Tucson, Arizona

TUCSON Arizona: Experience uniquely Southwestern vistas

Tucson’s geography is a postcard image of cacti forests; rolling hills, and awe-inspiring mountains. Experience this phenomenal scenery at Saguaro National Park, home to the most recognizable cactus in the world-the majestic saguaro. You can choose a leisurely drive on one of the park’s scenic loops or see the park on foot. There are more than 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from flat and easy strolls in the Sonoran Desert to steep and rugged hikes into the Rincon Mountains. Along the way, you have plenty of places to get out of the car and explore, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just a casual walker.


St. Lucia

JUST NORTH OF ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES AND SOUTH OF MARTINIQUE LIES A JEWEL IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SEA. BOASTING NEAR PERFECT WEATH­ER AND LUSH NATURAL BEAUTY, ST LUCIA IS A LUXURY TRAVELER’S DREAM DESTI­NATION. FROM YEAR-ROUND SNORKELING TO HIKING AND BIRD WATCHING, THE ISLAND OFFERS A VAST ARRAY OF ACTIVITIES SURE TO EXCITE ANY EXPLORER.

The tropical beaches of the west coast of St. Lucia owe their serenity to the calm Caribbean Sea, making St. Lucia’s beaches breathtaking and peaceful. In addition to its relaxing sands, the volcanic island hosts a mountainous terrain sprinkled with rainforests. Majestic in coastal peaks-The Pitons-rise through the rain­est like sentry towers. Within the flourishing rain­forests, tropical birds flit through the air, giant ferns rout in every direction and orchids sway in the tropical breeze. The distinct mixes of terrain at St. Lucia set it part from many other islands and promise a little something for everyone. Perhaps the best facet of St. Lucia is that the small island has kept its local integrity. ore cruise ships may frequent the destination, but for he most part, the island has remained true to its roots. Evident in the numerous restaurants and luxurious resorts, the island flavor is alive and well. Stay in the some of the world’s best luxury resorts or for a com­pletely unique experience, try renting a villa. This option is great for families, honeymooners or the travel­er looking to mix it up. A four-bedroom and four-bath­room luxury villa located five minutes from Anse Chastanet beach, the Tamarind House allows for some much needed rest and relaxation. Complete with a housekeeper, a gardener and a tennis court, this palatial property allows you to be downright spoiled. With tem­perate weather, expansive rainforests, world-class beaches and luxury accommodations, St. Lucia has it all. A gem in the east Caribbean sea, the island brings tourists from far and wide with its understated beauty and uncompromised sea views. The natural vegetation and rolling waves are sure to infect any traveler with island fever, so leave the Blackberry at home and pack a sense of adventure-St. Lucia will not disappoint.


Nepal

NEPAL IS A PLACE WITH A RICH CUL­TURE BEGGING TO BE EXPLORED. WITH A MYRIAD OF ONE-OF-A KIND ACTIVI­TIES AND UNIQUE LANDMARKS, A TRIP TO NEPAL WILL EXCITE THE TRAVELER IN EVERYONE.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Nepal is the history and culture that shaped the present-day South Asian country. History buffs will be delighted with the jewels of knowledge that lie beyond what meets the eye. From the ancient Newar kingdom to the Nepal Sambat Calendar, Nepal has a diverse back­ground. As the birthplace of Buddhism, it’s a renowned spiritual destination. A mixture of mountains, hills, plains and marshy grasslands with intertwining rivers, the country features a diverse terrain. The mountainous region, in the north, is Nepal’s claim to fame. The Great Himalayan Range contains the highest altitudes in the world-including Mount Everest, located on the border of Tibet. For the avid trekker, Nepal is a playground. With arduous trails and high altitudes-plus white water rafting-Nepal has an adventure for everyone. And when you get off the trails, there’s a whole city to explore. Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, promises one-of-a­kind sights and scenes. Live like a local and bathe in the Bagmati River or watch the monkeys do so at Swayambhunath, a religious temple complex atop a hill at the Kathmandu Valley. Here you’ll find the Monkey Temple, where holy monkeys inhabit a temple in the northwest part of the complex. A sacred site that boasts killer views of the capital city, Swayambhunath is a site not to be missed. After checking out a few local gems, shop in the small markets sprinkled across Kathmandu. Pick up treasured gifts such as exquisite jewelry, Newari woodcrafts and exotic spices and teas. After a long, exciting day of shopping, there is only one thing left to do: enjoy a nice dinner, of course. From five-star cuisine to sidewalk cafe fare, finding a scrumptious meal is never an issue. Drop into the neighborhood cafes, where tourists intermingle with locals over highly acclaimed Malaysian cuisine. Stay awhile and you will find yourself chatting with a monk or an eager-eyed world-traveler.


