Friday, May 27, 2011


The most famous ship since Noah’s Ark – THE RMS TITANIC – designed, built and launched in Belfast. Visitors to Northern Ireland’s capital city can connect with authentic people from its home town as they join in the celebrations to mark the anniversary of its launch in 2011 through to the 100-year anniversary of its tragic sinking in April 2012.

Susie Millar, owner and guide of Titanic Tours Belfast, is the great-granddaughter of Titanic engineer Thomas Millar, who worked for shipbuilder Harland & Wolff before boarding the Titanic as an engineer with the White Star Line.

Destined for a new life in New York, Thomas set out with 2,200 passengers and crew on April 12, 1912, only to be met with a tragic fate.

The Titanic story has been a part of Susie’s life since birth – it’s a part of her family’s heritage. Susie tells the untold story of the Titanic from a personal point of view – the story of the people who were left behind. The families, children – including her own grandfather who was orphaned at the age of five – and Titanic crew members who lost loved ones and dear co-workers after the Titanic’s sinking. Guests of this tour will learn about life 100 years ago through Susie’s great-grandfather’s personal articles and mementoes and other documents belonging to her grandfather chronicling his early life.

Photo copyright Anne Gordon

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grenada's SpiceMas Carnival

Deep-rooted tradition, lively parties, flavourful foods and time spent with friends and family, these are all elements of Grenada’s annual summer festivals.

What better way to immerse yourself in Grenada’s vibrant culture than by visiting this eastern Caribbean island during one of its many events or festivals? This summer, come out and “lime” with the locals during Fisherman’s Birthday Celebrations, the Carriacou Regatta or Carnival. Home to some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean, there is no better way to experience true Grenadian spirit.

“Our annual festivals and events are an important part of our local lifestyle,” said Simon Stiell, director of tourism for the Grenada Board of Tourism. “We warmly welcome and encourage all visitors to Grenada who are interested in joining us for these exciting celebrations.”

Throughout the coming months, the following festivals and special events will be taking place in Grenada:

Greens 11th Annual Father’s Day Bicycle Race – June 18th, 2011
Known as the ‘Best cycling event in the Caribbean with the best location,’ this Father’s Day race consists of two days of cycling and three events across eight categories.

Fisherman’s Birthday Celebrations – June 29th, 2011
This annual event is one giant street party in the town of Gouyave, Grenada’s fishing capital. Fisherman’s Birthday marks the Feast of St. Peter, the Patron Saint of Fishermen.

Fun filled activities including boat races and tug of war take place throughout the day and finish with fireworks at midnight.

Carricou, Grenada's boat-building centre
46th Annual Carriacou Regatta – July 24th to August 2nd, 2011
What began in 1965 as a local boat race using traditional fishing workboats, has evolved into a major Caribbean event. Participants from many neighbouring islands such as Tobago, Martinque, Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, make their way over for this exciting event. Skilled sailors compete in boats ranging in size from 14 to 35 feet.

A number of other events take place throughout the festival, making for an exciting week for the entire family. For more information visit

Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday – August 8th and 9th, 2011
Carnival, or SpiceMas, in Grenada is one of the liveliest festivals of the year and is certainly a memorable experience. This public holiday brings all types of revelers out for this massive two-day street party. Masqueraders flood the streets and dance to the sounds of carnival melodies, provided by steelbands and DJs.

The summer is a lively time on the island and a variety of events take place in the lead-up to Carnival. For more information on Carnival, visit

A visit to Grenada over the coming months will provide more than your typical Caribbean getaway. Idyllic white-sand beaches, lush jungle and delicious food, coupled with lively festivals and events help to create an unforgettable summer vacation.

Post from Grenada@LMA

Monday, May 23, 2011

Painting by Bahe Whitethorn, a Navajo artist at the Shonto Trading Post in Arizona

Monoliths may be the most visible of Arizona's famous rocks, but buried deep in what appears to be barren terrain is another rare treasure. Turquoise together with white shell, abalone and jet is also sacred to the Navajo.

Navajo man wearing a turquoise bracelet in Arizona
Shepherds in the past believed that turquoise promoted fertility in their herds. A hunter carrying turquoise was assured of a bountiful hunt. If you see a Navajo with a bracelet encrusted with turquoise or wearing turquoise earrings it`s because ancient tradition stipulates that this stone serves as a form of protection.

Arizona turquoise for protection
Squash blossom jewellery, beads, rings and bracelets made from turquoise are a fashionable choice for Navajo women.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Monday, 23rd May 2011

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, one of the Fairmont Bee Hotels
The Fairmont Olympic Hotel and The Fairmont Empress are pleased to announce the addition of on-site honeybee programs, new for the 2011 summer season. Both programs will launch prior to May 29, the second annual “Day of the Honey Bee” (a day intended to raise honeybee awareness).

In Seattle, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel plans to install five rooftop hives that will be home to a half million honeybees once they reach full capacity in 2012. Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson spearheaded the hotel’s bee program with Ballard Bee Company’s Corky Luster as a project consultant. With a hive typically yielding 30 to 40 pounds, it’s likely the hotel will have over 150 pounds of honey to use by next year, with the hotel’s signature honey featured on the menu in The Georgian restaurant by 2012.

