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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Soak in the Experience -- Sky Lagoon is Iceland's Newest Geothermal Bath in Reykjavik -- All You Need to Know to Have a Meaningful and Healthy Visit

The Sky Lagoon is the ultimate meaningful and healthy experience! You may not fully understand why say that until you read our behind-the-scenes information from interviewing the guest relations and marketing coordinator. We invite you to add this new Icelandic spa to your travel list for 2021. 


Imagine you are a Icelandic boat traveling from your home to the sea.  What would you see? Sailing through lava rock formations, navigating your way and you can’t see what’s ahead because of the mist hovering above the water…then...it…appears…the vast expanse of the North Atlantic.  You’ve arrived at the Sky Lagoon’s treasure — the infinity pool over looking the sea and the effect is perfect.  You can’t tell where the lagoon ends and the sea begins.  


Courtesy of Sky Lagoon


Here is what you will learn in this article

  1. How is visiting the Sky Lagoon Healthy?
  2. What is the Ritual 7-Step Experience?
  3. How is the Meaning behind visiting the Sky Lagoon Meaningful?
  4. Interesting Tidbits about Sky Lagoon
  5. Practical Information about Sky Lagoon
  6. Summary

Iceland's newest geothermal lagoon, the Sky Lagoon opened April 30, 2021 and features more than just a lagoon. We met with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator, (call her Heidi!) to find out more about how the Sky Lagoon is a meaningful and healthy experience! 

Luxury Travel Docs met with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator for Sky Lagoon.  

How is the Sky Lagoon Healthy?

The Icelandic people have always had a strong relationship with the sea.  Of course that seems obvious when you are descended from Vikings and exist as an island equivalent to the size of Kentucky, but it is very interesting how the tradition of the sea continues today. Iceland is regularly rated as one of the happiest places in the world. Since the 1940s, learning to swim has been a legal requirement in the country – and it has one of the highest people-to-pools ratios in the world.  

So, could the secret to Icelandic health and happiness lie in their pool and hot tub culture? Swimming is seen as integral to their health, safety and culture. Heidi told us that she and many Icelanders swim in the ocean regularly despite the cold temperatures and how this is reflected in your experience at the Sky Lagoon will be evident shortly.  We found it interesting that Icelanders are introduced to swimming pools as babies! It is reminiscent of a Nirvana album cover…here is Snorri Magnusson "The Baby Whisperer" working with 4 month old babies in the pool. 


After hearing about this swimming culture, it is no surprise that locals were ready to come to the Sky Lagoon as soon as it opened.  Iceland reopened to international travelers in May of 2021, and before that the Sky Lagoon was 100% locals, but at the time we went, 10 weeks after opening, the ratio was about 50% locals and 50% tourists.  

When we first heard about the Sky Lagoon, we initially learned about the the Ritual 7-Step Experience. So what is the Ritual 7-Step Experience?  

The Ritual 7-Step Experience


Step One: Slow down, relax in the Lagoon

Enter through the cave-like entrance to the Lagoon. Step into the warm waters and relax. Breathe in the refreshing, cool ocean air. Float through a breathtaking canyon to the infinity edge and take in a view of Mount Keilir.  Pause, take it all in and enter a state of calm where you feel relaxed and open to what is to come.


Waterfalls are everywhere in Iceland! Of course the gorgeous Sky Lagoon would feature a waterfall. Luxury Travel Docs found the cool water and invigorating massage of the waterfall at the far end of the lagoon to just another enjoyable feature of the full experience!



Step Two: Cool down with a cold plunge in Snorri's pool

Boost your happiness with cold therapy. Wander in the fresh Icelandic air. Or, if you’re brave, take a quick dip in the cold (10 C/50 F) plunge pool. It will stimulate your immune system, decrease blood flow in the body and tighten skin. There is an interesting history behind the name, Snorri's pool.

Snorri Sturluson, a revered Icelandic historian, poet and politician, had a man made geothermal bathing pool in Reykholt back in the 13th century. It was aptly named Snorralaug, which translates to Snorri’s pool and was fed hot water from the nearby hot spring Skrifla. Snorri had a tunnel built from his home straight to the pool so move easily back and forth to the pool. The pool still exists and can be visited

Snorralaug was once thought to be used only by Snorri, but the pool was mentioned much earlier in the Landnáma, or book of settlement in the 10th century. 

