Aviemore – The Scottish Highlands – Travelling

So this past weekend, me and my better half went for a lovely weekend break to Aviemore.  We stayed at the cutest little hotel named The Boat Hotel in the very small village of Boat of Garten.  It was truly lovely and the food was outstanding.  In the surrounding Aviemore area there is an endless amount of activities that everyone can enjoy.  There are a number of Lochs up in the area so there is plenty of outdoor water sports and other activities like wildlife parks, adventure parks, walking trails, castles – the list is endless!

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Dining at the Boat Hotel – excellent quality Scottish food!

I have noted below the activities we got up to on our trip…

Ballindalloch Castle

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   We first stopped off at Ballindalloch Castle.  This was a lovely experience as you got to have a good look around all of the traditionally designed living areas of the Macpherson-Grant’s family home, well castle.  This is a castle where the family still actually lives!  It was so enchanting and very peaceful – even though there is meant to be a few ghosts residing in some of the rooms! Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take photos within the castle but it is certainly a lovely experience – even the  customer toilets at the estate were impeccable (the front lady said they have won awards for their grand customer toilet facilities).  The grounds also have a walled garden, a play park, tearooms and a rockery.  The tearoom also had a gift shop which had a range of Scottish gifts and they served plenty of delicious cakes!

The Highland Wildlife Park

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The following place we visited was the Highland Wildlife Park.  This was amazing – they have polar bears, tigers, wolves, monkeys, camels and so on.  The Polar Bears were definitely the best part – we caught them fooling around in the water so it was fun to see.  What was also cool, was that you get to go around half of the park driving in your car so its like the Scottish version of a Safari!  You can also get a bite to eat and buy some wildlife related gifts in the gift shop.  Its a definite must see if your up in the area!  If you love the animals that much you can also adopt an animal if you wish!

Landmark Forest Adventure Park

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We also went to Landmark Forest Adventure Park.  This is probably even better if you have little kids/children to take along with you.  I used to go when I was younger and it was the best place ever!  Even now when I went, I still never felt too old!  They have a mini roller coaster, water slides, a labyrinth, sky diving, a rock climbing wall, a fire tower, walking trails, a bamboozeleum and a high wire challenge course.  The high wire challenge course was absolutely terrifying but also brilliant – you have to balance along this high up obstacle course, luckily in a safety harness (thank goodness!).  The water slides are awesome and the bamboozeleum was mind boggling with a number of various illusions to get your brain going!  I would 100% recommend this place to families of all ages – there is so much to do that there is something that everyone can enjoy!

Loch Inch Watersports

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Loch Inch is  what it says, a loch with a range of available water sports that you can give a go!  We attempted the canoeing which was great but the loch is that big your arms are aching by the end of it!  Its really cheap aswell and is only a 10 minute drive away from Aviemore.  They also offer a number of land activities for those not so keen on water sports and there is a small games center, a restaurant and a gift shop for all of you lazy buggers!

Cairgorm Mountain

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The Cairgorm Mountain is an absolute must see if your a tourist keen to see some good old Scottish scenery.  This is a place where if your a keen skier, walker or biker – you will enjoy it – a lot!  When we went up there was no snow unfortunately due to it being Summer season but it was still beautiful!  You can take the famous Funicular Railway up to the top of the mountain if your not so keen on walking.  If you are keen on walking then you can get a guided tour of the mountain.  At the top of the mountain there is a restaurant, gift shop, a viewing deck and a education room which provides you with a history of the mountain and its current condition.  It was great fun and I would definitely recommend it to all of those visiting the highlands!

So take your pick from a number of activities around Aviemore.  Everything is just a short few miles away and there is so much to chose from, its definitely worth a visit!


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The Dominican Republic – Travels

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So, I thought I would write about my travels to Punta Cana, The Domincan Republic.  Let me first say that this was an amazing holiday and the weather was absolutely fantastic.   So we stayed at an all inclusive resort with Thomson holidays  for two weeks at the end of May, so Summer Season was just starting.  So what did we do in the Dominican Republic?  Well…

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The Adventure Boogies

The Adventure Boogies in Bavaro were one of the funniest things I have ever done.  So its basically a buggy ride that you can either drive yourself or with your partner and you follow the leader through dirt tracks in the countryside.  You get to see the surrounding wildlife and residents, whilst also being covered head to toe in mud.  I am not sure if it was just because it rained a bit that the mud was being chucked up at you from the buggy in front but nevertheless you had bandanas covering your face and eye wear so it was still fun!  You also get taken to a fresh water cave pool which was so cool, a local persons house and you get to see them making coffee, cacao and Mama Juana (the local, but lethal drink!).

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Buggies

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Fresh Water Cave Pool

The Reef Explorer

The Reef Explorer was definitely my favourite activity that we done on holiday.  Basically it was a floating island which kept sharks, stingrays, massage rooms and sports equipment.  Yes I really did say sharks.  Well they were nurse sharks but they were still large sharks and you could “hug” and “kiss” the stingrays if you wanted (but we weren’t so supportive of that).    I remember the guide also saying “No touchy, touchy of the sharks” – haha! It gave you the indication that although they were fine swimming with humans, they weren’t so keen on you touching or interfering with them.  We never got the chance to get a massage with all the other things going on but it was included in your day out.  The sports activities were amazing – we did paddle boarding and kayaking.  Also, you were able to snorkel around the island which was amazing because the water was so so clear and you could see the tropical sea life around you.  It is a definite must if you visit the Dominican Republic! I loved it!

