Category Archives: Tours and Trips

Desert Hotsprings, CA

Desert Hot Springs, California: Spas, Mineral Soaks & Soleil Chilled Avocado Soup with Tomato Salsa

Pics & Story by Linda Kissam

Desert Hot Springs, CAIt’s a shame that not much has been written about Desert Hot Springs near Palm Springs, Ca. I am not sure if those who know about it don’t want others to be “in” on the values and fun of it all or the press just hasn’t discovered it yet. One thing for sure, this is one of those wonderful USA holidays that hasn’t yet been ‘discovered’.

No matter, I’ve been there, experienced its rich treasures, and am here to tell you – it’s a great place to relax and rejuvenate. It’s hasn’t wrapped itself in the glitz and glamour cloak of its neighbor Palm Springs yet, but …it can certainly hold its own until that time comes and is worthy of a 3-day stay. If you’re the kind of traveler who can appreciate the raw essence of a natural jewel, this is the place for you.

Desert Hot Springs is built over one of the world’s finest natural hot mineral water aquifers. Naturally occurring mineral waters bubble to the surface making this a mineral bath and spa destination. There are over 22 unique (many family owned and operated) inns where you can Zen out, relaxing in polished marble resorts, retro-hip motels, clothes optional, or dog friendly retreats.

Desert Hotsprings, CAAlmost every inn has spa treatments available on property, so you can just roll from the comfy rooms, to the pool, to the mineral baths, to the spa treatments. No need to bring your own stash of designer bottled water as the city boasts pure and delicious award-winning municipal drinking water.

I’d forgotten how good the health benefits of mineral-rich, hot springs can feel. Mineral waters around the world are famous for their healing attributes, and Desert Springs is no slacker in this department. What a treat to experience stress relieving natural heat, while minerals absorbed through my skin rejuvenating my body. Ready to relieve sore muscles and treat the stiffness that accompanies arthritis, the water in Desert Hot Springs is rich in silica leaving the skin soft and smooth.

This destination is perfect for some serious alone time, girlfriend getaways, or some romantic rejuvenation. There are a variety of inns to choose from. My favorites (including a refreshing recipe) are below, but whatever you’re looking for…it’s here for you.

Desert HotspringsAqua Soleil: This was my host hotel for two days. Savvy General Manager Sabine Pollerman welcomed me with open arms. I must say the ground floor suite she assigned me was amazing. Just imagine your own mammoth Jacuzzi in your suite. By count I think I could have gotten at least 10 people in it. Also, lots of space to work on the computer or lounge on the couch. If I were writing a book, I’d like to start or end it here. The grounds were immaculate and inviting with a large swimming pool, two Jacuzzi’s and inviting well-kept outdoor conversation areas. Sabine tells me that her goal for her guests is for them, “To relax, refresh, and leave with abundant energy to return to their normal life.” The on property spa offers a variety of treatments and uses the upscale Body Deli products. Think Blueberry Fusion Micro-Scrub. Sabine encourages potential guests to check the property’s Web site for specials, and to call front desk manager “Ella” for any daily deals not shown on the Web site.

Desert Hotsprings, CAEl Morocco Inn & Spa: A Moroccan inspired luxury inn in Desert Hot Springs, CA. run by owner Bruce Abney , one of the most gregarious inn keepers I have ever met. A day here is not only going to provide relaxation via the natural hot mineral water pool and spa, but when the evening rolls around… charm and deliciousness is the order of the evening. Between the delightful Bruce and the Inn’s signature cocktail, “The Morocco-tini” you’ll be raising a glass to pure relaxation. And hey…make sure you ask Bruce for the Sultan’s Tent Tour

Dog Spa Resort: This is an inn created from the ground up for dog lovers. Dogs vacation free with their owners. The owner and inn keeper are outstanding guardians; you’re going to love this place. No size limits or breed restrictions. Soak, swim, and rejuvenate in some of the world’s finest hot mineral waters.

Desert Hotsprings, CADoes it get any better? Yup! The pet nanny is on duty from 12 – 6pm to care for dog guests while you play off site. The rooms are large, clean and gorgeous. All you have to do is pack your bag, grab your significant others and get ready for a unique experience.

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Soleil Chilled Avocado Soup with Tomato Salsa
The recipe serves 8-12
Compliments of Aqua Soleil

Ingredients

6 large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 spring onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups yogurt

Salsa –

4 ripe tomatoes, deseeded
2 seedless cucumbers, deseeded
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Desert HotspringsChop avocados roughly, leaving 1/4 cup for the salsa. Place in a food processor with lime juice, garlic, spring onions, cumin and stock – puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add yogurt and blend for 30 seconds. Chill soup until ready to serve.

For the tomato salsa, finely dice tomatoes and cucumber, then combine with the remaining avocado left from the soup. Stir in spring onion, lime juice, sweet chili sauce and chopped cilantro.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with a small amount of salsa.

county cork

The Best of Ireland and the UK

Guest Story by Stephen Flanagan

When planning a holiday in the U.K. and Ireland, there are a number of not-to-be-missed attractions and destinations that should appear on the trip itinerary. Here are the best of Ireland and the UK. London is an obvious choice; its historic palaces and iconic landmarks are among the best-known and most popular tourist attractions in the world. For travelers looking a little further off the beaten path, here are four holiday destinations that offer unique sightseeing and entertainment options to make the trip a memorable one.


