It's Mardi Gras Time in New Orleans!!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, is one of those fun events that everyone should attend at least once in their lifetime! A combination of statewide parties, celebrations, parades and just plain craziness, Mardi Gras is truly an event not to be missed.

The 2019 Mardi Gras parades are already underway, but there's still time to partake in this years' festivities as the celebrations don't hit a fever pitch until Fat Tuesday, March 5, 2019.



So, what's Mardi Gras all about? Let's take a look... Organized parade groups, known as krewes, ride high atop their flamboyant floats while throws (trinkets, necklaces, cups & coveted commemorative doubloons) are flung out into the flailing arms of the rambunctious crowds. It's not uncommon for one krewe of only 200 hundred members to have over 3,000 parade participants!

Photo: Pat Garin
During Mardi Gras, parade royalty will attend various bal masque (masquerade parties). King cakes will be savoured - they're a traditional brioche pastry baked in a crown-like circle, decorated in Mardi Gras colors, and with a plastic baby (or prize) inside - the lucky person who finds the baby is the next person to hold a king cake party! Mass quantities of alcohol will be consumed. And finally, Rex, the King of Mardi Gras Carnival, will be crowned on Fat Tuesday. 

Check out these fun facts about Mardi Gras in New Orleans:
  • more than 500,000 King Cakes are sold during Mardi Gras
  • Carnival colors are purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power)
  • the oldest Krewe of Comus was founded in 1857
  • 95% of the areas' 35,000 hotel rooms will be full!
  • the largest Mardi Gras bead producer sells 1 billion strings each year!
  • just prior to Fat Tuesday, the super parades (krewes such as Endymion & Bacchus) will toss 1.5 million cups & 2.5 million doubloons into the parade crowds


Mardi Gras 2019 celebrations will culminate until the grand finale on Fat Tuesday, March 5, 2019, when the non-stop partying, nakedness, and crazy fun on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter comes to an abrupt end at midnight. And it truly does. At midnight, the street cleaners come out, as do the police, to remove anyone who's lingering - signalling the end of another Mardi Gras season.

So, Happy Fat Tuesday everyone - it's Mardi Gras Time in New Orleans!!

For more information on Mardi Gras festivities including the 2019 Parade Schedule, visit the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau.


   

Best Travel Bucket List Ideas

Indonesia - Bromo by Lenka Sediva via Flickr
When I first saw this incredibly impressive Best Travel Bucket List from Thrillist Travel, I was intrigued. Are any of these ideas on my list? Have I already crossed any destinations off my list? I'm happy to say that I have I completed 10 or 11 of them, but would love to complete them all!



Here are the Top Travel Bucket List goals from this list for me:



1. Hit all Seven Continents

2. Live or Study Abroad for at least Four Months

3. See Your Favorite Animal in the Wild: I'd like to expand this to animals, plural, which includes wanting to see the Big Five, plus pandas and koalas, of course. But I can cross Bengal tigers off my list having seen them on my amazing trip to India!!

4. Walk along the Great Wall of China


6. Take Your Time in Italy

7.  Drink Scotch in the Scottish Highlands/Make 5 New Friends in an Irish Pub: while I'm gluten free, not by choice, this might prove to be challenging, so I'll stick with just visiting Ireland and Scotland!

8. See Lost Ancient Cities: I would love to see Machu Picchu, Pompei, Angkor Wat, Easter Island and Petra. I was so close to Petra once, I'll never forgive myself for not making the trek!!

9. Spend Enough Time in a Beach Paradise that you Forget Everything Else: I've been to many a beach paradise, but I've never stayed long enough to experience this. It's definitely a travel buck list goal :) Love what the article says here: do it for long enough that you lose track of the days of the week, then couldn’t begin to guess what your work email password ever was, and eventually forget your return flight altogether. -- Sam Eifling

Love them all!! 


    

Costa Rica on a Budget!


Photo Courtesy of Marvin Garcia, Mardigi Tours
Are you still dreaming of visiting Costa Rica? Well, how about visiting Costa Rica on a budget??! While we can't help with airfare (although we an provide a list of airlines flying into Costa Rica) we can offer you a great deal on the best affordable condo with beautiful ocean views in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica!
Playas del Coco is a small fishing village with shops & restaurants in the northwestern province of Guanacaste on the Pacific Ocean. It's just west of Costa Rica's second largest international airport, Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport in Liberia, about 20 minutes by taxi or local bus from our condo.

Our condo is located in a small, quiet complex of only 17 units (not like you'll find with some other bustling condo developments in Playas del Coco, eek!). It's a 2-story condo that offers views of the beautiful Pacific Ocean and Tortuga Island from the second-floor bedroom balcony and/or the spacious rooftop terrace. You'll also get mountain views - and maybe monkeys! - at the back of the property.



