Google+

Author: Debi Lander

Becoming Batgirl: zip-lining through the dark

By the time we climbed the third platform, darkness prevailed. I couldn’t see anything in this moonless night, so thought of myself as an owl flying towards prey. In this case, the prey was a distant glow coming from a flashlight held by the attendant at the far end of the line. A brochure from ZipQuest promised, “Take a short drive to a big adventure.” For me, the adventure required a long drive; one from St. Augustine, Florida up Interstate 95 to North Carolina. But ZipQuest delivered on adventure. My 23-year-old daughter and I were headed to the Outer Banks...

Read More

An Urban Whitewater Adventure In Columbus, Georgia

Urban whitewater drew me to Columbus; imagine a place where you can raft tough rapids on the Chattahoochee River and then walk back to your hotel. In fact, USA Today picked the Chattahoochee Whitewater Park as one of the “Top 12 man-made Adventures in the World.” Thirteen years ago the river and the city of Columbus , in western Georgia, were desperately in need of city-wide renewal. Somehow, the private and public sectors worked together to change the tide – literally. Today, the city boasts the longest urban white water course in the world. I investigated a section of...

Read More

Discover Canada’s Unknown Gem: The Gaspé Peninsula

As a travel writer, I’m thrilled when I discover a hidden gem – a lesser known destination where tourists can immerse themselves in an authentic experience. In fact, I feel compelled to share such a find. However, I write with trepidation because exposing the location can bring more visitors. If the destination then becomes crowded and commercialized, the experience loses what was real and special in the beginning. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to Canada’s Gaspé Peninsula, because it is a stunning jewel.  To find the hidden gem, head north toward a mountainous strip of land, including an extension of...

Read More

Discovering The Art Of Tanjore Paintings In Southern India

India bombarded my senses, mostly in good ways, although I admit I did not visit the slums in Mumbai. I swear I smelled curry as soon as I deplaned. My eyes feasted on vibrant colors all around. I felt I was looking at life through a 3-D kaldeiscope, one that was amplifying the intensity like a picture Photo-shopped with extra saturation. Pastel colored temples somehow shone as bright as neon. Golden statues of deities glowed with a life force. Women in shimmering saris, juxtaposed in hues and patterns I’d never put together, were pleasing in India. Even the fruit...

Read More

Escape To The Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa And Casino

I’ve often been asked, “Why do you go to the Caribbean in the summer?” The answer is easy: winter is considered high season, therefore, summer is off-peak and rates are lower. Besides, island breezes usually blow cooler than temperatures in my hometown, St. Augustine, in northeast Florida. The real bonus, however, occurs at any time of the year: gazing or swimming in the crystal clear turquoise Caribbean Sea. I swear the water shimmers so vibrant you’d think food coloring was added. Getting to Puerto Rico is easy, as non-stop flights are often available (U.S. residents don’t even need a...

Read More

Doing The Grand Canyon In Grand Style

Visits to our nation’s treasures, the U.S. National Parks, connect people with nature and history. Personally, they wake me up far better than a double espresso. They fill my soul with wonder and appreciation. A recent trip to the Grand Canyon became a glorious getaway and certainly ranked as one of my best. The view from the South Rim declares and defines nature’s power and beauty about as profoundly as possible. Trust me, no one leaves disappointed. The carving of the Grand Canyon by the Colorado River has taken place over the last six million years, exposing rocks at...

Read More

A Desert Safari And Other Adventures In Abu Dhabi

Acres of rolling sand dunes stretched before me, as if to infinity and beyond. There’s a beauty in nothingness, just endless repetitive waves of windswept earth. Buckled into the front passenger seat of a four-by-four vehicle, my driver followed a string of others, zig-zagging across the desert. At times, everyone in the auto would fly a few inches out of their seats, causing stomachs to flip. Whoa; the ride felt like a roller coaster gone wild as the driver floored the gas pedal to scramble up and over mounds, turned rapidly and kicked up sand, then descended with a...

Read More

Visiting The Private Islands Of Georgia

Who hasn’t dreamed of owning their own island? My mind envisions a place for carefree adventures and seaside romance, along with a sense of power and pride. But you don’t have to own an island to feel like you do. Simply rent Eagle Island, one of Andy Hill’s Private Islands of Georgia, and you’ll be in a world of your own. And, you don’t have to be a millionaire, either. Eagle Island is small (just ten acres), but replete with marshland, coastal wildlife and a warm inviting lodge. It’s casually elegant, with spacious bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and...

Read More

Mughal Magnificence: India’s Taj Mahal

I sat in utter amazement, nestled in the back seat while my driver, a Sikh wearing a turban, somehow maneuvered the car through a free-for-all frenzied traffic jam of epic proportions. Seven jumbled lanes of misaligned vehicles squished within three officially marked lines. As far as I could see, no rules of the road existed. A cacophony of honking and beeping horns seemed to simply announce, “I’m here.” Bicycles, rickshaws, motorcycles, hundreds of tiny Tok-Tok three-wheeled cars (occasionally overstuffed with people like clown cars at the circus) plus regular size vehicles, buses and trucks and ox carts vied for...

Read More

My Magic Wristbands Deliver More Disney Magic

A day in any theme park means a lot of walking, but the new Disney My Magic+ bands, customized radio-frequency wristbands, can honestly save you steps. Previously Disney World park guests had to stop at the attraction they desired and pick up a FastPass to avoid waiting in long lines. However, the process usually meant crisscrossing the park numerous times because they would have to return to ride. The new MyMagic+ system allows guests to reserve three FastPasses reservations per day, before they even enter the park. Disney has more than doubled the number of attractions and experiences you...

Read More

Abu Dhabi’s Beauty: Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, UAE

I approached slowly, feeling a gentle pull, as if by a magnetic force. Then, I wanted to stop, cement my feet to the ground, and simply stare. My mouth gaped open, like an opera singer belting an aria, as I tried to comprehend the extreme, yet serene view. Ahead of me lie a bevy of marble domes, four towering minarets, and a thousand jeweled columns rising from delicate inlaid floors. Yet, I had thoughts of Aladdin and magic carpets in my head. My western upbringing slipped back to childhood storybooks. I recalled pictures from the Tales of 1,001 Arabian...

Read More

Dubai: Rising to New Heights

Wake-up calls sound harsh in any language. But, they ring hideous when you’ve gone to bed just a few hours earlier, following 24-hours in-flight. However groggy I was, dawn beckoned and I had little time to waste. I’d traveled thousands of miles and was scheduled for a full day of touring. I glanced out the floor-to-ceiling windows, and then stood, agog at the glistening new city rising from the sea. The vista of downtown Dubai from the 33rd floor of Jumeirah Emirates Hotel Towers presented itself like none I’d ever seen before. The Jumeirah Towers, two sister structures, were...

Read More

Pin It on Pinterest