Dublin, Ireland

As the capital of Ireland, Dublin offers a diverse mix of activities and options for visitors to this historic city. Golfers will love exploring more than 40 courses located throughout the city and surrounding areas. The history of Ireland is retold at the National Museum of Archaeology and History with a focus on the medieval period of this beautiful land. The beaches and shorelines of Dublin offer plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun in tranquil surroundings. Scenic Phoenix Park is home to the world-famous Dublin Zoo, a perfect family-friendly destination. For short breaks and extended stays, hotels in Dublin city centre comprise an eclectic mix of quirky bohemian accommodations and five-star hotels to suit any budget or personal preference.

Manchester, England
For football fans, the National Football Museum in Manchester is an experience not to be missed. The home of the Football Hall of Fame and of the famed Manchester United football club, Manchester also offers a wide range of cultural and entertainment choices for guests to this cosmopolitan city. As a centre for commerce and industry, Manchester boasts a number of museums and other attractions dedicated to its industrial heritage. For a bit of spooky fun, Flecky Bennett’s Manchester Ghost Walk is a look at the supernatural history of the city. Travelers seeking the best accommodation in Manchester City have an extensive list of choices; this vibrant business centre boasts several five-star hotels as well as a number of smaller bed-and-breakfast establishments located throughout the area. Although if you’re just here for the football, Manchester United is probably your destination.

Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh offers unique attractions for visitors to this historic city. One of the most intriguing is the Camera Obscura tower in the Old Town district. This scientific marvel projects the light from the top of the tower into a reflective parabolic dish, providing a panoramic view of the entire city of Edinburgh. The Royal Botanic Garden is an ideal place to spend a sunny afternoon. If it rains, as it does so often in this part of the world, the Rosslyn Chapel is located in the southern part of the city and is a favoured destination for students of religious history. Travelers can enjoy easy access to all the city’s attractions from the Royal Mile, which boasts a number of five-star rated hotels and less expensive accommodations.

county corkCork County, Ireland
The home of the legendary Blarney Stone, Cork County has many other attractions for travelers to this enchanted region. Druidic influences are still evident in the area, and the Rock Close is an exceptionally well-preserved example of these ancient ruins. Located on the grounds of Blarney Castle, the Poison Garden includes a wide range of interesting and deadly plants. More traditional garden settings are also available for romantic strolls or quiet contemplation. In the scenic village of Blarney, guests can stay at the Blarney Castle Hotel, a lovely family-owned business with all the modern amenities, or choose one of the numerous accommodations located throughout the county of Cork.

These scenic retreats and exceptional cultural offerings can provide a holiday experience that will be remembered for many years to come.

 

Everyone wants to see Abbey Road! cc image courtesy of mcmrbt on Flickr

The top spots for UK Music Lovers from Musicals to Punk Rock.

The influence of UK music on artists throughout the world is undeniable, with many of rock and roll’s most legendary acts hailing from the UK. The UK is a fabulous musical destination for lovers of all kinds of music.

It might be hard to believe but in addition to jazz, blues, and rock, the UK is also a thriving country destination and of course if you want to check out musicals in London then you certainly won’t be disappointed.  Every town boasts its own music landmarks as a result, whether you’re into Punk, Mod, Madchester, Britpop, Indie, or Glam Rock. Here are the top five British rock history destinations.

Abbey Road Studios, London

Everyone wants to see Abbey Road! cc image courtesy of mcmrbt on FlickrAny music fan’s tour of the UK will have to start in Swinging London. Upon touching down at Heathrow, one of the most iconic sites to visit is the famous crossing where the Beatles posed for their Abbey Road album cover. You can also see Abbey Road Studios, where the Fab Four recorded some of their most famous songs.

Heddon Street, London

Pose, pout, and recreate another famous album cover on tiny Heddon Street in London, near Piccadilly Circus just off of Regent Street. This is where David Bowie is pictured as Ziggy Stardust on the cover of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” album way back in 1972.

Salford Lads Club and The Hacienda, Manchester

cc image by Richard K via FlickrThe background for the cover of 1986 Smiths’ album “The Queen is Dead,” the Salford Lads Club in Manchester also counts Allan Clarke and Graham Nash of The Hollies as former members. You can visit the Smiths Room located inside to sneak a peek at all types of memorabilia. The Manchester music scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s is legendary, with Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and The Charlatans all hailing from this northern city. Stroll by what used to be the famous nightclub The Hacienda on Whitworth Street, where many of these bands cut their teeth. If you’re staying longer in Manchester, Old Trafford is just down the road.

Spillers Records, Cardiff

Officially the world’s oldest record store, Spillers was established in 1894 by Henry Spiller. Originally selling gramophones, they are now located on Morgan Arcade and specialize in a staggering collection of independent CD’s and vinyl to tempt any music nerd.

Eel Pie Island, Twickenham

cc image courtesy of Diamond Geezer via FlickrA tiny island with a fascinating music history, Eel Pie Island hosted a major blues and jazz venue back in the 1960’s. The Eel Pie Hotel was originally a glamorous ballroom, but opened its doors to a sultrier sound when it hosted some rocking blues nights later in the decade. The likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cyril Davies, David Bowie, and The Yardbirds all played here. Pete Townshend owned the adjacent Eel Pie Studios on the mainland, which were a venue for many pop and rock recordings, including the Cocteau Twins.

The Zodiac, Oxford

The Oxford music scene has produced some international heavy-hitters, including Radiohead, Supergrass, Ride, Swervedriver, and Foals. One of the epicentres of this music scene from 1995 to 2007 was the Zodiac, notable for being the location of Radiohead’s “Creep” video. It was also where The Strokes were first signed in the UK, in addition to hosting live music from a bevy of bands such as Coldplay and REM. Although it’s now officially the O2 Academy Oxford, many local residents still call it “the Zodiac” and visitors can still rock out inside.