Each December in the ABC Islands Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao locals and tourists celebrate the traditional Dutch holiday known as Saint Nicholas Day. Throughout the weeks leading up to the feast day on December 5, Sinterklaas the Dutch precursor to the American Santa Claus makes appearances throughout the islands and distributes gifts. Much like the Christmas season in America, the weeks surrounding Saint Nicholas Day are a very exciting time for Curacao and her sister islands. When you visit Curacao this year, add a little fun to your vacation by participating in some of the traditions of this special holiday. As the character known as Sinterklaas appears each year to celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas, the fictional character of Dutch custom certainly bears a resemblance to the venerated saint. Saint Nicholas was actually the bishop of Myra, a city in what is now Turkey, in the 4th century. In the Catholic Church, Nicholas came to be the patron saint of children as a result of numerous stories claiming that the bishop had saved many children from lives of destitution, some from death. Today, Sinterklaas appears in Europe and the Caribbean wearing the traditional red cloak and mitre (pointed hat) of Catholic bishops. He carries a gold staff known as a crosier and keeps a large book with the names of each child under his arm, complete with designations on who has been naughty or nice (zoet or stout in Dutch tradition). As the American version of Santa Claus is based in large part on this Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas is also known for his great white beard. Much as Santa Claus relies on the assistance of his elves to deliver gifts to all the worlds children, Sinterklaas employs a number of helpers known as Zwarte Pieten. Known for their black faces and colorful 16th century clothing, the Zwarte Pieten actually found their beginnings in a Middle Ages tale about the devil. The original legend stated that on the eve of Saint Nicholas feast day the devil was enslaved, evil was overcome and Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) came to serve Saint Nicholas. In recent centuries, the legend came to state that the Zwarte Pietens faces are black with soot from sliding down chimneys to deliver gifts. Within the last few years, efforts have been made to incorporate helpers with different colored faces into the legend, explained by Sinterklaas passing through a rainbow in his boat. In Curacao, keep your eye out for these playful helpers during the holiday and you may be rewarded with a special treat. Dutch tradition always held that Sinterklaas sailed each year from Spain and was greeted with great fanfare upon his arrival. In Curacao, this tradition remains intact and represents one of the islands most exciting events for locals and tourists alike. A few weeks before the feast day, Sinterklaas will make his scheduled arrival to the island. Immediately afterwards, Sinterklaas and his helpers lead a parade through the streets, handing out treats along the way. In the weeks leading up to Saint Nicholas Day, Sinterklaas can be seen throughout Curacao in shopping centers and resorts, interacting with excited children and curious adults. As a result of the holiday, many resorts and tourist destinations feature special events during the season and tourists are always encouraged to participate. If you visit Curacao with your family during this holiday season, you can also participate in the gift giving traditions of Saint Nicholas Day. While Sinterklaas is in Curacao, it is customary for children to leave their shoes near the chimney or front door each night. Current holiday tradition still holds that Sinterklaas and his helpers make a flight each night and drop candy and other small gifts down each chimney into the shoes. You can also celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas by creating either a present evening on the eve of the holiday or receiving gifts from Sinterklaas on the following morning. In Dutch tradition, families often hear a knock at the door and find a sack of presents outside for the whole family. If you are staying at a resort in Curacao during the holiday, the resort staff will be able to help you celebrate this traditional holiday with your family. As Saint Nicholas Day falls in the heart of Curacaos tourism season, there isnt a better time to visit the island. During your time in Curacao, join in on the celebration and add a little Old World tradition to your Caribbean holiday.