Arizona – Grand Canyon National Park

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

Transcend time and discover respite from your hectic life One of the world’s vast and powerfully inspiring wonders, the Grand Canyon is,a must-see when visiting Arizona, whether it’s your first or fifteenth visit. Descending more than a mile to the canyon floor and spanning 277 miles from end to end, the canyon offers a playground where you can backpack, bird watch, river raft, and stargaze. You have several options to reach the bottom, including the 9.3-mile Bright Angel Trail or the 7.3-mile South Kaibab Trail.

Start your morning as the sun slowly peeks up above the canyon walls and the sweet earthy smell of the desert lingers in the air. As you.pick your way slowly down one of the trails’ countless switchbacks, soak in nonstop views of multicolored rock formations in astounding shapes: Along the north and south rims, there are trails for all levels of hikers, which offer dazzling views, opportunities to photograph amazing wildlife, and explore seldom-seen wonders at every step. At the bottom, take in the vivid Colorado River as it gushes past, with an invigorating energy that might inspire a rafting trip. Several river-rafting tours offer chances to explore this majestic river with trips that range from a few hours to a few weeks.


Turkey

TURKEY IS THE KIND OF DESTINATION YOU FALL INTO, RATHER THAN VISIT IT IS A PLACE OF DAZZLING CULTURAL COMPLEXITY, AT ONCE REMOVED FROM THE PRESENT AND YET ENTIRELY A PART OF IT.

Asojourn here almost overwhelms imagination-from the gran Istanbul to sweeping fig and groves to ancient ruins and such as Troy and Ephesus. Mountainous, coastoral and urbane, Turkey is richly, pervasively by its complicated history. This land reflects t influences of the vast empires that have occupied Istanbul itself remains the city where East me literally straddling two continents-and yet m most arresting features of both, producing a di modern landscape. In Istanbul, tour the holy Byzantine churches, including Hagia Sophia and the blue Mosque. The famed whirling dervishes spin on aturdays and Sundays at the Galata Mevlevihanesi, a ervish hall built in 1491. Then, visit the Grand Bazaar or a day of shopping. The covered bazaar is an endless presentation of handcrafted and idiosyncratic treas­res unique to the region, including jewelry and artwork. Turkey, for all of its cultural impact, is also home o impressive beaches. On a peninsula along the Aegean coast, Bodrum is a Mediterranean resort town here yachting is the popular pastime. From here, enjoy a tour on a traditional hand made gulet or while way the morning at Gumbet, a nearby beach.


Panama Ecotourism and Culture

From the lively mix of old and new to sugary beaches, Panama is one of Latin America’s most buzzed-about destinations.  This alluring gateway between nature and culture is an absolute must for ecotourism with a spark. Go for the lush rainforests, stay for the sustainable resorts, great restaurants, and stylish vibe that’s garnered comparisons to Hong Kong and Miami.

WHERE TO STAY: Panama City is often described as three cities in one-old Panama, colonial Panama, and modern Panama-with hotels ranging from centuries­old mansions to five-star boutiques. Centrally located in the shopping and financial district, The Bristol strikes a balance with lovely old-world elegance and one of the best restaurants in town, Barandas, which serves Panamanian specialties by award-winning chef Cuquita Arias.

WHAT TO SEE: Going green gets a massive splash of style in Panama City. Located within city limits, minutes from downtown’s shops, the Metropolitan National Park is a true “urban jungle.” However, an even sleeker take on ecotourism is the new Museum of Biodiversity, which looks more like a contemporary art museum than an ecological showcase.

