Awesome Things

11. You can now sign up for a safari centered around viewing Shoebill Storks in Zambia.

From the press release:

“One of Africa’s legendary safari companies, Robin Pope Safaris (RPS), has launched a six-night SHOEBILL SAFARI that comprises stays in RPS’ Nkwali Camp in the South Luangwa National Park, the Shoebill Camp in the remote Bangweulu Wetlands and at Wasa Camp in Kasanka National Park, famous for its annual bat migration and known as one of Zambia’s best birding destinations, inhabited by no fewer than 457 different species. Guests will be under the wing of acclaimed safari guide Jacob Shawa.”

Why I would go:


First of all, I have always wanted to go on a safari. Second of all, the Shoebill Safari sounds like the goofiest, most endearing bird ever. Let me expand: the shoebill can stand up to five feet tall, has a bill ‘as big as a boot’, and it’s wingspan can stretch to eight feet. Some scientists say this animal is the ‘missing link’ between storks and pelicans. And just look at the photo. How could you not agree?

Also, these birds have been known to moo like a cow, whine, and make clattering noises with their bills. And, according to the press release, young shoebill squawks sound like human hiccups. I had to verify all this information, this bird sounded so good to be true. And yes, it’s all factual; National Geographic and the BBC has featured them before. Plus, here’s a video from the Houston zoo: Check it out!

Details: For bookings or additional information email or call +265 (0) 179 4491 / 5483. Or you can visit

10. A new twist on exploring the Camino de Santiago lets you live like Hemingway for five days.

From the press release:

“The Camino Heming-Way traces the first part of the French way starting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French border to Pamplona. But we have added a Hemingway twist to this Camino. This unique walk is arguably one of the most scenic, challenging and rewarding of all the itineraries we offer. And now, it can also be a journey through time and literature.

“In only five days, you will experience French gastronomy, cross the Pyrenees, discover the legendary Basque country and arrive in one of Hemingway’s favourite Spanish cities: Pamplona, where he wrote a masterpiece “The Sun Also Rises. You will also stop near Burquete, on the Irati River, where Hemingway was fishing for trout and resting after the San Fermin Festival. Then, at arrival in Pamplona, you will visit the city on the footsteps of Hemingway: have a drink in Café Iruna, take a picture at the Hemingway Monument and enjoy the local specialities favoured by Ernest Hemingway.”

Photo credit:

Why I would go:

Having studied Ernest Hemingway multiple times in school and read at least one or two biographies, a few things become very clear about Hemingway: he loved to eat and drink, enjoyed the company of the people in his life fiercely, and loved adventure. All of these things are the cornerstones of a good holiday in my opinion. I would say if you were to live like one author for a week, Hemingway would be a good one to choose — well, with much more moderated drinking.

The details: You can see the brochure here and learn more at

9. Cool boutique hotel packages mark the 110th anniversary of Harley-Davidson’s establishment.

From the press release:

“Let’s call it the Super Bowl of hotel packages … if the Super Bowl only happened once every five years. The Iron Horse Hotel in downtown Milwaukee recently released a limited number of rooms for motorcycle enthusiasts to enjoy an all-­access seven­ night stay during the Harley­-Davidson 110th Anniversary celebration Monday, Aug. 26, through Monday, Sept. 2. The exclusive HD110 package . . . offers guests an once-in­-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Harley-­Davidson 110th anniversary celebration like a true rock star.”

Photo credit:

Why I would go:

One of Milwaukee’s biggest claims to fame is the Harley Davidson name; it’s an awesome part of its heritage — and the city never forgets to remind the rest of the world. It holds huge events memorializing its anniversaries every five years, and bikers come from around the world for the festivities. Still, you wouldn’t need to be a biker to enjoy what this package entails. Besides offering Chrome level access passes to all official Harley-Davidson Anniversary events and private Iron Horse Hotel events you also get:

  • A custom Schott Leather jacket;
  • Exclusive commemorative cufflinks created locally by HollenWolff;
  • A cask of The Iron Horse Hotel’s own Barrel 1907 American Rye Whiskey;
  • His and hers Iron Horse Hotel custom robes; and
  • Additional “surprise” deluxe gifts (whatever that means)

Also, I should admit, as a Wisconsinite, I am susceptible to falling for any large festivals centered around drinking beer and watching parades. Also, I have an addiction to buying leather jackets. Also, I have been to the Iron Horse Hotel, and can vouch for how cool it is.

