Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

Puffins Amongst the Scenery

By Kai Rambow

 

“Heading up to see the puffins, are you?” asked the construction worker.  She continued with a strong Newfoundland accent, “I’ve lived all my 61 years in this bay area, never knew about the puffins.  I kept wondering why all these people were coming out here.  I’ve never seen them myself.  Finally going with my boyfriend on Sunday.”

A simple question about directions turned into a funny conversation.  People are the best part of travel in Newfoundland.  While they are proud of their rich traditions, they are incredible welcoming, warm and helpful.

 

Puffins at Elliston

There are a few species of birds that generate excitement even with non-birders.  Atlantic puffins are one of them.  Even when they are just standing around, they look cute.

Puffins come ashore for a few months to breed before returning to the ocean.  Elliston is one of the few locations worldwide with relatively easy access for viewing.  The puffins apparently can be approached very closely here, although they did not the day we visited.  It was still enthralling to watch them.

Close by are traditional root cellars used to store food.  Park your car, check out the cellars, then take a short walk to see the puffins.  There are no charges to see the cellars or puffins.  After watching the puffins there are cafes and gift shops nearby.

 

Bonavista

Ten minutes away from Elliston is Bonavista.  This town of 3,400 is a relaxing place to have a bite, poke around and even stay overnight.

Drive to the lighthouse at the tip of Cape Bonavista.  You’ll see more puffins and even whales in the surrounding waters.  As you head back to Bonavista, stop at Dungeon Provincial Park.  It’s a short, scenic drive.  Rocky shores with clear waters dominate the views throughout the island.  As you drive through Newfoundland, you’ll clearly see how it earned its nickname, “the Rock.”

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Stop for Gas:  There are sizeable stretches of road, even on the Trans-Canada highway, without facilities or gas stations.  Any time there is a stop with gas/facilities, take advantage of it.  We stopped for gas and food at the Tim Horton’s in Clarenville, and topped the tank again in Bonavista. 

Drive Times and Stays:  It will take about 3 hours 30 minutes from St. John’s to Bonavista.  For a more relaxed pace, you might want to stay overnight here.  Remember Bonavista is a small town with a limited number of sleeping accommodations.  Be sure to book in advance.  The drive from Bonavista to the next recommended stop Gander is 2 hours 45 minutes.

If you have a tighter schedule and are more energetic, you can leave St. John’s, drive to Bonavista, do activities and still reach Gander comfortably.  In the summer, the sun rises around 5:30 a.m. and sets around 8:45 p.m.  You’ll have plenty of daylight on good roads.

September 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

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January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

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Plan to Travel? Read This First      

Plan to Travel? Read This First      

Whether you are a snowbird or a year-round resident, you will probably travel away from your Florida home at some time. Of course, you want to make sure that you, your belongings, and your home are safe during your travels. Recently, a travel consultant offered several important travel safety tips we should all consider before our next trip.

Keeping your home safe while you are gone is the first step. Even if you stop the paper and mail, you should have a neighbor or nearby friend who will keep an eye on your home and pick up any papers or items that are delivered despite your best efforts. Make sure your doors are locked. Pay special attention to sliding doors. You may wish to put something along the bottom track so that the doors cannot slide.

Before you go, contact your credit card company and bank to let them know when you will be gone and where you will be going.

You should also have your doctor’s information with you. If you have a medical condition, make sure you have a letter from your doctor stating you are under medication, especially when traveling abroad.

If you are renting a car, make sure there are no scratches or dents before you leave the parking lot and to take photos of any that already exist… and learn how to operate all equipment of a rental car before leaving the lot.

You may wish to bring along a night light if you are going on a cruise or staying in a motel room. You should also disinfect frequently touched items such as TV remote controls.

Hotels never have employees show up unannounced at your room. If someone knocks on your door, call the front desk before opening the door. Hotel employees will never request credit card or personal information over the phone while you are there.

If you are traveling by plane, consider TSA pre-check. You may also wish to make paper copies of these documents, one to take with you and another to leave with a trusted neighbor or friend. Before you leave, make a list of all of the items in your checked luggage or take a photo of the contents. Use a ribbon, unusual luggage tag or other unique marking of some sort to make sure that no one mistakes your bag for theirs.

When you are at a new location, try not to broadcast that you are a tourist. Looking at maps and wearing baseball hats and tee shirts might make it easier for would-be thieves to identify you as a potential target. It is safer for men to carry their wallets in their front pockets and women to carry a cross-body purse.

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January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

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In this issue… Celebrate holiday fun in SCC, learn what the LRPC has planned for the new building project, meet the new CA Board members, get to know DOGs and turtles, skate with Disney on Ice, meet South Shore Authors, savor Ruskin seafood,...

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Explore Christmas decorations in SCC, check out the National Lawn Bowling Tournament, meet friends at “Hi, Neighbor!”, read the detailed LRPC Report, commemorate Veterans Day, visit Jurassic Park, beware of scammers, find out why...

January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Celebrate holiday fun in SCC, learn what the LRPC has planned for the new building project, meet the new CA Board members, get to know DOGs and turtles, skate with Disney on Ice, meet South Shore Authors, savor Ruskin seafood,...

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Explore Christmas decorations in SCC, check out the National Lawn Bowling Tournament, meet friends at “Hi, Neighbor!”, read the detailed LRPC Report, commemorate Veterans Day, visit Jurassic Park, beware of scammers, find out why...

November 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

November 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

Discover what the Long Range Planning Committee is working on, find out how folks cruise around SCC, hear from the candidates for CA Board of Directors, ring bells with DAR, support local kids, laugh with the Pelican Players, travel to…

October 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

October 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Save the date for “Hi, Neighbor!”, cruise over to the SouthShore Sportsplex, see why a grant was awarded to the Boys & Girls Club, discover why an SCC woman took TOPS honors, meet an Angel on Earth, enjoy a Dramedy on Aging,...