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon


Step Three: Relax with a view in the sauna

After your cold awakening, visit the sauna for 5 to 15 minutes. Allow the heat to open pores, remove toxins and cleanse your skin. While the heat works its magic, enjoy breathtaking views through the largest single window in Iceland and enjoy the sensory experience of gentle coastal acoustics.

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon


Step Four: Refresh in an energizing mist

Next, balance the heat by stepping slowly through Sky Lagoon’s cold fog-mist space. It’s stimulating and rejuvenating for mind, body and soul. Take a deep breath and refresh your senses.

Step 5: The Sky Body Scrub

It’s time for re-invigoration. By applying Sky Lagoon’s signature Sky Body Scrub, with almond and sesame oils mixed with sea salt, your skin will be exfoliated and glowing. Don't get it in your eyes! 

Step 6: The steam room

Steam will once more open your skin, allowing it to absorb the key therapeutic elements of The Ritual and maximizing the hydrating benefits of the Sky Body Scrub. This warmth eases your breathing and improves overall body function.

Step 7: Shower and relax in the lagoon

Rinse off the scrub in the rain shower. Then, step back into the warm geothermal lagoon. Lean back, close your eyes, breathe deeply, feel the results and enjoy the moment. Let all the benefits of the journey set in. You’ll feel every single muscle in your body relax. When you’re ready, head to the Lagoon Bar for a refreshment.

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon


Our thoughts were that the 7-Step Experience would be nice to experience, like going to a spa after arrival to combat jet lag.  Little did we know that the experience is so much more than steam and salt scrubs. Don't get us wrong, the spa like atmosphere and experience is wonderful and makes your skin feel amazing but what intrigued us after speaking with Heidi are the under-recognized benefits of the 7-step ritual: Alternating COLD and HEAT experiences.  

For a long time we have studied the Wim Hof method about the power of cold therapy. "Breathing, focus, and controlled exposure to cold are the three pillars on which the Wim Hof Method is built. Together they enable us to deal with ‘cold hard nature’, which are conditions that our bodies are no longer accustomed to, due to the modern-day comforts that characterize our lives. Exposing oneself to cold conditions such as cold showers and ice baths is related to serious health benefits, including stress relief , better sleep , faster recovery from physical exercise , and even relief from symptoms that are related to diseases like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis." (from www.winhof.com) We suggest reading the latest book by Wim Hof about his powerful method for realizing our physical and spiritual potential. Click the photo below to see the formats available and reviews at Amazon.


Not only are Icelanders obsessed with their geothermal swimming pools and their natural hot springs, but many people also love to swim in the cold North Atlantic ocean! 

In fact there is a great spot in Reykjavík that is geothermally heated and is a great place for people to swim. On a warm summer day, The Nauthólsvík beach is one of the most popular spots for groups of locals who like to indulge in the benefits of cold sea swimming, all year long! 

What is incredible is the invigorating feeling that you experience when moving from a cold to heat experience.  Your body will tingle for several minutes as blood flow increases.  There is science suggesting that alternating hot and cold therapy, can simultaneously reduce inflammation, stimulate circulation, and loosen tight muscles. This sensation will occur in two steps of the 7-Step Ritual: from Snorri's plunge pool to the sauna and from the cold mist to the steam room.


How is the Sky Lagoon Meaningful?

On so many levels, the Sky Lagoon is a meaningful experience. Understanding the history of Icelander's relationship with water and how the Sky Lagoon reflects this historically, physically and visually was enough for us, but there's more.  

Iceland is the "Land of Fire and Ice" and hot water is in abundance around the entire country. With so many resources, it is no surprise that Icelanders have learned to harness the power of geothermal water in many ways. The majority of households in Iceland use geothermal water. The water used in homes, hotels and guesthouses is both water that has been directly pumped from boreholes in the ground and water that has been used in power plants to produce electricity. Water is an abundant resource and we chuckled when Heidi told us that the Sky Lagoon had to install timers on the showers because Icelanders will just let the water run and never shut it off. 

Ecologically, the Sky Lagoon was designed to utilize the power of water and nature to conserve.  How? The water from the Lagoon is recycled throughout the floors and walls to heat the building.  

