An Insider’s Guide to Grand Cayman Island

In this article our guest writer, Catherine Stanley shares her love of Grand Cayman in the Caribbean, with glorious beaches, delicious local cuisine and flower-filled walks where you can spot the island’s wildlife.

If you have never experienced the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands, you should definitely add them to your bucket list. Having traveled to the Cayman Islands several times over the past few years, I have become very familiar with the three islands. Without a doubt, my personal favorite is Grand Cayman, the largest of the Cayman Islands. Whether you are on a family vacation of just spending time with a group of friends, Grand Cayman truly has so much to offer especially when it comes to the variety of activities you can experience.

Miles of Sandy Beaches on Grand Cayman Photo:

Miles of Sandy Beaches on Grand Cayman

Adventure on the beach

When you sit on the soft sand of the renowned Seven Mile Beach in the early hours of the day, it is easy to get lost in the mesmerizing teal-blue water, endless rows of beach chairs and lazy water sports. However, I am not one to just hang around when I am on vacation. Grand Cayman never disappoints as I turn to the adrenaline rush of kitesurfing.

Kite Surfing on Grand Cayman Photo:

Kite Surfing on Grand Cayman

My favorite kitesurfing spot is Barkers Beach, found within the Grand Cayman Nature Reserve, towards the north-western point of the island. With its winding, pot hole-filled dirt road and occasional lizard sighting, it is fair to say that Barkers is off the beaten track.  I love the drive because you can see the bright colored kites, full with air, high above the trees far before you even reach the ocean. Once you arrive at the beach, you will find that it is quite removed from the rest of the island, swarming with locals who spend their free time out on the crystal blue water right off the reef protected beach.

Ivy's Cayman Treats Photo:

Ivy’s Cayman Treats

An abundance of local culture and cuisine

After working up an appetite from kitesurfing, I like to make a pit stop on my way back at Jessie’s Juice Bar (great smoothies!) and the Farmer’s Market in Camana Bay. The Farmer’s Market has a wide array of items ranging from fresh produce and baked goods to homemade soaps. I always have to swing by the Ivy’s Cayman Treats stand where I do not leave without several bottles of Ms. Ivy’s homemade pepper sauces and jerk seasoning rub mix—all of which are to die for!

The Camana Way Photo:

The Camana Way

As someone who is innately curious, I love strolling through the beautiful courtyards sprinkled throughout Camana Bay. I would have to say that Canella Court is my favorite one as I am a sucker for the shady trees and soft trickling sound of the fountains.

Colourful flowers on the Camana Way Photo:

Colourful flowers on the Camana Way

If I plan on staying in the Camana Bay area for the rest of the day, I like to walk along Camana Way, a beautiful pathway connecting Camana Bay’s Town Center to the Seven Mile Beach. The path is full of life and covered with all types of native plants and flowers, giving you a true appreciation for the Island’s nature. Do not be surprised to come across the island’s colorful lizards and birds of all size. Make sure to bring a camera, you are bound to find numerous amazing photo opportunities along the path!

The Camana Way Photo:

The Camana Way

When dinner rolls around, neighborhood restaurant and local favorite, Season to the Bone, is my go-to. Located in Windsor Park (about a 10 minute drive from Camana Bay), Season to the Bone has, what I believe to be the best jerk meat I have ever tasted. Grab a picnic table outside the restaurant and prepare to taste the most amazing and authentic jerk chicken you have ever had. For a generous portion of jerk pork or chicken plus a drink, you will spend about $15 and definitely get your money’s worth! Expect to experience a wonderful blend of culture and warm hospitality at this local food spot.

Ice Cream on the beach on Grand Cayman Photo:

Ice Cream on the beach on Grand Cayman

A perfect sunset

After dinner, I like to head out to the Seven Mile Beach to watch the Caribbean sunset, one of my favorite parts of the day. The warm red, orange and pink tones painted across the sky make for an absolutely breathtaking picture. Without a doubt, Grand Cayman delivers both a refreshing tropical climate and amazing ocean views as the sun disappears behind the rolling ocean waves. It is quite a sight to see and I can assure you that you will not want to miss it!

Caribbean Sunset on Grand Cayman Photo:

Caribbean Sunset on Grand Cayman

Many thanks for this guest post to frequent traveler and blogger Catherine Stanley, who runs The Squirrel Machine blog out of her home (and on the go, as long as there’s a WiFi connection!). A New York City native, Catherine has vacationed in the Cayman Islands since she was young and has developed a deep appreciation for the warm weather paradise. In addition to traveling, Catherine is passionate about writing and enjoys providing her readers with posts on a variety of topics. Head over to The Squirrel Machine for more posts on travel, entertainment, health, business and more!