WHERE TO GO: The city’s seamless flow between nature and skyline only hints at the extraordinary beauty that lies beyond.

San Blas Islands: The fully sustainable Coral Lodge has secluded bungalows right on the water’s edge with infinity-pool-like access to snorkeling and diving.

Bocas del Toro Archipelago: Relax in the pure surroundings of the solar-powered Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, then explore mangrove forests and off­shore coral reefs in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, which is just a short boat ride away.

Mountain Region: In the Chiriqui province, visit the soaring Baru Volcano National Park-from its peak, travelers can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


San Sebastian, Exploring the Inland

We travel to the territory’s interior, to the highest landscapes and villages in Gipuzkoa, separated from San Sebastian by thirty kilometres, The Oria Valley has traditionally been the main communication axis between the North and the South; that is the reason why the N-I road is our particular guide in this journey. We do not need tc drive a lot to get to Tolosa, a highly noble town that, in the 19th century, was the capital town of Gipuzkoa during ten years. Before that time, it had already shown enough signs of its importance the Baroque palaces (Idiaquez, At4do…), the Gothic church of Santa Maria, or the precious arcaded structure of El Tinglado Market, on the banks of the Oria River. It would be an excellent idea to visit Tolosa on a Saturday morning, when we can enjoy the busy and colourful public market.

If you want to experience the same feeling in Ordizia, you should visit this town on a Wednesday: the market has been held for almost five centuries in the heart of the historic quarter, a Historic-Artistic Site. The palaces of Barrena and Zabala or the streets through which Fray Andres de Urdaneta, a 16th century seafarer, will say goodbye to us before leaving to Beasain. Now we are on the epicentre of the Goerri region, under the influence of magic Aralar Mountain Range and with the reference of the sharp summit of Mount Txindoki. The Igartza Site is the biggest monumental treasure in this place and the perfect key to travel to medieval Gipuzkoa, whether crossing the 12th century bridge, observing the mill working, or enjoying the stone and wood structure of the Igartza Palace.

We will get to Idiazabal, famous for the cheese -an Interpretation Centre explains the making process-, and we will drive to Segura through the GI-2637 road. The roots of this town are in the 13th century, the birth of one of the most graceful and beautiful villages in the territory. The small palaces (Lardizabal, Guevara, Ardixarra…) and the narrow streets are unique in Gipuzkoa, as well as the nearby Zerain Cultural Park. This town has been always related to iron ore mining and other activities closely linked to Anna Lur, Mother Earth. Going through Mutlloa, we get to Ormaiztegi, where we can visit the Zumalakarregi Museum. Located in the building in which the Carlist general Tomas Zumalacarregui was born, the museum reviews the life of this famous personality, as well as the 19th century Basque Country.


Machu Picchu

MACHU PICCHU NEARLY OOZES MYS­TERY DRAWING THOSE WITH A BOLD SPIRIT UNQUENCHABLE CURIOSITY OR A STRONG INHALER TOWARD THE CAP­TIVATING RUINS. MAYBE IT IS MACHU PICCHU’S ANCIENT CHARM THAT TURNS PEOPLE INTO WORLD-CLASS CLIMBERS, OR IT’S SENSE OF MYSTERY AND PLACE. ENIGMATIC BY NATURE, LEGENDS SHROUD THIS CULTURAL LANDMARK. SHAMAN MYTHS EVEN SUGGEST MACHU PICCHU IS A SORT OF PORTAL TO THE SPIRIT WORLD- A PLACE WHERE OLD MEETS NEW IN A SUPERFLUOUS UNION.

For the world-class traveler, Machu Picchu-situated 7,000 feet above sea level-does not disappoint. Hike the Inca Trail for an adventure that lasts any­ where from two days and one night to eight days and seven nights. After days in the sun, where donkeys bear­ing human cargo scale teetering lodges and helicopters hover over the landscape to offer you breathtaking views, unwind in a five-star hotel conveniently located in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. To the joy of history buffs and the jet set elite, these hotels boast a union of old and new that is sure to entice. For thousands of years, the sacred site has been the desti­nation of pilgrimages and long spiritual journeys, and even today, mystery radiates from the ruins. Machu Picchu is one of the rare places where an undeniable sacredness coexists in the midst of all that is thoroughly modern. It is this integrity and ancient charm that unleashes the world-class hiker in all of us, coerces out endurance we never knew we had and makes us appre­ciate such natural marvels in our world.