Courtesy of Sky Lagoon


While Sky Lagoon wows visitors with its warm and modern feel, the team ensured thoughtful historical elements and traditions were worked into the overall design and guest experience. The style of building used dates back to the settlement of Iceland in about 870 and was used all the way through to the mid 20th century. Settlers used turf to build their homes because it offered exceptional isolation and protection against Iceland’s harsh weather conditions. Turf was and continues to be in abundant supply on an island where historically construction materials were hard to come by (Have you heard the joke "what do you do if you get lost in and Icelandic Forest? Stand up!). While modern homes and buildings no longer use turf, they paid homage to this ancient Iceland design by building a turf wall at Sky Lagoon, a first for a modern building in the country. The turf wall greets guests as they arrive. You can see the turf wall first hand in our photo above with Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator.

When constructing the wall, turf layer specialist Guðjón S. Kristinsson and his team revived this ancient building technique by cutting heavy pieces of turf into tiles and then layering those tiles into a herringbone pattern inside a wooden frame. Icelandic turf is especially durable because it is mixed with ash from various volcanic eruptions, making it thicker and almost concrete-like.


We pressed the question about giving back to the community, because these events are not publicized.  You won't see much about this because, things like donating tickets to an entire hospital after the pandemic, were not meant to be PR stunts, but truly a "thank you" to healthcare heroes. We feel this is the perfect attitude to have and it made us so happy to hear that the Sky Lagoon gives back. We heard many examples of how this is done. 


Interesting Tidbits

  • The sauna in Sky Lagoon is truly magnificent and boasts the largest single window in Iceland, weighing in at 2.4 tons!
  • The Sky Lagoon is situated on Seal Pup Bay, so make sure you look for seals while enjoying your views from the sauna.
  • The Sky Lagoon is built on a former landfill.  Let's just say it's MUCH nicer now!
  • A bridge across the Fossvogur (Reykjavik to Kópavogur) is planned in the near future for buses, pedestrians and cyclists and that will make traveling to Sky Lagoon from Reykjavik even less than 6 miles. They have bike racks at Sky Lagoon to encourage cyclists to ride to the facility.
  • We learned that the 65 employees of the Sky Lagoon feel like a close knit family and we found that was true! Everyone enjoyed interacting with patrons having big smiles and friendly attitudes. Ages of employees range from about 20 to 50 years of age. 
  • Wristbands provided at check-in gives you access to your locker.  Place the wristband up to the locker to lock or unlock indicated by a color change on the locker.  If you forget what locker number you have, you can hold your wristband up to a reader and it will display what number you have (do you think this good or bad?)



Practical Information:

  • Taxis to the Sky Lagoon from central Reykavik costs about $32 each way. We met a group that walked from the Perlan museum and it took about 45 minutes. 
  • Get drinks at the end of the Ritual 7-Step Experience. Then you won't risk getting dizzy in the sauna or steam room. 
  • The sauna has sand "hour glass" timers for 15 minutes on the wall.  Use one to not overheat (it's 80 degrees Celsius in there)
  • When you approach the Sky Lagoon, the area looks to the wrong place but know that the area is developing around it. Kópavogur is one of the fastest growing suburbs of Reykjavik.
  • Ask for return taxi at the coffee counter when you're ready to leave. They will call one for you. 
  • There are three passes available.  The Pure Lite pass was just added that skips the 7-Step Ritual, but we feel that is part of the meaningful and healthy experience. The difference between the Pure pass and the Sky pass is the Sky Pass gives you access to private showers and changing rooms.  Shower gel, conditioner, lotion and blow dryers are available with both passes and it's only whether they are privately available (Sky pass) or in a common area (Pure and Pure Lite passes). 
  • If you want to shower and use lockers with your spouse, get the Sky Pass and you will not have to use unisex rooms. 
  • Bring a waterproof holder or dry-bag for you phone.  We liked getting our pictures done in the beginning and putting our phones away to enjoy the experience.  
  • Cycling to the facility is encouraged and there are large bike racks out front for storage.  With a distance of 6 miles from Reykjavik, cycling is a perfect and healthy option for transportation.  In fact, Heidi often cycles to work. 