For more Caribbean stories:

Wood-carvings at Anse Chastenet in St Lucia
Swimming, surfing, snorkeling – best beaches of the Dominican republic
Silky sand and clear water – beautiful beaches of Jamaica

This article is originally published at - Read the original article here

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A Walk Through the Historic Centre of Rome

In this article, our guest author Angelina takes us on a walk through her favourite sights in Rome, where every street and every building tell the story of Rome’s past history.

Since I was in my childhood years, it has been my dream to visit the eternal city. I was a big fan of the television series “Hercules” and was fascinated with the rich historical structures and breathtaking masterpieces that can be seen in Rome. My interest in Rome even escalated when I was in college where I studied about the ancient Italian history. Fortunately, when I got married, I was given the chance to travel with my husband Patrick and my two kids.

Rome is my family’s favorite holiday destination and my favorite topic to write about as well. Our first walk through the historic center of Rome was the most memorable and enjoyable trip I ever had. Rome is a perfect place to be, for people who love history, art and culture. Every architectural structure, street, building and ruins speak of the rich Roman history and culture; no wonder Rome is said to be the eternal city.

The Colisseum in Rome Photo:

The Colisseum in Rome

The Colosseum

The most remarkable sightseeing spot I have been during my first tour around the heart of Rome is the Colosseum, known to be the great Amphitheatrum Flavium of antiquity. It is considered as Rome’s ultimate symbol that is situated at the center of the city. This great amphitheater was inaugurated during the height of the Roman Empire in 80 AD. The Colosseum is the largest architectural structure ever built in Rome and could accommodate as much as 50,000 people at a time. It was originally built for entertainment purposes but later on it was used for battles and exhibition games.

The inside of the Colisseum in Rome Photo:

The inside of the Colisseum in Rome

It is in the Colosseum where ancient Roman gladiators used to fight against their fellow gladiators and against animals. I could still hear the cheers of the spectators who are betting for their chosen gladiators and the scream of the warriors in pain who are fighting for their lives. I could still imagine thousands of men and animals lying down the arena bathing with their own blood. Below the ground of the Colosseum you can see a maze-like structure of cells and chambers where gladiators and beasts were billeted and readied for their fight in the arena.

In front of the Forum in Rome Photo:

In front of the Forum in Rome

The Roman Forum

Just a few steps from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum. During ancient times, Roman Forum was used for hosting local celebrations and festivals. It was also used for rituals and funerals of known personalities in Rome. The Roman Forum used to be the epicenter of the city life and the politics in Rome. It can be seen at Via dei Fori Imperiali.

A view of the Forum in Rome Photo:

A view of the Forum in Rome

The Spanish Steps

Take a short walk from the Roman Forum and you will find the famous Scalla di Spagna, better known as The Spanish Steps. It is the widest and the longest in Europe and climbing up to the peak of the Scalla di Spagna took us 138 looping steps. It was quite tedious but the scene from the top of the Spanish Steps was more than worthy of the sweat and patience that we invested in such climbing activity. The Spanish Steps joins two of the most mesmerizing squares in the eternal city; the Piazza di Spagna and the Piazza Trinita dei Monti.

Nightime at the Spanish steps in Rome Photo:

Nightime at the Spanish steps in Rome

Who could ever afford to miss visiting the Vatican City in Rome? The Vatican is a state within a state. It is a landlocked city that is known as the official residence of the highest Roman Catholic authority, the Pope. Vatican is known to be the center of Roman Catholic and the smallest independent state of the world.

St Peter's Basilica in Rome Photo:

St Peter’s Basilica in Rome

 St. Peter’s Basilica

We were also given the chance to tour around the intricately designed churches in the Vatican. We had visited the St. Peter’s Basilica, which is considered the mother of all the churches in Rome and the center of Christianity and walked on to the Sistine Chapel. Seeing the complex and breathtaking paintings of Michelangelo on the ceilings of the chapel was the experience of a lifetime. It was fascinating and seemed close to impossibility how such a master as Michelangelo made the best painting in the world.

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo:

The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Among the highlights of our tour was a visit to the Trevi Fountain. This is just one among the attractive fountains found in Rome, a theatrical masterpiece built in Baroque style. The Trevi fountain is simply majestic and no matter what time of the day, you will truly enjoy visiting this spot. Before we went on, we tossed a coin into the fountain to guarantee good luck and to be sure to come back to visit to Rome in the future.

