Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Unexpected Earthquake

I suppose most people fear being involved in an earthquake but I always wanted to know what it would feel like and actively prayed that one day I might actually experience the earth literally moving beneath my feet. I had a fascination with all things seismic and volcanic and was always excited by the prospect of visiting regions where a major event may unfold. As it turned out I didn’t have to travel very far to get what I wanted.

United States

I love California and have made many visits to this state which has a wealth of natural riches. Every time I set foot in San Francisco I wondered if the earth would move and was most excited to have the opportunity to visit areas close to the San Andreas Fault on several occasions. Riding the roller coasters as Six Flags Magic Mountain I marvelled that a major earthquake had recently afflicted Loma Prieta just along the road but I never experienced so much as a twitch. California has delivered many major seismic events but never
when I was there.

Whilst visiting Alaska I was privileged to see many volcanoes and to visit the Valley of The 10,000 smokes in Katmai National Park where I stood at the terminus of an enormous pyroclastic flow that had swept across the region. The volcanoes remained stubbornly dormant during my visit although their awesome beauty and enormous scale was a sight to behold.


A visit to the Roman city of Pompeii tells you everything you need to know about the devastation that a volcanic eruption can bring. Mount Vesuvius dominates the entire landscape and after my first visit I resolved that one day I would return to climb the volcano to view the crater. Many years later I did exactly this and the mountain had certainly started to stir once more as sulphur dioxide was venting from all over the crater. Standing at the summit I felt that this might be one occasion on which I should pray that there would not be an eruption!

Aftermath of September 4, 2010 earthquake in Christchurch, NZ.
By  Martin Luff via Wikimedia Commons

Closer to Home

There were no earthquakes or volcanic eruptions during my travels. The greatest irony of my life was that there didn’t need to be. One morning in July 1984 I awoke to find my bed jumping across the floor and my books flying off their shelves. For one fleeting moment I thought that I had a poltergeist, then thought I must be dreaming but eventually realised that the whole house was shaking and what I was really experiencing was an earthquake. If I had been in California I would not have been so surprised but I was at home in Liverpool which seemed rather crazy. After the shaking stopped I jumped out of bed, pulled on my jeans and rushed outside to see if there was any serious damage to the house. Thankfully all was well but the streets were full of people gazing around quizzically wondering what on earth was going on.

The Earthquake

The quake had measured 5.4 on the Richter scale, an uncommonly large event for the United Kingdom. I was extremely euphoric and my memorable day was crowned by a phone call from my Mother asking if I knew there had been an earthquake in Liverpool! Did she really think I hadn’t noticed?
Sally Stacey is a frequent traveller with a passion for earthquakes and volcanos. Check her out on Google+ now!
This computer generated model maps earthquake locations and their magnitudse for the past 110 years. Photo by CAVE Idaho National Laboratory

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dolphins and Crystals off Key West - Adventure of a Lifetime

A Day Retreat working with healing crystals and wild dolphin

Every year in the Spring, as the water warms up, Crystal Maven Debra Kupchok and Captain Victoria Impallomeni, offer day retreats aboard the Imp II to work with healing crystals and wild dolphin. On the day long retreat participants explore the use of healing crystals with the energy of these fascinating marine mammals.

First stop: the  playground just off Key West where the dolphin swim and dance in a deep basin. We have also encountered dolphins hunting in other areas,  but this area finds the dolphin in play mode, jumping diving and swimming under the bow of the boat, often turning belly up and looking directly into your eyes. Eye contact with the dolphin is considered to be a great blessing - and it certainly is a thrill.

The day's adventure continues with a visit to an island west of Key West that we usually have all to ourselves. On the island we set up a tarp on the sandy beach  to make shade, and Debra teaches about the healing properties of several types of crystals. There is a guided meditation, followed by a bring-your-own picnic lunch.

key west dolphin swimming under our boat's bow
Dolphin Swimming The Bow of Our Boat

Along the beach, we gather seashells and other island treasures - dried soft corals and sea whips, bits of coral, small pieces of driftwood - and together with the crystals we have brought and studied, we create mandalas in the sand.

mandala with crystals
Mandala with treasures collected from the beach

There are always more opportunities to visit with and watch the dolphin frolicking – and we have time to snorkel and swim nearby – of course, swimming with dolphin is not legal – but being close to them like this makes us feel as though we have swum with them. And we know they are not far away when we are snorkeling over the nearby coral reefs and soft coral gardens.

