Travelling is one of the best ways to simultaneously unwind from the stress of daily life and reinvigorate the spirit with new experiences. Why not consider a tropical destination – like Jamaica or Bali – or Ann Arbor for a quick weekend getaway?
By Dr. Mel Borins, Family Physician and Author
Jamaica: No Problem!
The people of Jamaica are friendly and warm; they usually have a nice smile and a kind word to say. I have been to Jamaica four times and have not had one negative encounter with anyone the entire time I was there.
There are lots of options to choose from in terms of Jamaican vacations. You can go to an upscale five-star resort in Negril, or variously themed all-inclusive resorts in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and other smaller locations.
The best part of an all-inclusive resort is that you do not have to buy anything or withdraw any money at all. Most resorts discourage tipping and often there is not much to buy, especially if you never leave the premises. Sitting in the sun on the beach, on my balcony, by the pool, and in the garden is what my Jamaican holidays are all about. Horseback riding, golf, and snorkeling or SCUBA diving are other activities that are often nearby. Even though everything is included, some guests enjoy touring off the resort and experiencing the country’s vibration.
There is plenty to do in Jamaica. I recommend a trip to Dunn’s River Falls: climbing up or down the 600-foot river as it snakes its way into the sea is truly an unforgettable experience. If you are staying in Ocho Rios or Montego Bay, then I suggest visiting Negril’s beautiful white “7-mile” beach, which is ranked as as one of the top-ten beaches in the world. From its west-facing location atop a cliff, Rick’s Cafe in Negril offers an amazing view of the sunset.
Jamaica is all about “no problem,” “irie,” “level vibes,” reggae music and dancing, and steel drum bands. The island is a great travel destination because the weather is hotter than Florida in the winter and the beaches are excellent. Furthermore, the food is generally better than many Caribbean destinations, and there is a relaxed, sexy vibe that is both fun and unique.
Bali: Beaches, Mountains, and Culture
A small island of only 95 by 69 miles, Bali lies in the Indian Ocean just south of the equator. It is located in the Republic of Indonesia, one of the world’s largest archipelagos. The majority of the four million inhabitants are Hindu, and it is the only predominantly Hindu island in Indonesia. Green-terraced rice fields, volcanic mountains, coconut forests, endless beaches, and exotic flowers are only part of the island’s spectacular natural beauty.
Some visitors stay at the resort enclave of Nusa Dua; others stay in the beach towns of Kuta and Legian. If you want to get away and do some snorkeling, then Pemuteran and Menjangan Island in the northwest are good places to visit. Stay at Amertha Bali Villas or Taman Sari Bali Resort and Spa, enjoy a sunrise excursion aboard a traditional fishing boat, and maybe even spot some dolphins. Later in the morning, rent a boat at the West Bali National Park and visit the famous snorkeling spots with wall-diving areas where the tropical fish are numerous and varied. Bring along a boxed lunch and relax on the island overlooking outstanding scenery.
If you want a sense of rural Bali, visit Mengwi. Stay at the village at Puri Taman Sari, where the hotel is nestled in shady coconut groves, surrounded by rice fields and rivers. Travel to the nearby Taman Ayun Temple, which was founded in 1634. From Mengwi, I recommend an afternoon trip to Tanah Lot: an incredibly beautiful temple built on the water and an excellent place to watch the sunset. Watch a Kecak or monkey dance performance after sunset, and dine on scrumptious seafood at Melasti Restaurant before heading back to Mengwi.
Ann Arbor, Michigan: Artsy Town Vibe in a Big City
Ann Arbor offers outstanding food, beautiful art galleries, great entertainment, excellent shopping, and lots of outdoor activities. Overall, the city has a very friendly, welcoming atmosphere and is a great place to spend a holiday weekend, or week.
From spring to fall, there is a myriad of activities for the whole family to enjoy, including live theatre, live music, art shops, hiking, boating, and gourmet dining. At its core, Ann Arbor is a college town, and the University of Michigan looms large in its influence on every aspect of life. In fact, the university’s stadium, which holds 110,000 fans, is the largest stadium in the United States. However, when the students are gone for summer break, the town carries on just fine without them.
Ann Arbor is a wonderful restaurant town and the locals take gourmet dining very seriously. There is a strong farm-to-table movement, and many restaurants strongly support the “locavore” movement, buying produce locally and providing a seasonal selection.
Within a 30-minute drive, there are lakes, bicycle trails, and hiking trails. A highlight of my visit was the kayak trip down the Huron River, which cuts right through the town. I paddled to my heart’s content, observing birds and native plants along the way.
This is a good place to see live theater: the Performance Network Theater uses Michigan talent to produce classical, contemporary, and musical theater; and the Purple Rose Theater, founded by actor Jeff Daniels, puts on high-quality performances in Chelsea, a historic town just west of Ann Arbor. I was lucky enough to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Nichols Arboretum, part of Shakespeare in the Arb, which puts on unique productions. There is no fixed stage and the audience follows the action through different locations in the park, with musicians guiding the way.
If you want a fun getaway in July, then plan to attend the world famous Ann Arbor Art Fair: an annual four-day extravaganza offering free concerts and art of every kind, attracting half a million people to the town.
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Dr. Mel Borins is a public speaker, travel writer, and family physician. He is the author of several books, including Go Away Just for the Health of It! www.melborinscreative.com.
Dr. Borins is leading a fun, first-class tour to Bali in May 2016; to learn more, go to www.doctorsontour.ca/cme-programs-bali-upcoming-1604.php