Monday, July 30, 2012

Sights to See: Tulum, Riviera Maya, Mexico

Built on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean waters in 900 B.C., well-preserved walled Tulum is the Maya’s last major city and only seaside city.  It was still inhabited when the Spanish arrived, and Cortez described it as larger than Seville and unfriendly.  Of the more than 60 well-preserved structures, the most noteworthy and the highest is El Castillo--the main tower and temple that is sometimes referred to as the lighthouse.  Local Maya used the temples until late in the 20th century. 
Tulum is a gorgeous, magical place, with well maintained gardens.  Get here early in the morning—for the spectacular sunrise if possible (the Maya called the site Zamá, meaning “city of the dawn”).  It is also glorious on a sunny day, when the water turns a gorgeous turquoise.  Sea breezes cool visitors on the often hot days, and you can also plan for a dip in the warm sea below (stairs lead down the hillside to a sandy beach and crystal-clear water).  A tractor-pulled train transports visitors from the parking area to the archaeological site; an average visit takes one hour.

A good tour is led by this company.  
 
More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

video c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, July 27, 2012

Good Eats: Sanborns, Mexico City, Mexico

Sanborns  Francisco 1, Madero 4 at paseo de la Condesa, 5512 7882.  Daily 7am-1am.  A popular chain throughout Latin America, this original location of Sanborns coffee shop in downtown Mexico City is inside a 17th-century palace covered in beautiful blue-and-white talavera tiles and is known as the Casa de Los Azulejos (meaning “House of Tiles”).  It was once thought that the tiles on the outside walls came from China, but now it is believed that they were made in Puebla.  Less ornate branches of Sanborns are found throughout the city.  I think breakfast is the best time to go, but any time is good to stop in for a meal.  Their distinctive original blue-and-white tableware is still in use.  Seating choices include a horseshoe coffee bar, comfy booths, and a magical patio room with a high ceiling and an outdoor feel enhanced by a unique stone fountain.  Smaller shops purveying chocolates and children’s candies and more are found on the perimeter.  Sanborns was the site of Mexico’s first soda fountain. 

More things to do in Mexico City

More things to do in Mexico.  

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 
image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Good Eats: La Casona de Valladolid, in Valladolid, near Riviera Maya, Mexico

La Casona de Valladolid  Calle 44, centro, (985) 85 6 0207.  Housed in a spacious old building, this restaurant serves a delicious buffet lunch featuring many Yucatan specialties as well as other Mexican dishes.  Walls are decorated with an impressive mask collection, and large shuttered windows open from the dining room to the street. 

More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, July 23, 2012

Things to Do: Cenote Zaci, in Valladolid, near Riviera Maya, Mexico

Located on the edge of town in a small park, this cenote invites swimming in its very clear, very cold, and very deep water.  Swallows nest here and can sometimes be seen flying in formation in circles under an overhang.

More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

More things to do in Mexico.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.


video c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, July 20, 2012

Sights to See: Chichen Itza, near Riviera Maya, Mexico

The most famous and spectacular of the Maya archaeological sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichén Itzá was recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.  It was once the political and economic center of the Maya civilization and is home to one of the greatest Maya temples--the pyramid of Kukulkan (also known as El Castillo)--as well as the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners.  Kukulkan represents the Maya astronomical calendar, with 365 steps, a platform on top, and 18 terraces that in turn represent the 18 months of the Maya calendar.  On the spring and fall equinox a serpentine shadow snakes down the pyramid. 

More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

More things to do in Mexico.

More UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Great Sleeps: Hotel Am Markt, Munich, Germany


Hotel Am Markt  Heiliggeiststraße 6, by Viktualienmarkt in heart of old town.  31 rooms.  No car access except to unload luggage; parking 5 min. away.  E47+.  Located on a lively pedestrian-only cobblestone street lined with restaurants and shops, this one-time fish market is a stone's throw away from Marienplatz.  The 19th-century historic building retains authentic charm, and all the rooms are different.  Many single rooms are available at bargain prices.  My “standard” double room was not large, but was adequate.  The almost-seamless module bathroom was very small—about the same size as an airplane toilet (it might have been placed in what was once a closet)--with no place to put cosmetics.  It held twin beds and the smallest flat-screen TV I’ve ever seen.  I liked the high ceiling and tall-narrow windows overlooking a charming building with dormers, and could hear the beer glasses clinking below as the sounds of dining radiated up in the evenings.  Renovated “comfort rooms” on the third floor are said to be nicer but can’t be promised.  Breakfast takes place in the attractive and cheery Ludwigs restaurant, which features large windows looking out onto the charming streets (at night, Ludwigs becomes a music club).  The hotel is close to many ancient churches, and the bonus is you get to hear the church bells begin chiming at 6 a.m. in the morning.  The tiny glass-box lift is a lot like Cinderella’s slipper, only in this case, instead of a foot, just one person and a suitcase can squeeze in--it’s a snug fit but a relief after a day of sightseeing or traveling with luggage in tow.   