Honey bee collecting pollen
In nearby Victoria, The Fairmont Empress plans to install 10 hives in the hotel’s Centennial Garden. The lucky bees will pollinate Victoria’s most lavish hotel garden and produce about 1,000 pounds of honey. The program is spearheaded by the hotel’s Executive Chef, Kamal Silva, who also launched the program at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport in 2010. The Fairmont Empress plans to serve the honey during their popular Afternoon Tea service, a grand tradition at the hotel for over a century, as well as on their restaurant menu and in signature honey cocktails. The Fairmont Empress is working with the Honeybee Centre (the same company employed by The Fairmont Waterfront and The Fairmont Vancouver Airport).

 “I recently joined The Fairmont Empress’ culinary team and am excited to ‘bring the bees’ with me from The Fairmont Vancouver Airport after starting the program there,” said Kamal Silva, executive chef for The Fairmont Empress. “It’s great to see Fairmont starting bee programs across North America and beyond as bees play such an important role in food production for the future. There is no other hotel group doing what we’re doing.”

In Seattle, Executive Chef Gavin Stephenson added: “Bee programs are relatively new to Seattle so we are thrilled to be one of the leaders in this charge, alongside Ballard Bee Company. Our culinary team is excited to taste the first batch. Apparently the honey’s flavour is quite unpredictable at first – bees travel up to six miles from their hive and bring back an array of different nectars which is why ‘urban honey’ is so interesting and complex.”

Beekeeping has definitely taken off amongst the Fairmont family with honeybee programs already in place at the following 11 properties (13 in total now): The Fairmont Waterfront (Vancouver), The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, The Fairmont Royal York (Toronto), Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (Quebec City), The Fairmont Algonquin (St. Andrews by-the-Sea), The Fairmont San Francisco, The Fairmont Dallas, The Fairmont Washington, DC, Fairmont Mayakoba (Riviera Maya), Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club and The Fairmont Yangcheng Lake (Kunshan).

News from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Arizona's Grand Canyon

One of North America’s most popular tourist destinations – over 5 million visitors every year – is the Grand Canyon. I have heard many confess to being moved to tears at the sight and splendour of it.

Arizona's Grand Canyon
Its tones at sunrise and sunset range through the whole colour spectrum; bone white, the grey of a Tahitian pearl, rust, coffee, rose, emerald and a pale delicate pink. For size it is stupendous; 277 miles long, almost 18 miles across and a mile deep.

Mountain lions, wild turkeys, beavers, mule deer, the brilliant blue Pinyon jay and Grand Canyon rattlesnakes shelter on its cliffs and in its caves.

Young visitors from Russia at Arizona's Grand Canyon
 When I looked down into an abyss as birds circled overhead, it seemed unimagineable that someone would choose to commit suicide in such a place. Just 24 hours before our arrival, a man had jumped out of a helicopter to his death in the Grand Canyon. “And it’s not an unusual occurence Anne,” I was told by Curt our guide.

Posted by Anne Gordon on Sunday, 22nd May, 2011

Photos copyright Anne Gordon

Antelope Marina Point houseboat moored on lonely beach on Lake Powell in Arizona
Along the scenic shores of Lake Powell is the Navajo Nation owned and operated, Antelope Point marina. Boasting a beautiful backdrop and more shoreline to explore than the entire west coast of the U.S, Lake Powell offers a playground of family fun. Splash through the best boating waters by jet-ski, speed boat, or navigate the lake from the comforts of a custom houseboat rental, fully equipped with flat screens, and furnishings. Water slide, cannon- ball, or cast lines for a family catching contest. Go fish- for stripe bass, largemouth, smallmouth, walleye, black crappie and catfish. Antelope Point offers rentals of all varieties, a full service launch, a fishing dock, the world’s largest floating restaurant, and guided tours to nearby Antelope Canyon.

Red Rock Monoliths near Lake Powell, Arizona
The rising and falling sandstone curvatures of Antelope Canyon create gorgeous sloping angles not to be missed. Enjoy the sunshine hitting your family’s faces. Watch the natural light glow through the slot canyon during sunrise or sunset. Time after time Antelope Canyon creates amazing photo opportunities….Perfect for a new family portrait!  Make memories to last a lifetime in Page, AZ on Lake Powell.

Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Arizona
Experience the journey of family life by way of the Navajo. Gain a new perspective from The Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, AZ. Explore many engaging exhibits for children and adults alike. The quadrants of the museum represent the significance of the number four to Navajo culture. Walk in the footsteps of the Natives traveling clockwise from quadrant to quadrant, East, South, West, and North. With every bend experience a new introduction to the land, language, history, culture, and ceremonial life of the Navajo.

Post from Arizona Tourism

Photos copyright Anne Gordon


It should come as no surprise that an Ontario cave is cold and wet and smelly – so much so in fact that we have named a nearby sink “the stink sink”. Anyway, here is me crawling from the entrance of the cave, the snow is yet to fully melt on the nearby slopes, but when you find an undiscovered cave (undiscovered to cavers that is) you have no choice but to explore it.

We only went in a short distance today as we needed wetsuits.   I believe we must have seen about 100 feet of tunnel. It gets more spacious once you pass the entrance and the tunnel meanders in a limestone bedding plane. By the gently curved roof, it would not be unreasonable to suspect that the passage had  initially developed beneath the water table, and by the multitude of other nearby karst features you absolutely know that numerous other sinks will be linking up as you get deeper in. Looking over the hill above the cave we could only speculate the route of the underground passage, a nearby sink led us to suspect the first part of the route, but after that who knows? Unlike the relatively predictable route of a joint oriented tunnel like my recent trip to the Casselman Cave, the bedding plane orientation (without joints thus far noticed) was a crap shoot.

Post courtesy of Michael Gordon, an intrepid caver in Ontario, Canada

Posted by Anne Gordon on Sunday 22nd May, 2011