The Tucson area is a serene desert playground surrounded by four mountain ranges that offers all kinds of recreational possibilities. For instance, hiking to a desert canyon waterfall, riding a horse on a mountain trail, or spending the day boating and fishing.Snow skiing? Yes, skiing is available on Mount Lemmon, just an hour away, in the pine-covered Santa Catalina mountain range. Mt. Lemon is home to the countrys southernmost ski resort.Maybe snow skiing is not your style. Perhaps you would like to challenge your game on one of Tucson's more than 39 exceptional golf courses. Tennis your game? We have a multitude of tennis courts too. Did you know Tucson is the second best cycling city in the nation according to Bicycling magazine in 2006. Many tucsonans and other cyclists from all over the world compete annually in the El Tour de Tucson, one of the countrys largest cycling events.Tucson also has it share of spectator sports as well. The city is home to spring training for the Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.The Arizona Diamondbacks AAA team, the Tucson Sidewinders, provides for a great family summer evening at Tucson Electric Park. In September '06, the Sidewinders earned their first Pacific Coast League Championship title. Also, only days later, they became the 2006 AAA Champions defeating the International League Toledo MudHens.For college fans, the University of Arizona, a member of the prestigious Pac-10 Conference, has teams in all major mens and womens NCAA sports. Mens basketball and womens softball have been recent national champions.For many years, Tucson has already been home to two professional tour events, the Chrysler Classic PGA Tournament and the PING/Welchs Championship LPGA event. Starting in February 2007, Tucson will host the Accenture Match Play championship. Sixty-four of the worlds top-ranked golfers will compete, on the breathtaking Gallery at Dove Mountain golf course in Marana, and take aim at the $7.5 million purse.Gates Pass - West TucsonOther great events include NASCAR, horse and greyhound races, and the annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the largest mid-winter rodeo in the U.S. Tucson has a lot to offer all outdoors enthusiasts.After a long day of activity, you can still relax and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
Senior travel tours are a great way to see the world. Theyre safe, theyre affordable and theyre also an easy way to meet other seniors who share similar interests. If youre part of the Baby boomer generation but youre not ready to spend your days falling in and out of sleep in your worn out recliner, with a bit of research youll likely find plenty of senior travel tours youd enjoy.If you think that traveling with a bunch of older individuals is going to be tedious, boring and full of breaks for resting weary bones then youll be pleasantly surprised to realize how wrong you are. After just a few minutes of research youll see that your biggest challenge is going to be choosing which of the hundreds of senior travel tours you want to go on first. To give you an idea of the variety, here are just a few of the travel options posted recently on the Internet.Senior travel tours take you everywhereIf you love Italian food but dont know the difference between penne rigate and mezzi rigatoni, why not book one of the many senior travel tours thatll take you to various parts of Italy where youll learn how to prepare regional delicacies straight from authentic Italian chefs! Along with cooking techniques youll learn how to pair wines and youll have an opportunity to immerse yourself in Italian living.If cooking isnt your thing, thats no problem. Youll find countless senior travel tours that specialize in taking you off the beaten track. You wont find any tour busses on these trips either. Youll tour the landscape on foot or from inside a canoe or kayak or even from the seat of a bicycle. Imagine hiking through the rainforests of Costa Rica or biking along the same route as the Tour d France or learning about natural history in the Galapagos Islands!If youve only ever dreamed of taking an African safari you could easily turn that dream into reality right by booking yourself on one of the many senior travel tours thatll have you driving right alongside elephants and tigers and whatever else youre likely to encounter along the way. And theres more.Senior travel tours for everyoneWhen it comes to senior travel tours, you are limited only by your imagination, the amount of leisure time you have, and your budget. Youll find tours that are geared towards married seniors, single seniors, gay and lesbian seniors, seniors with disabilities you name it, if you dig long and hard enough, you likely will find it. As with any type of travel planning, its important that you do business only with reputable senior travel tours operators. Youll want to pay close attention to the details so you know exactly what youre getting with your chosen tour. You dont want to find later on that transfers, taxes, or other hidden costs have added hundreds onto the tours price tag.Senior travel tours will give you something to do and theyll leave you with many lasting memories. So go now and enjoy!
