When planning the ultimate man’s vacation, there are multiple things to consider. Most importantly, you’ll want to figure out your destination. Perhaps Yosemite; Possibly the Rockies; or how about the beautiful white sand beaches of Miami? No matter your destination, there is plenty of planning left to do at this point. Once you’ve decided on where you’re headed, you’ll have to figure out how you’re going to get there. Now we all know that flying is quick and convenient, but it often sucks all of the adventure out of the journey. So rather than paying boat loads of money on overpriced airline tickets, why not look into some other options?
For instance, when traveling with a couple of your buddies, road-trips always seem to be a recipe for outlandish times and unexpected adventure. The rush of the open road just isn’t something you get when sitting in the aisle seat of some stuffy airplane next to a crying child for a few hours. So why not trade in the mile-high headache for a four wheel adventure with the boys?
Consider planning a trip such as a river rafting extravaganza or a 3-4 day trek through the woods. If you’re worried about how you would get your car to your final destination when planning such a trip, then you should talk to a car shipping company. A reliable auto transport company can help you plan out your adventure by allowing you to leave your car at a drop-spot for pickup, and then have it delivered to your next destination to meet you upon arrival, even if it’s in another state. This allows you to enjoy both Mother Nature and the open road all in one trip.
If you’re planning a trip to somewhere such as Lake Havasu and you want your boat to come along for the adventure but don’t have your own trailer, auto transport companies can often make that happen for you. They can ensure that your boat shipping needs are met without you having to deal with all the hassle involved when towing it yourself.
You work hard and you deserve to play hard! Don’t just settle for the pre-packaged idea of a “good and relaxing” vacation for you and the fellas. Instead, take the time to look into some unconventional ways to spice up your vacation and add in a little true adventure.
9 Reasons You Must Visit Italy This Summer
Italy is a great place to visit if you plan on vacationing abroad this summer. But what do you really know about it besides that it’s shaped like a boot and it’s the birthplace of pizza? We’re here to help with that. Italy is just full of beautiful places and wonderful people, with a long and rich history known throughout the world. To do it right, I suggest skipping the hotels and instead renting luxury homes in Italy.
Here are some of the top places you should visit when you come to Italy:
You’ve seen Pompeii in the movies. It’s the famous Roman city that was buried under several feet of volcanic ash for nearly 1,700 years after the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. It is a moment frozen in time. It’s a fascinating sight that you can’t witness anywhere else. Even though the excavation of Pompeii started in 1748, the site is still not yet totally unearthed today. You can walk along the ancient streets and actually see what remains of ancient businesses like bakeries and brothels. Don’t miss Pompeii.
When you think of Venice, what do you think of? I bet you think of gondola rides. A gondola ride at night in the city of Venice can be very romantic. This is one of those “must do” items. How often to you get to take a gondola ride throughout any city? In Venice it is a must. These are obviously big tourist attractions though, so the waters may or may not be crowded, but it will still be a sweet experience. especially if it is a gondola ride for newlyweds or others celebrating an anniversary.
The Last Supper
Why not visit the Last Supper? When in Rome, right? More specifically, in Milan. It is the only place where you can see Leonardo Davinci’s The Last Supper. Just be aware that they only let you spend 15-minutes with it. Just plan ahead and buy your tickets in advance. That way you can make it part of your schedule. How many people can say that they have seen a masterpiece by Leonardo Davinci in person?
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican museums are well worth checking out. Whether you are a hardcore art historian nerd or just someone who wants to take in the culture, there is plenty to see and experience here. Most tours will also give you a guided visit to St. Peter’s Basilica too. This will keep you busy and immersed in the culture all day long.
We already mentioned pizza. What would a trip to Italy be if you didn’t stop to sample the local pizza? For that you want to go to Naples, the birthplace of pizza. Take some time out from the museums and gondola rides and see what pizza tastes like from the source. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from. It doesn’t get any more authentic than this.
