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Author: Debbie Stone

Don’t Expect Ordinary When you Journey to the ‘Edge of the World’

Kissing a codfish was never on my life’s to-do list. In fact, up until recently, I could honestly say it was not even in the realm of remote possibility. But there I was at Skipper Hots Bar in Straitsview, Newfoundland, puckering up to smack a big one on this buggy-eyed cod. I had been talked into taking part in a “Screech In,” a ceremony that folks in this Canadian province like to conduct to make visitors feel at home. Newfoundlanders are well-known for their friendliness and hospitality and they definitely live up to this reputation, though their methods are...

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Following in the Footsteps of Pilgrims

Meet Victoria Oubiña, a resident of the seaside village of Cambados in Northern Spain. She’s a retired marisquera or shell-fisher, who had to stop school at nine years old and go to work in order to help her family. Victoria spent 54 years digging for clams and cockles on the beaches of this town and became a face of the local industry, one that is dominated by women in this region. Back in 1992, she and several of her counterparts fought for their rights to organize as a recognized controlled collective and were successful in their efforts. The women,...

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Bern is a City of Superlatives

Bern is a City of Superlatives If there were a beauty pageant for European capitals, Bern would get the crown. This well-known Swiss city oozes with cosmopolitan charm, history and culture, and consistently gets high marks from visitors. They extol its accessibility, unique attractions and impressive Alpine views, as well as its ample shopping and dining options. Founded in 1191, Bern was built on a peninsula which offered natural protection on three sides. According to legend, it was named after the first animal that Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen caught – a bear – while he was hunting during...

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An Epic Journey to Inspire the Spirit

From atop the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the trail down appears daunting. It weaves and snakes its way amid the layers of rocks, eventually vanishing from sight. I take a deep breath, step off the edge and begin my descent into this vast and imposing abyss. Most folks only see the Grand Canyon from overlooks at the rim. Some view it from down below aboard a raft, as they ply the waters of the mighty Colorado River. I have had the privilege of enjoying both these perspectives in the past, but now I was going to undertake...

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Savor Northern Ireland One Bite at a Time

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for good food during my stay in Northern Ireland. My expectations were low based on a trip I had made to the Republic of Ireland many years ago. I recalled eating lots of potatoes, breads and bland stews, along with the proverbial Guinness to wash it all down. And though 2016 has been designated The Year of Food and Drink for Northern Ireland, I was frankly still leery about the culinary scene. Imagine my surprise then to discover a country that has become a great destination for foodies: a place that...

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Bewitching Baja

I’ve seen many Oscar-worthy productions in my life, but perhaps the most memorable was performed by a pod of gray whales at Lopez Mateos in the Sea of Cortez. Our panga, or small boat, was surrounded by these magnificent creatures as they spy-hopped, spouted, rolled over and displayed their distinctive flutes to an audience of starstruck onlookers. The dramatic show reached its climax when several of the moms proudly brought their seven-week-old calves to the side of our craft and we reached out to touch them. It was pure magic and I like to believe that both whales and...

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Chickens and Chi

I confess I’ve never been a fan of chickens. They always seem like nervous, high strung birds, and their pecking and quick movements are unsettling to me. I would never have imagined that these creatures could be used in the realm of animal-assisted therapy. Dogs, yes. Horses, sure. But, chickens? They couldn’t possibly bring a sense of calm and comfort to people. Then I was introduced to Blanco and his gang and something special happened. At newly-opened Sunrise Springs Integrated Wellness Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico, sister property to the venerable Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs & Spa, animal...

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Big Bend Beckons

I had no control over my burro. The spirited creature obviously had a mind of his own as he took off at a fast clip, then veered and attempted to squeeze between two of his friends. At one point my stirrups hooked onto those of another rider’s and we were locked leg to leg. Laughing uncontrollably, we bounced down the road like Siamese twins, linked together, eventually arriving at our destination: the tiny village of Boquillas, Mexico. Easing off my animal in a most ungraceful way, I decided that burro riding did not rank among my favorite means of...

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Enchanting Prague and Beyond

No Czech city has been written and talked about as much as Prague, the country’s picturesque capital. It’s a magical place where history comes alive and the mysteries of the past are revealed through the town’s uniquely preserved historical center. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prague boasts Romanesque chapels, Gothic cathedrals and Baroque palaces and gardens, making it a showcase of architectural masterpieces dating back centuries ago. Nicknamed “the city of a hundred spires” for its numerous towers, this European capital is regarded as a medieval jewel. Prague is not merely a pretty face. It has the cred to...

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Stroll, Sip and Savor the Delights of Storied Carmel-by-the-Sea

To say that Carmel-by-the-Sea is dog-friendly is an understatement. The famed California central coast town, rated the #1 Dog Friendly Town in America, welcomes man’s best friend with open arms. Owners and their canines can dine together alfresco on many of the local restaurants’ patios, and many stores have water bowls outside their doors, making it easy to satisfy Fido’s thirst as you stroll the streets. Snacks are also readily on hand, as shopkeepers happily dispense doggy treats to well-behaved canines. At Carmel Beach, you and your pup have more than enough space to roam, sans leash. Come nighttime,...

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Charleston Woos Visitors with Sultry Southern Charms

It’s impossible to be immune to the allure of Charleston. The city oozes and drips charm, overwhelming your senses with its intoxicating ambiance, gracious Southern hospitality, colorful history and rich culture. I was prepared to like Charleston before my visit, based purely on the continuous travel pub awards it receives for “America’s Prettiest Place,” “America’s Most Mannered City” and “#1 U.S. City.” But I was taken aback at the school girl infatuation I felt once I got there. To say I was besotted and smitten with the place would be an understatement. My attraction to the atmosphere and environment...

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A Stay at Miraval: The Ultimate Gift to Yourself

Heights are just not my thing. But, there I was dangling in a safety harness 40-feet off the ground. The group below, who had just moments ago hoisted me up to this point by pulling on a rope in tug-of-war style, yelled encouraging comments to me. The leader told me to breathe deeply, enjoy the beautiful scenery and set a personal intention before letting go of the rope clenched in my right hand. To be honest, my intention was to get down from this scary place as soon as possible because I knew if I spent any amount of...

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