For more information on the retreat: Dancing Dolphin Crystal Retreats or The Crystal Cottage.

More ways to connect with these magical animals and related events:
This is not from one of the retreats, but it is not unusual to have the dolphin follow Captain Victoria to surf in her wake:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Beach Vacations For Singles

Nothing says “vacation” like the beach, with salty air, ocean breezes, boardwalks, and beachside shops and cafes. If you’re single and looking for some fun in the sun, check out the many beach vacations available. You’ll be right at home digging your toes into the sand and splashing in the waves among the other beach-goers, many of whom likely are singles themselves.

Where to Stay On Your Beach Holiday

beach palm tree
The key to enjoying your vacation fully is finding the best spot for you — one that suits your personality and offers the kinds of activities you like to do. If all you want to do is lay on the sand and soak up some rays, your choices are broad, but if you want to combine your vacation with some outdoor sports and nightlife, that’s a different story. Here are some different options:

Hotels — Many hotel chains offer accommodations at beaches around the globe. Hotels work well if you just want a place to hang your hat at night, after you’re done playing in sun and surf. You usually can keep costs at a minimum by getting the smallest room available and spend most of your time on the beach. You also can take advantage of happy hours and other low-cost events in the hotel bar, where you can mix and mingle with other singles.
Hotel chains operate at popular destinations along each coast, from North and South Carolina to California and Oregon. Check the websites of your favorite hotel chains for special offers and discounts.

Resorts — If you want to splurge a little and perhaps travel farther from home, then a resort might be best for you. There are plenty of domestic resorts to choose from, but if you want to venture beyond the border and experience a different culture, check out Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe for popular resort options.

Upscale resorts may offer more amenities than a hotel, and there typically are lots of activities that cater to singles for nighttime entertainment. Ask your travel agent about resorts that are frequented  mostly by singles, as you are likely to find beach parties, dances, music and more. You also can engage in preplanned excursions such as water sports, boat rides and hikes.

Be aware that some resorts are more risqué than others, such as Hedonism ( in Jamaica, or Sandals (, which operates various Caribbean resorts. Clothing-optional beaches, exciting excursions, and crazy parties and activities are par for the course at these places!

Planning the Details -- If you are planning your trip without the help of a singles group, then you will need to do your homework to find the right destination and deals. Start by heading to your nearest travel agency in the fall, when they get new travel brochures for various hotels and resorts.

From there, you can pick out a few that interest you, and then compare and contrast the different amenities, locations and features. You also can hop online and get tons of information at sites like, and You’ll find information and ratings on dozens of different hotels and resorts, along with helpful category views that let you narrow your choices by “Adults-Only Resorts,” “All-Inclusive Resorts” and more.

Keep in mind that beaches also attract family vacationers. If you are hoping to avoid kids, choose a singles-only/adults-only resort, or at least plan to vacation during the school year.

Florida Beach Destinations - Ideal For Singles

Several Florida beach towns offer a great singles scene no matter the time of year. Fort Lauderdale has so many beach bars and restaurants across the street from its golden sandy strip that it attracts a trendy singles crowd - tourist and locals alike - all the time. If you like an International flair, there is no place more fashionable than the Deco District of Miami's South Beach. The beautiful people, the cafe's crowded with celebrities and wannabes, the night clubs, bars and 24 hour action make for a singles heaven.

But for all out, anything goes, no place is quite as 'live and let live' as Key West! The Southernmost City takes everyone as they are - especially during Fantasy Fest in late October when the streets are filled with madness and fun.

Key West offers several great beaches, such as Fort Zachary Taylor State Park -- also a great place to catch the sunset; Smathers Beach and Higgs Beach where sandy volleyballs courts are popular with the singles crowd.

Fort Zach's beach from the water.

Hitting the Beach
Dust off your best garment bag — and pack for fun, fine dining, surfing, lounging or whatever your heart desires. You can make it as crazy or as calm as you like, so be sure to choose your destination based on the type of experience you hope to have.