September 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

September 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Have some Pool Party fun, celebrate with the History Society, register for the Active Life Games, see why local volunteers rock, go Trail Blazing, learn why a local fire chief received a lifetime honor, support Adaptive Sports,...

August 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

August 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Relive the fun of the Pancake Breakfast and the Pool Party, make some Community and Family Connections, see how local Sew’n Sews are helping our community, get Shell Craftin’, celebrate the music of Bob Dylan with the Pickers,...

Amsterdam Newest Non-stop Service

Amsterdam Newest Non-stop Service

Amsterdam Newest Non-stop Service

By Kai Rambow

 

Delta Airlines recently celebrated their inauguration of non-stop service from Tampa to Amsterdam. The following non-stop options are now available to us:  British Airways and Norwegian to London Gatwick; Edelweiss to Zurich; Icelandair to Reykjavik; and Lufthansa to Frankfurt.

January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

January 2024 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Celebrate holiday fun in SCC, learn what the LRPC has planned for the new building project, meet the new CA Board members, get to know DOGs and turtles, skate with Disney on Ice, meet South Shore Authors, savor Ruskin seafood,...

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

December 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Explore Christmas decorations in SCC, check out the National Lawn Bowling Tournament, meet friends at “Hi, Neighbor!”, read the detailed LRPC Report, commemorate Veterans Day, visit Jurassic Park, beware of scammers, find out why...

November 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

November 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

Discover what the Long Range Planning Committee is working on, find out how folks cruise around SCC, hear from the candidates for CA Board of Directors, ring bells with DAR, support local kids, laugh with the Pelican Players, travel to…

October 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

October 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Save the date for “Hi, Neighbor!”, cruise over to the SouthShore Sportsplex, see why a grant was awarded to the Boys & Girls Club, discover why an SCC woman took TOPS honors, meet an Angel on Earth, enjoy a Dramedy on Aging,...

September 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

September 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Have some Pool Party fun, celebrate with the History Society, register for the Active Life Games, see why local volunteers rock, go Trail Blazing, learn why a local fire chief received a lifetime honor, support Adaptive Sports,...

August 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

August 2023 NEWS is HOT off the Press!

In this issue… Relive the fun of the Pancake Breakfast and the Pool Party, make some Community and Family Connections, see how local Sew’n Sews are helping our community, get Shell Craftin’, celebrate the music of Bob Dylan with the Pickers,...

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

This is Cuba? – See More, Experience More

By Kai Rambow

 

The wind whispering through the trees. Water rippling, cascading down the mountain. This is Cuba? It is – if you venture beyond the cities. We opted to explore one of Cuba’s national parks, El Nico.

El Nico showcases Cuba’s natural beauty with a surprising variety of waterfalls and wonderful views.  This tour is not for everyone.  It involved hiking up very steep inclines and slippery conditions, even in some dry places.  If you have the physical ability, it is rewarding.  In an attempt to get a photo, I ended up in the water.  Camera landed safely in a dry spot; I was completely wet and still had a great time.

Note: There are other easier, great tour options to colonial Trinidad or in Cienfuegos itself.

Mention Cuba and people think of Havana. However, there is much more. It’s easy to forget that Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, seventeenth largest in the world and longer than Florida.

Passing through non-tourist towns and the countryside provided a glimpse into more of Cuba.  For example, as we passed through one town we noticed several taxis that were horse drawn carriages. There are 12 million people in Cuba, but only 2 million cars. There is a bus system, but hiring a private car, bicycling or walking are common options. This was much more noticeable driving through the countryside than it was in the city.

Having the opportunity to see beyond the historic sites and experience the natural beauty of Cuba was a captivating adventure.

 

Tips for a Great Trip

Take a Cruise: The easiest way to visit Cuba is by cruise ship. One very adventurous passenger had done a land trip staying at B&Bs. The B&Bs had no air conditioning and communal bathrooms. After sightseeing all day, returning to creature comforts on your ship is probably a preferable travel option.

Cruise options now range from just a few days stopping only in Havana to eight day cruises with three stops in Cuba. One consideration: in some stops tenders are used to transport passengers ashore.

Pack Patience: If you’ve cruised before, you may be used to simply walking off the ship. Every port in Cuba required us to clear customs. This takes some time, so you will need to be patient.

Work with a Travel Agent: Traveling to Cuba is new, and there are several questions you’ll have. For example, when experiencing difficulty booking this excursion, our agent directed us to an alternative.

Cruise Tours vs. Private Tours: Cuban tour companies have adapted quickly to meet American preferences. They now use modern buses complete with air conditioning and a toilet on board.

Private tour companies often use air conditioned cars with a driver and tour guide. This is a more intimate experience, and can be customized to meet your interests. The key on a private tour is to ask good questions about daily life to learn more about Cuba.

Visas: One advantage of cruising is your visa can be easily processed by the cruise line. They’ll provide you with the paperwork and charge the fee to your onboard account.

Money: US dollars are not accepted in Cuba. After clearing customs, there are money exchangers. The rate is fixed and you will be given Cuban convertible pesos or CUCs (CUC$).  These are different than currency used by Cubans. CUCs have pictures of famous monuments or buildings. Local currency has pictures of famous people. Be sure to check you have received the right currency. Tip: Attend the briefing on board ship to know what to expect.

Shore Excursions: Recommend booking well in advance. Was too late booking, so booked private tour with Caribbean Pearl Tours. Tour was paid in advance through website. Only needed CUCs for snacks and tips.

Special thanks to Jayne Kirse, Manager at Sun City Center Travelworld, for her invaluable assistance.

 

Caribbean Pearl Tours

www.caribbeanpearltours.com