What do you picture in your mind when you think of caves? Spelunking or perhaps crawling on all fours to fit through a small space may come to mind. Perhaps the experience of absolute and complete darkness, the degree of darkness so dark you cant see your hand in front of you? Maybe you imagine more sinister things such as spiders, cobwebs or other imaginable things in the dark. Caves evoke different ideas and feelings to many people. One idea is that of an ideal environment to age fine wine in oak barrels or age a sparkling wine in a bottle.Caves have been used for thousands of years for aging wines in different parts of the world. In Wine Trail Travelers trip to Sonoma and Napa Valleys in California, we experienced different caves. Chinese workers built some caves in the late 1800s after their work was completed on the railroads. These workers built miles of caves with the use of picks, axes and shovels. In contrast we also experienced caves built with modern technology such as a Welsh mining machine. The walls were then covered with shotcrete, a mixture of sandy cement and pea gravel.Some of the caves were very clean and lit by electric fixtures whether they were overhead bulbs or elegant electric wall sconces. Other caves were darker and lit by candles or lanterns giving a romantic glow to the oak barrels lining the sidewalls. Some caves showed lichen growth hanging several feet from the ceiling. One wonders why they were never cleaned with a broom or vacuum. We observed thousands of bottles, showing dust resting quietly for years.Early winemakers who came to the Napa and Sonoma regions in the 1800's from Europe were familiar with the use of caves. We trekked through two cave systems dating from the late 1800s.One advantage of caves is temperature control. The cave temperature is often constant yearlong and varies very little. It doesnt matter if the outside temperature is 110 degrees F or 10 degrees F, a cave system can maintain an even temperature often between 57 and 64 degrees F. This cool even temperature provides an ideal aging environment for wine. This constant temperature also provides economic benefits for a winery. Fewer resources are spent on heating or cooling a cave than a building. Often the land above a cave can be planted with grapevines.A second advantage of caves is darkness. Light can harm wines and caves are dark. This darkness is a particular advantage to sparkling wines undergoing aging in glass bottles.Humidity control is a third advantage of a cave system. Oak barrels breathe. Some of the wine evaporates. If the humidity is high, less wine will evaporate. In some cases caves have reduced the amount of evaporation from 6% to 1%. This also is an economic bonus for a winery since less wine is needed to top off the barrels.Although the lichen hanging from the ceiling looked eerie at one winery we visited, it actually helps to filter the air in the cave.Some wine caves have an area that can be used for special events. The atmosphere can provide a rewarding experience. All of these advantages led to an interest in constructing new caves during the 1980s. Expect to see more wine caves constructed in the future.
All along the Costa Balance shoreline, the weather is favorable most of the year, and Benidorm is no exception. The secret ingredients for this perfect weather are the mountains to the north that protect the region from cold northern winds. Even in the winter, the weather is comfortable.This is a typical Mediterranean climate, with long hot summers and a moderate winter season. The spring and fall seasons usually have warm temperatures. This makes Benidorm a perfect year round destination, even though summer is the most popular time for visitors. Nice hot weather, beautiful beaches and very little rain make this a perfect beach vacation.The extended summer, May through October, are the most popular times for vacationers to the Costa Blanca. The spring is very mild, with little rain to interrupt the sunshine. The high temperatures in the spring only range from 16 to 21 degrees Celsius, and the lows are 9 to 14 Celsius. In high summer, the temperatures are hotter, from 15 to 27 degrees Celsius, with August the hottest month of all, when temperatures can approach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. But with the beach and the water so close, no one minds being warm and taking a dip to cool off. In the evenings, when you want to be a bit more active, the temperatures fall to the 18 to 20 degree range. Since the summer is the hottest and most popular for beach goers, it can be very crowded in those months. If you plan on traveling to the "Costa Blanca" during the busy summer months, make sure you book your airfare, hotel and car rental well in advance. If you don't you will have to pay premium prices and will not have a good selection.Autumn is considered the rainy season, but since this area doesn't get much rain at any time of the year, there is not a lot of rain. But rain storms and electrical storms do occur, as well as the attendant flooding, so this is the least popular time of year for tourists. But the temperatures are still mild, between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius, dropping to between 11 and 19 degrees. If there are rain storms, they most frequently occur in the evening. Winter is Benidorm is also very mild, especially compared to the rest of Europe. Many northern Europeans love to escape their frigid climates to the relative warmth of the Mediterranean shores. Many retirees stay in the Benidorm region for the entire winter season. It is very pleasant and there is still plenty to do. There is no snow, and the high temperatures during the winter fall in the range of 12 to 14 degrees Celsius. Since there is little rain in the winter, retirees can enjoy golf, or just strolling and relaxing out of doors. The night temperatures drop to between 6 to 8 degrees Celsius, cool, but not as cold as the northern climates they left.