Details: You can book the package at

8. The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC

From the press release: “Now through late March – when we offer some of the best deals of the year – Biltmore House offers a warm escape into a bygone era replete with rare artwork and inspiring architectural details. This is the time of year when the estate is quiet, giving guests time to discover all the extra touches throughout the home and elsewhere on the property.”

Photo source:

Why I would go:

As the press release says, the Biltmore was built in an era much different than that today, and by George and Edith Vanderbilt no less, so it holds a lot of historical appeal. I can imaging pretending to be any number of historical elite while staring out at the expansive estate. Most of all though, I am sold on the estate’s aesthetic beauty. The inn is a sight to see itself, with its old and beautiful architecture and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains that surround it. This American scene alone creates two more convincing reasons for me to visit: gorgeous views and incredible hiking, both made only more appealing by the ability to retire for tea to a luxurious, elegant guest room whenever I like.



7. Tracking moose in Maine.

Photo source:

From the press release:

“According to state wildlife biologists, 75,000 moose reside in Maine, with about 1.3 moose per square mile in the Moosehead Lake vicinity. I knew from an earlier conversation with Ed, who runs Moose Country Safaris & Eco Tours, that we were going to canvass a wide swath of wooded land and shoreline near the lake. Since moose typically roam within a two- to four-mile radius, I imagined a veritable petting zoo of Bullwinkles.”

Why I would go:

I have seen elk and mule deer in Colorado, and innumerable white-tailed deer in Wisconsin — but I have never seen a moose in the wild. Additionally, I have always wanted to go to Maine, for the lobster, the wilderness, and to see its seafaring towns. Combining these two trips sounds like an awesome plan. And, I think I would like to use a tour company that knows just a little more than me about moose tracking, since I know . . . nothing at all . The company used in this press release and article is Moose Country Safaris & Eco Tours, run by Ed Mathieu.


The full article can be found at the Washington Post.

Moose Country Safaris & Eco Tours:

6. The 8th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show

Photo source:

From the press release:

“The Culinary Stage at the 8th Annual Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show is perfect for attendees looking to experience cuisine from around the world and learn from expert chefs and wine connoisseurs. Hosted by Chef Darrell “Das” Smith, a contestant on the Next Food Network Star, Chef Das will provide a combination of entertainment and information for the ultimate international experience.”

Why I would Go: This is my favorite event advertised to me this week; I would go in a second if given the chance. Besides my friends and family, my top three favorite things in life are: travel, food, and adventure. This event literally encompasses these interests and only these. And besides offering the chance to learn about the food, wine, and culture of countries around the world, the event is hosting amaaaaazing speakers. They include (and try not to swoon):

  • Rick Steves, host of his popular travel show, Rick Steves’ Europe
  • Jean-Michel Cousteau, world famous explorer, diver, and environmentalist;
  • Pauline Frommer, Guidebook author;
  • Peter Greenberg, America’s most recognized travel journalist;
  • Richard Wiese, host of ABC’s Emmy-nominated program, Born to Explore with Richard Wiese;
  • Patricia Schultz, author of best-selling travel book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die;

Oh, and Chris Harrison from The Bachelor is also speaking , but I really didn’t think you guys would care that much. Sorry, Chris.


The 2013 Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show will take place January 12-13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets are available online for $9 with Promo Code “LAPR” or at the door for $12. Children under 16 years old are free. For tickets and event information, visit, email, or call 203-878-2577.

5. You can now camp in a tent in Antarctica if you book with Hurtigruten.

Photo credit:

From the press release: “Guests opting for this truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure get a glimpse of how it might have been for explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Earnest Shackleton – albeit with the perks of modern equipment and safeguards.  “The idea is to offer our guests an authentic experience in the spirit of the great explorer, Amundsen,” explains Mona Ringstrand, explorer product manager at Hurtigruten ASA.”

