The light of morning arrives early in the canyon, and with it the sweet sounds of birds enjoying a new day. If you can muster the energy, more adventure awaits down the canyon. Less than a mile away is Mooney Falls, and three miles further is Beaver Falls. Fifteen minutes down the path a sign states authoritatively “DESCEND AT OWN RISK.” It doesn’t really seem to give anyone much pause. Most people who have made it this far like a bit of adventure in their lives. As you climb down the face of the cliff, there are steel chains and rods firmly placed in the rock, providing holds as you work your way down. A rickety wooden ladder precariously hangs from the wall to help the brave maneuver the last 20 feet toward the bottom. One little jump and both feet are planted firmly on the ground.
Depending on where your room is located, you will only be about a 15-minute walk from even the most distant amenities. If you don’t feel like scuffing your new Jimmy Choos, there are free golf cart trollies that come by frequently and the hotel is laid out so that you are never that far from popular stops like restaurants, pools, or shopping. The resort was thoughtfully designed so that the users of the adults-only clothing-optional pool (aptly named Eden) are a safe distance from the toddler’s pool where SpongeBob might just make an appearance. Many resorts make it impossible to enter without crossing the money-grabbing gauntlet of the casino. At the Hard Rock, the casino has been tucked away into a front corner of the hotel. If you lose your money there, you have no one else to blame.
There are hundreds of quaint fishing villages along Ecuador’s Pacific coastline. Each one has its own particular charm or sight that makes visiting it a memorable vacation experience. Many of them advertise their locality for its great whale- or dolphin-watching opportunities. But the small town of Puerto Lopez has another claim to attract tourism. The area of the Pacific Ocean around Puerto Lopez plays host to the migration of the great manta rays that venture there in the thousands to mate.
Serving traditional French and Provencal cuisine, the “menu tradition” starts at around $48 while “meal gourmand” comes closer to $67. In-season additions are added to old favorites. Expect to spot the owner rounding the tables greeting his guests like long-lost friends. It’s not hard to see why, as you’ll return to Le Bistrot as well. The Risotto al Mar is not to be missed. In warmer weather, try al fresco dining on the square offering a view of the village, or remain indoors enjoying the natural coolness from the stone interior.
Angoulême is enclosed in ancient city walls that crown the hill on which the city rests. The ramparts, dating before the Middle Ages, divide the Old Town from the suburbs, which cascade down the hill and out into the luscious river valley below. The Charente River was once used to transport salt, wine, paper, and lumber, among other products, making the city a key commercial center historically. Today it is known as the international comic strip and cartoon capital, and hosts the International Comic Strip Museum in a former warehouse on the banks of the river.