Three Portugal Beach Destinations That You Shouldn’t Miss

Tourists looking to avoid the conventional trips to Spain should look to the west and towards Portugal, a charming little country with a fantastic Atlantic coastline. Package holidays to Portugal that are organized by tried and tested tour operators are favorable summer options for those who want to unwind and relax in a place that is known for its beautiful sunshine and pristine beaches.

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The Algarve
The Algarve is situated in the southern reaches of Portugal and consists of a large region of the country. It’s a popular hotspot for tourists and features a number of sun-stained cities and towns such as Faro (the capital), Praia da Luz and Lagos. It’s a relatively inexpensive area as well, populated with clean beaches and beautiful waters, making it an ideal holiday experience for all the family. As well as beach-fun, Lagos offers an inner look at the old remnants of the country’s rich history and is a charming, quaint town, adding a little extra incentive to visit.

Madeira & Porto Santo
Madeira is part of Portugal but sits in the Atlantic Ocean and is classified as an archipelago. The ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’ is a fascinating visit, full of rich, tropical wildlife and unmatched in terms of climate (in Europe, anyway). Its vast, mountainous terrain makes it perfect for hiking and those that decide to rent a car won’t be disappointed either. Porto Santo is an island in the north part of Madeira and features over nine-kilometers of beaches with tourism at the heart of the island’s income. The beaches here are the best in the entire archipelago and are said to have extreme healing properties as well.

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Porto is a renowned city in Portugal and sits on the coast so those interested in visiting beach-bars and restaurants with exquisite views should head here on their holidays. Visitors should take a cruise up the river and a stroll through the beautiful, cultural city as well as ordering an exotic drink in one of the many laid-back beach-bars.

Portugal gives it all when it comes to tourism and with much of the country surrounded by coast, it’s a very attractive and enticing offer. Visitors should be sure to consider the islands off the coast, such as Madeira, as they offer a little extra alongside the city-breaks, emphasized by the likes of Porto and the capital city, Lisbon.

Dick’s Last Resort Gatlinburg Tennessee

Gatlinburg Tennessee is a great place to take your family and have a great time. There are so many different places to eat, drink, and be merry. Even Dick’s Last Resort can be a lot of fun if you’re willing to be insulted.

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At Dick’s it’s all about having a good time, even for the waiters. They make jokes, insult you and tell you to go get your food yourself. Of course they are kidding and it’s all in good fun plus they have some really great southern bites to choose from.

Officially because everything is so official at Dick’s Dick is the ornery, politically incorrect curmudgeon who inspires his waiters to be outrageous, and surly. They dish out good grub, cold booze and heaping helpings of sarcasm. This is the place you actually get to spit straws at each other and get away with it. It’s a child’s dream location, even the grown up kind of child.

  • Eat, Drink And Be Wary!
  • Smart-Alec Funny Staff
  • Live Rock N’ Roll
  • Controlled Chaos!
  • All In Fun And Fun For All…Who Dare To Enter!
  • Located In Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler

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I went here with my friends, my traveling buddies and had fried gator with japs.

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Fried pickles with amazing dip

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A moonshine drink called a trash can, and yes I was sort of trashed.

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And I finished my meal with some salmon because I was trying to have something healthy with all that fried food. Then when it came to dessert I told the waiter to just bring one of each. And somehow I didn’t get a picture of any of them I just ate it all.

At Dick’s you really have to be prepared for the insults and be prepared to dish them right back at your server. They more you do the more fun you’ll have. It’s not a place for the uptight that can’t take a joke. It’s meant to be fun. And they do tone it down at your table if you have kids.

Exclusive Travel Coupon: Save in Gatlinburg Westgate River Terrace & Ripley’s Aquarium

As part of the trip I took to Gatlinburg a few months ago with Westgate Resorts I have a huge savings to share with you guys at the Westgate River Terrace. This is an exclusive special blogger savings on a Gatlinburg Getaway. The package includes:

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  • Luxury stay at Westgate River Terrace

The 205-room River Terrace Resort & Convention Center is conveniently located in downtown Gatlinburg. The River Terrace lies next door to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and features majestic views of the Smokies and easy access to Gatlinburg’s wide variety of family attractions, specialty shops and fine dining.

  • Gatlin-Burger Grill
  • Duck Blind Lounge
  • Two heated outdoor pools
  • Trolley to Wild Bear Falls Water Park
  • Located minutes from the downtown Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge
  • 4 Days and 3 Nights in Gatlinburg
  • 2 tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium
  • As low as $119
  • Additional Nights and Attraction Tickets Available

 

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This special offer also includes two tickets to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies! A favorite attraction in the Gatlinburg area, Ripley’s Aquarium features 10,000 sea creatures representing more than 350 individual species. Explore a tropical rain forest, the gallery of the seas, shark lagoon, penguin playhouse, a coral reef, sting ray bay and much more.

 

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I spent a few hours in the aquarium and liked it a lot better than I thought I would. There are so many different kinds of sea creatures that I’ve never seen before. I found huge crabs that made me think twice about ever eating crab again. I saw amazing fish and different species of sea horses, I never even knew existed. One of them looked like a dragon, so maybe dragons were real once upon a time.

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In an attempt to ward off predators, schooling fish swim in groups or schools (pictured above), as a way to look bigger than just one fish. In the wild, schools of fish may contain billions of fish and stretch for many miles. The disadvantage of the schooling behavior is that the fish are easily caught in nets.


About 30,000 species of living fishes exist.

They represent 50% of all vertebrate species, outnumbering all mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians combined!

I also saw the WEEDY SCORPIONFISH This fish is a master of camouflage and its frilly appendages help it to blend in with its surroundings. Their dorsal spines are venomous and can be painful if stepped on. It’s a lot of fun and a great package offered here. It’s a great way to have a good vacation with your family because there is more than enough to do in Gatlinburg.

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Book your Gatlinburg Vacation Today! Call 1-877-288-7422
Join Westgate Resorts for your Gatlinburg Vacation.
Call Today to save up to 20% when you book by Phone!
1-877-288-7422

This official Westgate Gatlinburg Offer is exclusive to our Website Blog Visitors. Only eligible by phone!

Wyndham Vacation Rentals & National Vacation Rental Month #VRMonth

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Wyndham Vacation Rentals.

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Going on a vacation is one of my favorite things to do. I love to travel so much and I love to take my family and choosing a place to stay can be challenging and expensive but it doesn’t have to be. It’s National Vacation Rental Month in July and that reminds me of how amazing it is to stay in rentals verses hotels. My favorite reason for staying in a rental property is because I can get the laundry done with the in-unit washers/dryers before I go home. I LOVE when we actually end up at home from a week long vacation and all our clothes are clean. My other reasons are because we save money with the kitchen by actually cooking meals instead of eating out for the entire vacation. And the price is usually cheaper than a hotel anyway and you all end up having your own rooms. This summer you can experience those benefits with savings of up to 35 percent off at WyndhamVacationRentals.com.

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Wyndham Vacation Rentals have locations in many different popular destinations. They have a property in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains, a place I just visited with my friends and they have homes in other popular destinations such as Myrtle Beach, the islands of Charleston, the Emerald Coast and Hilton Head Island.

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Celebrated during the most popular month to stay in a vacation rental, National Vacation Rental Month honors a better way to get away. And with a Wyndham, you get the added bonus of hotel-like amenities at many of its properties such as shuttle service, a concierge desk, and housekeeping. It’s the best of both worlds! You get the benefits of a hotel and of a house. Have the maids clean the house so all you do is enjoy yourself. I mean it’s up to you if you want to get your laundry done or not. And you have some protection with your vacation. With Wyndham Vacation Rentals, you can book knowing your vacation is backed by the Vacation Rental Bill of Rights, an industry-first service pledge that says you’re stay will be covered from start to finish.

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Wyndham Vacation Rentals.

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Where to Stay In The Tennessee Smoky Mountains: Westgate Resort Spa & Water Park

Tennessee was never really thought of as a vacation place for me but I had never been to Gatlinburg before either. Gatlinburg is a family city set up in the Smoky Mountains and is full of things to do. You could do a different thing every day and still not see everything in a two weeks time span. And while you’re in Tennessee enjoying all the things to do you need a place to stay. Why not stay at The Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort Spa and Water Park?

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I had an amazing view from my room. I could see the mountains and noticed how smoky they were. I never realized they got their name by the clouds that just rest against them like smoke. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa sits on approximately 255 acres, with 55 acres developed, adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the largest national park East of the Rockies.

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We had a tour of all the room options and it’s quite impressive how many of the rooms connect. Not all rooms connect but you can have quite a large group as even one room can sleep up to eight and then think of all those people you could add to your room by combining rooms. Plus they are nice rooms. I turned on the fireplace and enjoyed my Jacuzzi bathtub that I somehow didn’t get a photo of.

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This photo is of one of the rooms we toured. This room has a smaller bathtub than my room had. My room had a bathtub and a separate shower and my shower had like three different places that water came out of. As you can see in this tub there are two. It’s fun taking a shower with water coming out of different directions. Plus the water pressure is amazing. That’s important to me when I travel, I really love it when I have water pressure.

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Westgate’s Wild Bear Falls is the latest expansion to Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. This mountain-themed world-class family indoor water park features a state-of-the-art retractable roof, taking Mother Nature out of the equation! It’s really large and made for families. I wish I had my kids with me on this trip they would have had a blast at the water park every day.

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Even if my kids spent the whole day in the lazy river or going around under the water dump structures they would have had a blast. I think they might have even found of of the smaller slides to ride on with dad.

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The room is warm as the water is kept warm and the roof is retractable to let in a little air.

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And I did visit the spa too but let’s just say that deserves a post of it’s own. Overall it’s a great place to stay. You can get 3 days and 2 nights starting at $149. One thing that Westgate specializes in is events. Book an event with them and your stay is included in the price of the event. It’s a fantastic deal. You don’t have to be an owner to book an event just visit Westgate Events and or Westgate Resorts for your stay!

B&O Railroad Museum to Edgar Allan Poe’s

The Poe House, A National Landmark where Poe once lived from 1833-1835 with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins, will be re-opening to the general public on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., May 24 through December 28, 2014. statue

Visitors will experience the re-installed exhibits that share Edgar Allan Poe’s life and death story in Baltimore. During the self-guided tour, visitors will also stumble upon significant artifacts including china and glassware that Poe used when living with the Allan family in Richmond, Virginia and also Poe’s portable writing desk, chair and telescope. telescope

 

Admission for adults is $5 and $4 for seniors, active military and students (ages 13-21). Children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Tickets are available at the door or can be purchased in advance by the following link:  http://reservations.baltimore.org/6691_attraction-tickets_a1385.html.

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For more information on the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, visit www.poeinbaltimore.org

From Nashville to Gatlinburg In The Toyota Tacoma #LetsGoPlaces @Toyota

My good friend Kas from SouthernBellasWays received a Toyota Tacoma for the week to review and we drove it up to Gatlinburg from Nashville and back. On the way there we had a chance to catch up and just enjoy the ride. The Toyota Tacoma was the first time I’ve been inside a truck in a long time. I forget how high up they are. WP_20140427_17_01_02_Pro

For the ride I found the Tacoma to be quite comfortable. I was riding while Kas was driving and then all the sudden I just fell asleep. I had a good nap in my passenger seat. The Toyota Tacoma is the ultimate performer whether it’s hauling or towing. With an available 6500-lb. max towing capacity, Tacoma helps you complete feats of strength with a 4.0L V6 engine that’s more than meets the eye

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We had no issues making it up the mountain side. In most cars you have to shift down to low speed. I did see Kas messing with the speed but I never noticed the Toyota Tacoma struggle at all. Tacoma meets the most demanding situations head on. With 4WDemand, you can go from 2WD drive to 4WD high and back while Tacoma’s in motion, automatically locking the front hubs at speeds up to 62 mph. A turn and push of a dial and 4WD drive is engaged. Tacoma is one truck that doesn’t need a break to get the job done. Whether it’s Tacoma’s 5-speed manual transmission, available 6-speed manual transmission, or available 4- or 5-speed Electronically Controlled automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i), the one thing you can know for sure is you’ll have the power you need on tap right when you need it.

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We had a pretty basic model with no backup camera, special seat material, or heated seats. When I buy a vehicle I have to have the heated seats and love having a backup camera. I’m not sure I could go back to not having that. One of the other bonus features is the steering wheel controls. Steer more than just Tacoma with an available tilt/telescoping steering wheel with built-in controls. Keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, it’s easy to adjust the audio channels and volume, climate, Bluetooth® 9 hands-free phone and voice-command controls.

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We had a great time on the road trip together

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On the way back we drove in a downpour of rain. It was raining so hard at time we couldn’t see a thing. So it was nice being up so hight off the ground and the traction was really good. I wasn’t scared at all, well I was a tad bit afraid that a tornado would just come down the highway and get us but that had nothing to do with the safety of the car. Winking smile

May The Fourth Be With You #StarWarsRebelsEvent #ABCTVEvent #MillionDollarArmEvent

I’m super excited about May The Fourth this year because I’ll be in LA learning all about the new series Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD. My kids are super excited about Star Wars Rebels and we’re going to set the DVR to record it so we don’t miss a single episode.

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I’m also going to be visiting the set of Jimmy Kimmel.

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I will attend a live taping of JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! from a VIP room in the show’s theatre! Executive Producer Jill Leiderman will stop by before the show to chat and afterwards, Jimmy’s trusty security guard Guillermo Rodriguez will be your guide on a tour of the set! Plus, you will mix, mingle and chat with the creators/executive producers of a variety of ABC shows about their upcoming season finales & summer premieres AND visit the set of ABC’s sassy summer drama, MISTRESSES, where you will meet & greet with available cast members for interviews!

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And last but not least I will be attending the red carpet premiere of MILLION DOLLAR ARM (opening in theatres on 5/16).

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Sounds like it’s going to be full of entertainment.

Go Further with Ford Fusion Energi Up The 101 Redwood Coastal Highway #GoFurther @Ford

We spent our Spring Break this year going up and down the West coast of the US. Starting near Seattle we started our trek in our Ford Fusion Energi and headed down to LA for a visit to Disneyland. The Ford Fusion Energi is more than your typical hybrid vehicle. This car also has a battery that gives us up to 20 miles of electricity and the fun part is when you’re coasting down the mountain side we were able to rack up to 4 extra miles of electricity with the regenerative breaking system. It was AWESOME. We saved quite a bit of money on gas with this road trip car. DSC00138

After our visit in LA at Disneyland we decided to drive over to San Francisco and then from there take Highway 101 up the coast through the redwood forest and then all the way back up to Washington. The roads are quite windy a not many passing lanes but our car had no issues passing anyone and staying within the lines. In fact with the lane assistance and cruise control on together this car practically drives itself. The car also likes to let you know when it thinks you are not driving up to snuff by saying you should stop for a coffee break. Then if you continue to drive poorly it will make lots of red noises at you and the warning goes from yellow to red. DSC00142

The Ford Fusion Energi is amazing on the beach. And the kids were so excited to see sand they stopped right outside my son’s door and just started playing in the sand. They had so much fun, we all had so much fun. DSC00139

The only negative is that there isn’t a lot of trunk space for a road trip but our roof rack provided us with all the space we needed.

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Enjoy The High Life With a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Hot air balloon

All travel consideration provided by Experience Kissimmee.

On the last morning of my Florida trip, we had a very special activity planned as our grand finale: A hot air balloon ride! I’d never been on a hot air balloon before, so this was yet another first for me and something I was very excited about. Hot air balloon rides are very dependent on weather, so we crossed our fingers all week that we would be able to go. Luck was on our side and the conditions were right, so we left at 5:30 in the morning to watch the sun rise from a balloon!