Bio photoMany thanks for this article to Angelina, a 29 year old mother of two, and the owner of Angelina loves to travel together with her husband Patrick and their kids to their favorite holiday destinations of Rome and Paris.

For more Roman holiday ideas:

Chiesa Santa Maria in Trastevere – in Rome
The Rome of childhood memories
Cakes from Pasticceria Saliola – in Rome

This article by Angelina is originally published at - Read the original article here

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Water in the desert – A journey through Namibia’s unexpected landscapes

This photo essay from guest author, Diane Williams explores the beauty and unexpected sights of Namibia in Africa, with sand dunes, desert drives by the seashore and lone ostriches wandering the barren prairie landscape.

There are some things that just go together; thunder and lightning, wine and chocolate, summer and vacations. These combinations are common, even expected and assumed. Namibia is none of these. Namibia’s exotic beauty is paired with ruggedness; its sand dunes and skyscrapers reach high into the sky and its deserts have water. That’s right – deserts and water go together in Namibia!

The country of Namibia is bordered by Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a paradox for many reasons. Don’t believe me? Come along on this journey of photos and stories through Namibia’s deserts!

Swakopmund, Namibia Photo:

Swakopmund, Namibia

The Coast Road from Swakopmund

We start our journey in the coastal town of Swakopmund, Namibia. The town was settled as a port for Germany because of the relative easy access to fresh water. The town is home to some great German restaurants, cute shops, bed and breakfasts and internet cafes. But, the real draw to Swakopmund is its location; the city itself is sandwiched between Namib Desert and the Atlantic Ocean. That’s right, desert and water – albeit salt water.

Swakopmund, Namibia Photo: Photo:

Swakopmund, Namibia

If you hike or drive to the top of a sand dune you can see miles and miles of blue ocean if you look west and miles and miles of yellow sand if you look east. Both views are great, but together, they are purely matchless.

Swakopmund, Namibia Photo: Photo:

Swakopmund, Namibia

Drive south to Sousevlei

Our journey continued as we drove south. The spectacular drive from Swakopmund to Sousevlei was punctuated by the rare sight of a passing car, a sign noting the Tropic of Capricorn, lone ostriches roaming in the barren prairie desert and the best apple strudel we’ve ever had. Random, we know! But, you’ve got to remember, Namibia is pleasantly peculiar! Yes, we sampled the best apple strudel we’ve ever had at Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery.

Sousevlei, Namibia Photo: Photo:

Sousevlei, Namibia

Sousevlei, Namibia Photo: Photo:

Sousevlei, Namibia

Sousevlei, Namibia Photo: Photo:

Sousevlei, Namibia

Sossusvlei National Park

Not far from Moose McGregor’s is Sossusvlei National Park. Sossusvlei (roughly pronounced so-soufflé) can be translated to mean “dead end marsh.” Our first impression of Sossusvlei National Park was that this place was spectacular, a bit odd and incredibly unique – exactly what we were beginning to expect from Namibia!

Sossusvlei National Park Photo: Photo:

Sossusvlei National Park

Spectacular, huh?! Yeah, that’s what we thought too. Have you ever seen such red sand? Such high sand dunes? Trees that have been dead for hundreds of years, but have not decomposed?

Sossusvlei National Park Photo: Photo:

Sossusvlei National Park

Now, just when we thought we had seen all that the desert had to show us we saw this:

Sossusvlei National Park Photo: Photo:

Sossusvlei National Park

No, that is not a mirage, it is a fresh water pond in the middle of a huge, sandy, dry desert. A rare sight for sure! Namibia is a land of unexpected beauty and landscapes.

Sossusvlei National Park Photo: Photo:

Sossusvlei National Park

When picking your next travel destination you should ask yourself – do I want the expected? Can I use a little “different” in my travels? If so, Namibia is a great choice. You and Namibia: an unforeseen combination, but one that will likely make more sense once you visit.

Wife with baggageThanks for this guest article to Diane Williams whose blog at Wife with Baggage aims to inspire you to travel, even if you have a full time career or family. For the complete story of Diane and Michaels’ adventures throughout the country of Namibia, take a look at their Namibia travel album and you can also follow Wife with Baggage on their Facebook Page and on Pinterest. Photos by Wife with Baggage

For more African adventures;

An encounter with the desert elephants of Namibia
Not that old Zebra Crossing joke again! in Namibia
Sierra Leone – a friendly welcome and a taste of Paradise

This guest article is originally published at - Read the original article here

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