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Carribean Crusing – Saona Island and The Starfish Lagoon

Saona Island is a small island located just off of the Dominican Republic.  It has the clearest of Caribbean waters I have ever seen.  You take a speedy boat out towards the island, whilst also stopping off for snorkelling and a stop at a star fish lagoon which is the most amazing place I have ever seen by far.  Just starfish everywhere, yes everywhere – in the most clearest of shallow waters that went on for like a mile. It was amazing!  Then after that you made it to the island, had some food, swam in the Carribean and then took a 2 hour catamaran boat ride back to the Dominican which was also great because they had a local dancer on board teaching us the Dominican dances and plenty of alcohol to keep you refreshed!

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Saona Island

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Catamaran Ride

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Star Fish Lagoon


Yes all the photos are amazing, the trips were so fun and I would definitely do them all over again!


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The Black Isle 

The Black Isle consists of a number of little villages and towns in the Scottish highlands.  My Grandma who also stays with my Aunty, Uncle & Cousin lives in Rosemarkie situated in the Black Isle which is the cutest little village! It has a beautiful beach, great scenery, glens and plenty to do for tourists keen for a bit of Scottish heritage.

Rosemarkie Town Centre (a bit rainy)

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Me and the boyfriend went a walk up the Fairy Glen to stretch our lazy legs.  The waterfalls are amazing and everyone who comes to rosemarkie should go and see them!

Fairy Glen Waterfalls

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We also took a walk along the beach but it was absolutely freezing so I suggest that anyone who visits the highlands – should always bring plenty of clothes and wrap up warm, as always in Scotland.   It also has some awesome rock pools for children where you can find plenty of sea creatures.  It has a cute wee cafe that’s handy if your hungry too!

The Black Isle Beach

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Sarah

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Animals should not be trained for human entertainment…

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So, I have been to many zoos and parks that have had all kinds of animals.  Honestly, every time I have been to one, I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I think many of the shows and performances that I have seen such as dolphin and killer whale shows have been great.  Loro Parque in particular was a great day out when I was on holiday in Tenerife with my boyfriend last year.  It had so many things to offer like great restaurants, great shows and interesting tours. The park portrayed itself as doing its best to help animals – not just keeping them for profit – even winning awards for it.

However, you never know what really goes on behind closed doors.  People see so many documentaries on television nowadays investigating the bad practice of keeping various animals captive for profit, however many of us still go to these zoos and parks without even thinking about it – me being guilty.

This issue was particularly brought to my attention when I watched a documentary called ‘Blackfish’ on Netflix which I recommend anyone to watch.  This documentary opens your eyes to the consequences of keeping killer whales captive and how trainers have been killed due to the killer whales becoming frustrated with thei10857905_10204490078406185_6711987790534569235_nr conditions.  What shocked me was that Loro Parque was part of the discussion in this documentary and how one person was killed by one of the killer whales, previously captured for profit.  Obviously, there was no mention of this from the tour guide on our tour of Loro Parque – it was more along the lines of how Loro Parque has saved these killer whales, even though they are trained to perform for us.  Also, we were told that the killer whales were well looked after, but on the documentary it explained how when they were transported to Loro Parque their tanks were not even properly ready for the killer whales and as a result they had various health problems.

So, as I have said there are many zoos and parks that do their best to help many animals such as trying to avoid the extinction of endangered species.  I am definitely no expert, however after watching this documentary and now understanding how intelligent killer whales are (unless they would not survive in their natural habitat), they should not be removed from it, especially for profit.  It goes for all living creatures – if they are comfortable and able to live like the majority of their kind, then they should not be removed from it.  I think as well really, no animal should be trained for human entertainment…ever.1979487_10204490083086302_5478716896046850896_n

Thus, I will not go and see an animal show for my entertainment again.

So, to wrap it up, by going to various zoo’s and paying for your ticket you are in many cases helping these places care for the animals correctly so I do not necessarily recommend you avoid them but any kind of entertainment that involves training them for our entertainment, you should avoid.  Realistically, if zoo’s like Loro Parque were aiming just to help the animals then no shows would be required and they would just be cared for in a place as close to their natural habitat as possible, not in a 10858047_10204490086166379_6113084609821709428_nclear tank for our entertainment.  Yes shows generate money to care for them, but when you think about how a killer whale’s nature definitely does not include the performance of ‘tricks’ then its clearly not right.


I know I have more or less based my discussion on one documentary and as I said I am no expert, but really it is just common sense to not go to things which promote cruelty and inhumane actions whether they are obvious to us or not.  I’m sure this is not everyone’s opinion and various experts at these parks would be able to argue how they are doing good for these animals but I do not think my opinion will change – animals should not be trained for human entertainment.


Sarah
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