 

 Summary

Visiting the Sky Lagoon was one of the highlights of our tour of Iceland.  We are grateful to Ragnheiður Harpa Haraldsdóttir for taking the time to explain not only the meaningful and healthy elements of the Sky Lagoon, but giving us tremendous insight into the Icelandic culture. Geothermal and cold water experiences are at the heart of daily life in Iceland and it is not something to miss. We hope our post has given you some insight into why you should make experiencing this a priority for your travels. In our opinion, skip the Blue Lagoon which we find to be too touristy, and take the time to immerse yourself in the experience at the Sky Lagoon. Or if you feel like it try both.  Have you visited the Sky Lagoon or the Blue Lagoon?  If so, leave us a comment about your experience below! 






Friday, July 23, 2021

Review of New JFK American Express Centurion Lounge and Speakeasy in New York City

 

When Traveling through JFK use your American Express Platinum Card to gain Access to the New Centurion Lounge in Terminal 4 for a good meal and refreshment before your flight.  While you’re there, checkout the Speakeasy bar (if you can find it)!










Is it worth taking the long walk from the end of concourse B to this location if you have time.  Allow 15-20 minutes walk time to get to the Centurion lounge if you have a layover at JFK.  However finding the lounge is not very easy still, although it is a little easier than the old location at JFK where you felt like you were entering a prohibited employee only area.  When coming from A or B concourse it is located above the duty free shopping area.  Look for the Caviar House seafood restaurant or Kiehl’s and take the elevator to the 4th level.  If you are departing NYC from JFK the Centurion lounge is conveniently located inside security.  







Friday, July 16, 2021

Passenger tests positive for COVID-19 on Jupiter Sky, cruise is cancelled and Viking Jupiter’s itinerary in question

 Jupiter sky Iceland’s natural beauty welcome back cruise pauses in Akureyri, Iceland.


Much speculation has been made about how the cruise industry will return.  When Viking ocean announced welcome back cruises to Iceland, one of the first European countries to reopen, we jumped on the opportunity. We set sail on the Viking Jupiter on July 11 from Reykjavik. 





Viking has enacted strict COVID-19 protocols.  


  1. Our ship is 1/2 capacity since we are the first sailing of this ship since COVID-19 began 
  2. We must social distance and have no large gatherings
  3. Masks must be worn onboard and on buses
  4. Daily temperature checks are performed
  5. Tracking devices are worn for potential contact tracing. 
  6. Daily saliva PCR tests for COVID-19 are performed. 
  7. Frequent hand washing and sanitization is necessary 
  8. All passengers and crew are vaccinated 

Make sure you get a cover for your vaccine card!  We love the kind where the card can be removed to add booster record at a later date rather than laminating your card! Click below to check these out at Amazon!

 




We knew this voyage would be at risk for trip interruption.  Over the last few days reports were trickling in about Viking Sky having a passenger that tested positive for COVID-19.  That led to the passengers not being allowed to disembark and two of their ports. Last night reports were that the remainder of the Viking Sky’s cruise was canceled and they would be returning to Reykjavík.


This morning we arrived for our planned shore excursions at 8 AM only to sit there for another two hours hoping to disembark. The crew was excellent at updating us about what was occurring. But they only told us that we were being delayed. Eventually the captain came on the loudspeaker and informed us that the local police were having issue with potential for COVID-19 positive passengers. The captain reassured us that we had obtained pre-clearance from the government of Iceland for arrival today but unfortunately that did not correlate with what the locals wanted. As of now over four hours later we are still waiting for word about the status of our port and perhaps even cruise.


The captain’s last update was that local authorities wanted to inspect the ship for protocols but it was happening slowly.  That’s was a few hours ago. 




Kudos to Viking for making our morning comfortable with refreshments, including mimosas, and entertainment.


Many of us on board saw that our buses for sure excursions were leaving after about 1 to 2 hours and some of us also noticed an ambulance pull up to the cruise ship. This ended up being not due to a Covid positive passnger but actually for a passenger who fell and broke her hip.


This highlights the need for having insurance particularly on very expensive vacations and when there is what seems to be a high chance of trip interruption for either personal or health reasons like today.


Rumors are circulating that passengers aboard Sky will receive a 50% refund for a cruise canceled 1 day early with 3 missed ports. The Sky has not arrived in Reykjavik yet and they do not know their fate. More recent reports are that a cruise voucher was provided and open bar started at noon. 


Update: Viking Sky passengers will disembark on July 17 as planned with a future cruise voucher equivalent to 50% of cruise cost. 


