La Alamandas

Las-Alamandas-Conde-Nast-JohansensGood, bad, or indifferent –  I got into the habit of going somewhere every year for a long week end to celebrate my birthday. No stranger to jetting off to Paris for a weekend, this time around I wanted to be close to home and limit the flight to just a couple of hours. I ended at Las Alamandas.   Located between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo the resort is accessible by car (approximately two hours) or by private plane (the resort has a landing strip). Completely unique and exclusive Las Alamandas is isolated from the big tourist areas, small and very private. A stunner!!!! An oasis of relaxation, you really feel like you are the only person there.

I felt right at home at Las Alamandas. The resort is right on the beach and set on 1500 acres of pristine wild terrain including four stunning private beaches, 2 lakes, a river, vegetable gardens, hiking, riding, and cycling trails. The private beaches can be set aside and reserved just for you. A perfect place for romance and privacy. Totally disconnected (even from technology) on purpose so you can just rest and unwind.

With two open air restaurants by the ocean and a roof top bar, most food served comes from the hotel’s gardens and orchards. The food is simple, fresh and delicious, not to mention the excellent and attentive service. No wonder a staff of 86 looks up for 17 rooms!!!

If you want a luxurious resort, the ability to relax and the urge to explore, Las Alamandas has it all and it all kept deliciously secret.

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Sydney Bridge Climb

SydneyIf one had to put a name on the fear of heights it would be TerryB in capital letters!!!

When I was in Cuenca (Spain), crossing the bridge of Saint Paul this was a real challenge for me. The current bridge was built in 1902, made of wood and iron. It stood at over 131 feet tall and when you are walking on it you can see through between the open foot boards several hundred feet down below to the river. The height really freaked me out and I was paralyzed in fear every time I had to cross the bridge from the Parador to go to dinner across the other side of town. My friends had to hold my hands and walked so fast looking straight ahead. Too bad because I missed the best views in town of the hanging houses and the amazing landscape.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I climbed the Sydney Bridge…… for the second time!!! I proudly got my Master Climber Certificate complete with gold trim. I felt like a champion!!!! The first time I climbed the bridge in 2011 I was petrified, especially on the way down because you have to go down the four ladders on your own. I was counting the steps and looking straight ahead of me. The noise of the tram and the traffic below was terrifying (at least to me) and my heart was pounding. This time around I felt like an “expert” and following one of my colleagues who was terrified. I was the voice of reason (me!!!) encouraging her along the way. Going down the ladder on my own and took in the noise and the sound and even enjoyed the sunset and the views. The climb is exhilarating and not as strenuous or challenging as one might think. The experience takes around 3 hours and is very well organized and safe. The staff is very well trained, confident and competent. The views, on the other hand, are spectacular. The Sydney Bridge climb should be a must to on everyone’s itinerary and bucket list.