When you think about a cruise vacation, you probably think of being a pampered tourist, enjoying lush accommodations and fabulous service. However, there is a lot of work to be done to prepare for a cruise before you get to enjoy the cruising life.Documentation is key. Depending on where you are going the documentation items you need could be limited or extensive. If you are just going on a one or two day cruise that is in the U.S., you may not need much. But, if you are going into deeper waters and to foreign ports the rules are a little different.Even if you are only going on a few day cruise to somewhere like Jamaica you are going to need a passport. While it is an island that is very close to the state of Florida, it is still a foreign country, and therefore you need the proper documentation to show your citizenship.If you dont have a passport, you need to get one well in advance of your trip. Also, if you do have one, make sure it is not about to expire. Generally, you should give your self up to six months to get your passport, at a minimum two. Passport offices around the country are backed up and getting a passport these days takes longer than it did before. If youre within a few months, you may want to pay extra to get your passport expedited.There may be even more documentation to be had if your family has some children who are from previous marriages and do not have the same last name of the parent taking them on the trip. If this is the case in your family, you may have to file some extra pieces of paperwork to get a passport, and then to make sure the authorities know it is ok for the child to be traveling out of the country with one parent.Some countries actually require those who want to stay for a little while to apply for visas, which would mean even more paperwork. The rules for what documentation is required to go into and out of a country will differ by nation, so check with your cruise line about this possibility.For other countries, you will need to have proof of some medical vaccinations due to the possibility of illnesses in their region.If you normally book your vacation through a travel agent, they may well help you take care of all of this. They know that for the most part tourists really want to focus on what they will see and what accommodations they will have on their cruise, not the little paperwork details, so they will usually compile a list of all the documentation and any medical certification you will need in order to be allowed to go on your trip. In addition, a good travel agent will know enough about the cruise industry they may be able to recommend great deals on wonderful destinations for your cruise.