Update: After losing our day in Akureyri, we were able to go ashore in every other port and the cruise finished normally for most passengers.  There was no further communication from any Viking staff to the passengers.  A rumor was afloat that the COVID positive test was a false positive, but we know this to not be true.  Several passengers who were located near the positive individual, were quarantined in their respective cabins for the remainder of the cruise.  We know this because we directly messaged with one of them.  Understandably, Viking was trying to limit panic and confusion for all aboard, all while trying to keep the passengers safe and protect the privacy of those affected.  







Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!

No doubt, 2020 and 2021 have been difficult times to travel, especially internationally, and maybe you aren't yet ready to jump on a plane to explore the world. Now you can get feed your wanderlust from home using the new Amazon Explore for Prime members. Amazon Explore is an interactive live streaming service that lets you learn, shop and discover new places right from your computer.  LTD took advantage of an introductory code which made our experience in Old Town Jerusalem free (NOTE this offer has expired)!

The experiences are extensive and include options from Culture & Landmarks, Food & Drink, Learning & Creativity, Wellness & Beauty, Events & Entertainment, Nature & Outdoors and even Personal Shopping - FROM AROUND THE WORLD.


Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Our guide Eliav was right on time and what a great place to start!

What About Locations?

Amazon Explore experiences are available from hosts around the world — Australia, Canada, European Union, Israel, Central America, South America, Asia, UK and the USA. To fine tune the experience for what you want at the start of the tour, share with your host what you’re interested in and what to skip. See our favorites below!

How?

You need a laptop or desktop computer with an up-to-date browser (Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox), a high-speed internet connection of at least 5 mbps (you can test yours by typing the phrase ”test my speed” in any search browser), a microphone and speakers to communicate with your host. You can opt to not use a microphone where there would be no interaction with a host, but we prefer the interactive tour.  Phones and tablets are NOT supported yet.

Specifics

Search experiences on the Amazon Explore page. Once you have chosen an experience there are several dates and times to schedule.  We didn't find it difficult at all to book.  We checked out and paid right way.  You can cancel or reschedule your appointment up to 24 hours before the session begins. We were able to add this to our calendar when we booked and an email was sent to remind us of our session about 48 hours before. Click the link provided in your email to take you to "Your Sessions" page when you are ready to join.  We recommend logging on about 10 minutes early to test your connection. Prompts will ask you to test your microphone and audio.  The countdown clock switches to a cue to join live when your guide is ready to begin. 


Our experience:

We received one email reminding us of our scheduled event and clicking on that email took us directly to the Amazon Explore page.  The directions to test our microphone and sound system provided were simple to follow.  Since we had to use a computer, we elected to cast our screen to our large screen television which was easy and allowed us to tour in comfort.  We would love some more in depth instruction on how to operate the interface better.  Our guide gave us some instruction and reminders at the beginning such as asking questions, taking photos, and pointing out interesting sites that we wanted to learn more about (we will mention these in more detail below).  

The technical issue we had was that we zoomed the image projected by our guide to 2X, which was evident in the lower right of the interface.  We tried everything that Safari/Mac allows to zoom out, but this was clearly and interface issue and not our Mac.  But nonetheless, we still were able to see everything because our guide was great at centering the images, so objects weren't out of screen.  We could see the full screen he was framing by taking a photo.  At times, due to poor connection (his or ours, we think his because he told us when this would happen) 

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
There were some connectivity problems and we could not get the platform to go back from 2X to actual size. 


The tour was amazing and even though we have been to Jerusalem twice, it was a completely different experience.  We learned more about the division of the ethnic quarters of the Old Town, the city walls and construction of the temple.  What was most noticeable to us was the relative lack of tourists!  Do you ever feel smothered by other tourists when you visit a new place?  COVID-19 has really changed that!  For example, look at our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcre that unmanageable in 2018 and compare it to our recent virtual visit! Details are so much easier to see and enjoy!

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 2018 (Left) and Virtually with Eliav in 2021 (Right)


Our guide was good at summarizing what we would see, interacting with us and guaging our interest and desires for our tour.  We chose a historical perspective and Eliav delivered entwining ancient to recent history effortlessly.