Sample The Local Gelato
Much like the pizza, this is where you will find authentic gelato, not the grocery store kind that you buy at home. Take some time out to sample how the locals make it. Don’t worry, you’ll find it all over Italy.
Climb A Tower
Climb to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa. The freestanding bell tower is located on the grounds of a historic cathedral and is the third oldest landmark in the Pisa Cathedral Square in Italy. It was built in 1173, but due to unstable subsoil, it got it’s famous lean. Visitors can take a tour and climb the staircase inside.
Climb Mount Vesuvius
Remember Pompeii? What id I told you that you could actually climb Mount Vesuvius? You can. And don’t worry, these days Vesuvius is mostly considered safe to climb. Once you get up there you are going to be treated to a stunning view from the top. They say that when you reach the crater, it looks like the surface of the moon.
Stand On Juliet’s Balcony
Believe it or not, Verona has what is said to be the balcony of Juliet, from Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. Yeah, it’s just a tourist trap and not really her balcony, but still, this is a fun thing to visit if you are young and in love and need a fun way to declare that love to one another.
And that is just the tip of Italy’s boot, so to speak. There is so much to see and do that you will have to come back again.
Who’s Ready To Set Sail On The Largest Cruise Ship In The World?
Back in October, we told you about Symphony of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship that would hold the distinction as the largest cruise ship in the world.
Now, after three years of construction, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas was recently delivered, and it couldn’t be any more enormous, standing 18-decks-high and weighing in at 228,081 tons. It’s the ultimate over-the-top cruise experience.
“It is a proud and exhilarating moment to welcome a new member to the family. Symphony will take family vacationing to an all new level with energy and options never before found in one place,” Royal Caribbean president and CEO Michael Bayley said during the ship’s delivery ceremony in France.
Symphony of the Seas is part of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class of vessels, which are more than 30% larger than the next largest cruise ships under them. Symphony is about 1,188 feet long and has 2,774 cabins. It will hold 6,680 passengers. It’s basically the Titanic of today. I’m talking size, not tragedy here. The Titanic would be envious of this ship.
Passengers on the Symphony can look forward to things like laser tag, a new seafood concept, a live performance of the Broadway show Hairspray, a 10-story waterslide that spirals down the rear of the ship, numerous pools, lounges, bars, restaurants and much more. There’s also an ice-skating rink, two rock climbing walls, a basketball court, and seven “neighborhoods” with shops, bars (one with robot bartenders), and more.
If that’s not enough, there’s also the Ultimate Family Suite, which RC is billing as “the most spectacular family suite on land or sea.” This two-story family suite is a massive 1,346 square feet, and it’s chock full of family-friendly features, including a slide connecting the children’s room on the second level to the main living area below. Now that’s freaking cool.
As you can see, there’s something for everyone on Symphony, and you’ll likely need all week just to explore every nook and cranny of this mega ship.
The Symphony of the Seas began its first real voyage with passengers on March 31, sailing the Mediterranean before heading to Miami. I don’t know about you, but I think I know where I’m going on my next vacation. Who’s with me?
Photo credit: SBW-Photo
If You’re A Fan Of Jack Daniel’s, You’ve Got To Make The Pilgrimage To Lynchburg
Earlier this month, the folks at Jack Daniel’s flew us down to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery, where the world-famous Old No. 7 has been produced for over 150 years, to learn firsthand about how their Tennessee Whiskey is made.
As someone who’s been drinking Jack Daniel’s for the greater part of 20 years, I was excited to learn more about the brand’s history of making whiskey, and the man behind it.
Our journey began in Nashville, about an hour and a half north of Lynchburg. During our ride to the distillery, our guide gave us some history about Jasper Newton Daniel (Jack), and the interesting road that led him to start Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Born in 1849, Jack Daniel was the youngest of 10 children, with his mother dying shortly after his birth (likely due to complications from childbirth). A few years later, his father remarried and had another 3 children with his new wife. Jack leaves home at a very young age and he is taken in by Reverend Dan Call, where he works on the family farm. And on his farm, he had a still, which Jack quickly took interest in it.