Why I would do it: Generally I am not a fan of the cold, but if given the opportunity to visit Antarctica, I would do it. And I would camp. I can only imagine the cold, but what a story I would have to tell. After all, no pain, no gain! Sometimes it applies in travel.


Phone: 877-301-3117
Fax: 888-524-2145
Order brochures: 800-582-0835

4. Discovery Park of America will open in summer 2013 near Union City, Tennessee.

From the press release: “The new Discovery Park of America is expected to be a major boost for the local economy and tourism by providing an attraction that has been described as “Smithsonian-like” and offering experiences normally found only in large metropolitan cities.    In addition to Discovery Park of America’s significant educational value, this attraction has several exhibits and experiences with high entertainment value.  For example, visitors can enjoy thrilling theater experiences, slide down the 32-foot leg of a giant human body structure, see a replica of the Liberty Bell, or tour an old settlement village.”

Why I would go: I like visiting random tourist attractions, and this seems it will rank with the best of them.  I like this one especially because of its emphasis on education. Plus, I am excited to see the design. Verner Johnson, Inc, a Boston-based architectural firm, will be designing it. They have designed over 200 museums worldwide to date, and this one will be ‘ultra-modern’ in design (see photo below).

photo source: Discovery Park of America press release



3. Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut is holding a Festival of Lights.

From the press release: “Hundreds of luminaria will line the aquarium’s walkways and festive décor will fill the aquarium while local organizations provide family-friendly entertainment that includes holiday music, face painters, storytellers, and a visit from Santa Claus, “Saxophone Santa”, and the Sugar Plum Fairy.  Complimentary hot chocolate will also be provided to warm up the festivities. . . A special highlight of the evening will be the scheduled dive of Santa and his elf in the large Coral Reef habitat from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.”

Why I would go: First of all, I would go because it is a good cause. It’s free to attend this event as long as you bring a nonperishable food item, which benefits the Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center in New London, Conn. Beyond that, I would go because it combines two of my favorite things: holiday celebrations and learning about undersea life. I believe everyone should visit their local aquarium and educate themselves about the part of our earth that largely goes unseen.


When: Friday, December 7, 2012 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Once inside, guests may stay until 8 p.m.


Mystic Aquarium
55 Coogan Blvd.
Mystic, CT 06355


2. First Peoples Worldwide’s festival for filmmakers advocating social change

Why I would go: The five-day event brought together filmmakers from around the world to address social issues – an important effort in and of itself. The two films that were selected by FPW to be screened sound interesting as well. Both describe a cultural identity, its challenges and how it has survived – a fascinating topic in today’s world.

From the press release: “‘Cry Rock’ documents the struggle of the Nuxalk in British Columbia to maintain their language, culture, and identity in response to colonialism and the infringement of non-Indigenous culture.  It was the directorial debut of Banchi Hanuse (Nuxalk), a graduate of the University of British Columbia, and has won eight awards since its premier at National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival in Washington, DC.

“‘March Point’ tells the story of three Swinomish boys awakening to the negative impacts of oil refineries on their communities in Washington State.  Tracy Rector (Seminole/Choctaw), the director, is co-founder of Longhouse Media, an organization that promotes artistic and community growth of young Indigenous filmmakers.”


First Peoples Worldwide Website:
Twitter: @FirstPeoples
Social Change Film Festival & Institute Website:

1. Italy’s La Corte Spa Wellness & Beauty

From the press release: “La Corte Spa Wellness & Beauty provides a sanctuary of calm and rejuvenation, far from the hustle and bustle of Florence, only miles away. Offering exclusive treatments devoted to the well-being of its guests, La Corte offers an array of soothing treatments that provide visible and surprising results. The treatments for the face and body utilize natural products of extremely high quality, with ingredients grown right on-site at the estate, such as grape extracts and olive oil.”

Why I would go: I get a lot of these emails – basically a hotel or resort advertising their luxurious spa services, gorgeous views, and flawless customer service. Honestly, I have never been to one of these spa resorts. However, I would go in a second if given the opportunity. La Corte, within the estate Il Borro, is no exception. It looks luxurious and serene with views to kill for, like the one below.



To make a reservation call or visit

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