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Reviews: Riviera Maya, Mexico

These books are prime for helping you plan your trip to Riviera Maya:


Moon Maya 2012: A Guide to Celebrations in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize & Honduras, by Joshua Berman.  Some people believe that the end of the Maya calendar this year on December 21 marks the end of the world.  According to this author, “2012 is the end of one cycle on the Maya calendar (5,125 years) and the beginning of another.”  This book helps you plan a visit so that you can make up your own mind.

Moon Spotlight Cozumel & The Riviera Maya, by Gary Chandler & Liza Prado.  Compact and easy to carry, this guide provides the important basics for visitors.      

Explorer’s Guides:  Playa del Carmen, Tulum & the Riviera Maya, by Joshua Eden Hinsdale.  Featuring a foreword by rocker Sammy Hagar as well as color pictures and glossy pages throughout, this thorough book also has detailed maps that show where hotels are located and plenty of lists of the best of this and that--how to buy a Cuban cigar, best beers, etc.

More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sights to See: Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel

Basilica of the Annunciation  A modern Roman Catholic church holds Mary’s Well--the grotto on its lower level that was the cave home of Mary and the site of the Annunciation (when an angel told Mary she was going to bear the son of God).  This is the largest Christian church in the Middle East.

More things to do in Israel.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sights to See: Riviera Maya, Mexico


Riviera Maya runs south of Cancun for 81 miles along the eastern Caribbean coastline of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.  Situated in the state of Quintana Roo, it begins south of the Cancun International Airport in Puerto Morelos and extends past Playa del Carmen through Sian Ka'an--the first established Biosphere Reserve in Mexico and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The area is covered in dense tropical jungle and features nonstop powdery white sand beaches.  It is renowned for its Maya culture, history, and archeological sites, as well as for its immense network of underground rivers and more than 100 cenotes.  Adventure activities include kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, bird watching, and deep sea fishing.  The main road is dotted with charming boutique hotels and lavish luxury resorts; many are all-inclusive.

More things to do in the Riviera Maya.

More UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 
 

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, July 9, 2012

Misc.: 747 landing at Queen Juliana International Airport on St.Maarten

Check out this unusual landing strip at Queen Juliana International Airpot on St.Maarten.

More airports.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Reviews: ART Travel Guide

My sister, Connie Terwilliger, just published ART Travel Guide, a guidebook to art sites throughout the U.S.  This excerpt is about the Pageant of the Masters

This amazing event began over 77 years ago, the week after the Los Angeles Olympic games in 1932. Laguna Beach was attempting to attract tourists to its then-faltering town. Living Pictures Show was created by artist and vaudevillian Lolita Perine and was a small success. Three years later, Roy Ropp, another artist and construction worker, expanded the concept and renamed the event The Spirit of the Masters. Now called Pageant of the Masters, this one-of-a-kind spectacle lasts two months—July and August—and sells out early.

When the live music begins from the orchestra pit, the performers on stage freeze and become part of a “live painting.” The entire presentation, lasting over two hours, is accented with unusual acoustics, live music and showmanship. About 30-40 familiar paintings are “enacted” during the evening. “How did they do that?” is a common question. Most of the actors (volunteers) within the “live painting” manage to not even twitch! The lighting and scenery production is so good that the “painting enactment” appears three-dimensional. On occasion, the actors intentionally move out of position, allowing the audience to see how the living painting is composed, which creates total amazement for the audience.

From bronze sculptures to Meissen china, Boticelli to Warhol, all are depicted with utmost refinement. Each year a different theme is played out. The traditional piece at the end is Leonardo’s Last Supper.
Binoculars are helpful for seeing the details of each painting performance and can be rented outside the theatre. Arrive early for the pre-production entertainment: food, music and art at the Laguna Beach Festival of Artists, with some 145 artists selling two- and three-dimensional artwork on the grounds. Today, the Festival of Arts Permanent Collection, expanded annually through purchases made from the exhibiting artists’ work, contains more than 300 pieces.

A most unique event!

650 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, CA. 800.487.3378.  

Image:  Recreation of Arthur Rackman’s 1908 illustration Meeting of Oberon & Titania. ©2011 Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters. Photo by Rick Lang.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Sights to See: Mary’s Well, Nazareth, Israel

Mary’s Well   This famous site is believed to be where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear the Son of God (an event known as the Annunciation).  Located just below the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the well is positioned over an underground spring that was for centuries a local watering hole for the Arab villagers.  It is now like a city park.

More things to do in Israel.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

videos c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers