British Virgin Islands vs US Virgin Islands

(Courtesy of Lonely Planet)

You want to visit the Virgin Islands but you aren't sure where to go between BVI and USVI.  How do you decide.  Read about the differences to help you decide/

First, if you are an American citizen, visiting USVI is easier; likely the same goes for British citizens traveling to BVI.  And the two differ in characteristics in relation to travelers.

USVI islands, except for St. John, offer more commercial benefits.  But with that comes more hustle-and-bustle.  BVI islands are relatively more calm. There are far fewer deluxe hotels on BVI islands, most of those being on Virgin Gorda.  For USVI islands, only St. John matches the tranquility of BVI where it protected by the US Forest Service.  You could always travel between the islands to experience all their vibes.

If you are wanting to travel between islands, just know that there are only frequent ferry connections between St. Thomas and St. John.  To visit other islands a private boat or an airplane flight are often required for now.  So if you plan on traveling between islands, don't plan on a ferry.

Top Seven Things to do in Morocco

I can't wait to travel to Morocco.  And if you are like me, you are wondering what to do when you get there.  Well look no further.

(Courtesy of Forbes Middle East)

  • Explore the Marrakech.  Wander around the markets and souks.  While here walk around Bahia Palace.
  • See Chefchaouen.  Blue buildings make up this iconic village and create a beautiful sight.  While here visit the medina.
  • Walk around Merzouga.  Nestled in the sand dunes, you might see a few flamingoes in this area of the Sahara Desert.
  • Visit Rabat.  Rabat is the capital city of Morocco and sits on the Atlantic Ocean.  Don't miss walking around the Royal Palace when you visit Rabat.
  • Hike the Gorges of Dades.  The views here are so amazing.
  • Take in the sights at Ouzoud Waterfall.  You can see the Atlas Mountains here.  If you swim in the falls do so at your own risk; the falls aren't patrolled and have dangerous currents.
  • See the arches of Legzira Beach.  Only some of the arches remain, so make sure you admire the breathtaking red cliffs and arches.  Sunset is the best time to visit.  After you watch the sunset, enjoy dinner.

Aurora Borealis--Where and When

(Courtesy of the Northern Lights Centre in Canada)

The Aurora Borealis is so magnificent.  No photo can do it justice.  So where, and when, can you go to see the Northern Lights?  Read on to find out more.

The Northern Lights are best seen during the winter and spring (so make sure you dress warm), when the days are shorter.  Best time to go is usually between December and April.  There is more period of dark and the skies are generally clearer (less cloudy on average during this time frame).  They are best seen out away from city limits and around the new moon.  If activity is high, you will be able to see the Aurora Borealis for 30 minutes every couple of hours.  Just make sure to keep tabs on the aurora forecast.  You can go here for the forecast for Alaska.

So now that you know when to go; do you know where all you can go to see them?

As mentioned above, Alaska is a great place to go to see them.  If you go to Alaska, head north from Fairbanks to see them best.  You can see them anywhere between the western coast and Canada.

You can also see them in Canada.  Anywhere between James Bay and the western edge of Canada is in the aurora zone.  Yellowknife, Whitehorse, and Churchill are good spots in Canada; if you go to Churchill you might also see some polar bears.

Iceland is an interesting spot to go to see them too.  If you go to Iceland, just make sure you set aside several days; cloudy skies prevent the Northern Lights from being seen, and Iceland is known for its frequent cloudy skies.  Those who don't plan enough time tend to leave without having seen them.

Finland, Norway, and Sweden also have locations where the Aurora Borealis can be seen.  In Norway, Tromso is a good location to view them.  Sweden has the #1 spot on the planet to see them.  In Sweden, head to Abisko National Park to see this spectacular display.  Abisko is known for the view because it has the least amount of precipitation, and therefore cloudy skies, of all the locations in the aurora zone.

There is the skinny on the Northern Lights.  If you go view them, shoot me an email at blackhamtours@gmail.com and let me know.

Marianne

Fall Foliage in Vermont

Vermont is a foliage mecca.  Yellow, orange, red, and a whole host of other colors provide beautiful vistas all over the state from the middle of September to the middle of October--with upstate peaking earlier.  So where should you go to see amazing foliage views?  Read on to see.

Brattleboro

Wantastiquet Mountain Trail is amazing to walk and see vibrant colors.

Grafton

Not only can you see the leaves change colors here, you can wander around amidst historical building.  You can also tap some syrup at Plummer's Sugar House.

Jeffersonville

ArborTrek Canopy Adventures offer zip-lining through the leaves and admire foliage from a new perspective.  If you are scared of heights, you can see the leaves from on the water with Vermont Canoe and Kayak.  This area also offers pretty drives.

(Courtesy of Pleasant Valley Group Realtors)

Montgomery

Montgomery is home to seven covered bridges, more than any other place in Vermont.  This is a great area to enjoy the leaves on a bike ride.  Or if you want a way to see them that is less physically rigorous, enjoy Jay Peak Resort's aerial tram.

Montpelier

Enjoy walking around this smaller town and seeing the colorful leaves.

Stowe

Wander the streets and mountain paths to see the fall foliage in all its glory.  And Stowe has other attractions to enjoy as well.  Make sure you stop by the Ben & Jerry's factory for ice cream; and stay in The Trapp Family Lodge while brushing up on your Sound of Music history.

Windsor

The "Birthplace of Vermont" offers Harpoon Brewery to enjoy after driving around to see the leaves changing.  Also head over the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge to New Hampshire to see the home of August Saint-Gaudens, the creator of the Lincoln sculpture in the Lincoln Memorial.

Vergennes

View the leaves on the shores of Lake Champlain or at Shelburne Orchards (where you can also enjoy fresh apples).  I recommend staying in Basin Harbor Club's cottages.

Woodstock

Taftsville Covered Bridge is a great place to see vibrant leaves.  There are also easy paths, that cut through meadows or let travelers walk along carriage roads, as well as more rigorous paths along the Appalachian Trail.  There are several B&B's here; and don't forget to visit Billings Farm and Museum for their ice cream.

Mad River Valley

Explore the leaves on slopes while wandering Vermont's Long Trail, which runs along peaks.  Sugarbush Soaring offers gliders to enjoy views of the foliage from the air.  West Hill House B&B is a charming place to stay.

Manchester

The leaves can be seen by biking, hiking, and riding trails that go through the woods of the nearby Green Mountains.  Don't miss touring Hildene Estate, built by Robert Todd Lincoln.

Middlebury

Enjoy the view of the leaves while staying at the B&B: Inn on the Green.  Here you can overlook Middlebury's green.

It is best to book far in advance where this is Vermont's busiest season...with the amazing views of the fall foliage it is easy to see why!

Let me know if you travel to any of these locations.

Marianne