It’s here where Jack learns the art of whiskey making from the preacher and his head distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green. In 1866, Call decides to focus on his calling as a minister, selling his whiskey business to Jack. Jack in turn hires Nearest as his Master Distiller. A few years later, they open the now-famous distillery in Lynchburg, and the rest is history.
A short while later, we arrived at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and gathered together for a VIP tour hosted by none other than Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher! As you can imagine, he’s got extensive knowledge of the whiskey making process, which he shared with us in great detail as he took us through the entire facility.
Not only that, but Fletcher is actually the grandson of retired Master Distiller Frank Bobo, the distillery’s fifth master distiller from 1966-89. Needless to say, whiskey is in his blood.
The first stop on our tour was Cave Spring Hollow, which houses Lynchburg’s greatest natural resource – clean, pure, spring water. The cave’s layers of limestone naturally impart a variety of minerals to the water which contribute to Jack Daniel’s character. More importantly, the limestone also removes iron (which is bad if you are making whiskey) from the water.
Did you know that every bottle of Jack Daniel’s sold around the world is made with water from this source? I actually got to take a drink from the spring, and it was perhaps the purest water that I’ve ever tasted.
From here, we made our way to the Rickyard, where they stack 5-foot tall pallets of hard super maple, douse them in raw, unaged whiskey, before setting the wood ablaze. The inferno peaks at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit before burning down into smoldering embers. The resulting charcoal is used in the charcoal mellowing process.
We got to take part in this process, and it was pretty wild, the heat getting so intense that you had to walk away after awhile or risk getting burned. How these guys manage to keep cool in the hot Tennessee summers is beyond me, but my hats off to them.
Afterwards, we walked down to the Distillery Building, where we got to learn more about the whiskey making process including the whiskey stills, the fermenting tanks and the charcoal-mellowing vats. That last part is perhaps the most important, filtering the 140-proof, unaged whiskey drop by drop through 10 feet of handcrafted charcoal.
It’s this extra step that imparts the distinctive smoothness you have come to expect from Jack Daniel’s, and it’s what makes this a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon.
Next, this whiskey goes into American White Oak barrels that are hand-built at Jack Daniel’s Cooperage. Once assembled, the barrel’s interior is toasted and charred using a proprietary method to coax the wood’s natural sugars out and caramelize them. The whiskey enters the barrel colorless and raw, but during the maturation process, the whiskey draws all of its rich amber color and much of its distinctive flavor from the barrels.
As you can imagine, if Jack Daniel’s were to reuse their barrels, they’d get diminishing returns, as the first batch of whiskey already draws out most of the flavor from the barrel. That’s why they only use a barrel once, after which they sell them off to third-parties.
Interestingly enough, a number of variables determine how long a barrel of whiskey stays in the barrelhouse, including the barrel itself and where it’s located in the barrelhouse. Barrels located on the upper floors (where temperature changes are more extreme) tend to mature faster than barrels on the lower floors, where it’s generally cooler.
So rather than rely on age, a team of whiskey tasters sample each and every barrel to decide when they’re ready for bottling. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett showed us this process by bringing us to one of the barrelhouses and taking us up to the 6th floor, where he tapped into a couple of barrels and let us sample them right from the source. In a word.. incredible!
If that wasn’t enough, they also set up a tasting for us, where we got to sample every product in their portfolio, including Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel Select, Rye, Honey, Fire, and more. I really enjoyed the Single Barrel Select, but Honey and Fire were also standouts for me, and I definitely need to pick up a few bottles of these for myself.
Overall, I had a great time visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and seeing everything that they have to offer, and I’d highly recommend taking the tour if you’re coming through Tennessee, even if you’re not a whiskey drinker. There’s a ton of history here, and it’s sure to give you a newfound respect for Jack Daniel’s, and the man who started it all.