Our condo offers a beautifully kept pool just 7 steps down from our door! We have spacious 10-foot-high ceilings that create an airy feeling, plus it's fully air-conditioned throughout to keep you cool and comfortable during your stay. We have a custom kitchen featuring Costa Rican wood cabinets, granite countertops and all the necessities. There's a dining room (plus a shared poolside outdoor dining area) and a living space. We offer a safe for personal belongings, a flat-screen TV and of course, free Wi-Fi! The bedroom features a plush, king-sized pillow-top bed so you can get a restful night's sleep after a day of fun in the Costa Rican sun.



Please Note: We have several sets of stairs leading up to our condo, plus a roof top terrace that's accessed by a spiral staircase, so unfortunately if stairs don't work for you, our condo may sadly not be the best fit :(
We purchased our condo in 2011 and are proud to say we've never raised the rates! During high season, November to March inclusive, our rates are as follows:


  • $75 (US) per night, with a 3-night minimum stay
  • $400 (US) per week
  • $1,100 (US) per month

Photo Courtesy of Marvin Garcia, Mardigi Tours
Essentially everything you've imagined doing in Costa Rica can be accessed while staying at our condo - and just think of all the money you'll save so you can enjoy more snorkeling, scuba diving, beach combing, horseback riding, mountain biking, sea kayaking and sunset sailing! Within an hours' drive, you'll also find turtle watching, zip-lining, white water rafting, surfing, bird watching and even Parque Volcan Rincon de la Vieja, with its' steamy volcano. And, we can help you arrange any tours you'd like with our friends at Mardigi Tours!

Want More Information About Playas del Coco & Rent Our Costa Rica Condo? 
Our website is chock full of information for visitors including weather, finding the best beachesdriving tips and car rentals in Costa Rica and general fast facts. Check them out! If you have any questions, please just ask ;) 

Email us today at: rentourcostaricacondo@gmail.com. Wondering if our condo is available for your chosen dates? It's just a click away to find out by checking Our Availability.

Pura vida! 🐵

   

Castlegar, BC: Heritage and Culture of the Russian Doukhobors

Super Natural British Columbia, Canada.There's really nothing like it! Having lived in the West Kootenay area between 2 small towns for years - Trail, with its Italian heritage, and Castlegar, with its Russian Doukhobor heritage - the West Kootenay area provides a wealth of culture for visitors of all ages.

The Russian Doukbobors migrated to Castlegar in the early 1900s, prior to and just after the establishment of a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station in the town. By 1913, there were approximately 5,000 Doukhobors in the West Kootenay area, many of whom settled into Castlegar and its surrounding lands. After the Great Depression ended in 1939, the Doukhobor population in Castlegar had grown to 10,000 residents.

Zuckerburg Island Heritage Park
One of the coolest ways to experience the Doukhobor culture in Castlegar is by visiting Zuckerburg Island Heritage Park along the confluence of the Kootenay and the Columbia Rivers. This one-of-a-kind nature experience includes a suspension bridge, a 1930s Russian Orthodox chapel house, sculptures and a cemetery, along with 2 hectares of forested paths to explore at your leisure. Zuckerburg Island Heritage Park is open seasonally from May to September. But if you're visiting the area in October, there's always a popular, and some say scary, haunted house on Zukerburg Island!

Doukhobor Discovery Centre
Another great way to experience more of the local Russian culture is by visiting the Doukhobor Discovery Centre across from the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Here you can wander around to view some of the early 1900s carriages, and then check out more than 1,600 items tracing the history of this vibrant way of life in the centres museum. It's a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the traditional Doukhobor culture. The Doukhobor Discovery Centre is open seasonally from May through September.

Linotype Wapiti by Carl Sean McMahon
Beyond learning about the heritage and culture of the Russian Doukhobors, Castlegar is also home to the Kootenay Gallery of Art, the Castlegar Station Museum (the old CPR railway station mention above), and to the super popular Sculpturewalk, which has gained Castlegar the nickname of being the Sculpture Capital of Canada. And don't miss summertime fun at Millennium Park with its swimming ponds and a concession stand.

For more information on the beautiful city of Castlegar and its proud Russian heritage - where Russian language classes are still provided in local schools today - visit Castlegar.ca. And one of my personal favourites when visiting Castlegar? Kelly's Doukhobor Borscht. Got to have it, and it's gluten free!! It's just like having to visit the 'world famous' Colander Restaurant in neighbouring Trail, BC, don't miss out!!