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Eliav pointing to what we will visit

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
The Jaffa Gate


Here was what we saw

We started next to the Jaffa Gate and learned a lot about the great Suleman Walls built in 1542. After passing through the Jaffa Gate (1 of 7 gates) we learned how the walls were built. The two graves of Suleiman’s architects, who failed to include Mount Zion and the old City of David within the walls are located just inside the Jaffa Gate. Suleiman decapitated the men and buried them there. We walked to reach King David Tower and saw the phases of construction as evidenced by different stone levels. The Cardo was Jerusalem‘s main street 1500 years ago and we viewed it from above and enjoyed watching locals enjoying the site just like Romans would have millennia ago.  

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
The Cardo


The Cardo was originally paved in the 2nd century when Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman polis called Aelia Capitolina. The Cardo was extended south to the area of today’s Jewish Quarter in the 6th century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In its day, The Cardo was an exceptionally wide colonnaded street running through the heart (or cardo) of the city on a north-south axis, connecting many of Byzantine Jerusalem’s major institutions.  Parallel rows of columns supported a red ceramic tile roof and an arcade ran along, at least part of its eastern side. 


As we walked through the Armenian Quarters, we learned about the unique Armenian history and why they are there in the Old City of Jerusalem. We will pass by the Armenian Church, saw the unique architecture and symbolism of the Armenian Quarter.  Next to the Jewish Quarter, where we started with the Broad Wall, which we had never seen before. This mighty wall, twenty feet thick and ten feet high in places, was commissioned by King Hezekiah of the Kingdom of Judah in the eighth century BCE, part of an ambitious plan to bolster the city's defenses in the wake of the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel.  


The Broad Wall was made of the Gray Stones at the Bottom Right


Next we reached the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall of the Old City. Eliav gave a great history on the Wailing Wall but oriented us to the full extent of the Western Wall and what portion is actually the "Wailing Wall". Let's just say the Wailing Wall is part of the Western Wall but the Western Wall is not necessarily the Wailing Wall.  He told us who can visit the Temple Mount and its mosque.  All visitors are able to tour the compound.  Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa Mosque. 


What a great view of the Temple Mount and Wailing Wall

We have never seen the David Market so empty!


And finally, we walked through the David Market (which was empty due to COVID!) to reach The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Eliav stood outside where the reception was good to give us a very detailed history of the magnificent church and because it was not very crowded, was able to give us close up views of crosses carved on the doors and even the elaborate doors, including the locks that secure the church during the nighttime hours. Alas, we had to say goodbye after 1.5 hours.  Eliav was amazing and gave us the extra time needed to see this magnificent and historical city in more detail than one hour would allow!

Entering the Area of our Final Stop

A perfect view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Eliav pointing out crosses carved into the columns of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Looking at the remarkable door locks and the 

A monk in a hurry!

Dome over Stone of Anointing

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Stone of Anointing (unedited) with Mosaic

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Alas, we had to say goodbye to Eliav!



Some tours we would love to do...

Needs of Amazon Explore

1. Instructions on operating the interface ahead of time and not by the guide.  The guides should be able to assist real time and therefore need instructions, but we would like to be able to spend sometime ahead making sure we understand operating the interface so not to waste our paid time with guide. 

2. Opportunity to gift Explore sessions - yes you can give a gift card that allows this, but we mean specific sessions.

3. Television interface

4. Ability to tip the guide - we believe this would incentivize guides even more than reviews

5. Two-way video interaction

6. Interactive map of guide's location

7. Message host before and/or after session to set expectations, interests or ask follow-up questions

8. Group sessions (let's have an Amazon Explore party!)

The Bottom Line:

In this day and age of connectivity, amidst a global pandemic, it's no surprise that Amazon would provide virtual tours to Prime Members.  This is not a new concept, but the one-stop shopping provided by Amazon makes this easy.  The feedback provided by other members will be helpful and we expect that Amazon will perfect this platform in the future to make the performance, experience and specifics even better.  We look forward to seeing what comes of this Beta trial.  Thank you so much to our guide, Eliav, for making our session everything we hoped for and more! 




Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review of Sherpani Soleil AT Multi-Way Anti Theft Bag as Backpack, Tote, Shoulder or Crossbody

Hey everyone how’s it going?!  We’re so happy you’re joining us today!  A backpack or crossbody equipped with various features that protect your belongings from criminals is an ideal bag for daily use and definitely traveling. The AT collection from Sherpani  have features that help in safeguarding their bags. 

