Villa La Angostura, Neuquén, Northern Patagonia, Argentina

Villa La Angostura is a town in the province of Neuquén, at 780 meters over sea level, in Argentina, and the capital of the Department of Los Lagos. The city is located in the South of the province, in Northern Patagonia, on the northwest shore of the Nahuel Huapi Lake. It’s in the northern sector of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, surrounded by lakes, forests and mountains, it is considered one of the most beautiful cities of Andean Patagonia. It’s a few kilometres from Cardenal Samoré, which allows to cross the border with Chile and with other nearby towns such as San Carlos of Bariloche and San Martín of los Andes, it forms a popular tourist corridor both in summer and in winter. The city is bordered by mountains : Bayo (1,782 m), Inacayal (1,840 m) and Belvedere (1 992 m). It has an average annual temperature of 8 ° C, although the variation between summer and winter is remarkable, with a maximum of 30 ° C and – 15 ° C respectively. The summers are hot and dry. The humid climate of the Andean Patagonia generates significant snow in July, August and September. The geography of the place enables a wide variety of sports and well-defined activities according to whether it is in the summer or winter season. During the winter the most practical are the skiing, snowboarding and mountaineering; during the summer: water sports, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding. Sport fishing, occupies a very important place ifor the tourism and is recognized internationally (trout and salmon).

Tips

You can stay in the city and visit different interesting places nearby like Villa Traful (about 7km), the border with Chile (42km), San Carlos de Bariloche (87km), San Martín de los Andes (92km). You can rent a car or go on excursions with local tourism companies.
If you like hiking, go to Port Angostura (town port) which gives you access to the Mansa Bay and a beautiful beach. From there, you can go on a trip to get to the wood of Arrayanes.
If you go in February, there is a 3- day festival ‘ Provincial festival of gardens’ that rewards the most beautiful gardens of the city and the winner is exempt from property tax. There are parades of cars, street performances, circus, music, a craft fair and a gastronomic fair with tasting of regional products.
If you go in winter, every Friday, you can see the ‘ Torches’ falling’ organized by the local ski school. It is a group of skiers going down with torches lit from the main runway of the Bayo Mount. At the program: hot wine and music.

Boldt Castle, Thousand Islands Archipelago, Alexandria, New York, USA

Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island in the Thousand Islands Archipelago on the St. Lawrence River, along the northern border of the State of New York, in Alexandria. This is a very important and known touristic place. Millionaire George Boldt, general manager of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and manager of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, and his family, used to stay in a cottage in the area near Wellesley Island. He loved the region very much and decided to build a castle for his beloved wife; Louise. The Boldt family asked to the GW & WD Hewitt architectural firm to build a sumptuous 6-storey castle with Italian gardens, tennis courts, golf courses, stables, a polo field and other four buildings on Heart Island with a yacht shelter on a neighboring island which they owned as well. He wanted to give this monument to his wife for Valentine’s Day but unfortunately she died in 1904 because of heart problems. After the tragedy, the millionaire decided to stop everything … After 73 years, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought Heart Island and the nearby yacht shelter in 1977 for one dollar, with the agreement that all revenues from the operation of the castle would be reserved for the restoration. The site followed improvements for several years and the original construction was also improved with marble, a dome of stained glass windows and the woodwork of the grand staircase; contemporary innovations that have embellished even more the castle. Most of the rooms are furnished with contemporary objects. In the unfurnished rooms of the castle there are exhibits showing images and objects made in the archipelago of the Thousand Islands at the time when the Boldt lived there. The bridge that connects the two banks can be lifted and lowered as required.

Tips

The castle can be visited with a fee in US dollar with a very good exchange rate for the Canadians. The price includes the shuttle transfer to the quay of the family ships, where 4 boats that belong to them are in demonstration.

It is accessible by ferry or tourist boat from Alexandria Bay or Gananoque, Rockport or Ivy Lea, all three in Ontario.

You must pass the US Customs and Border Protection office so you must provide proper identification.

Gold Rock Beach, Bahamas

Gold Rock Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is part of The Lucayan National Park and is protected by the Bahamas National Trust. It’s about 25 miles from Freeport. It is a secluded beach with fine sand and crystal water. It’s said the beach has its name because the shore looks golden in the rising and setting sun. When the tide is low, the shoreline of the beach spans for meters into the sea. There are BBQ pits, picnic tables and benches there, but no other amenities. The services are in the parking area. You can also snorkel or take a tour to make a kayak excursion. You can find the Lucayan Caverns, the world’s longest surveyed underground cave system, on the North of the beach. You must pay a fee to enter the park and you can park in a small gravel area and you will have to cross the street and take the left path to arrive to the beach (about 5 minutes walk).

Tips

You can go there on a jeep excursion, by taxi or you can rent a car. Remember they drive on the left. You must take Grand Bahama Highway East. It’ll take about 45 minutes from the city or about an hour from the cruise pier.

You must take everything you want with you snacks, drinks, chairs, etc. Remember there’s nothing on the beach but if you are lucky, you can sometimes find somebody selling drinks at the entrance of the park.