Hannah Hamilton is no stranger to the beach, having recently moved from New Jersey to California. She and her husband and two kids consider beach towns their second homes, often planning their vacations around beach activities. For more travel advice, tips and travel garment bag reviews, visit Hannah’s website at

Monday, February 4, 2013

Top 5 Night Life Holiday Destinations

Holidays are all about enjoyment – and nightlife has take on a life of its own since clubs and bars began to stay open until breakfast time and drinks became cheap and cheerful. Not everyone wants to bury their head in fishbowl all night on holiday, so here are arrange of the best holiday resorts with the best nightlife, whatever your tipple.

Spain – Ibiza
Ibiza is one of the best known hotspots for nightlife – and also combines some seriously cool live music venues like the Ibiza Rocks hotel with lively bars and clubs. Because Ibiza has an international vibe, it is more pricy than popular clubbing resorts – and more glam. The main clubbing resorts on Ibiza are San Antonio and the area of La Marina. Ibiza is one of the most visited islands among the Spanish Balearic islands, so expect crowds – the clubbing season runs from June to October.

Photo Courtesy of Ibiza Rocks

Spain – Mallorca – Magaluf
Magaluf is notorious rather than famous and its hedonistic nightlife is frequently featured in the news headlines and on TV. For some, Magaluf is the binge drinking capital of holiday destinations – and it is also known for the risky behaviour of some holidaymakers. The main clubbing strip in Magaluf is the Punta Ballena, where drinking and other games in the clubs can be to excess. Sadly in 2012, three young adults died in falls from height within weeks of each other in Magaluf and it is though alcohol might have been a contributory factor in at least two deaths – as well the practise of climbing over hotel balconies. Magaluf has become something of a rite of passage for young adults on their first holiday abroad without mum and dad – make sure you survive to tell the tale.

Photo by Callum McKain
Greece – Mykonos
Mykonos is one of the prettiest and most traditional Greek islands, with snow-white houses, traditional azure blue doors and pretty hanging baskets lining cobbled streets. Mykonos is also where the Greek jetset holidays – and is a wellknown resort for the gay community to head to in the summer. Nightlife is hedonistic and extremely colourful – and Mykonos can also be pricy as a result of the presence of wealthy Greek holidaymakers. Mykonos is probably best left to those looking for a lively holiday and some serious clubbing who have cash to spare. Paradise Beach and the Skandinavian Bar are the locations which define Mykonos by day and Mykonos by night. There are also three nudist beaches on Mykonos – if you dare.

aa 84 Mykonos by night 2
Photo of Mykonos Waterfront at Night by Allan Henderson
Western USA – Las Vegas
Las Vegas is well known for cabaret and weddings – as well as gambling and nightclubs, which may be more upmarket than the drinking bars many young adults are used to. Las Vegas is a sophisticated resort, which became famous as a result of shows staged by the members of the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett) and other mega stars like Elvis Presley, Tom Jones and Elton John. Shows and cabaret are still a huge draw in Las Vegas, alongside gambling and dining. But expensive hotels give Las Vegas a glamorous edge which may suit couples and older holidaymakers, more than young adults looking for a drinking holiday. The website is a good place to start planning your Vegas entertainment.

Eastern USA - Key West, Florida

The Original Sloppy Joe's where Hemingway drank.
Of course, the locals in Key West,  think they own the nightlife brand - and many of the bars are world famous - Sloppy Joe's where Ernest Hemingway had his own bar stool; Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, and the Hog's Breath Saloon. The Green Parrot - a dive if there ever was one and the best music scene in town - was named by Playboy as one of the top bars in the country. But nightlife in the Southernmost City doesn't necessarily revolve around bars and nightclubs - the locals and visitors take their 'nightlife' into the streets on New Year's Eve and during the Fantasy Fest week - a bacchanalian celebration with masquerade balls and a costumed parades large and small.

Sometimes accidents abroad can happen even when alcohol isn't involved. If you fall over and injure yourself and it wasn't your fault you can claim compensation.

Peter Anderson – I love to blog about holidays and travelling! Google+