Canadian Rockies.
The Rocky Mountaineer is a presenter of Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival and a visit to Jasper any time of the season, with a visit to its Dark Sky Preserve and Planetarium is a magical highlight of a rail journey through the Rockies.
Three Rocky Mountaineer journeys take you to Jasper National Park and its Dark Sky Preserve, including
  • Rainforest to Gold Rush Explorer
  • Canadian Rockies Circle
  • Journey through the Clouds Explorer

Jasper Dark Sky Festival Canadian Rockies Adventure by Globus

The highlight of this 9-day Canadian Rockies escorted tour is the natural wonder of the western skies.
From the forested seaside city of Vancouver, guests travel through mountain passes to the historic mining, rail and cattle town of Kamloops. 
The tour continues to Jasper and its Dark Sky Preserve for a special community Moon Viewing, complete with telescopes.
There’s time to explore Jasper National Park or the Jasper Wildlife Museum, then attend the Jasper Planetarium & Telescope Experience. Guests learn about this spectacular Dark Sky Preserve in a dome theater experience, complete with the most powerful telescope in the Rocky Mountains and venture outside to look for the Northern Lights. The tour includes a day at Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival and a fascinating and inspiring Keynote Presentation by guest speakers steeped in astronomic lore.
After Jasper, the tour travels to Lake Louise for an overnight stay at the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise where guests enjoy crisp mountain air, a gondola ride up the mountain and the amenities of this world-renowned lakeside resort as well as Banff National Park in this remarkable Rocky Mountain setting.

Start your Trip!

Top 3 Images by Royce Bair, courtesy International Dark Sky Association
Top: Milky Way over the abandoned Lincoln Highway in Nevada 
Middle: North Star and Big Dipper over Grosvenor Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah
Bottom: Milky Way star canopy over a silhouette of the ‘Wall Street’ canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
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