Orlando at dusk

We arrived at Orlando Balloon Rides and went outside to watch the process of setting up and inflating the balloons while we waited to board. A few volunteers, including Melissa, helped hold the balloon in place while it inflated!

Melissa helps inflate the balloon

Balloon inflating

Me standing in front of the balloon as it inflates

Hot air balloon inflating

Once the balloon was inflated, it was time to climb in the basket and take off!

Inside the hot air balloon

Our hot air balloon pilot

Watching the sun rise from a balloon is simply gorgeous. We took off with two other balloons, and the captains would yell jokes at each other sometimes while we were in the air!

Hot air balloon at sunrise

Look at the spectacular views we were treated to during our ride:

Hot air balloon flies over trees

View of the ground and another balloon

Hot air balloon reflection in water

I’ve mentioned several times during my trip recaps that I have a healthy fear of heights. It was a little unnerving to me when we first launched because it takes a minute to adjust to being so far off the ground with just a basket between you and the sky. But I quickly acclimated! I did get some great shots with my Garmin VIRB camera, holding it with a death grip and pointing it down over the side of the balloon basket where my eyes didn’t dare to look (Or couldn’t see). I got a kick out of seeing the footage for the first time when I got home – my stomach lurches looking at this view!

The ride was smooth and simply lovely, with simply incredible sights. From this high up, Epcot Center looks like a marble!

Sun rising in the sky

The ground below

Two balloons

Beeb on the hot air balloon

I was coming down with a bad cold & had only gotten 2 hours of sleep when this was taken, so I’m not at my most photogenic, but you can see that I was there! Thanks Melissa for the photo!

Houses below us

Fog

Flying over water

Balloon coasting over water

Trees reflecting in the water

Sun shining down

Hot air balloon gliding along

Sun reflecting off water

The ride lasts for about an hour, and make a slow and gradual descent to the ground. Right before landing, you’re instructed to sit on the bottom of the basket and hold on to the handles in front of you – I was a little nervous about this part, but the land was completely effortless – you barely even felt it!

Getting out of basket

Once we landed and had the OK from our pilot, we climbed out of the basket. We landed in a field on a farm, and began the fascinating process of packing the balloon up.

Walking over the balloon

First, the pilot invited anyone who wanted to help to walk over the deflated balloon to flatten it! This was really interesting – at one point, the top of the balloon started falling back on us and we were cracking up!

Beeb kicking the balloon

Me kicking the balloon – photo courtesy Melissa.

Next, the pilot gathered the balloon up, and asked us to kick the sides of it so he could grab it more easily. What the photo above doesn’t show is that while I was doing this, I accidentally kicked the pilot. I’m so sorry!!

Holding the hot air balloon bag

Then, a group of volunteers held a large bag while the pilot and another group picked up the balloon and put it inside.

Putting the balloon in its bag

Once the balloon was in its bag, everyone leaned on it to help cram it in, just like it was an overstuffed suitcase!

U-Pick Citrus

Once the balloon was put away and loaded into its truck, we drove on the back roads from the farmland to a U-Pick Citrus grove right by the nearest major road. Here, we had a mimosa toast to our flight and looked around the storefront for a few minutes before driving back to Orlando Balloon Rides headquarters, where a breakfast buffet was waiting for us. We had to catch our flights home, so unfortunately we couldn’t stay, but I did have time to grab a piece of bacon and a Florida orange before driving straight to the airport to fly home!

Group photo with our hot air balloon pilot

With our hot air balloon pilot – photo courtesy
Experience Kissimmee.

Check out my video of the whole flight, from inflation to packing up the balloon:

I can’t think of a more phenomenal end to my unforgettable vacation than this hot air balloon ride – it was simply amazing, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

For More Information:

Orlando Balloon Rides
1-800-586-1884
Price: $185 per person for adults, $95 each for children.
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