You may think that Disneyland is only about fun, excitement, and activity - but you would be wrong. Disneyland is also about relaxation and pampering. The pampering you receive at Disneyland may not be the same that you would receive at a world class spa, but it is relaxing and makes you feel special just the same.The easiest way to get pampered on your Disneyland vacation is to book your room at one of the Disneyland resorts, and then upgrade your room to one that includes Concierge services. The Concierge service will be out of this world.First, your room will be much nicer. You will have free bottles of water, soft drinks, coffee, and tea at all times. You will be able to check in and out faster at the Concierge check in counter, and have a nightly turndown service.Second, you will have access to the Concierge lounge. This is where the pampering really starts! You can enjoy a continental breakfast in the lounge each morning or take your breakfast back to your room. In the afternoon, while the kids watch Disney Videos, you will enjoy a wine tasting in the lounge as well. There are many more perks available with the Concierge service, but they are different at each resort. For more information, simply call the park and see what perks are included with this service. If you like to be pampered, how about surprises?If you would like to surprise someone who will be traveling with you to Disneyland, you can easily do this by using the Disneyland Vacation Planning Service and asking for their Surprise package. To do this, contact the Vacation Planning department and tell them who the surprises will be for, which Resort hotel you will be staying at and what your budget is for the surprises. You will also need to tell them when you would like the surprise deliveries to be made, and what type of gifts you are interested in. They will also want to know who the favorite Disney character of the person that you want to surprise.This surprise package is a great way to add more value to your Disney experience, and to constantly experience great anticipation of the next surprise to come!Lastly, how about taking a Disneyland Tour or Two? No Disneyland Vacation can be complete without a Disneyland tour - especially if it is your first trip to Disneyland. There are currently four different tours to choose from. They are:Disneyland's Discover the Magic Tour - This may be the most popular of the four. This tour will have you and your family working with Disneyland characters to find clues and hunt for treasure. You can literally live out a Disneyland fantasy with your family and loveable characters, outsmarting the Disney bad guys! This tour includes lunch and an exclusive gift that can only be obtained on this tour. It lasts about three hours with the first 2 tickets costing $49.The VIP Tour -The VIP Tour lasts for about four hours, and costs $75/hr. Up to ten people can be in your group. You must book this tour well in advance, or there will be an additional fee. The tour is not recommended for children, but is designed more for people who have a true love and interest in Disney and Disneyland history. The Welcome to Disneyland Tour - This tour is absolutely perfect for first timers. There are many benefits to this tour, including priority seating at one of the stage shows, tips and suggestions for getting the most out of your Disneyland vacation, a brief history of the park, priority seating at one of the many restaurants, instruction in using FastPass, two bonus FastPass tickets, and much more. This tour lasts about two and a half hours, and costs $25 per person.A Walk in Walt's Footsteps - This tour focuses on the vision of Walt, and is not really suitable for small children. Filled with history and trivia about the park, this tour lasts for more than three hours, and costs $49 per person. The main feature of this tour is your peek at the exclusive Club 33. Again, you should definitely consider making one of these tours part of your Disneyland experience - especially if this will be your first trip to Disneyland. You may see things and learn things that you would not see or learn without the benefit of the tour!There you have it. Three more ways to really enjoy your vacation in Disneyland and make it even more memorable.
Outside the city limits of Barcelona lie intriguing suburbs, a striking coastline and amazing mountains. All lie in wait for the intrepid visitor.Antonio Gaudi, the late famous architect, commissioned Parc Gell, a peculiar array of vibrant ceramic benches, large ornamental lizards, mosaics and pavilions of knotted stone. It is located behind the city and commands a great view of Barcelona. Initially constructed with a view to being a market, the 84 stone columns of the Sala Hipstila are well worth a visit. Gaudi resided for his last 20 years in the Casa Museu Gaud the spired house found on the same site. A well established home of learning, Grcia has a very down to earth feel. Vibrant nightlife can be found in its Plaa del Sol which is also a great place to visit by day.People either love or hate the Temple del Sagrat Cor, a majestic basilica near the centre of Barcelona. Fantastic views and an amusement park are two of the attractions at Tibidabo, a peak among a wooded range that sits behind the city. Tibidabo is serviced by a glass lift that reaches 115m to the peak.Constructed over 900 years ago and still attracting pilgrims to its La Moreneta (The Black Virgin), the Monestir de Montserrat is situated among a mountain range 50 km north west of Barcelona.Accommodation in Barcelona is vast and varied. There is so much to choose from whether you are into hostels or modern, luxurious five star hotels. There are backpacker lodgings and various hotels spread across the city. It is not difficult to find a lodging that provides easy access to the cities main attractions. Dining in Barcelona is a wonderful experience. The city has all there is to offer in means of great food and wine. There are plenty of Cervecerias which are bars that serve beer and various other drinks. There are dozens of restaurants scattered through the city that offer a variety of international cuisine. If traditional sea food dishes are your thing then head to one of the many marisquerias.