The Soleil AT bag has all of these features like zipper locks, anti-slash bottom and strap, chair loop lock system and RFID protection but it has so much more.

Before we get started we wanted to remind you that all proceeds from our channel go to charity.  Please help GIVE by visiting our sponsors, subscribing to our YouTubechannel, commenting or following us at Facebook.  We really appreciate your support!  We have loads of videos about meaningful locations around the world, great travel hacks and useful travel gear, like what we’re gonna show you today.  

As we love to say, your vacation isn’t going to be what you expect if you get RIPPED OFF!  Thats where the Sherpani Soleil Anti-Theft bag that we’re gonna review today, comes in…We love this bag for its versatility and look! I will drop a link to buy this bag in the post below and remember that proceeds from links like this go to charity! So let’s get to it!



In today’s world most of us are carrying items that we probably feel are indispensable.  Things like wallets, debit and credit cards, passports and of course our smartphones and other electronics. Anything we can use to keep these items secure is pretty important to me and that’s why we always use antitheft bags.  In this post we'll go over 

  1. General Features
  2. Anti-theft Features
  3. Pockets
  4. Cons

In this post you can see our full video review by clicking the photo below or jump to specific parts of the video by clicking on our links throughout the post. 


General Features




This bag can be carried three different ways!  As a backpack, a crossbody or a tote! That’s great so you don’t have to bring too many bags with you on vacation.  

Friday, May 28, 2021

Four Seasons Resort Maui Invites Guests Who Give Back to Come Back

Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!  This is a great opportunity to experience giving back in a beautiful location with beautiful people! 

Luxury resort adds new experience to successful Mālama Hawaiʻi program, designed for mindful travelers, with the reward of a resort credit and a complimentary night for a future stay




As part of a commitment to promoting responsible travel, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is asking guests to take a trip that gives back - to Maui and themselves. Today, the Resort announces a new Mālama Hawaiʻi volunteer experience that allows guests to discover Maui’s storied past through hands-on processing of historic artifacts and documents at Lahaina Restoration Foundation. The reward for participation: a USD 250 Resort credit to be applied to their current stay and a gift certificate for a one-night luxury accommodation in an Ocean View Room for a future stay.



“Mālama means ‘to care for,’ and this program is perfect for guests who are not only interested in leaving Maui a better place than when they arrived but also finding a deep meaningful connection to this very special place we call home,” says Four Seasons Resort Cultural Ambassador “Aunty Wendy” Tuivaioge.

Lahaina Restoration Foundation is a non-profit organisation with the mission to restore, preserve and protect the physical, historical and cultural legacies of Maui, and honour the era of the Hawaiian Monarchy. Guests will embark on a three-hour discovery of Maui’s history through measuring, describing and/or transcribing historic artifacts and documents from all eras of Maui’s past, including Kingdom of Hawaii, Missionary, Whaling and Sugar periods. The experience includes a brief training session, work with historic objects, and a tour of a historic site or museum customized for the guest’s interest.





Lahaina Restoration Foundation Deputy Executive Director Kimberly Flook says, “We are excited to offer a chance for guests to connect with Lahaina Restoration Foundation and to assist in the important work of museum collections care. By volunteering through the Resort's Mālama Hawaiʻi program, we will be able to further open the door to the past and bring more of Maui's unique stories to a broader audience.”

The Resort originally launched the initiative upon reopening its doors in November 2020, in collaboration with Pacific Whale Foundation, as part of the state’s Mālama Hawaiʻi program. Guests who volunteer for shoreline debris monitoring and clean-up work receive the same reward of a Resort credit and future one-night accommodation.

Over the duration of the program’s first six months, thousands of pieces of debris have been documented and discarded by the Resort’s guest volunteers. “Four Seasons Maui has helped to bring engaged visitors to the island who are providing valuable community science work,” says Pacific Whale Foundation Conservation Advocate Shelby Serra. “Guests are both removing the immediate threat of marine debris from our shorelines, while contributing valuable data that helps Pacific Whale Foundation mitigate the threat to whales, dolphins and all marine life.”

Resort guests who are interested in participating in the Mālama Hawaiʻi program may contact the Concierge via email at Concierge.Maui@fourseasons.com for more information.