A detailed map of Spain is important when you are planning a vacation. A good map will give you an idea of the layout of the country. This will help you decide where you want to spend your vacation. If you plan to visit a few cities, this will help you plan your itinerary. Areas on a Detailed Map of SpainIn the northern part of the country, there are coastal resorts and quaint fishing villages. These will give you a taste of authentic Spanish life in a small village. Some areas, such as La Rioja are known for wine production. You will get to experience the culture more than you would in a large city that is a tourist attraction. You get the chance to experience history by visiting ancient monasteries and viewing cave paintings. In this area, you can also experience nature. The Pyrenees mountains form the natural border along the northernmost part of the country with France. You can take walking and hiking tours here. Madrid is the best known city in the Central part of the country. This city is the capital and is filled with things to do. The central part of the map is also where you will find many ancient towns with historical landmarks and places to visit. The central part of the country consists of plains divided by mountain chains. The Sierra de Guadarrama, Sierra de Gredos and Montes de Toledo are the mountain chains found on this section of the map. You can experience both nature and big city life here. The Mediterranean is located on the east coast of the country. On the map, you will find the Catalona, Valencia and Murcia regions. Large cities to visit in this area include Alicante, Torrevieja and Barcelona. This area is also known as the Costa Blanca. The biggest attraction on the Costa Blanca is the beaches. These areas on the coast are very busy during the summer season as people from all over Europe flock to the beaches. Look on the map for smaller villages that lie inland from the coast. There are many interesting places to visit in this area. The southern part of Spain is where you will find cities like Seville, Malaga and Granada. This area is also known as the Costa del Sol. This area is becoming a popular tourist destination. Major attractions on this coast include the beaches. This area is also becoming a popular spot for golf vacations in all seasons. The southern part of the map has beach areas on the coast line. Further inland there are mountain areas. Cities on this part of the map are also very popular spots to visit in the summer. This area is also becoming popular in the winter among people trying to escape the freezing temperatures. When You Need a Detailed Map of SpainYou will need a detailed map if you are taking a tour of Spain. If you are touring with a group, a map may be provided for you. Some popular tours include wine and food tours, hiking and bicycle tours. If you are touring with a group, try to stick with the group. A map is handy in case you get lost. If you have time away from the group, make sure you understand where you will be meeting at the end of the day. Make sure you can find this location on your map. If you are travelling on your own, you will need to purchase a detailed map. This is very important if you will be driving from one area to another. Get a detailed map that shows both large highways and smaller roads. This will help prevent getting lost along the way.
Photographers, amateur and professional alike, can turn a summer road trip into an exciting and challenging photo opportunity. Scenic national parks throughout the continental United States provide wildlife and landscape vistas not found anywhere else. In addition, if youre really looking carefully, the wonders of nature can be found on most roads and highways.Opportunity abounds for great pictures in Glacier National Park, for example. This area was formed by glaciers and remains in its primitive condition for the most part. Only one road crosses the Park. Bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, elk and moose are the larger carnivores who call this Park home. Various habitats provide conditions for a variety of plant and animal life, thus creating a unique environment not equaled anywhere else in the country.Late June and July offers opportunity for a spectacular wild flower display that will thrill photographers. Some short roads (more like trails) lead to trail heads that one can traverse to find the fields of flowers throughout the park. Some perimeter roads also provide this opportunity. Autumn brings the blazing colors that mark the beauty of natures changing seasons. And photographers love blazing color.Early morning shots of wildlife grazing are available for early risers. Traveling Going-To-The-Sun Road (the one that crosses the park) and taking some of the offshoot roads leads you to grazing areas. There is also opportunity for pictures that combine wildlife and wildflowers, an especially staggering display of natures beauty.Other photo ops in national parkland include Bryce Canyon, also formed by glaciers and the Grand Staircase in Escalante, New Mexico. Arizona and Utah offer Monument Valley and its grand rock formations that were formed by wind and water erosion. Yellowstone National Park will be a national favorite for many years to come.Our "national parks" are among the most spectacular in the world.