HOTEL MONASTERIO

Boasting expansive archways and architectural ingenuity, Hotel Monasterio was founded in the consecrated San Antonio Abaci seminary and is a national historical landmark. The building was restored and a chapel was added after an earthquake in 1650. The Baroque-style hotel features gold-plated frames and paintings of the life of San Antonio Abad by the most innovative artists of the Cusquenian Art School. Relax in your Spanish-style room and enjoy nature in the hotel’s courtyard, which features a soft fountain and 300-year-old cedar trees, gardens and stone cloisters. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and Saturday Inca dinners at the hotel’s El Tupay Restaurant or visit the Main Square/Courtyard for lunch and dinner. Conde Nast Traveler named this luxury hotel Best Hotel in South America in 2008. Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru, +51-84-60-4000


Garabandal – Star on the Mountain

San Sebastian de Garabandal, situated in one of the most remote corners of Cantabria Spain, is a place of wonder.  Here we present the first ever GPS mapping of the significant sites in San Sebastian de Garabandal:

Parish Church:  N43.20142 W4.42403

Site of the Miracle of the Host:  N43.20069 W4.42257

Conchita Gonzalez’ childhood home:  N43.20047 W4.42251

Ancient Fountain:  N43.20038 W4.42245

Start of the Path to the Pines:  N43.20020 W4.42383

Site of 1st apparition of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.20006 W4.42381

Site of 1st apparition of the Virgin Mary at Garabandal:  N43.19981 W4.42396

Rock of St. Michael the Archangel:  N43.19928 W4.42442

The Pines:  N43.19842 W4.42440

GARABANDAL

This is a small village in northern Spain, in the Santander province, its full name is San Sebastian of Garabandal. No more than 300 people live in Garabandal. The town is impressively quiet. There is no doctor in the town and no resident pastor at the parish church. The pastor from Cosio used to celebrate Mass there on Sunday.

In the evening of June 18, 1961, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town – Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mariloli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez – not related despite having the same name. Maria Cruz was eleven, the others twelve, and all were from poor families.

Suddenly they heard a loud noise, like thunder, and saw before them the bright figure of the Archangel Michael. On the following days the Archangel appeared to them again in the same place. He announced that on July 2 they would see Our Lady. This was the beginning of the Garabandal events.

OUR LADY OF CARMEL

The news spread quickly through the region. July 2 was a Sunday and the town was crowded. At six in the evening the girls went to the place where the Angel had appeared, and to the surprise of the crowd they entered into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to them accompanied by two angels, one being St. Michael. The girls described the vision as follows:

“She is dressed in a white robe with a blue mantle and a crown of golden stars. Her hands are slender. There is a brown scapular on her right arm, except when she carried the Child Jesus in her arms. Her hair, deep nut-brown, is parted in the centre. Her face is long, with a fine nose. Her mouth is very pretty with lips a bit thin. She looks like a girl of eighteen. She is rather tall. There is no voice like hers. No woman is just like her, either in the voice or the face or anything else.” Our Lady Manifested herself as Our Lady of Carmel.

At times the wind rustled her long hair which reached down to her waist. The girls spoke with the Virgin with the utmost naturalness. “We were telling her, “they said, “about our tasks, how we were going to the meadows…” and “She smiled at the little things we told her.” Our Lady showed them how to treat her: “Like children who speak with their mother and tell her everything… Children who rejoice to see her when they have not seen her for a while.”

MORE APPARITIONS

After this first apparition there were many more. During 1961 and 1962 Our Lady appeared several times each week. The four girls did not always receive the apparition together. Sometimes only one, other times two or three of them saw the vision. Nor was it always at the same hour of the day. Our Lady appeared many times at night and even early in the morning, in an attitude of sacrifice and penance, at the same hours when Our Lord is most offended by the sins of men. Even so, the girls would arise the following morning, as early as usual, to work in the fields, carrying bundles of grass or wood, or tending the cattle and sheep, without showing signs of fatigue.